Sodexo is a global services organisation employing 35,000 people across the UK and Ireland alone.

It delivers a range of services from construction management, reception and food services through to asset maintenance, security and grounds maintenance in offices, schools, prisons, hospitals, military bases, remote sites and hospitality events and with this scope the number one priority for Sodexo is that these services are delivered safely and in a safe environment.

Underpinning the delivery of these services is Sodexo’s recognition of the importance of independent third party management system certification. While robust management structures and best practice processes have long been in place across the organisation, the heritage of the organisation meant that until recently these were specific to each part of the business.

Drivers for certification

Certification is not new to Sodexo. In fact when the organisation approached Alcumus ISOQAR, it already had an impressive portfolio of management systems in place – notably ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental), OHSAS 18001 (health & safety) and ISO 27001(information security).  Since working with Alcumus ISOQAR the company has also completed its stage one audit for ISO 22301, business continuity management.

However, as Sodexo continued to evolve, managing 60-80 certificates from multiple certification providers across the business was proving Sodexo food inefficient and time consuming. Keen to gain better visibility of activity to leverage the benefit of the numerous audit programmes in place, Sodexo embarked upon a formal tender process to find a certification services supplier which would support this single management system approach and thus ensure a more efficient deployment of resources throughout the business and accelerate improvement.

Why Alcumus ISOQAR was the supplier of choice

Alcumus ISOQAR was not a certification body supplying Sodexo, however, following a rigorous supplier evaluation process, the company was deemed to offer an approach which best suited the needs of Sodexo.

Chris Dark, Head of Safegard, at Sodexo said: ““We were adamant we wanted to work with a UKAS accredited provider, however, it was also important that we felt at ease and did not just employ a ‘cold certification body’ who simply ticked the boxes.

“Alcumus ISOQAR was very clear about how they could us help us meet our objectives of simplifying the certification process across our diverse business units. The team quickly understood the scale and scope of our business structure and were able to provide a competitive quote whilst working within our specific requirements.”

Benefits of certification

With a number of management systems in place Sodexo was already reaping the benefits of working to the requirements of international standards, however as the company continued to grow these efforts were being compromised by what Chris believes was a ‘patchwork approach’.

“Certification is a highly valuable but expensive process in an organisation the size of Sodexo. It was therefore critical to take a step back and review what we had in place and consider how it could be brought together more effectively.”

“Pooling Sodexo’s considerable expertise and resources in HSEQ management and auditing resources  quickly became the preferred option. Once we had conducted feasibility assessment, completed the cost-benefit analysis it was evident that we could easily get far more value in a more efficient way.”

When responding to tenders Sodexo has to demonstrate it is certified to relevant standards across the whole extent of its business. Now with one system in place the organisation is able to do this easily and with greater visibility.

However, it is our front line teams who benefit most from moving to a single certification supplier, they are able to focus on managing and delivering services to our clients rather than being bogged down in the office. At the same time we have improved our governance processes delivering even greater assurances that all of Sodexo’s legal and statutory duties, along with our contractual obligations, are all subject to certificated management system processes for health and safety, environmental and quality management.

Training has also played a key role in the company’s certification journey. As such Sodexo has sought the services of Alcumus Academy and a number of employees have taken lead auditor courses in quality, environmental and health & safety management.

Chris said: “The training has been very insightful. Ultimately it has helped displace myths around management systems, in particular quality management. Our team now feels more empowered to consider new ways of working and has been able to break down a lot of ‘red tape’. I am now very confident that we have a good team of capable and qualified people to help our business demonstrate to external parties that we follow a best practice approach in all that we do.”

Looking forward

Sodexo is keen that its certifications evolve in a similar vein to the growth of the business itself. Chris said:  “Looking forward our expectation of ISOQAR is consistency in the quality of the service we receive and on-going auditor knowledge and competency. We are aware that a number of key standards will soon be changing and we expect ISOQAR to support us in keeping abreast of the changes, advising us on how and when we migrate to new standards and understand the challenges and associated impacts of that transition. As we continue to work together we are confident that ISOQAR will gain greater knowledge of our business which will only assist us in our quest for continual improvement.

“This is an exciting time for Sodexo and we believe there is lots of exciting work and opportunity moving forward. At Sodexo however, our focus remains totally focused on our clients and how we can continually improve services to our customers. Certification may not appear an obvious area of focus, but getting management systems in the key areas of health and safety, environmental and quality makes a difference to our operational teams and that passes right through to our clients and customers.

“It also provides our clients with the additional assurance that we meet our legal obligations in critical areas of health and safety and environmental management and that it is our number one priority at Sodexo.”

Clearly Sodexo is an organisation which is very receptive to adopting new standards where they align with the organisation’s needs. The company has expressed interest in ISO 50001(energy management) and BS 11000 (collaborative business relationships) and looks forward to a prosperous future working with Alcumus.

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