In addition, they discussed how ISO 9001’s requirements could be further integrated into the practices’ processes, and how the team should best conduct internal audits and checks to help ongoing quality management.
Soon after this, the Outerspace management team began work to update and rewrite the quality manual together. ISO had also recently announced the 2015 revision of 9001, so they were able to satisfy its new requirements in the document. Melanie explains: “Our updated quality manual was now properly aligned with the business and the nature of our work. The next step was to make sure it didn’t just sit up on the shelf – it had to be used across the whole practice, by all our landscape architects, every day.”
Getting buy-in across the team was important to truly entrench the standard into the Outerspace team workflow. Existing staff needed coaching and support to help them adjust. Melanie continues: “As well as working with our established landscape architects to align their working practices with the quality manual, we also recognised the need to introduce our standards-based culture to new staff from day one.”
ISO 9001 requires businesses to conduct monthly management audits to ensure that quality processes are maintained. Melanie championed this process within the team – scheduling regular meetings and information gathering sessions with staff: “It’s really important to maintain consistent quality management records – to help keep us accountable to our own quality requirements, as well as for annual compliance audits,” she explains.
“Naturally, to do this meaningfully requires regular and focused time from every team member – which can be hard to find during busy client projects. A flexible approach is crucial – it’s not uncommon for planned audit meetings to be rescheduled around client and project deadline pressures. Perseverance and teamwork are really important.”