ISO:9001 certification – a benchmarking case study 

We are very proud to be ISO:9001 accredited (read more about why it matters here) and recently completed our annual surveillance audit, which were very pleased to pass without any issues. Particularly pleased, as we recently moved to a new auditing company. 

Why did we change companies? Not because we were dissatisfied with our previous auditors – they were very good. But the invoice received for the Annual Surveillance Visit showed an increased cost of almost 33%  In addition, we had been with the same company for a number of years, and we realised that we were well overdue a benchmarking exercise, to establish if we were still getting great value for money. 

What does that involve? 

Mostly it involved filling in a lot of online ‘Request for Quotation’ forms and some time on the phone! We needed to get quotes from a number of auditing companies (final count was 6), in addition to an up-to-date quote from our incumbent. It took a while for the information to come in, and of course there were a few calls from the various sales teams, determined to get us ‘signed up’. 

We looked at the price of being audited annually, but also what else was included: 

  • what support is available 
  • costs to transfer 
  • any additional costs for non-optional ‘extras’ (auditor’s travel costs etc) 
  • the quality and compliance of the audit and auditing company 
  • feedback from existing customers 

What did we discover? 

We found that we could make some significant financial savings on the annual audit cost, without losing any quality or support. The time cost that it took to run our benchmarking exercise was more than covered by the first year’s savings.  

What did we do next? 

We switched of course!  

And the outcome… 

We completed our first audit with our new auditors last week and were delighted to pass once again. We were really pleased that a fresh set of eyes from our new auditors confirmed that Minerva’s processes are robust and we are following them closely.  And on top of that we made a saving of over £1,000 per annum.  In other words we more than halved our costs. 

If you have any services that are relatively low value (and therefore don’t need a full tender process), don’t forget to benchmark them regularly, rather than just sticking to the same supplier due to loyalty or because you think it will be too much hassle to change! Just getting a couple of quotes from competitors may highlight where you can make some useful savings and remember that there is no obligation to switch if there’s no benefit in doing so. 

Dave Brailsford had it right when he was hired to improve the results of the British cycling team back in 2003.  He implemented the concept of ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’.  He believed that if you improved everything by just 1%, then those small gains would combine to affect exceptional improvement.  Maybe this concept could help you with your financial commitments……it’s certainly helping us with ours! 

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