Certification marks recognition of quality

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 December, 2003, 12:00am

The ISO standard is testimony to the hard work in meeting high service standards

The Lands Department's Survey and Mapping Office has received certification for its quality management system.

The recognition, ISO9001:2000, is testimony to the hard work and consistent efforts the office has shown in improving survey and mapping services over the years.

Yeung Kin-fai, deputy director of Survey and Mapping, says its services are important to the continued growth and success of Hong Kong.

With its quality management, customers can benefit from the rich array of services and business opportunities that will flow from leveraging the full value of the office's data and skills, Mr Yeung says.

By adopting a comprehensive and effective quality management system, the office has enhanced its capability in the provision of products and services for the benefit of Hong Kong.

'Our main objectives are to satisfy customers' needs and to maintain our proven record in the accuracy and updating of information,' Mr Yeung says.

Improving customer communications is another key agenda in upgrading services.

'Though we have succeeded in maintaining effective communications with government departments, there is a call to enhance our communications with the public. We will revamp our website to provide the public with a channel to voice out their opinions,' he says.

The office took the initiative to apply for the ISO9001:2000 certification last year to show its commitment to quality and ability to satisfy customers needs.

It was successfully awarded the certification in October this year.

Mr Yeung says the decision to apply for certification was to foster a quality management system. He says the 2000 edition of the certification emphasises well-rounded quality management, which concurs with the office's management philosophy of maintaining a customer-orientated spirit and staff involvement.

'To achieve continual improvement and build the quality management process model, we have to understand our customer requirements,' he says.

'From there we can carry out resource management, product realisation, measurement, analysis and improvement and management responsibility to come up with products and services that can generate customer satisfaction.'

The ISO9001:2000 encourages organisations to review the operations process standpoint and a system which would be truly beneficial in improving performance, he says.

The certification's eight fundamental management principles are customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, process approach, system approach to management, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making and mutually beneficial supplier relationships.

The office is one of the four within the Lands Department, providing survey and mapping services to the government, the community and the private sector.

With the development of digital technologies, geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS), the applications and market for the spatial data that these services generate have been expanding rapidly.

Au Yeung Ping-kwong, assistant director for Survey and Mapping, says a consultant was employed to help launch the certification system.

This included organising management training programmes to ensure its employees understood the concept of changing and continuous improvement. Other training courses for an internal quality management team responsible for handling ISO9001 matters were also held.

The work towards applying for the ISO9001 standard was carried out between August last year and October this year, Mr Au Yeung says.

Pointing out that no additional resources were drawn on during the certification process, he says staff commitment is most important.

'To apply for the certification we needed to go through a number of work processes,' he says.

'From the very beginning it required tremendous hard work from our staff.

'They needed to review the work processes, go through all the papers and prepare documents showing the production process and how we implemented the quality concept.'

Mr Au Yeung says the hardest part of the certification work was that it put a heavy workload on the office's staff and it took nearly a year before employees could see the real benefits of the quality management system.

The mapping office's main customers are government departments, which account for most services, and technical and business professionals.

The Lands Department is the office's largest customer (supporting land administration). Mapping data also supports many government departments in their daily operations and planning. The office's spatial data is a vital contributor to many government policy initiatives.

In the private sector, technical professionals, including infrastructure providers, utilities surveyors, civil engineers and architects, have been the office's main customer segment.

The mapping office's products are used extensively to support the development and maintenance of Hong Kong's infrastructure.

More recently, technological changes and growing awareness of the potential applications of spatial data have been driving increasing demand from the professional business segment.