Pima County Earns Three Certifications at Once

On Feb. 5, Tucson, Arizona's Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department's Conveyance Division, which serves more than 1 million, was the first U.S.-based enterprise (public or private) to receive three management standard certifications simultaneously -- ISO 9001:2000 for Quality, ISO 14001 for Environmental, and OHSAS 18001 for Safety.

Business Enterprise Mapping Inc., a process improvement consulting company, collaborated with the public utility throughout 2007 in preparation for simultaneous management audits that were conducted by independent auditing company, TUV SÜD America during October and November 2007.

The results of a third-party audit were the catalyst for management commitment to improving quality. Leadership elected to establish a business management system that would incorporate certification to all three international management standards as a tangible indication of that commitment. The division's management recognized that even though two auditors for each standard would be needed, the certification requirements overlapped and there was a clear correlation between the three standards. "We just decided it would be more efficient to prepare for all three at once," said Edward Collette, Environmental & Safety manager who served as leadership representative for this project.

The department contracted with Business Enterprise Mapping to help develop a management system to achieve its objectives and prepare for the certifications. The three major goals of this system were to regain public confidence, establish accountability and prepare for the challenges expected in the next decade by defining roles and responsibilities and building a system for process excellence and continuous improvement. "We wanted to become more like private-sector businesses in our operations," said John Warner, deputy director. "We felt process mapping would be the key to success. It offered the most value-added business change."

During the process mapping assignment, more than 300 opportunities for improvement were identified. By year's end, the division had recorded dramatic improvements across the board. With employees committed and involved, teamwork and morale have improved. The new system has allowed management to capture what employees are doing right and to quickly act on suggestions.

For the audit, TÜV SÜD America Inc., a global certification organization, assigned six independent auditors, two for each certification. During the audit, the auditors reviewed quality manuals and the supporting procedures, toured and inspected the facility and observed ongoing operations in addition to interviewing employees working at various levels, and evaluated quality records. Citing the example of a new entry-level employee who already had a remarkably clear understanding of his charter, the auditors were particularly impressed with how well quality procedures had been integrated throughout the organization.

Business Enterprise Mapping Inc. is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. The company provides consulting and training solutions to organizations around the world.

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