Case Study: IT Talent Solutions
IT Talent Solutions are a specialist IT Recruitment Consultancy, offering tailored solutions to meet the needs of clients for both permanent and contract requirements. Having experienced strong growth, they currently have offices located in Central London and in the heart of the Thames Valley. Their service is built on the awareness that the selection of personnel is vital to any business, including their own. They sought to demonstrate their attention to detail by attaining certification to the ISO 9001 quality management standard, which they duly achieved in 2011.
Why ISO certification?
ISO 9001 is first and foremost, a business improvement tool. However, IT Talent, like many others, chose the standard because it could enhance the image of the company. After researching how best to demonstrate they were at the forefront of the industry and business world in general, ISO 9001 stood out. Lily Sida-Murray, who compiled the initial research, explained how ISO 9001 looked like the right fit;
“It was a means by which we could ensure we adhere to practical and professional standards of practice and a way of translating this to our clients, candidates, and employees. As a growing company, applying for certification also provided a platform through which we could analyse our company objectively with a view to improve.”
With it being effectively a marketing decision to implement ISO 9001, Lily, who is the Communications Manager at IT Talent, took on overall implementation responsibility.
BAB has over 40 years experience in the assessment industry, with their reputation established in 1969 as a specialist in certification scheme management. Over the last three years, BAB has been able to boast an average 99% client recommendation rating and are customer service award winners. IT Talent experienced BAB’s philosophy themselves, with Lily commenting;
“We chose the British Assessment Bureau because their level of customer service outshone all other certification bodies from the start. They were extremely friendly and approachable, providing me with a wealth of knowledge and satisfying all queries quickly and efficiently. The price guarantee also meant I was confident we were provided with the best value for money.”
BAB pride themselves on being as straightforward as possible in their service delivery. Providing a Fixed Fee quotation, clients are made aware of all the costs upfront. This price is also guaranteed; no matter how many audits are required, the cost will not increase.
Like most others, the highlight for Lily at IT Talent was getting to the end of the process. Lily relived the moment, saying;
“The highlight of the service was the moment our assessor announced he would approve our application. This was clarification that we were both headed in the right direction and could say with confidence our company adheres to excellence of practice and quality of service.”
Undoubtedly, implementing ISO 9001 can appear a complicated process, so explaining your certified status to a client or other stakeholder isn’t always easy. This is why BAB provides free marketing support to all clients who wish to shout about their certification. Lily was keen to make the most of the support, given her marketing background, commenting;
“A personal highlight for me was the press release template we received on gaining official certification. Press releases were a challenge I was looking to overcome so I was pleasantly surprised when I received the email from the BAB. The template now acts as a general aid for further releases alongside a few top tips given to me by a BAB member when I rang to clarify how best to go about it.”
The news of IT Talent successfully achieving certification was warmly received by their trade body, The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo). Director Marilyn Davidson spoke of the news;
“We’re delighted to hear IT Talent has successfully achieved ISO 9001 certification. As we endeavour to encourage and support best practice within the recruitment industry, it is great to see proactive steps are being taken by a member to demonstrate they take quality management seriously. We look forward to seeing more APSCo members becoming certified, showing the wider world that the recruitment industry is responsible and customer orientated.”
The certification process
Once an organisation decides to go ahead with their certification, 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 an initial assessment of the organisation’s current arrangements. 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. Lily spoke of her experience during the initial assessment;
“After the first assessment we were given clearly set out guidelines as to what to do from then on. The timeline agreed upon geared us in to action but was not so set in stone that we felt we were under pressure to do a rushed job. We could take the time to take the appropriate steps. This initial audit was also followed up with a call from another member of the BAB to make sure everything was going ok, and to ask how we felt about the process and if we needed anything.”
“We were directed to resources and templates to help us that were both general and recruitment specific. This allowed us to work out the best course of action for us as a company. Our Lead Assessor was also always on hand to talk through ideas, issues, choices etc.”
Once an organisation is ready and has filled the gaps highlighted in the pre-Audit report, they are visited once more for the formal Audit. This will reveal the effectiveness of the management system and whether it meets all of the requirements of the standard. Lily went on to explain how the Audit went against initial preconceptions, saying;
“The second audit went very smoothly. We were given an agenda a few days prior so we knew what to expect and then it was simply a case of sitting down and giving him all the documents he needed and proving their implementation. Even in this audit we were given pointers for further improvements and these have featured heavily in our management reviews.”
Lily was also glowing of the BAB Lead Assessor, saying;
“The auditor was incredibly personable, putting us at ease and ensuring we really learnt from the process by entering into discussion. His approachability meant asking the “silly” questions were easy and we did not feel we were being interrogated.”
Although many approach ISO 9001 with trepidation, the reality is most organisations already have the beginnings of what is needed to create an effective Quality Management System. Lily supported this, saying;
“The ease at which we gained certification exceeded all my expectations. This was largely because it was much more simple and obtainable than first thought, considering ISO 9001 is such a revered certification with stringent guidelines and high expectations. In reality, because each part of the process was explained so clearly it was easy to set achievable targets with feasible timescales.”
Lily explained the main challenge during the certification process was not to over-think the requirements;
“Say what you do. Do it. Prove it. This was the mantra our Lead Assessor at BAB kept reiterating. Midway through the process I began to understand the reasons behind each requirement and that much of the processes are already in action in some form, it is simply a case of learning how to record them, tightening them up and tweaking them here and there to create a complete picture.”
“The initial process was relatively straightforward, with clear information about expectations and explanation of the process.”
Benefits of implementation
Successful organisations recognise that their claims are only truly credible when their credentials are validated by a respected third party. Lily agreed with this, saying; “The certification process has been extremely beneficial. Our main benefit has been gaining confirmation from an external assessor that our business practices meet the requirements of others.”
In addition, requirements of the ISO 9001 standard have helped internal communication, Lily explained that;
“Management reviews with specific agenda points have improved the information-flow between influential company personnel. Internal Audits ensure we objectively analyse every aspect of our company on an annual basis, and the certification logo has been an invaluable marketing tool for clients, candidates, and potential employees alike as it speaks for itself.”
IT Talent aren’t alone in realising a better performing company results in better performing people. Despite not being a priority when beginning the certification process, a happy outcome of achieving ISO 9001 is that it can help bring a more motivated workforce, as the standard brings the structure for staff to be confident in their job roles.
Becoming certified can also help companies to gain external finance, qualify for tenders and set them apart from 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 their most recent client satisfaction survey. No wonder then that, on average, 96% of clients would recommend ISO certification to others.
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