Oxford Direct Services (ODS) is part of Oxford City Council. Employing 650 staff working from four sites across the city, it is responsible for many frontline public services ranging from building maintenance to waste management.
Like all local authority departments, it is under intense pressure to deliver high quality services cost-effectively and meet its legal statutory obligations for the benefit of the community. It also runs a commercial arm to generate income. In short, it is a multi-faceted organisation that presents significant management challenges.
The initial motivation to seek ISO 9001 certification arose because without it ODS was being excluded from commercial tenders. In response, the senior management team committed to getting the entire business certified.
Jo Gardner, Business Improvement and Accreditation Manager at ODS, trained up with Exova BM TRADA to become lead auditor and hired an external consultant to help her through the process. In the end, it took a year of consultation with all employee teams to build ISO modules flexible enough to survive future organisational restructures.
This preparation was critical. It helped Jo Gardner to sell the concept to a sceptical workforce. “What clinched it was demonstrating that the certification would show people from outside what a good job they do. Thanks to that there’s now a passion in the way we serve our customers.”
ODS appointed Exova BM TRADA to carry out its two- stage certification audit in 2014. Jo Gardner says: “Based on price and service they were the best value for money and actually, I couldn’t fault their auditing process.”
She was impressed by the auditor, he was thorough, patient and fair. “When you warn staff that the auditor is coming, they get alarmed, but he is able to get the information he needs while making everyone feel comfortable.”
Certification was registered in 2014. As well as helping ODS to win commercial work and reflecting well on them as a local council, it has numerous other important benefits. It provides a clear framework for meeting legal obligations. It keeps staff focused on doing the right things in the right way at the right time, leading to more efficiency and less waste. It benchmarks the organisation, ensuring that they achieve continuous improvement. Staff are engaged and proud of their role in maintaining the certification.
Jo Gardner says, “Having ISO 9001 certification is much more than just a gong. It changes the culture and the way you work. It just keeps everything ticking along nicely.”
ODS is retaining Exova BM TRADA to conduct their transition audit to the new version of the standard in 2017.