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Published

20 January 2015

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Case Study: Sight for Surrey

ISO 9001

 

Sight for Surrey is the largest charitable organisation in Surrey working with people who have or who are experiencing the effects of sight loss or combined sight and hearing loss. The charity has provided support to vision impaired people since 1922.

In this case study, we talk to Sight for Surrey about their achievement in holding certification to the ISO 9001 quality management standard for more than six  years.

The challenge

As with many charities, Sight for Surrey faces the constant challenge to deliver a high level of service with limited resources and, largely, a volunteer workforce. Nevertheless, the charity is committed to delivering irrespective of the obstacles faced and in 2007 investigated ISO 9001 as a framework to help them improve their quality management.

Surrey for Sight hold ISO 9001 certification

Today, Lynda Ellis – the charity’s Head of Administration – takes overall responsibility for ISO 9001. Her role is to inform and guide the organisation in the importance of quality management and manage the ongoing requirements of ISO 9001. Lynda looked back at the reasons for deciding on the charity choosing the standard back in 2007:

“We recognised the importance of quality management, and felt we should be recognised for the achievements we had made. As such, ISO 9001 looked like a good fit. With certification, not only did we have an internal benchmark, but it would show stakeholders that we meet a globally recognised standard.”

“We saw ISO 9001 as an opportunity to review our procedures to see if we could uncover further efficiencies which would help to reduce costs. We also found that holding certification to the standard could lead to more work, as larger clients had indicated it would be a positive step.”

Quite simply, ISO 9001 certification provides reassurance that organisations deliver a high level of service, consistently.  Achieving and maintaining certification involves rigorous audits to ensure ongoing compliance, which is why it is rightly recognised as international best practice for quality management.

The solution

With Sight for Surrey keen on ISO 9001, it was then a case of choosing which Certification Body to progress with. Lynda commented on the relationship with BAB:

“We have used BAB since 2007 and have always been extremely impressed with the level of professionalism shown by all its auditors.  Any feedback has always been constructive and we have therefore improved our systems continuously.”

As with all BAB’s clients, the process all began with an initial Stage 1 visit in order to ascertain how the organisation’s existing processes aligned with the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard. The idea was for the charity’s team to understand exactly what needed to be in place in order to successfully achieve certification. Lynda commented:

“We had met with a number of providers prior, but none appeared to understand the nature of our business like BAB. This was reflected in our first visit by our auditor in 2007, where we felt the approach was extremely well-tailored to our organisation. Whilst there was a large amount of work initially to ensure that we met the standard, it was a positive experience.”

Surrey for Sight client

Demonstrating their inherent commitment to quality, Sight for Surrey were ready for the all important Stage 2 audit just three months later, which they duly passed first time of asking. Since then, the organisation has undergone six annual surveillance audits to ensure they continue to conform and demonstrate continuous improvement. Lynda commented on their experience of the audits over the years, saying:

“We have always found the audit process extremely positive, with feedback being constructive rather than destructive!  The process gives the organisation the focus to ensure that everything we do is well-recorded and timely.  The assessors have highlighted areas within our organisation which have led to a programme of continuous improvement.  We also find the audit summary report an extremely useful tool.”

The results

Sight for Surrey has achieved its aim of achieving external recognition for the hard work the charity has put in to become a customer-focused organisation.

Over time, ISO 9001 has been a benchmark for the charity to ensure they stay on track, certification demonstrating that effective quality management is part of the organisation’s culture. For their stakeholders, their certificate gives confidence that the service they receive will be at a consistently high level. Lynda explained the highlights of holding certification:

“It’s still a highlight to achieve successful certification year on year, confirming we continue to maintain effective quality management processes.  We always circulate the positive comments from assessors to the whole organisation.”

Lynda added:

“To us, ISO 9001 is one of the most recognised standards and we are very proud to hold certification. As well as encouraging us to maintain our focus on quality management, certification has allowed us to demonstrate to external organisations just how good we are.”


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