Benefits of Certification- An Interview with Burdekin Shire Council.

In our last newsletter on 17 July 2013, we explained to you about the Queensland Government's dismantling of second party quality assurance, and their preference for certification third party auditing bodies. Most organisations supplying Queensland Government had been given to 30th June 2013 to obtain third party certification, and many already have, but there are also a number of businesses who have not yet arranged for certification. In this newsletter we highlight the benefits of taking this step. The good news is that you would already have a quality assurance management system in place, so any changes are likely to be minimal. One of the changes you may need to make is to ensure your quality management system is working as well as you can make it. This might mean reviewing and updating procedures, updating training records, and checking that decisions have been properly authorised and documented. Without regular monitoring these things can sometimes take a back seat. The more formal and more regular audits that are conducted by a third party auditor will keep you focused and thereby will ensure you get the maximum benefit out of your quality management system. One of the most significant benefits is that a third party certificate showing the JAS-ANZ symbol is recognised around Australia, and indeed around the world. It is reliable evidence that your management system meets the international standard. This is valued by many corporates and in particular by government bodies. The formalities of third party certification mean that there are more frequent on-site audits and more independent and impartial assessments of your organisation's status. But it also means more opportunities to succeed in tenders, as independent assurance is respected not just by Queensland authorities, but worldwide. You'll be meeting higher expectations and this results in real improvements to business - get a better system, and you get a better outcome. This week we interviewed Mr. Karl Schatkowski, QA Officer/WHS Officer with Burdekin Shire Council. Burdekin Shire Council has been second party certified with the Queensland Government for many years, and earlier this year achieved third party certification to the AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Standard. Karl explains their experience. Q1. Why did you decide to take on third party certification in 9001? Well, 9001 had been implemented by the Council for a number of years. But we strive to always promote quality assurance, and in order to keep our contracts with Main Roads, we needed to prove to them that we are capable of maintaining that standard even at the 3rd party level. This was also the case with our building department, and the tenders that they may apply for.Q2. What changes did you need to implement to meet the 'tougher' requirements for a quality management system? Actually, there were really only minor non conformances that we needed to change. The biggest challenge was that since we are such a large organisation, there were a few isolated areas (such as Workplace Health and Safety, Customer Service, Environmental Health) where some procedures had to be revised and updated, and transcended from draft mode to approved status. Q3. How did you find this process- challenging, straightforward...? I have been involved in several audits over the years, and I found Paul Neilson from Certex the best auditor I've ever dealt with. He is professional, knowledgeable, and made the entire process very wonderful and easy to deal with. He never crossed the line between auditor and consultant. But, as an organisation, what we appreciated the most was that he maintained communication with us not only during the time that he was here but also after the audit. Q4. What benefits have you noticed since implementation? That's a tough question because 9001 is not something new to us. But I think it really established us as a quality supplier, and gave us added procedural efficiency. Best of all, it ensured that we were able to continue our contract with organisations such as Main Roads.

Alicja Gibert