Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Reality of Being an ISO 20121 Certified Company

Like any good reality show, it is seeing into the gritty, everyday world that seems to intrigue the audience. The same goes for firms interested in certifying under ISO 20121: it is the daily regime that really intrigues them. MeetGreen has certified under both ISO 20121 and its predecessor BS 8901 and now has a history of compliance to share. Over the years, we have had our share of obstacles and challenges although none have resulted in hair-pulling or name calling.

At our annual staff retreat last week, we discussed the issues which have been brought to light through the ISO 20121 system. As a team, we reviewed both the resolved issues and those to be dealt with in 2013.

Issues resolved in 2012 - 10 

New issues for 2013- 5 

Only half the number of issues to be resolved in 2013 and of those five new issues, only one is was brought forth by employees and four are items needed to complete gaps in our policies and procedures. This is a huge change from the past. Each year we get better and better at both determining issues and solving them in a timely manner.

When we began this certification process there were plenty of questions by our meeting professionals on staff. Most questions boiled down to, “How does this affect what I do everyday? Or, will there be drama and extra work?”

Shawna McKinley’s answer really captures what it has been like to “live” ISO 20121…

“Many of the standard practices, forms and approaches to event management we use at MeetGreen have emerged organically. By working on projects for clients we adopt somewhat consistent approaches to doing things - how to complete a staging guide, elements that go into a sustainable event case study, and the in's and out's of a registration system, for example. These norms of practice help us do our job.

Standardizing practice through ISO 20121 helps to institutionalize the best of the best practices we have all developed as a team so we can train others, and identify any gaps so we can improve. It also ensures we set clear objectives to measure as a company and in our projects, and act according to our values. Even though they may not realize it, ISO 20121 affects employees’ work every time they use our planning tools at MeetGreen as they were designed with the standard in mind."

Maintaining our system requires regular reviews in the form of weekly project team meetings, weekly staff meetings, quarterly director reviews and annual senior management reviews. Thanks to the system, we now have better communication, a system for handling problems, a management team in touch with our projects and employees, and a more evolved sustainability program.

What we don’t have is a gritty basis for a good reality show. Sadly, the television networks have passed on a reality show I wanted to name, “Real Meeting Planners of Convention City.”

1 comment:

Carole Garner said...

Good synopsis Nancy! BTW, I would sign up to be in that reality show and we wouldn't even have to manufacture the drama...thinking labor union issues, running out of coffee, nonfunctioning projectors...all in a day's work :)