To mark Alcumus ISOQAR’s 25th birthday, we’ve asked director Nikki Samme some questions that reveal the company’s achievements to date, what lies ahead for ISOQAR and her experiences at the company so far.
What is Alcumus ISOQAR’s biggest achievement to date?
There are too many to single out just one! Over the last 25 years the Alcumus ISOQAR business has transformed significantly, starting as a small independent certification body servicing SMEs and Local Authorities in the North West of England.
Today we are a 115-strong team with an impressive client base, exceeding 6,500 large and small organisations, both in the UK and overseas. We enter our 25th year as one of the largest UKAS Accredited Certification providers in the UK and are extremely proud to have outgrown the market every year since Alcumus acquired the business in 2010.
What makes you proud to be part of Alcumus ISOQAR?
I don’t have to think for long about this one. The commitment, expertise and strong value set of our people is without a doubt the key to our success and a point that keeps me jumping out of bed and looking forward to going to the office every day.
From our sales people, internal client services and technical teams, right through to the 100+ auditors and subcontractors who deliver over 12,000 days on client sites every year, every single colleague works tirelessly to add value to our clients.
What significant challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Challenges come with change and in the world of management system certification, change is never far away – be it new legislation, a new standard or a significant revision to an existing standard. Our focus will always be to expedite our services to support clients with adopting new and revised standards quickly, effectively and importantly, in a way that is meaningful to their individual needs.
The recent transition from old to new versions of our two most prevalent standards, ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environmental) has been a perfect example. With over four and a half thousand clients in the UK and globally to support with transition, this was probably our most significant change in our entire history.
The end of this project is in sight, with the deadline for completion being September this year, and I’m pleased to say that the majority of our clients have successfully made the transition already. Along the way there have been various challenges that you would expect with change on a significant scale – and this includes our colleagues as well as clients, as they have all adopted new processes and skills. I see it that we “evolved” through forward planning to address the challenges, rather than “overcome” them.
What moments stand out to you since you joined Alcumus ISOQAR in 2015?
Every week there is something or someone who stands out, whether it be an auditor who travels to the other side of the country to enable a fast turnaround audit to meet a client need, or a thank you email from a happy client.
Perhaps the biggest stand out moment was when we achieved UKAS “early adopter status” for the revised versions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. This was a real testament to the hard work and dedication across all of our teams and one that not only demonstrated our expertise and agility to respond to market needs, but also a put us firmly on the map to lead the way in management system certification.
What’s ahead for ISOQAR?
As we continue our growth trajectory, we will carry on developing our portfolio – next stop ISO 45001, the new and very first international standard for Occupational Health and Safety. I expect demand for this standard to be significant – especially as across the Alcumus group, we have over 30,000 clients and members whose remit includes safety management and compliance. This is an exciting time that I am confident we are well placed to thrive in.
How has ISOQAR changed over the years you’ve worked here?
Fundamentally, our approach hasn’t changed – our practical, simple and friendly service sits at the heart of what we do. What has changed is our breadth.
Breadth in our portfolio as we have introduced new standards – ISO 50001 (Energy), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity), BS EN 1090 (Structural Steel) have all been added to our portfolio in the last three years. Breadth in the skill sets and dynamics of our people as we focus on attracting new talent and supporting our people to be the best that they can be. Breadth in the geographical coverage we provide by building a network of overseas offices to support our clients with their global reach. And finally, breadth in the ways we can help our clients unlock the value in British and international management system standards.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being part of what makes people and business grow. The best times for me are when I see others succeed, whether it be a well-deserved internal promotion (we have had thirteen in the last year!) or a client who has won a new contract on the strength of their certification.
What do you believe to be the greatest strengths of ISOQAR?
It sounds like a cliché, but really and truly, the key to our success is the strengths of our people. I believe that for management system certification to add true value to our clients, we must go much further than to simply provide “a certificate on the wall”.
Management system standards are not tick box exercises; they are best practice frameworks that are brought to life in a relevant way for the context of each individual business, helping organisations to become fitter, healthier and stronger. The agility and expertise of our people has played a huge part in our 25-year heritage, and I don’t doubt will remain the key to another 25 years of outstanding growth.
Alcumus ISOQAR is delighted to celebrate this monumental milestone and looks forward to what the future holds.
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To ensure that your organisation works to best practice, choose Alcumus ISOQAR. We’re accredited by UKAS, the UK’s national accreditation body for certification providers. Request a certification quote today and become one step closer to demonstrating credibility and compliance.