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20 January 2015

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Case Study: McGowan Outdoor Access

Based in Scotland, McGowan Outdoor Access was founded in 2010 in response to the bad reputation the access construction industry had earned due to the lack of care whilst working in some of Scotland’s most treasured landscapes.

Director Ross McGowan wanted to show that responsible construction of bridges, tracks, footpaths and walls was both important and achievable. To demonstrate this commitment to quality and the environment, the company achieved external certification to the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards with the British Assessment Bureau in 2013.

The challenge

McGowan Outdoor Access at work

With a team holding vast experience in countryside management, the motivation was already there for McGowan to deliver a service that was sensitive to the environment. Implementing ISO standards also enable companies like McGowan to demonstrate to customers that they can walk the talk. Lisa McPherson, who is the company’s Quality Manager commented;

“We wanted to enhance our management processes and benefit from greater efficiency to help improve our business. ISO certification would also assure our clients that we will and are meeting their quality and environmental requirements.”

Whilst the ISO 14001 environmental standard was perhaps an obvious choice given McGowan’s ethos, ISO 9001 was seen as a method of achieving general business improvement. With Lisa being a qualified Internal QMS Auditor, the quality standard was already familiar. With all ISO management standards sharing commonality, Lisa’s level of understanding meant that ISO 14001 could also be taken on with confidence.

The solution

The start of the certification process begins with an initial Stage 1 visit by a BAB assessor. As part of this, a Gap Analysis is included so organisations come away knowing exactly what is needed in order to achieve successful certification.

For any growing business, there can be apprehension over ISO standards adding unnecessary bureaucracy to companies that are already functioning well. In fact, they have demonstrated themselves as tools to help bring traceability, transparency and continuity – making everyone’s lives easier! Lisa commented;

“It was surprisingly quite straight forward; initially I thought it was going to be a nightmare to ‘change’ the way we worked but in fact we already did a lot of what was required, it was simply a case of systemising our processes.”

In order to allay any nerves, organisations are only recommended for a Stage 2 audit once both the company and auditor believe they are ready. In order to keep things moving, clients like McGowan have unlimited access to their auditor; vital if timing is important. Lisa recalled;

“Derrick Ross was always on hand to answer any questions and he made the whole process a delight. Nevertheless, it was a certainly a highlight to see we successfully achieved certification first time of asking!”

The results

McGowan Outdoor Access achieve ISO status

From start to finish, McGowan achieved certification to both standards in 4 months. McGowan demonstrated that they had already been running a tight ship; the certification process helped them build on this. For their clients, ISO 9001 promises the company is committed to providing a high level of service, consistently. Meanwhile, ISO 14001 has helped McGowan to reduce their environmental impact. With everyone now singing off the same hymn sheet, Lisa commented on the overall benefits;

“Now we have a robust Management System in place that everyone conforms to, which can only help us deliver a better service. The certifications are also evidence in tender situations that we are committed to constantly meeting our customer requirements.”

With these standards in place, Lisa will be responsible for the ongoing internal audits required in between the company’s annual assessments. McGowan is now taking on their next challenge – the OHSAS 18001 standard to demonstrate they conform to health and safety requirements.

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