February 2012

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Quality Management and ISO Certification
in the Automated Building Industry
Paul Guarracino

Paul Guarracino,

J.M. Electrical Company, Inc.

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When dealing with new systems and advanced approaches in today’s quickly evolving automated building systems market, quality management becomes more critical than ever. Working with advanced systems means that installers are likely to run into new complications and quality management is an excellent way to minimize these disruptions.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world's largest developer and publisher of international standards. Most ISO standards are highly specific to a particular product, material, or process and more commonly adopted by manufacturers, where product quality control is critical for supply chain management. Service firms are increasingly adopting standardized quality management systems as a way to bring additional value to their businesses. We have found it to be an invaluable process for ourselves and ultimately our customers. We have been ISO certified since 2003 and we implement the standard across all of our business areas.

We are approved for ISO 9001 certification, which means we use a quality management system. The standard provides quality management system requirements as well as quality assurance of a product, with the goal of enhancing customer satisfaction. The ISO 9001 standard is a way to assess our ability to meet customer, regulatory and our organization’s own requirements.

ISO 9001 applies to the processes that create and control the products and services an organization supplies. ISO 9001 was designed to apply to virtually any product or service, made by any process anywhere in the world. ISO’s exacting approach is a natural fit for our business, where we take specialization extremely seriously.

The ISO 9001 certification means that every system in our business (yes, every single one) has a written manual outlining the process. The system was not easy to implement, but it was worthwhile for creating a structure by which we could analyze our own decisions and document best practices. This helps us to ensure that our internal operations run smoothly, and that we continually develop and improve our relationships with our customers.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Of course, no process can guarantee that mistakes and bad days will be eliminated. We’ve found that the quality management system we have in place allows us to more quickly and accurately identify problem areas, compare them to our baseline for high quality, and fix the issue so that a bad day doesn’t become a bad habit, and that one misstep doesn’t take us off-course.

For example, we survey all customers over a certain project size when we finish work with them. We are proud of the fact that over the last five years, we have a 96% customer rating of “good” or “excellent,” but we also know how important that other 4% can be. By examining those survey results, we fix issues where we can, learn what to look for next time, and can communicate clearly and efficiently with customers to ensure that the relationship is strong.

The bottom line is that ISO 9001 is a terrific way for us to provide better results for our customers. It’s changed the culture of our company and has been integrated into every part of our business. Our company’s ISO 9001 certification guarantees continually-improving processes, providing an intensive quality management approach throughout the entire business. This allows us to avoid mistakes and meet our customer’s schedules with one hundred percent certainty, and ultimately save them money down the road by avoiding costly mistakes.


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