Quality and ISO Certification

What constitutes Quality? In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” the hero’s quest for the meaning of Quality leads to madness. If you google Quality, you might find something like “…the non-inferiority or superiority of something; it’s also defined as being suitable for its intended purpose while satisfying customer expectations.” That’s Wikipedia. According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), quality is determined by the“Degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fullfils requirements.”

ISO is internationally recognized as the gold standard for quality management, and M Powered Strategies’ Quality Management System (QMS) is certified to the ISO 9001:2015 standard. Every year, an accredited auditor spends two days at MPS, conducting a thorough audit of our QMS. The most recent audit was completed in March of 2019.

Curious about what exactly was involved in this process and what an ISO certification means, our Communications team sat down with Wes Cronkite, ISO Project Manager at MPS, to find out.

COMMS: Defining quality, when you’re talking about tangibles like cars or electronic devices, is pretty straight forward. (Does it do what it’s supposed to do? How well? And will it continue to operate for another two or ten years?) But when it comes to services, quality isn’t so easy to define, much less measure.

WES: I couldn’t agree more. So Step One in establishing the baseline for M Powered Strategies’ QMS, was to define our Quality Policy, which is:

MPS will deliver management consulting services to our clients that exceed expectations. We will do this by

  1. continually monitoring their management environment to forecast the client’s organizational needs,
  2. documenting our own capabilities which meet those needs, and
  3. acquiring and deploying any additional resources required to deliver the products and solutions our clients need.

We will do this in a consistent, professional and organized manner to ensure that clients receive dependable quality and achieve valuable organizational outcomes.

So Quality, in essence, means being true to our word. Living up to this claim.

COMMS: OK, that makes sense. But how can you measure that?

WES: First, there is client recognition – awards or notes of commendation. Then we look at the return rate. And beyond that, how often and consistently do our clients exercise option years on the contracts? (We have a quality objective to maintain at least an 85% rate of execution for all contract option periods.) Or how often do they request an addition of resources or expansion of existing contracts?

Then we look at capabilities development. As part of our Quality agreement, MPS has pledged to either update existing capabilities, or develop new ones on a yearly basis.

COMMS: So what exactly does the auditor expect to examine when they come to MPS for the annual checkup?

WES: We provide all the documentation pertaining to our proposal and bidding processes, as well as our business development and recruiting. For example, we compile presentations from past meetings, meeting minutes, dashboards, etc. The auditor also conducts intense and lengthy interviews with Sarah Nurse, our Vice President of Client Services, and Andrew MacDonald, Vice President of Administration and HR Director.                                               

Monitoring our QMS is really a year-round process. Several weeks before audit time rolls around, my team – Quality Manager, Hoor Jangda, and Janet Schwartz, MPS’ Operations Manager – starts gathering the documents that have been generated over the course of the past twelve months.

COMMS: Is it really worth it? What is the point of this ISO certification?

WES: Measuring our quality is important at MPS because ultimately, we are a service-driven organization. When we write a proposal or develop an opportunity to deliver our services to a client, it’s important for them to know that we have a quality policy and a quality management system that defines and measures ways in which our services will be effective for them. Having the ISO certification provides our clients and the marketplace with the due diligence of knowing that our quality management system is consistent with the industry standard.

COMMS: Well thank you for taking the time to explain this to us, Wes. Congratulations to you, Hoor and Janet for successfully completing yet another audit. At MPS, we are proud of the products and services we deliver, and the ISO 9001:2015 certification provides internationally recognized third party validation.