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ISO 9001 at AirportCreators – A Case Study
Based at Schipol Airport in the the Netherlands, AirportCreators is a consulting, project management and engineering company in the field of airport development. With the help of 9001Simplified the company implemented an ISO 9001 quality management system and achieved certification in March 2021.
AirportCreators builds airports. Not simply airports. As a young and creative airport development company with a skilled and experienced team, AirportCreators is implementing non-traditional solutions to simplify the complexity of airports, reduce costs and create long-term value. Some of the company's most recent projects include:
Strategic investment planning at Dublin Airport
Development of a new terminal and pier at Schiphol Airport
Turn-key completion and system integration of the terminal building at Lelystad Airport
Development of new airport charges and cost management model at Luxembourg Airport
AirportCreators' vision of creating future-proof airports and sustainable travel is particularly visible in their recent study that led to the Hardt Hyperloop / Schiphol Airport joint venture to develop a European hyperloop network.
AirportCreators took five months to develop their quality management system
The certification audit took place at the company's Schipol office over two days
Zero findings were identified in the certification audit performed by TUV Rheinland
The Road to ISO 9001
AirportCreator's initial interest in ISO 9001 was driven by necessity as participation in tenders for big projects around the world requires a certified quality system. Prior to pursuing its own certification, AirportCreators was forced to team up with external partners that were ISO accredited, but this approach turned out to be counterproductive as both the project and AirportCreators were negatively affected by partners that didn't meet deadlines.
Realizing that ISO 9001 certification was the way forward, the company set additional objectives. For example, they wanted an efficient document control process for their paperless office. Other goals included more effective communication among team members, increased productivity, more structured methods to monitor progress, and a systematic improvement process that incorporates lessons learned.
We decided to do it ourselves because involving the team will make it easier to utilize ISO in our operations long-term.
Once the decision to get certified was made, top management engaged the team in discussions to choose the ideal implementation approach. The consultancy and Do-It-Yourself options were presented and discussed, before the unanimous conclusion was reached to do it in-house. Though cost was a consideration, the main reason was the desire to get everybody familiarized with the ISO principles in order to make it easier to adopt the quality system, maintain it, and pass future surveillance audits.
Among several providers of DIY implementation kits, 9001Simplified was selected for its thorough instructions and focus on efficiency. Particularly, the 'simplified' approach resonated with AirportCreators, itself a company that drives innovation with a stated focus on simplifying the business.
The Implementation Phase
AirportCreators chose 9001Simplified's ISO 9001 Certification Package and began the implementation project in April 2020. At the time the company didn't have a formal quality management system in place. What they did have was a personnel handbook and project management software called ExactOnline that proved to be helpful in meeting some of the ISO 9001 requirements.
Maria Tsagali, who led the implementation, involved all employees of AirportCreators by allocating each a clause of the standard and providing access to the implementation kit. The task was to come up with a process, and develop a procedure and form based on the provided templates and instructions. Maria supervised the process. Upon completion the entire team reviewed the outcome and decided whether it was sufficient or needed alterations.
It was very easy. The materials were very helpful and to the point. We just followed the instructions of the tool kit.
Project Manager and Strategy Consultant
Management were supportive from the beginning and invested in both time and budget. Though initially it was just for marketing opportunities, they soon became quite interested as the project progressed, and at the end were "really fond of their QMS". Initially for staff, the implementation of the ISO QMS seemed a very boring task. However, since all employees were actively involved in the project, they all showed a positive attitude and did their best. Soon they grew into it, they spotted their mistakes, and they came up with improvement ideas.
Adopting the new paperless ISO 9001 system and utilizing it in daily operations proved to be a natural consequence of setting up the processes. In the words of a staff member, "we had no difficulties". Maria Tsagali further explains that the entire staff had worked on the processes since April and therefore the “on-the-job testing” was easy.
The Certification Audit
By fall 2020, AirportCreators had completed the development of their quality management system. They had set up new, efficient work processes, and management and staff had made ISO part of their work routine. Before calling in the registrar for the certification audit, though, the company chose to run the ISO system for another five months, fine-tune it, and accumulate records.
The last internal audit showed that the QMS was well implemented, so not much additional preparation was needed for the certification audit. A newsletter and a couple of emails with updates and instructions were enough.
AirportCreators had selected TUV Rheinland as their registrar. The audit was conducted remotely over a two-day period and completed on March 23rd, 2021. There were zero findings. AirportCreators passed right away, no follow-up was needed.
We would follow the same approach with the 9001Simplified Do-It-Yourself tool. I think the steps we followed were successful and the guidance helpful. The Do-It-Yourself kit is effective and it works.
Strategy Consultant and Quality Manager
Tips and Lessons Learned
We asked Maria Tsagali, the implementation lead, if she had any tips for other companies at the beginning of the ISO 9001 project. For her the key lies in tailoring the materials to the needs of the individual company. In her own words, "the ISO QMS should reflect the personality of the company." So, the quality of the template and the customization instructions are important.
Another tip concerns the documentation structure. AirportCreators streamlined their quality processes by adopting a model that reflects their business operations (the "Process Structure", a configuration option of the Certification Package). According to Maria Tsagali, this choice was even validated by the certification auditor who "was really impressed that we didn't follow the numbering of the ISO standard but our efficient process structure."
At the time of writing, AirportCreators has been certified for a week but is already reaping several benefits from their ISO 9001 system. These benefits became increasingly evident as implementation progressed and include improvements to efficiency, document control, internal communications, and project management. It's noteworthy that these early internal improvements coincide with the objectives set for their quality system.
AirportCreators also noticed improvements in the overall quality of services. Given that they implemented processes that allow them to spot mistakes early, along with a formal system to recognize and adopt lessons learnt, AirportCreators expects the improvement trend to continue.
It was worth doing it. I thought we were doing well before we started with ISO but we have improved many aspects since. Our clients will benefit from more efficient and cost-effective services.
Last but not least there is the initial motivator: the marketing benefits brought along by certification. While it's too early to see an increase in sales, the company has already witnessed additional interest in its services since announcing ISO 9001 accreditation.
For AirportCreators and its clients, ISO 9001 certification has been a great success. If you would like to use the same approach that AirportCreators used, consider our ISO 9001 Certification Package (pre-configured to "Process Structure') or contact us now and let our experts assist and guide you.
1119 PA Schiphol-Rijk
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