We’re proud of the ISO certifications we hold across quality assurance, security, and the environment. Maintaining the highest standards and striving for ongoing improvement goes a long way to ensuring the services and support we deliver for our customers remains at the level they expect.
We recently re-certified in two of these standards, ISO 14001 for environmental impact, and ISO 9001 for quality assurance, and we’re delighted to say that we passed both audits with flying colours.
Re-certification is especially satisfying this year, as it comes as a result of some significant changes to our approach following our previous audit 12 months ago.
We’ve always been dedicated to meeting our commitments to the international standards set by ISO, but we’ve typically viewed these certifications in isolation. Our use of NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP, and rigorous adherence to set internal processes plays a crucial role in our efforts to meet ISO 9001, while the following of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations helps us to meet the environmental qualifications necessary for ISO 14001.
However, while our previous efforts represent positive progress, our audit in March 2021 unearthed the need to take a more holistic approach to our ISO commitments, and view ISO 9001 and 14001 as two elements of the same Integrated Management System.
In short, while we look to maintain the quality and consistency of our internal processes, any actions we take must follow appropriate consideration of any environmental impacts. For us, this typically centres on our carbon footprint, and the CO2 emissions we create as a result of delivering IT services and support for our customers.
We all know how much business operations have evolved in the last couple of years, and we’ve certainly felt the impacts across our own team. Before March 2020, our first thought for any project or support request was to get our engineers out and on site as often as possible. Face time with our customers has always been important, so ensuring our people were in place and ready to assist with the issue took precedence over any consideration as to whether this could be managed via alternative means. We also worked almost exclusively from our Sheffield HQ, with the vast majority of our team travelling in to the office day in day out, with some averaging commutes of over an hour.
In the last 24 months we’ve been challenged to work in new ways, and the enforced adoption of new practices has prompted a positive rethink to our strategy, and one that falls into line with our new collaborative approach to meeting ISO 9001 and 14001 standards.
Now, when planning out work as part of our IT support and service offerings, we consider not only the need to effectively deliver what is required, but how we can do so in the most environmentally conscious way possible. Ensuring our customers receive the expected level of service is still our number one priority, but part of our internal processes now involves assessment of the options for initial remote support, the potential journey time for our engineers should they need to attend site, and the options for making the journey in electric or hybrid vehicles to help reduce CO2 emissions.
It means that we can continue to maintain our rigorous internal processes, and help to meet the needs of our customers while proactively taking steps to reduce our environmental impact at every turn.
Utilising NetSuite and Microsoft Teams, we’ve also been able to support a hybrid working model which allows more freedom for sections of our team to work from home for part of the week, helping to limit the time travelling to the office and further reduce our carbon footprint.
Although our overall environmental impact is fairly modest compared to some of the other manufacturers and distributors operating in our industry, the Aspects and Impacts report undertaken as part of our recent re-certification identified CO2 emissions, mostly as a result of travel, as our biggest environmental contribution.
While the new processes discussed above can help to negate this, it’s unrealistic to think that we can ever successfully deliver IT support and services without our team working from our office, or our engineers travelling to work at customer sites. But there are steps we can take to help reduce our emissions without impacting our ability to support customers.
That’s why we’re looking to refresh our fleet of company vehicles with electric or hybrid alternatives. We’ve already made good progress in this area, with over 40% of our vehicles falling into this category, and we are looking to increase this to over 60% before the end of 2022.
ISO re-certification is not only about meeting certain international standards. It’s important to always strive for more, and look to review and refine processes wherever possible. This is especially important when considering the environment, an area where we all must take responsibility to tackle a global issue.
To build on our progress so far, we’re already exploring a number of options to become more sustainable. Whether it’s gifting even more of our unused stock to charities to help extend the life of technology, or adding solar panels to our office building to provide us with more renewable energy, we’ve got plenty of ideas to help better protect the environment while preserving the quality of service we deliver.
You can learn more about our ISO certifications here.