Expert Interview – Angela Brown – Quality Assurance
Hello Angela. Can you please tell us a little about your background?
I have a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from QUT and have worked predominately in Sales, Customer Service and Administration across several industries.
Can you give us a quick rundown on what exactly Quality Assurance is?
The ultimate goal of quality assurance is customer satisfaction.
ISO 9001:2008 is the internationally recognised standard and provides a set of requirements to help manage a company’s processes and ensure that product is consistently created to satisfy your customers’ requirements.
What are the pros and cons of becoming quality assured?
Developing a quality system with the sole purpose of passing certification would definitely be a con and completely misses the point of going through this process.
If approached with the right attitude a quality system can provide numerous benefits right across the company. The ultimate goal is increased customer satisfaction but you may also see improvements in staff morale, return on investment, better communication between departments, better safety performance and higher quality product.
From the customers’ point of view, when purchasing from a company with ISO 9001:2008 certification they can be confident of receiving a quality product and experience.
You recently headed up the process of Bluewire Media becoming ISO accredited. Can you explain a little about what we needed to do to become quality assured? Did it go smoothly?
I certainly wouldn’t say that I headed up the process as the whole team was involved in preparing for accreditation. Lorelle Keogh, Director of Operations at Secnet served as our guide through the process. She was able to audit our existing systems and offer advice on how these could be improved upon in this initial phase.
From my experience Bluewire is quite unique in that we already had processes in place which were created and continually being improved by staff. The accreditation process allowed us to identify the areas that were lacking and ensure that each process fit seamlessly with the next. For us the process went very smoothly and highlighted that we were in fact moving the company in the right direction.
What happens next? Can you explain the difference between internal and external auditing?
In order to maintain this certification, we will need to undergo continual internal checks of the system and will be audited by an external assessor once a year.
External Audit – this is conducted on an annual basis by an independent auditor. All aspects of a system are assessed to ensure that stated requirements of ISO 9001:2008 are being met.
Internal Audit – this is conducted internally with someone outside of a particular process acting as the auditor. The purpose is to check that processes are being used, identify any gaps or problems with the process and provide recommendations to management. Measures of success can also be identified to help measure the success of any action that is taken.
Can you give any tips or advice to other companies wishing to become Quality Assured?
Don’t just go through the motions to become accredited, make sure you use the experience to improve your business.
An important part of this is making sure that staff understand the purpose of quality assurance and become involved. In many cases they will be the ones using these processes on a daily basis and can play a big part in making improvements.
Having spent quite a number of years working for different companies of varying sizes and structures, how would you compare the internal processes at Bluewire Media to that of some of your previous places of work?
I was impressed with Bluewire’s processes before we started the process of becoming quality assured. As a team we continually discuss processes and whether or not they are working. When there are gaps or problems we work towards improving things as a group and often try new ways of streamlining our processes and improving results for our clients.
I have found that other organisations lack communication which ultimately means that not one process is used at any given time. This leads to inconsistencies, unhappy staff and ultimately unhappy clients.
Actually being part of the process and being given the responsibility to improve a process that is not working provides a lot of satisfaction which is not understood by many businesses (large and small).
Quality Assurance Manager isn’t your only responsibility at Bluewire. How do you juggle so many different roles without completely losing your head?
The fact that I enjoy having multiple roles really helps! I also find that batching work makes my day more efficient. For example I will spend an afternoon on nothing but HR rather than trying to work on many different tasks at the same time.