For any organisation providing goods or services, the ability to demonstrate dedication to quality, safety and efficiency is a priority.

In many cases, achieving certification to international standards such ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 45001 (health & safety management) is vital to meet statutory regulatory requirements in their industry sector.

But certification goes beyond compliance. It also demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to ensuring their own customers’ satisfaction, delivering quality products and services, proving its reliability, and demonstrating its drive for continual improvement.

Achieving and maintaining certification

Standards certification is not easily won. To achieve and then maintain its highly prized certifications, a business has to undergo external audits by the appropriate certification body on an annual basis.

That is why many organisations will carry out internal audits at regular intervals, using appropriately trained employees to uncover and advise on weaknesses in the system and improvements that could be made. Organisations need to share an understanding of what’s required with both managers and employees, who can work together towards ensuring working practices and systems comply with requirements.

Training with Bywater

The ability to carry out effective internal auditing is important for organisations such as Rochester Midland Corporation in the UK (RMC UK), a company focusing on helping its customers to manage quality, environmental commitments and health & safety. From reduced water use through waste water efficiency to safe chemical handling, RMC UK offers management programmes that are green, financially viable and add social value to users and communities.

The company has recently turned to Bywater, the leading UK independent provider of professional training programmes, to deliver introductory auditor training. With more staff gaining an overview of the process and value of conducting internal audits, the organisation would be in a better position to deliver continual improvement throughout the business.

RMC UK chose to book Bywater’s 1-day Fundamentals of Auditing training course. This is a highly practical and interactive training course that introduces the main principles of auditing and the process by which it can be managed effectively within an organisation. The course is designed for those new to the concept as well as anyone wanting to refresh their knowledge.

The company opted for a dedicated training course at its own premises, for 10 delegates from two different locations. Dedicated training has the benefit of focusing the course on one organisation’s specific knowledge needs, as well as bringing together colleagues who might not normally meet in the course of their daily work.

Training styles

As with all Bywater training, the course is supported with a handout providing key information, which is used by delegates to make notes during the course and as a reference back in the office.

Working through this document is just one aspect of the training though. Recognising that different people benefit from different styles of learning, Bywater builds in interactive activities, such as discussions, role play and case studies. The tutors also ensure that delegates feel sufficiently comfortable to ask any questions for greater clarity.

Expert tutors

Bywater is proud of its record in employing tutors who combine a strong practical background in their subject with an ability to engage with their audiences to share knowledge and skills. Craig, who tutored the course for RMC UK, is no exception, having worked around the globe in industries such as oil and gas, as well as for a certification body.  His practical knowledge of the ISO 9001, 14001 and  45001 standards is an ideal background for customers who are applying all three through an integrated management system.

A particular highlight in this case was the opportunity for breakout discussions. Says Craig: ‘We spent time looking at audit best practice, and the value of taking a risk-based approach rather than just carrying out a tick-box exercise. It’s the difference between being proactive in quality management and simply reactive’.

The workshops also went well, says Craig, with every delegate fully immersing themselves in the tasks and working extremely well within their team. Craig was careful to mix delegates from the two locations, many of whom had not met before, so that they could provide input from their different perspectives – and get to know their counterparts for a closer working relationship in future.

Customer satisfaction

Bywater always asks for feedback at the end of a training course, determined to continually improve its own services. RMC’s comments highlighted the relatable content of the course and the engaging style of the tutoring. As one delegate said: ‘The tutor was very relatable and explained everything accordingly based on the knowledge and experience of the group. From this we should all be able to apply from what we have learnt.’

Moving forward

Running the course has raised awareness of the challenges and processes that audits entail, and the importance of the annual external certification audits.

Because this introductory training course covers general principles of auditing, it is relevant to all three ISO standards covered by an integrated management system such as that implemented at RMC UK. As a result the teams can apply their new learning to Environmental and Health & Safety Management Systems as well as Quality Management.

For those who wish to go on to develop their skills in internal auditing, Bywater offers a full programme of more advanced auditing training against specific ISO standards.

Tutor Craig adds that the emphasis on risk-based management gave the delegates some food for thought: ‘Indications from the leadership team were that they would arrange for personnel from each office to cross-audit each other’s operations, offering a fresh pair of eyes, to establish areas for improvement and to re-enforce the strong team culture between the two offices.’