deutsche Version

House of PM GmbH - Interview ISO 9001 certification

Interview ISO 9001 certification

Talking with Hauke Thun

Motivation and background for the ISO 9001 certification of the House of PM GmbH


Why is an ISO9001 certification of interest to a project management consultant / service provider?

Hauke Thun: "To put it bluntly, for us this an investment in our sales channel. For us as a company, ISO certification opens up the possibility of being able to bid on more tenders. Of course there is much more to it than that. The companies require ISO certification in their tenders for certain reasons. On the one hand, the ISO certification indicates that we as a company have a certain degree of maturity. This means that our corporate governance processes are comprehensible, transparent and efficient. This serves to minimize risk on both sides. The customer company can rely on the fact that as a provider we pay attention to continuous improvement and error prevention in all essential business areas (from the recruitment of employees, our sales and bidding procedures, the quality of our services to customer satisfaction surveys). Thus, our customer does not have to ensure himself that no risks for him arise through the commissioning of our services. With this, we can also take away the reservations of possible skeptics, who may consider us a “bunch of clowns” due to the size of our company. On the other hand, as managing director, with the basic framework an ISO certification provides, I can implement this framework in my company and make sure that my employees follow it. In this way, I ensure that we minimize the risks that can arise from errors in the processes."

Is an ISO9001 certification still up-to-date? How can ISO9001:2015 be reconciled with the agile organization outside of production plants resp. in the service sector?

Hauke Thun: "Quality in itself is not a question of time. Especially in the increasingly complex world of work, adequate quality management is important. Even though rigid standards and documented processes contradict agile working methods, it is possible to unite the two worlds. In particular, the revised version of ISO9001 also allows more freedom here, as it has become leaner with the high-level structure. There is an explicit footnote in Chapter 7 that refers to the necessary amount of documented information. So it is not a question of creating tons of documentation. The decisive factor is that the core processes are documented and, above all, that they are demonstrably lived.

This is also possible in an agile organization. For example, the methodological approach and the regulated processes in Scrum are strongly designed for continuous improvement. The iterative work in sprints is essentially a quality-oriented development of customer requirements, whereby deviations from the desired ideal can be identified and corrected at short intervals directly by the customer and his representative, the product owner.

The German Society for Quality has assessed the quality management concept in view of companies that have become more flexible due to dynamic markets under turbulent conditions. As a result, the German Society for Quality has defined a manifesto for agile quality management, which forms the bridge for a compatibility of ISO 9001 and agile QM:

Manifesto for agile quality management

For ISO certification, the agile working methodology can be described slimly in the Wiki and revised in the event of changes to the process. In addition, the status boards updated in the dailies make it easy to follow the application in everyday work. If you want to be sure, you can prove this with a photo protocol, but this is not necessary. By involving the entire team in the continuous improvement of the working methodology, the processes are much more internalized and can therefore be presented in a credible manner to an auditor. Nevertheless, for an agile organization it is certainly advantageous if the auditor is already familiar with agile working methods and knows how to assess the effects of the associated dynamics.

However, the question of the effort invested in the documentation required for an ISO certification is certainly justified. But here modern IT systems offer advantages, so that instead of a lot of dusty file folders in the closet today, a lean documentation in the Wiki or internal document management system is sufficient."

How do the customers benefit from the ISO9001 certification of House of PM?

Hauke Thun: "Our customers can be sure that we take their requirements seriously and ensure appropriate risk management. In addition, with the implemented ISO 9001 standard, we increase our proximity to our customers in highly regulated areas, i.e. strongly process-oriented organizations such as serial producers and industrial service providers. By imposing ourselves to act according to ISO 9001 and proving this through regular audits, we have a good understanding of our customers' quality management systems and the associated impact on project work. Thus, the ISO 9001 certification directly and indirectly promotes the satisfaction of our customers."

How does the ISO9001 certification change the way House of PM works?

Hauke Thun: "Actually, not much has changed in our way of working. Although we are a relatively small company, we already designed our way of working as very process-oriented years ago. All essential management processes have been documented in our Wiki for years and are regularly revised based on the impulses for improvement from our practiced process for continuous improvement (CIP). With our "Quality Sparring Partner Concept“, we have also established a quality management for our customer projects. In addition to regular reviews of the project management quality with the project managers, the concept also provides for a continuous conduct of customer satisfaction surveys.

In preparation for the initial audits, we therefore only checked our documented processes once again for compliance with the standard, ensured that all employees were familiar with the latest version of the processes and created a corresponding umbrella document. The fact that we were well positioned right from the start is particularly evident from the fact that the auditor only had minor comments that we were able to correct at short notice."