A reflection by The Director – Trevor Jones
Monday 1st July – red letter day.
ASTRA Group Services successfully completed our initial ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems accreditation audit.
A great effort by the team and our thanks to Best Practice Certification for their support and guidance during the certification process.
And notably, no Major and no Minor Non-Conformance resulted!
So why did we do it?
What better way to benchmark our unrelenting focus on quality and our culture of continuous improvement than to achieve recognition under the International quality management standard – ISO 9001:2015.
Since ASTRA’s formation in 2005, we have been assisting and supporting clients across multiple industries in the development and implementation of effective and robust management systems relevant to risk, training, quality and WHS – a key step to optimising operational readiness, cost control and legislative compliance.
In 2014 we took some initial, tentative steps towards collating our own management system documents relevant to planning, administration, accounts, client and contractor management and coined the term “AIMS” – Astra Integrated Management System – as a general descriptor for the system as a collective.
Roll forward to 2019.
Driven by our obligation as a Recognised Training Organisation (RTO) to apply a formal review and continuous improvement (PDCA) process for our training related documents and records, it seemed a logical step to apply the same approach to rationalising and consolidating all the business management processes.
So all we had to do now was collect all our various docs and records in one file, allocate a document ID protocol and insert the same looking headers and footers. Right?
While a logical document ID system was essential, it soon became clear that the existing document content and processes in place:
Were not necessarily what we needed for the business
Did not define our business model, how we actually did our business or ensure that it was undertaken effectively and efficiently; and
Certainly did not meet the intent and outcomes of ISO9001:2015
As a team, we adopted a “risk-based” approach and reviewed all our documentation to determine if it:
reflected what we did in practice;
aligned with the intent of ISO9001;
reflected our organisational context;
added value; and
it enabled our business plans and objectives to be met.
We consulted – internally and externally – we benchmarked document content against the requirements of the Standard.
We identified the gaps and where documentation overlapped until eventually we had a “systems” model that defined our essential business processes. And no gaps.
We developed a management system that guides and defines all aspects of our business model.
It adds value, it provides a template for what we do and how it is done. It identifies and logically gathers the necessary information that allows us to make informed decisions. This holds us accountable to detail our actions and is responsive to change – a true improvement trigger.
Does it create an imposition on us for time or resources to be applied?
To some extent as we continue to grow into our system, but that is offset by the efficiencies and operating discipline that flows from working within the system WE have defined.
Importantly, we believe the system works for ASTRA – it does not constrain us.
AIMS is no longer just an acronym, now it is an asset. It defines us.