When we think about becoming accredited, most of us instinctively frown : "It'll be too much paperwork", "It'll take up too much time", "Is it even necessary?". Yet as we hurdle further and further into modern day marketing, being quality certified is fast becoming that 'clinching factor' in tender submissions with other organizations. Why? Because achieving independent recognition for your quality systems establishes your company's proficiency in the industry, and propels you in a different league completely. Indeed, many companies that we have worked with have grown and even doubled in size since becoming certified. The fact remains that are still many major issues that are affecting the quality of service by recruitment companies across Australia and New Zealand. At its most basic level, this can be something as fundamental as a consultant's record keeping practices, compliance (or lack thereof) with legislation, training and competency levels of your staff, or it could be a tendency to overlook planning or a failure to have clear objectives or strategies. Businesses that become certified in a quality standard such as the RCSA Service Delivery Standard or AS/NZS ISO 9001 Quality Management have systems in place to manage and control these and other issues. It can be hard work - there is no denying this - but the benefits can be well worth it. APRG, an expanding recruitment business in Brisbane, recently took the plunge and embarked on an improvement program which ultimately resulted in certification in the RCSA Service Delivery Standard. This is their experience. Certex: "Why did you decide to take on the RCSA Service Delivery Standard certification?" APRG: "APRG's interest in seeking RCSA SDS certification was threefold:
- We were seeking validation of our existing processes and wanted to understand what was considered best practice within the industry - at the end of the day we did not know what we did not know and were looking for the external view point.
- We wanted a validated point of difference from the majority of our competitors.
- Recognition within the industry for the quality of the product and services provided."
- Certex: "What changes did you need to implement to meet requirements for a quality management system?" APRG: "After working through the initial checklist provided as part of signing up to the process, we realised the major changes we needed to implement to meet the standard were to implement/introduce a 'Controlled Documentation' process to the business, and formalising a structure to manage the existing policies, procedures and processes that we had in place. We also realized the management team had to adopt an improvement/innovation focus across all our processes within the business. " Certex: "How did you find this process - was it challenging or straightforward? APRG: "Whilst the days in the lead up to the initial onsite audit were quite frantic, the process that has been structured by Certex has made the process relatively straightforward to follow. The audit preparation checklist provided as part of signing up to the SDS certification gave a good indication of what to expect and, when followed up by the initial documentation review, gave us the opportunity to make improvements as we moved forward. In addition, our Operations Manager attended a 'Key Concepts in Service Delivery & Quality Management' workshop in the early stages of APRG undertaking preparation for certification. Working through the audits, it was clear that Certex were here to help improve our business and their approach made it well worthwhile. The timing was fantastic as we were transforming the business operating model and a strong quality framework was seen as an important enabler to its introduction." Certex: "What benefits have you noticed since implementation?" APRG: "There have been a number of benefits to APRG since we have undertaken the certification process. The key ones would be:
- It has challenged APRG to focus on building better internal systems and standards to take the business forward.
- By building better business systems APRG has a stronger platform for future growth and certainty around the deliverables of the business.
- Whilst we had a strong compliance focus previously, having an external party validate our processes helped our staff understand why we had put the processes/procedures in place and their importance.
- We believe it will also assist with tender submissions when we can advise what quality standards we have in place."
- Even the best of us can benefit from an extra eye looking over our processes, an extra helping hand to identify those last, niggling issues that are inhibiting our growth. Certification brings with it a higher level of understanding about how your business operates and, most importantly, how you want it to operate. Dianne Gibert is the founder of Certex International and Fathom Business Architects, which has been the certification manager for the RCSA Service Delivery Standard since 2004. Dianne has more than 20 years experience as a management consultant specialising in quality management and performance improvement. Certex International is accredited through JAS-ANZ to provide certification services to the recruitment industry in ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems.