The route to accreditation

ISO9001 - The route to standards

K9 Protection has a culture of pragmatic honesty within the business, and has done since our inception, sometimes seen as candid, but always respected by the right kind of clients.

Since the company began, K9 Protection Ltd have always had procedures in place to deal with most things. They started off as a "fag-packet guide book", which was gradually replaced by a number of overview policies and procedures, based on templates we procured from various sources, including business groups and friends in the industry. Whatever we did, there was always something lacking. In late 2014, I spoke to our MD about buying in a system, and at the time a consultancy company were offering a pre-written ISO9001:2008 system for £300, so like many security companies, we purchased a copy. We were told to just go through the manual and hilight anything we'd like to change, and once we're ready to proceed, we could just go ahead and get assessment - using the preferred assessment company of the supplier, of course.

After about three months of being too busy, I set to work. Three nights in the office going through the manual page-by-page. Paragraph by paragraph, and at this point came to realise something: What I'd just spent good money on was a pile of crap! The "system" we had purchased didn't fit with our way of doing business at all; and furthermore was blatantly a messy collection of documents collected from various other companies. The blanket search and replace to replace every time a company name had failed to catch any where the punctuation was slightly different. I counted at least four other security companies that the documentation was owned by before being sold to us (and countless others). Even if the names didn't show in the document, they still showed in the document meta-data. Formatting was off; each document was formatted differently, no standardisation across the board of fonts, general conventions, or even file formats - with word processing documents being stored as docx, doc, and rtf files in random places.

When I called the consultancy, I mentioned some of the changes that would be needed "our purchase ordering system is a digital database", our "incident forms are electronically stored" - I was told that we would need to change our way of doing business: to shape our company around the procedure manual. I politely explained that we would not be doing that, as our methododolgy works well, and our current procedures were a better fit, and I was told "it's the way it needs to be done". Needless to say, at the next management meeting, it was discussed and we decided not to proceed with that particular supplier. With the time-line now being July 2015, it was decided to hold off until October to make a decision on ISO with a new system just around the corner.

Where are we at with ISO9001:2015

We have a copy of the ISO9001:2015 manaul, and are currently busy writing new procedures around the way we work to meet the standard. After five years of trading, it's clear that we're doing something right, and that feeling when procedures just flow because it's "just what we do" is reassuring. We are currently managing to draft a procedure each day - with a couple of days passing around the team to ensure it fits before casting it in to the dreaded "for accreditation" directory on the file server. It's a refreshing feeling too that we are coming across things that could work a little better in our current processes, and subsequently tweaking as we go; where data is stored, the structure on the filing system.. even abandoning our beloved DropBox for an in-house file system in order to comply with the data protection laws since "SafeHarbor" was kicked in to touch by the European Courts.

We were anticipating being ISO accredited by October, but a busy Q2 of this year has probably pushed us back nearer the end of the year. This is at great cost to the company. We are still having to decline work for large corps or government departments, and it's frustrating! Not because we're not better than the suppliers that are getting the work, but because through passion, dedication and belief in our way of doing things the same £300 procedure manual has been used to shoe-horn many cowboy competitors in to being ACS and ISO9001 accredited companies.

I'm sure as soon as we have the certificate I'll be told to let everyone know, so until then, thanks for reading.

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