In this insightful interview with Richard Dolman, Lead Consultant at Glade Consulting Services, we gain an understanding of the company’s commitment to helping others achieve and maintain that all-important ISO certification.
Could you provide an overview of Glade Consulting Services Ltd and its primary mission?
At Glade Consultancy Services we help companies to achieve ISO certification and, if they are already certified, help them maintain it. Our raison d’etre is to help companies improve and we use ISO certification to achieve that. ISO standards are built on a ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ framework which drives organisations to systematically review and improve themselves.
What inspired the establishment of the company and its focus on supporting UK-based manufacturing and supply chains, particularly in automotive, aerospace and construction sectors?
I set Glade Consulting Services up in 2017 as the country was on the journey towards Brexit. With all the uncertainty on the horizon, I saw an opportunity to help businesses improve. I am passionate about manufacturing, having worked for over 25 years in the steel industry. From working in so many key supply chains around the world, seeing how things are made, and hearing constantly about the productivity gap in the UK versus the rest of Europe, I realised I had the opportunity to help, in a small way, to close that gap. Making things is what Britain – and especially the Sheffield City Region – is good at and my drive is to help companies reduce waste (actual waste and the waste of lost capacity through having to correct mistakes).
“I wouldn’t want to underestimate the stress that owners and business leaders face when heading towards an audit – it really can be stressful, especially when heading into the unknown after a period of taking their eye off the ‘ISO’ ball. However, having a trusted partner to help you through the process can really make the difference.”
This has been borne out in the way that the business has grown and the feedback that we have received. The trouble with ISO 9001 (or whatever standard you are implementing) is that it can be an exercise that merely ticks a box. We try to embed it in such a way that it makes a difference and brings value to the client. Even when companies bring in their own team, they often still turn to us to provide ongoing guidance and support to their team. They see us as a service that adds value to them and takes away their worries.
Can you share some specific examples of how your team’s expertise has benefited SME businesses?
Potential clients get in touch for a number of reasons, but they roughly fit into a number of categories, which include:
- They need to get ISO 9001 or whatever standard is needed to win business and they don’t know where to start with it.
- They are already certified, but the person who managed it has left and they haven’t the foggiest where or how the information is kept. This especially comes into focus when an audit from a certification is due – panic sets in, so they reach out to us
We have worked with a number of companies; they often initially need help quickly, so they don’t lose business due to not being certified. We don’t try to change the world for them as there are reasons why they are doing so well and have been selected as a potential supplier or subcontractor. They just need guidance on what they need to do to meet the standard and we undertake a number of system-specific activities, such as internal audit and management review. This makes the process efficient for them whilst also ensuring that the clients buy into the principles of ISO. When we have helped them gain certification, they have often said that our non-jargon approach has given them reassurance through the process and has also benefitted their business way beyond their expectations. That gives me a huge sense of satisfaction and that’s what it’s really about.
“Making things is what Britain, and especially the Sheffield City Region, is good at and my drive is to help companies reduce waste.”
There are also those instances where the certification audit is due and that person who was the ‘ISO person’ has left the business. In these circumstances, we work with the client to quickly identify the gaps in the system – and we have a good success rate at finding any documentation that is already in place even if it is not being actively used. The approach that we take in working with key stakeholders in the business gives the leadership of the organisation peace of mind that we will do what is needed to help them through the audit. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the stress that owners and business leaders face when heading towards an audit – it really can be stressful, especially when heading into the unknown after a period of taking their eye off the ‘ISO’ ball. However, having a trusted partner to help you through the process can really make the difference.
How does Glade Consulting Services differentiate itself in the market when it comes to helping organisations achieve ISO9001 certification?
That’s a really good question. I would like to say that having worked in a range of sectors at senior management level prior to starting Glade, I have been exposed to a wide breadth of experiences. These experiences lead us to working hard to understand the processes involved in running the client’s business. When we can do this effectively and be able to translate the way the business talks into ISO speak, especially when we are being audited with the client, and this makes the process so much easier for all involved.
We work with a range of clients from steel stockholders to companies in the renewables sector to manufacturers of timber products. All sectors use different terminology and one of the key things is to link how the business arranges its processes and how they fit into ISO. Also key to this is working with people across the business and communicating effectively at all levels. Understanding the business’ language is important in this as not only does it help us interpret ISO requirements for the specific organisation, but it also enables us to talk to the staff across the organisation in their language. Embedding ISO in a business is key and that it does not lie with one or two individuals, but everyone has their part to play – this is our approach to try and work with all stakeholders in the business.
“Our big plan remains the same: to help more companies take a systematic approach to managing their systems, which should translate into greater profitability for those companies.”
Looking ahead, what are the company’s future plans and initiatives to continue supporting UK businesses in quality management and certification processes?
The future is looking like it could be exciting. We are growing the business rapidly at the moment and with the current gap in good quality auditors, we are looking to recruit people who are new to consulting but have good experience of working in an operational environment.
We are always exploring new sectors but our focus in the next year is to work with more companies in helping them establish processes which will enhance their security – this is the standard ISO 27001. Again, it is built on a ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ approach and requires certain checks and balances to help you manage your risks within the business. Many people think this is for electronic information, and whilst this largely applies to electronic data storage and access, it also includes physical security and the steps organisations take to protect physical access to buildings and files.
Our big plan remains the same: to help more companies take a systematic approach to managing their systems, which should translate into greater profitability for those companies.