Why consider ‘Quality Management Standards’ in a flexible workspace – isn’t it all about choices?
I know what you’re thinking, the mere mention of processes, procedures, frameworks, compliance and policies makes you fall asleep with boredom?
I must admit, from a personal point of view and knowing the amount of work involved in this kind of quality management project I wasn’t completely convinced that it was worthwhile and wouldn’t cause a long-term headache! I eat my words…..
Before I move on to the nitty gritty I remembered something that Jane Sartin, CEO of The Flexible Space Association said to me in a recent podcast interview. “I think it would be a mistake to generally standardise too much because choice is so important in flexible workspace.”
I agree with this comment, we should remember that different personalities, industries and businesses all require very different offerings, but they do all need a consistent, reliable service and solid infrastructure and this can be delivered far more successfully with strong processes and procedures in place.
Here’s our story of 2 halves. As a flexible workspace provider it was important that before we started we look at the feasibility of implementing a quality management system, its benefits, its costs and the time it could take. We had to consider this from both the perspective of us as business owners and more importantly, from that of our members, clients and business partners that we work with and how it benefits them.
Founded in 2012 we provide a range of flexible workspaces and support services in two separate locations within Northern Ireland and also partner with other flexible workspace providers across the globe. Over the last few years we’ve been beavering away, evolving our offerings to include the latest automations, touchless access and security systems. We’ve also developed global partnering and networks as well as leading edge guidance and flexible workspace industry best practice. All of this is fantastic but unless there is a solid system in place to ensure quality standards and to give them a framework then things can start to fall through the cracks!
Initially I’d researched with other flexi working space providers to look for an off the shelf solution but realised that there was very little available, and in fact as quite a young industry a lot of the software and support wasn’t readily available in the wider flexi workspace community. It’s an interesting industry in that not only do we have to be mindful of the processes and framework from the physical buildings side of things along with all of the routine admin and compliance but also of the people and membership side of the business.
We were incredibly fortunate to have partnered with The Tax Café NI to assist with the project, a long-term member of the Hub Newry. We knew that the Director, Deborah Lynch in addition to being an experienced accountant is also a qualified project manager and certified ISO auditor.
As business owners our key deliverables for the project were:
- Production of a full set of documented procedures to facilitate certification to ISO9001:2015
- Creation of a full Quality Management system and framework for the business to operate within
- Production of a full set of approved forms and templates for use by the business
- A review of key business processes to identify inefficiencies, remove redundant
processes and seek benefits from automating of recurring and admin heavy work.
- Identify methods of reducing the administrative burden involved in many of the
- To provide support training and implementation of the Quality Management
Within the first month of the project we had a full set of documented procedures drawn up along with approved templates and forms which allowed us to go live with our Quality Management System in April of this year. Since then we’ve worked closely with Deborah in developing and reviewing the systems implemented to make sure that it fully reflects how we want to operate as a business and can really benefit our members and partners.
We’re delighted that we have now received our full ISO 9001:2015 certification through NQA. In addition to providing us with a standard framework within which we can operate on a day-to-day basis some of the key benefits we can see from having gone through this process are:
Key Benefits for us as business owners:
- Promotes a strong emphasis on continuous improvement and development
- Forces us to look closely at how and why we do things in a certain way, and if in fact we
need to do them at all
- It allowed us to break down the business into bite sized chunks and in isolation from onboarding new members through to invoicing and then decide the best way to fit the pieces together
- As part of the Quality Management System, we’ve developed a key set of KPI reports that
help us to track how we’re doing in terms of meeting our Quality objectives
- It’s taught us that ISO certification is about always striving to be the best we can, and that
the audits and checks within the system aren’t about creating a stick to beat ourselves with but rather to help us focus our attention on the when and why’s if things go wrong so that we can use these to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over.
- In the past we struggled to get our heads round how to develop a system that would encompass all the different aspects of our business, and this has been the perfect solution for us.
- Consistent outcomes that are measured and monitored
- Improved customer retention and acquisition through a globally recognised standard
- More recognised by industry / trade bodies and business partners
Key benefits for our members, client & business partners:
- Increase in efficiency & productivity for members, time is a precious commodity
- Less wastage and improved sustainability
- A system that involves our member’s input through KPI’s and 360 degree feedback.
- Transparency and continuous improvement to our membership offerings and service
- Continuously updated database of FAQ’s and signposting for queries
- Enables more seamless integrations and expansion of service offerings for members
- A globally recognised standard and members are more confident of consistent service
- With more and more corporates using flexible workspace providers it’s increasingly important to operate to a globally recognised standard to comply with their audits, security, branding, culture and regulations.
Overall, we couldn’t be happier with our decision to develop our quality management system and have it fully certified and really look forward to developing this further.
Having now successfully implemented our own Quality Management System if you’re a flexible workspace operator I’d love to have a chat with you about the benefits of developing your systems and processes and how to create a quality, focused business approach.
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