ISO in action: Jeannette's story
Having been a customer of Bristol IT Company (BITC) for many years, Jeannette Cole brought a new perspective to the firm when she joined in an administrative role in September 2018. Find out how she faced up to the challenge of maintaining an ISO system for the first time.
What challenges did Jeannette face?
Jeannette had no prior experience of ISO when she joined Bristol IT Company as Accounts Administrator but her new employer, Amin Khataee, knew enough of her administrative talents to feel confident that she could keep the firm compliant with its two ISO management standards.
BITC had been certified to ISO 27001, the Information Security Management Standard, since 2014 and ISO 9001, the Quality Management Standard, since 2011. Jeannette knew that keeping these certifications were critical to BITC’s success. She comments, “I knew that BITC provides services into much bigger companies and across a range of industries, so some insist on ISO for instant peace of mind. I was daunted by the idea of taking on the systems and I was concerned about the volume of work it would generate.”
How did ISO Quality Services help?
BITC’s annual internal review visit was due just after Jeannette joined the company. The purpose of an internal review is to health check clients’ systems to ensure there are no immediate areas of concern, prior to annual re- certification audits. It also gives clients the opportunity to seek guidance on specific areas of the standard. We suggested that the internal review was extended so Colin Watkins, one of our experienced trainers and assessors, could give Jeannette a full overview of the system and what it entailed. This would enable Jeannette to start building her confidence straight away.
Jeannette was delighted to find that Colin took a collaborative rather than draconian approach, encouraging her to make changes to key documentation so she could take effective ownership more quickly. She gives an example, “When I was new to the business, I struggled to remember where all the different documents were saved. Colin showed me the Document Register and agreed that I could add a column showing the location of each file on the server. That simple change helped me feel in control.”
Building up confidence
With Amin and Colin’s support, Jeannette continued to build on the existing templates, customising them to best fit her needs and those of the business. She explains, “It’s about adding layers and making things work for YOU. I’ve since added more information to the Document Register, such as the document owner and the version number. Now, it’s clear to my colleagues that that they should use a master document rather than save a local copy and that changes should only be authorised by the document owner. We are continuing to grow the team, so I’m always on the lookout for simple things like this which make it easier for new starters to understand the way we work.”
Achieving great things
By the time the firm’s re-certification audits were due in May, the team’s confidence had been bolstered by a sizable contract win which had only been made possible by the BITC’s ISO certification (see right).
The firm easily met the requirements of both standards at the re-certification audit with our assessor, Colin, commenting, “BITC’s management system is both proven and well established. The requirements of the quality and information security standards are understood and continue to be integrated into day to day business processes.
Jeannette has made a positive contribution in ensuring the organisation complies with the requirements of the standard with a marked improvement in the recording and accessibility of documented information very much evident.”
As we find with many of our first-timers, Jeannette proves that you don’t need prior experience of ISO to keep a system running smoothly. Pre-requisites to success are logical thinking, good organisational skills and a consistent approach. Colin adds, “Jeannette demonstrates all three in abundance and I look forward to seeing her develop BITC’s systems still further.”
Planning for the future
It’s vital that knowledge is shared amongst the growing team, some of whom work remotely. The management team plans is developing an intranet so it’s clear where people should look for policies and working processes. This will also enable Jeannette to control access to confidential documents more easily.
Jeannette has already planned changes to the induction process to accommodate this development. New starters will continue to buddy up with a colleague to learn the BITC way of working but will also spend an hour a day on the intranet familiarising themselves with the management system.
Managing Director, Amin Khataee, comments, “Jeannette’s growing familiarity with ISO documentations and her active help with integrating ISO guidelines with BITC policies means we are continuing to evolve as a business and benefit from our decision to implement these standards with help from ISO Quality Services.”