Magazine article Security Management

ISO Proof of Quality: Find out How One Security Company Reduced Turnover and Improved Customer Service by Going through ISO Certification

Magazine article Security Management

ISO Proof of Quality: Find out How One Security Company Reduced Turnover and Improved Customer Service by Going through ISO Certification

Article excerpt

Quality service. Every company claims to provide it. How can a company make its claim meaningful to prospective clients? One way is to achieve certification by meeting requirements of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Although most of the companies that have done so are not in the security field, the process is equally applicable to security providers. The case of Industrial Security Services, Inc., (ISSI) a mid-sized guard-services company based in Ohio, illustrates how security could benefit from adopting an ISO approach.

ABOUT ISO. ISO has been developing voluntary technical standards over almost all sectors of business, industry, and technology since the mid-1940s. It has many different types of certification categories. The one applicable here that ISSI chose to apply for is the ISO 9000 category.

In ISO 9000, quality management is defined as the processes an organization puts in place to ensure that its products or services satisfy the customer's quality requirements and comply with any regulations applicable to those products or services. The company being certified is responsible for setting its own objectives to measure the success of its quality management system. (ISO 9001:2000 is the latest version. The company was certifying to the 9000 standard, when 9001:2000 was released and it decided to certify to the new standard.)

To become ISO 9001:2000 certified, an organization must receive written certification by an independent, external body that has audited the organization's management system and verified that it conforms to the requirements specified in the standard. The auditing body then records the certification, which is good for three years, in its client register.

GOING FOR THE GOAL. ISSI's decision to go for the ISO 9001:2000 certification marked a milestone in senior management's vision for bringing a once nontechnical company into the technical age. For ISSI, there was no contractual, regulatory, or even clear market requirement to become ISO certified. However, management strategy called for establishing a formalized, ongoing quality assurance program that would improve the company's efficiency and enhance service to customers, which would help the company to grow and become more profitable.

ISSI began investigating certification by networking with several of its clients who had gone through the process to get a better understanding about the ISO system, the advantages to a company, and whether certification was worth undertaking. The company discovered that there were clear advantages to becoming certified and senior managers decided to take the next step. Managers then met with consultants from Cuyahoga Community College in Highland Heights, Ohio, and outlined a two-year plan for the company's ISO certification process.

CHALLENGES. ISSI's road to certification held numerous obstacles, such as keeping everyone within the company focused on what they would need to accomplish throughout the two-year process. The development of measurable objectives alone stretched out over a year. Other key factors that had to be addressed included the development of a nonconformance report, a quality-management system, a customer satisfaction survey, and an officer retention program.

Nonconformance reports. A major component of an ISO management system is the nonconformance report (NCR). The most substantial operational effects from ISO certification have come from the NCR concept, having employees work off of the same processes and use the same forms.

The purpose of an NCR is to identify, document, and investigate the root causes of performance problems and to provide information that can help the company correct those problems by improving operations. Once the problem is corrected and documented on the NCR, the operations staff investigates whether there are proactive measures that can be instituted to prevent the situation from occurring again. …

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