Portman successfully implements an Integrated Management System with the help of SGS United Kingdom Ltd
In 2014 Portman Travel Ltd, a leading UK travel management company, achieved certification for the provision of business travel management services in:
Quality Management System standard (ISO 9001:2008)
Environmental Management System standard (ISO 14001:2004)
Information Security Management System standard (ISO 27001:2005).
Founded in 1959, Portman is one of the UK’s longest-established travel management companies providing a full range of specialist travel management solutions to SMEs, multinationals and public sector organisations globally.
Portman developed a unique integrated approach for all three standards – the Portman Integrated Management System (PIMS). This ensured that their processes and procedures met the standards required for the ISO certification and were implemented and embedded across the company, reducing duplication and complexity and improving consistency.
The company wished to implement ISO 9001 because quality standards underpin and support Portman’s vision and values – reflecting the service the company offers to its clients.
“Customer focus and excellent service is key to everything we do. Achieving ISO 9001 confirms this and supports our internal mantra of ‘Can do will do’ and the ‘Go the extra mile’ programme,” says Sarah Hall, Strategy and Quality Project Manager.
Implementing ISO 27001 demonstrates Portman’s commitment to securing its own and its clients’ confidential data assets.
‘We recognise that information security is a high priority for all businesses in this day and age,’ says James Baldwin, Senior Vice President, Technology.
ISO 14001 supports Portman’s Corporate Social Responsibility agenda. “It helps us look at our social impact,” says Dawn Murphy, Chief People Officer. “The standard supports our initiatives for carbon reporting and carbon offsetting for ourselves, our clients, and for further engagement with our employees.”
Why Portman chose SGS United Kingdom Ltd
Portman went through a tender process and met with a number of companies. SGS were the most professional in demonstrating the value of engaging with the company on its ISO journey.
“SGS were really personable and professional,” says Dawn. “We’re a people business, and the people within the business matter. We didn’t want a company coming in that made it feel like an audit. SGS also had experience in providing a pre-audit to support our aim of going for all three ISO standards at the same time, and our objective of achieving an integrated management system.”
The assessment process
The CEO, Michael Hare, appointed a management representative from the board to oversee all three ISO standards and the Portman Integrated Management System (PIMS), together with ISO Leads for each standard – responsible for their individual management system and its day-to-day operation.
“We chose SGS to perform an initial gap analysis,” says Dawn. “This helped us determine areas where we needed to invest more time in embedding our everyday processes and procedures.”
Portman used the same SGS lead auditor throughout their journey to certification. “SGS has developed an understanding of our business and how we work, and we have developed an excellent working relationship with the SGS lead auditor and her audit team,” says Dawn.
“We see the audit very much as an extension of our continual improvement programme. It ensures that what we say we do happens across the business,” says Sarah Hall.
Benefits of the standards
Certification to the three ISO standards adds credibility to Portman’s new business bid and tender process. “Since achieving the accreditation we have seen an increase in the number of bids and tenders we are being invited to take part in,” says Michael Hare, CEO.
It differentiates Portman in the marketplace. “Certification supports our visions and values as a company and sets us apart from other companies. Ultimately this supports and enables our current and prospective clients to trust and value our business, knowing we perform to standards that are globally recognised.”
The company benefits internally too. “Within the company, the accreditation is external recognition of our strong teamwork and work ethos ‘Can do will do’.”
Advice for other organisations planning an integrated approach to certification
Portman listened to best practice advice from external parties. “We obtained support from business contacts,” says Dawn. “We spoke to companies that had already implemented the standards to get their feedback and hints and tips.”
As well, she advocates getting buy-in from all levels of the business by clearly demonstrating the ease in implementing the PIMS. “Consider the implications for the business and where possible embed examples of good practice already in place so that colleagues can see that they are not starting from zero.”
“We planned a PIMS education programme for colleagues and used a variety of learning and information platforms to support this. Wherever possible, we signposted colleagues to the information that was essential to their position and tried not to overwhelm them by being faced with a document library of 300-plus documents!”
For Portman Travel, the journey has been truly worthwhile.
“It’s become a way of life for the company as we have embedded the integrated system into every aspect of our business. The standards are now in place and provide our customers, prospective customers and colleagues with a firm reassurance about our commitment to customer service excellence, environmental issues and information security,” says Dawn.
“The project took just under two years to complete, and it was a huge undertaking by everyone within Portman. To achieve all three standards at the same time was truly a team effort.”
SGS auditor Doreen Haddow adds:
“The company took a good, steady, staged approach to addressing all points raised at the pre-audit, particularly those associated with the integration of the management system and ISO 27001 standard. This involved the management team and all staff who at the main audit were knowledgeable and keen to be involved. The business was keen to get their management system working well ahead of the initial assessment and succeeded in doing this.”