Magenta Living is more than just a supplier of bricks and mortar. The company is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to the highest ethical standards to provide homes and build communities. With approximately 12,200 properties, Magenta Living is the largest Registered Provider of affordable housing in Wirral.
Previously known as Wirral Partnership Homes (WPH), in 2011 the organisation embarked upon a ‘Change Journey’. The purpose of this venture was to review current operations and activities and ensure the company was ‘fit’ to compete in a challenging commercial market. While Magenta Living was keen to raise its profile and take advantage of growth opportunities, the organisation was equally intent on keeping the integrity of its core business. The promising results of the change programme were signified in July 2013 when the company changed its name and began trading as Magenta Living.
Drivers for certification
A core part of the change strategy for Magenta Living was to pursue certification to the internationally recognised quality management system standard, ISO 9001. Service Improvement Manager Marion Dykes joined the company half way through 2012 and has played an integral role within the company’s change agenda. One of the key elements of the project was to demonstrate best practice process approach and continual improvement through ISO 9001 certification.
Tasked with beginning the process, Marion said: “Having gained certification to a recognised quality management system standard such as ISO 9001 enables us to compete in the commercial arena against other housing associations. Certification with Alcumus ISOQAR helps demonstrate that we operate to best practice and have robust procedures in place that are worked to consistently and to high standards.”
Alcumus ISOQAR was the first certification body Marion contacted due to the company’s experience of working with companies in the same industry sector as Magenta. She explains:
“Alcumus (ISOQAR) had experience of working with other housing associations and therefore understood our business. Because of this knowledge and understanding they were able to give us some recommendations and observations to help improve the way we do things in the future.”
Implementing ISO 9001
Alcumus ISOQAR firstly supplied Magenta with a list of local consultants from the ISOQAR Associate Network to help the company get started with the ISO 9001 standard. As a UKAS accredited certification body, Alcumus ISOQAR is able to offer training, auditing and certification services to its customers, however for reasons of impartiality is unable to get involved in the actual implementation of management systems. Therefore the combination of Alcumus ISOQAR’s expertise and knowledge imparted by its consultants is extremely helpful to certification customers. One of ISOQAR’s associates was Richard Fielding from Mitre SME Development Centre. Richard and Magenta have enjoyed a close and fruitful working relationship as a result of going through the certification process.
Alcumus ISOQAR prides itself on the ability to offer an approachable and affordable certification service. Marion Dykes agrees that those qualities stood out clearly during the certification process.
“The quote we received from Alcumus ISOQAR was competitively priced and the auditing process was clear with the emphasis on helping us to achieve our goal. The auditors were friendly and approachable so our staff didn’t feel uptight or uneasy working around and with them.”
Benefits of certification
Magenta Living successfully gained certification to ISO 9001 in just six months. Marion says it has changed the way the company operates. “All areas of our business are now aware of the importance of working to a set of procedures and have taken ownership for their individual areas of work, embedding best practice amongst their teams. We now have a consistent approach in all we do and a framework of robust procedures to work to.”
As well as obvious changes to the company’s approach, there have also been some tangible commercial benefits from the certification. ISO 9001 certification has proven highly influential when it comes to tendering for new business.Marion explains: “Certification to ISO 9001 is one of the key components to get through the Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) stages when bidding for external contracts.
“Internally, communication between teams has improved with quality and the on-going requirements of ISO 9001 now a standing agenda item at bi-monthly operational team meetings. Our senior management team takes these elements very seriously and ensures appropriate actions are in place to ensure our conformance to the system.
“ISO 9001 certification has helped refocus the way we do things at Magenta Living and it has demonstrated that we have robust management processes and procedures in place to help us run and evolve our business.”
Having concentrated on the Building Services part of the business, Magenta now plans to expand the scope of its ISO 9001:2008 certification throughout the whole company, as well as working towards ISO 14001 (environmental) and OHSAS 18001 (health & safety) management system standards. They intend to do this again with the help of the Alcumus ISOQAR team.