The SPSO claims he has a Quality Management System.

A simple review of his web site reveals that he does not have one which would stand up to a rigorous examination, let alone certification to the commonly used standards. It is thus safe to say that he is making the rules up as he goes along. This is not only unsatisfactory but results in findings which often may be described as unjust.

An Integrated Management System which manages the most common aspects of quality would typically consist of certification to the following standards:

  • ISO 27001 (Information Security)
  • ISO 14001 (Environmental),
  • OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety),
  • ISO 9001 (Quality Management). 
  • ISO 10002 (Complaints Management)

Probably the nearest that professional organisation to which an Ombudsman's office would relate would be to a firm of solicitors: such a firm as Andersen Strathern of Edinburgh who are accredited to all the standards listed. But how and why did they do this ?

The how is easy: It is usual to employ one or more Consultants to assist an organisation in achieving these certifications. One of the most important documents is one which explains the interpretation of the standards within the context of the profession or industry sector. Such a consultant should either have their own standard, or use one published by the body representing the profession or industry. The Law Society, which is the Professional Body who represent solicitors, publish's a document called "LEXCEL". A typical firm of consultants usually explains how they do this. Web4Law is such a firm.

The Why is even more obvious: Systems such as ISO 9001 are designed to increase productivity and at the same reduce errors and mistakes - which leads to a reduction in risk. This is turn reduces costs.

But how do you verify such certification - that is how do the organisation ensure that you know it is not a scam. Again the answer is easy: The Law Society has a useful page

And who keeps the Assessors in line ? The answer is an Accreditation Agency which in the United Kingdom is UKAS - The United Kingdom Accreditation Service.

The REAL Question most people want answered is What is ISO 9001 ?

Clause 4 is where it all starts - the introduction and first three clauses set the scene as it were. The word "product" needs to be thought about. Although it started off meaning manufactured goods the meaning now extends to include services which may result in a product such as report. So the standard CAN be used for an organisation like the Ombudsman's office. The focus is on having and improving process's [ways of doing things] which improve customer satisfaction.

So if you want to read the Standard, I keep my PERSONAL READ ONLY copy here

Clause 4 defines the content of the Quality Management System, and so on.

Clause 5 defines Management Responsibility: the buck stops at the top. Commitment, Customer Focus, Planning, Responsibility and Communication, Review of the QMS [to be "open"].

Clause 6 is about Resources - who does what. Clause 7 extends the detail.

Clause 8 is where it gets interesting ... Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement. The concepts of Corrective Action: fixing complaints, and Preventive Action: stopping that type of complaint from happening again.

And that's it. NOT rocket science - mainly common sense. So please leave some short meaningful comments as to how the SPSO might be persuaded to get a Quality Management System [Note the capital letters] as opposed to spouting that he  does a quality system.{jcomments off}