» Celebrating World Quality Day 2020

12 November, 2020

Today we celebrate World Quality Day, giving us the opportunity to acknowledge and showcase the individuals and organisations that are driving quality in 2020.

The theme for World Quality Day this year is ‘Creating Customer Value’ by enhancing quality through innovation and by continuously working to improve products, services and processes.

As the UK’s sole National Accreditation Body, UKAS is proud of the role we play in enabling all our accredited organisations to maintain excellent quality and ensure the quest for continuous improvement delivers even greater value to their customers and end-users of their services.

One of the aims of accreditation is to support and encourage continual improvement, with UKAS helping accredited organisations ensure high quality is maintained through our rigorous and impartial assessment programme.  These assessments provide a valuable opportunity for participating organisations to examine and re-examine products, processes and competencies to ensure they are delivering the highest quality possible.

Innovation is an important aspect of this process as it is vitally important to ensure the best tools and processes are adopted as they are developed and proven.

The constant mission for improvement is embedded at the core of UKAS’ own operation.  One of the primary catalysts for improvement is the continuous feedback loop that we maintain with our accredited organisations.  By regularly seeking feedback and listening to our customers we can be clear on our strengths, as well as being vigilant to where improvements can be made. We also pay attention to the innovations or additional services that may add value

To this end, UKAS employs a whole team of quality-centric personnel in our Technical and Quality Governance section.  The role of these individual is to monitor feedback and engage with customers to identify, support and facilitate changes, so as to demonstrate continuous improvement.

Our Customer Satisfaction Surveys are a big part of this service and are sent out to all our customers.  The responses to these surveys play an important part in our strategy and the development of our Service Excellence Plans.  Jackie Burton, Process Improvement and Feedback Manager at UKAS, is always keen to emphasise that while positive feedback is always gratefully received, all feedback is addressed and, in many cases, criticism is an even more powerful driver for the improvement we continuously strive for.

Agility is something that all accredited bodies need to demonstrate, and the additional challenges of 2020 have proved this point beyond all doubt.  This year UKAS had to demonstrate this agility ourselves by rapidly implementing a remote assessment programme that allowed our customers to maintain their accredited status whilst ensuring the marketplace could continue to have confidence in UKAS accredited services.  As a result of this, 90% of assessments carried out in 2020 have been done remotely.

Many accredited laboratories offering COVID-19 related services have also needed to apply for urgent Extensions to Scope (ETS) in order to offer enhanced testing during the pandemic.  In addition to the delivery of a robust remote assessment programme that protected the integrity of the assessment, accelerated accreditation programmes were implemented to allow rapid extensions to scope, with some testing laboratories achieving accredited status for COVID-related activities inside 12 weeks.

UKAS and our customers have made full use of technology during this period to enhance communications at a time when face-to-face meetings were vastly reduced.  An extensive free webinar programme was rolled out to make sure customers were kept informed on how UKAS was responding to the COVID crisis and, more importantly, facilitated two-way communications that allowed webinar attendees to ask questions and make requests or suggestions.

Customer collaboration and engagement is essential for creating a service that fits the evolving needs of all UKAS’ customers and we are delighted that our current Net Promoter Score shows that we have continued to improve our service and and assessment approach during these challenging times.

In maintaining this continuous feedback loop, in addition to working on constant incremental improvements, our customers also feed-back the elements of the accreditation processes that enhance their businesses.   A benefit repeatedly reported on is that the UKAS assessment process keeps companies on track for quality by keeping their quality goals at the front of their minds and encouraging strict adherence to the Quality Management System.

Only through repeatedly asking themselves questions such as ‘Are we doing the best we can?’; ‘Is this still the best process to use?’ and ‘What improvements can we make?’ can an organisation achieve and maintain exceptional quality.

These are questions that UKAS asks of itself on a daily basis, which is the guiding principal for delivering and enhancing customer value in a continuously evolving world.

 

Rob Bettinson has also shared his views on World Quality Day, reflecting on how UKAS' own practices create customer value and facilitate the same in others in this short video.