Three years on from first achieving the international quality management standard, ISO 9001, the Quality and Business Improvement team at Metroline decided to move its certification to NQA. The team wanted to bring in a company who they believed could more positively support them in improving standards across the business.
"The ISO 9001 certification is a visual way of displaying our commitment to quality and I strongly believe it gives Metroline a competitive advantage.”
For Metroline, one of seven large transport groups operating the bus networks in London under the watchful eye of Transport for London, quality is of utmost importance.Operating over 1,200 buses, including 32 new buses for London, on 67 routes from 9 garages, a head-office and a Central Engineering Logistics Facility; the company is under constant pressure to demonstrate that it is providing a high quality level of service.
Maintaining ISO 9001 certification through NQA helps do exactly that, in addition to protecting the company and helping secure new business. It was important to Metroline that the new certification supplier had previous experience in the field of passenger transport and had a strong track record of working with high-profile brands and companies.
This is why Liz Murphy and Steve Welch, Quality Managers at Metroline first contacted NQA.
Keeping the customer happy
Metroline’s customer is Transport for London and it is important that it sees the bus operator as being a company that is committed to quality. Quality for Metroline is not just about making sure the buses arrive on time at the bus stops; it covers Engineering, Operations, Communications, Claims, Training and Recruitment amongst other departments.
An effective quality management system isn’t simply a nice-to-have for Metroline, it is a must. The company is paid based on performance, therefore if the quality of performance dips, revenue also dips shortly after. The benefits of audits Speaking of the benefits ISO 9001 certification affords Metroline, Murphy, says
“By conducting our own audits internally, in line with the continuous improvement element of the standard, we spot things that aren’t necessarily working correctly before Transport for London does which gives us an opportunity to put it right before it affects the service we provide.
“In addition to our own audits and the NQA audits, Metroline is also audited by Transport for London. During these audits it is important for us to be able to demonstrate that quality is just as important to us as it is to them and ISO 9001 helps us to do that.”
“The ISO 9001 certification is a visual way of displaying our commitment to quality and I strongly believe it gives Metroline a competitive advantage. This is particularly important when tendering for other routes through Transport for London. It is also just as important when it comes to securing additional business with third parties, such as rail and underground replacement contracts” explains Murphy.
An aspect of quality management that is often overlooked is that of protection from external stakeholders and legal action. Murphy continues:
“One of the most significant benefits of ISO 9001 certification to Metroline is protection from third party agents. Within our industry Employment Tribunals are unfortunately not uncommon. In order to protect ourselves we make sure we follow set procedures and processes as demanded by the quality standard and not simply rely on policies.”
Small things matter
“From the first time I contacted NQA it was obvious that it was very good with the administration and general day to day running of the account” said Liz Murphy. Simple tasks such as returning phone calls and keeping track of what is happening is done very well, with no fuss or upheaval. NQA rings us rather than us doing the chasing.”
Telling the world
Metroline has decided now would be the best time to show-off how good it is to the people of London. Murphy concludes:
“I want everyone in the company to feel proud of our achievement, which is why we proudly display the NQA certificate in our sites. However, just as important are the passengers throughout London. All of our buses now have a NQA ISO 9001 sticker on the entrance to our vehicles. Everyone in North London can now see how good we are and that we are committed to continual improvement through working with NQA.”