We are delighted to announce that our client Barrow Training have received their ISO certification for quality this month.
They are only the second company in Ireland to achieve the new standard which certainly puts them ahead of the competition. They are the FIRST training company in Ireland to achieve ISO 9001:2015 certification.
Barrow Training are based in Bagnelstown, County Carlow and were established in 2010. They provide training courses for a wide variety of subjects and their portfolio includes healthcare, childcare, personal development, management, beauty, hospitality and health and safety courses.
They already had many accreditations such as QQI, Excellence through people, VTCT and OFAA. Barrow Training attribute much of their success so far to having such high standards in place. Standards are a measure of quality and are a key form of measurement in the training industry.
Liz Doran, Director of Operations, Training and Development in Barrow Training spoke to us about her experience of the ISO certification process.
Why did you want ISO Certification?
‘Quality assurance is key in this industry, we already had some important accreditations but also wanted an internationally recognised such as ISO 9001 as I knew it would benefit our business. The ISO framework would help us provide a consistent quality performance which is vital as over 60% of our business comes from referrals and word of mouth. In relation to tendering for business, ISO is recognised as a standard of consistency which gives transparency and is a fair form of comparison’.
What were your main concerns before starting the project?
‘I was concerned about the amount of extra work that the team would have to do. The fear of the unknown made it somewhat daunting. We wondered what would the journey be like and how would we actually get there’.
Did CG Business Consulting deliver as promised?
‘Absolutely! Our consultant Lyndsey arrived on the first day to run an awareness session about ISO 9001:2015. She gave us a framework to work with, provided us with templates and explained all that we needed to do. She guided us along the way and explained the requirements of the new standard in a practical way. I initially downloaded the free transition guide on the CG Business Consulting website which has a huge amount of information in it. Lyndsey went through this and explained all the requirements to us in a way that related to our business.
We got our ISO certification on our first attempt as promised, so yes indeed they did deliver’.
What was the process like for you?
‘It was fine actually because we realised pretty quickly that we had a lot in place already. We are a very team oriented company and communicate regularly so this helped the process. We held frequent team meetings and planned our journey with dates and deadlines to suit ourselves. Having it signposted helped keep the project on track. The team really took ownership and if any member needed help or extra time we always assisted them so all our target dates were reached. Because we worked this way, there was no stress or additional pressure on any individual’.
What was the most difficult part?
‘Starting off on day one was the most daunting part. On the day after just a short while we had a framework in place that day that got us off to a great start. The level of work that we had to do was very acceptable’.
What were some of the more valuable parts of the process?
‘A simple example was our booking forms, we were all using different versions and sometimes this caused issues. Now with ISO in place, we have one version and we update it in a structured way which makes sense for the business. This helps not only with consistency but also quality control.
We have the opportunity to review everything, we can ensure that everything is up to date and the most recent version of any document is the one that everybody uses. It’s a working system and very practical for us.
The internal audit that was conducted by Ruth from CG Business Consulting was very helpful. It gave us our list of areas for improvement so we would address them well in advance of our certification audit. It was good to have a pair of fresh eyes look at what we were doing and gave us extra reassurance that we were on the right track’.
How has being ISO certified benefited your business so far?
‘We now have the framework in place to be efficient, we are more focused on our processes and we have a defined way of completing tasks. We know that we need to remain compliant for our yearly audits so we are really using the new system and seeing the benefits.
We have a new employee starting this week and it is such a help to have our quality management system in place for training this new person in the way we operate.
I am confident that it will strengthen our tendering system and the consistent quality experience for our clients will certainly lead to more referrals and more business’.
What advice would you give to somebody like you when you thinking about going for ISO?
‘I would definitely advise them to go for it. It has been a very positive experience for me and the team. It’s internationally recognised so it would be well respected and well known. It has both short and long term advantages to any business. It enhances a business reputation, it helps make the business more efficient and gives a great framework for the business to operate within’.
Tell me what is the future looking like for Barrow Training?
‘We will be telling everybody about our ISO certification and will be launching our newly updated website shortly. We are looking to expand the business and the ISO certification will be a great help in this. Autumn is a busy time for us and we have many new courses starting which we are very excited about. We respond to industry demand and are flexible with our training. We will continue to watch the market and when we see an opportunity for expansion we will explore how we can capitalise on it’.
It sounds like there will be no way to stop this ambitious successful training company in the coming years. We enjoyed working with Barrow Training on this ISO project and are delighted to get such positive feedback. Liz Doran was in conversation with Joanne O’Brien, Sales & Marketing Manager CG Business Consulting in September 2016.
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