Handley prepares top-class procedure
CONSULTANCY PE Handley Walker worked with and guided Jardine Technical Services to help it attain the standards required for its ISO 9002 certification.
Roger Johnson, PE Handley Walker's quality assurance services manager, worked with a JTS team from preliminary review to final certification.
Both sides contributed different expertise.
The preliminary review assessed JTS's existing practices and then determined what needed to be done to meet the ISO standards.
When this was done, a development plan was drawn up that included a requirement to train staff in the new system.
One of the main tasks when preparing for certification is producing documentation. For this aspect of the procedure, Mr Johnson wrote the quality manual and quality management procedures, to which JTS made contributions. JTS, meanwhile, wrote all the operations manuals, with Mr Johnson's help.
'The objective was to get everything in place and running for a short time before we held a dummy audit,' Mr Johnson said.
'The few problems we found at the audit were then corrected and the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Association audit was successfully passed in October.' JTS is one of many Hong Kong companies that have achieved ISO certification, in contrast to when the Government took its first initiative to improve quality in 1984.
Much of the pressure on companies to achieve ISO, the most common sign that a company is quality-minded, comes from outside: The Government specifies that certification is a prerequisite for tendering for government contracts.
The Housing Authority requires that all its contractors are ISO certified.
Overseas customers, mainly in Europe and Australia, insist their suppliers be ISO-certified.
Multinationals that have benefitted from ISO overseas have also encouraged their Hong Kong and China branches to attain the standard.
However, Mr Johnson said trying for ISO because of outside pressure may not always lead to the best result and there were signs of this trend changing.
'Increasingly, people are beginning to believe that ISO does bring improvements and we are receiving a growing number of inquiries motivated . . . [by] the manager looking for internal improvement,' he said.
Even though ISO is still orientated towards manufacturing at a time when Hong Kong is making big changes from that field to providing services, service companies have also obtained ISO - among them New Zealand Insurance, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation and Hongkong Telecom.
Hong Kong's service industries are facing competition from overseas companies that have ISO, particularly transport and finance-related organisations.
Some estate agencies in Malaysia and Britain are also ISO-certified.
However ISO certification on its own will not solve problems.
'If it is not treated correctly, it is a bureaucratic nightmare and does not take the company forward,' he said.
'A company has to do something with it: it is only a system and will not provide consistency of quality in itself.'