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20 January 2015

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Case Study: Football Association of Wales

ISO 9001

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) is the third oldest association in the world, having governed football in Wales continually since 1876. The FAW is a member of FIFA and UEFA, and is one of the five associations that make up the International Football Association Board, the guardians of the “Laws of the Game”. The FAW, in addition to its administration responsibilities for football in Wales, also has the responsibility of running the international teams, of which there are eight.

The FAW has a diverse customer base, encompassing the general public (via ticket sales and membership), 160 directly affiliated clubs, and six Area Associations. The FAW has demonstrated its commitment to understanding and meeting its customers’ requirements and to maximise the quality of their services, have gained the prestigious quality management standard, ISO 9001. The FAW have successfully maintained their certification with the British Assessment Bureau (BAB) since 2007.

Why ISO certification?

John Deakin, who has worked for the FAW for the past 18 years and is currently responsible for running the Welsh Premier League, explains the importance of maintaining a formal quality management system in his industry;

“The FAW interacts with over 150 member associations across Europe for various purposes, of which many are certified to ISO 9001. As a significant member of FIFA, UEFA and the IFAB we sought certification to demonstrate best practice and to give additional legitimacy to our administrative procedures. Prior to application, we also spoke with the Scottish Football Association, who had achieved ISO 9001 and we discussed the many benefits of implementing the Standard.”

Why BAB?

BAB has over 40 years experience in the assessment industry and the BAB brand is revered as a hallmark for quality and rigour. From Government agencies to owner-managed businesses, clients depend on BAB’s systems and services to measure, test and monitor the competence and performance of their people and processes. John tells us of his experience;

“Our CEO originally convened a meeting with BAB, and we were impressed by their presentation of the Standard. Since then we have been continually satisfied with the services they offer and are soon to undergo our third year audit with BAB.”

The certification process

Once an organisation decides to go ahead, they are assigned a Lead Assessor who remains the principal contact throughout the registration process and beyond. Prior to a formal Audit, the Lead Assessor visits to explain the standard and undertakes a conformity evaluation of the organisation’s arrangements for quality management. The organisation then receives a detailed report including all required actions and together, with their Lead Assessor, determines an appropriate timetable for the Audit Assessment.

The FAW was no stranger to external audits prior to ISO 9001, being subject to regular third-party audits on behalf of UEFA. The UEFA Club Licensing System looks at various standards in clubs and assesses whether they are properly administered and financially viable. As such, the FAW had partial systems in place when BAB was first employed to conduct a gap analysis. John tells us of his experience of using BAB.

“At the implementation phase we found the service to be very helpful; the procedures were relatively easy to implement and we were able to accommodate the existing systems we had in place. There were additional processes that we had to implement in order to comply with the Standard fully – the innovation of a customer satisfaction measurement system has been particularly useful as we have had encouraging feedback from our customers which has enabled us to make improvements.”

By adhering to the ISO 9001 framework, The FAW have maintained exceptional service levels for their customers and John offers the following useful advice for those about to embark on ISO 9001 certification;

“I think the secret to a successful quality system lies in the way it is managed – right from day one, our CEO involved all departmental heads in the implementation and we continue to hold regular meetings both internally and with BAB. I would advise organisations to go into it with a blank piece of paper and start from scratch. Look at your systems afresh, so you can then identify the specifics of what you can do to improve internal efficiency and ultimately your service to customers.”

Once an organisation is ready for a formal Audit Assessment, an assigned Lead Assessor makes the required arrangements for an Audit to take place. John says;

“Although we have found the surveillance audits more daunting than the implementation, we have found the rigour of the audit process helpful. Feedback received from our Auditors has been very useful, allowing us to make continual improvements to our systems and service delivery.

Now we are in our third year of ISO 9001, we have opted for BAB’s ‘Health Check’ three weeks before our audit is booked. This will help us to reassess how we are aligned with the Standard requirements and address any potential non-conformances beforehand, making the live audit less painful!”

Benefits of implementation

Successful organisations recognise that their quality and its assurance is most credible when validated by a respected third party. The benefits include a more motivated workforce, less costly re-work and increased client satisfaction. Being accredited can also help you to gain external finance, qualify for tenders and set you apart from your competitors. In fact, 1 in 5 of BAB’s clients see an increase in new orders as a direct result of achieving ISO certification, according to findings from the 2010 client satisfaction survey. John says;

“We now have more efficient processes and are better at recording information. ISO certification has also improved our credibility and the legitimacy of how we run our organisation. It is comforting for both our customers and stakeholders to know that we have an accredited external organisation advising us on the best practice to operate efficiently and effectively.”

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