ISO 9001: A certificate for our quality management – and to reward all our efforts too
It’s mid-June 2022, the weather is unusually hot, and there’s a big event that’s keeping every department busy. Everyone at Zurich Convention Center is working at full stretch, but a long-awaited visit causes some minor disruption: the inspector for ISO 9001 certification is in the building!
«Of course there was a certain amount of tension in the air – and above all because we were arranging a major event in addition to several smaller ones,» says CEO Roger Büchel, «but everyone involved overcame this challenge in the best possible way and was happy that things had finally reached this stage.»
«The actual goal was to professionalize operations at a very high level.»
Complex yet successful
Happy to have everything inspected in the smallest detail? Sure, our employees were very well prepared for this because day-to-day work at the Convention Center in any case already conforms to the necessary standards. This level of performance has now been officially recognized by an international body which has confirmed its status with the corresponding ISO Certificate. This is welcome evidence that everyone involved is fully aware of quality-related issues, and it’s something that should by no means be taken for granted: receiving this sort of certificate in our sector is viewed as something of an exception.
Why this is so becomes clear if you realize how complex our operations are: firstly, Zurich Convention Center comprises four business areas that make very differing demands of quality management: hosting conventions, running the Tonhalle, catering, and facility management. Secondly, the Convention Center works closely with numerous partners (for example, in event technology or marketing) and thus assumes responsibility for them too.
This complexity means that a total of 36 quality-related processes were defined in great detail, ranging from ‹Management› to ‹Hygiene›. «Our original intention was in no way linked to any kind of certification. The actual goal once we’d reopened was to define, standardize and professionalize operations as clearly as possible, namely at a very high level,» says Roger Büchel, and he adds: «The certification is basically a side effect – but an amazing one too!»
More than just a piece of paper on the wall
This certificate is thus definitely more than just a logo on our website or a piece of paper on the wall: it proves that processes, procedures and areas of responsibility are defined in a completely professional way, and that they’re embodied too – as well as being regularly checked and improved.
This is so important for Zurich Convention Center because customer relationships are built on trust, and event organizers and guests must feel good about what we’re providing. This kind of internationally recognized certification supports this – naturally in conjunction with the actual services we offer when collaborating with others. Not least of all, it’s welcome evidence for our employees that their day-to-day commitment has been noticed and that it isn’t taken for granted either.
Samples and interviews
Of course the inspector wasn’t unprepared: she had carefully studied all the documentation in advance. The purpose of her visit was to determine whether all these diagrams, processes, checklists and concepts were actually implemented and embodied. This is why she firstly questioned the people who are responsible for the various processes but also randomly selected employees in order to discover whether everyone is actually ‹up to speed› – for example, with regard to rules and procedures to ensure food safety in the kitchen, or whether they’re aware of our corporate values.
An outstanding result
The initial certification was therefore concluded with great success: her report recorded no major examples of non-conformity and only five minor ones. Things couldn’t have turned out better for an initial certification, which will be followed by annual reviews. «We also have three correspondingly trained internal inspectors we can draw upon at any time,» says Roger Büchel. For example, what would happen in response to complaints? An internal inspector would check to see whether all the processes and areas of responsibility had been adhered to and were still correct – or whether there was a need to act. One element of this standard is that one should constantly monitor oneself and make ongoing improvements.
Will this success now be followed by the next certificate? «We don’t want to unnecessarily tie up resources simply to collect certificates, because of course that isn’t what we’re about. However, it might be worthwhile when it comes to the issue of sustainability because that’s an area where we already have a certificate to confirm our climate-neutral operations, and this topic is very important to us,» says Roger Büchel as he looks towards the future.