ISO makes things easier on the buses, says KMB manager
A spokesman for Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), the first bus company in Hong Kong to seek ISO 9002 accreditation, has given the quality assurance system an unqualified thumbs up.
'Generally, both management and workers are happier because things are simpler, more straightforward and easier to do,' said Leung Kin-wang, KMB's deputy service manager.
'They know what's expected of them because procedures are set down quite specifically.' According to Mr Leung, who has been with the company for 17 years, getting certification was not easy. The documentation required was relatively simple. The hard part was convincing staff to change their working habits.
'You have to train your workers to change the way they do things - and any change is difficult. During implementation, there was some additional paperwork for management but this didn't affect the workers,' he said.
Mr Leung said the only additional staff needed were a few temporary clerks for typing. As the system's many advantages became apparent, management and staff alike became sold on it and went along willingly.
The service department at KMB's Kowloon Bay depot was awarded ISO 9002 certification, a quality assurance system for production, installation and servicing, in 1995, after nine months of preparation. Depots in Lai Chi Kok, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun followed in 1996.
Another three depots are being audited at present. Assuming they pass, all of the firm's seven depots will have been accredited by early summer.
But it is only the first step. 'The company plans to continue to apply this quality system to other parts of the organisation and eventually to the company as a whole,' Mr Leung said.
So what makes him so bullish? 'One of the best things about this system is that it asks you to measure whether your performance conforms with the requirements of your customers - both internal and external.
'Any deviation will be documented and any corrective action will be carried out by management. This will ensure that the requirements are ultimately met,' he said.
One of the features of the quality assurance system was that it encouraged a company not to rest on its laurels. ISO 9002 had 18 clauses which laid down the criteria applicants had to meet. 'And the system is such that you have to keep on improving,' Mr Leung said.
It must be working. It took KMB nine months for its first depot to be accredited, whereas the current batch is expected to pass muster in just five or six months.