"It was a revelation that an ISO management system consultancy could actually be more interested in helping us operate better than get us through ISO certification. The amount of time spent with Episode, and the projects they are engaged in with us, is testament to how we value Episode as a partner to Gemaco.”
Chris Gilbert, CEO.
Gemaco is one of Abu Dhabi’s biggest interior design and fit-out companies, employing 200 people in two locations in the Emirate. They have an Integrated Management System (“IMS”, the first Three Letter Acronym - TLA) certified to ISO 9001 quality, ISO 14001 Environmental, and OHSAS 18001, occupational health and safety, management systems.
Facing somewhat negative feedback from their first audit since certification, and the decision to establish an Enterprise Resource Planning system (“ERP” - the second TLA), the Managing Director approached Episode to see how we might help. We completely re-engineered their system, got them through their subsequent external audits with no issues, and are now helping them build an ERP system based on the pragmatic and effective integrated management system we built.
About the Organisation
Based in the heart of Abu Dhabi, Gemaco Interiors employs over 200 people distributed between a showroom in the heart of the city and a warehouse facility in Mussafah Industrial Zone. It is a provider of interior design solutions specialising in commercial fit-out, office and residential furniture, space planning and design consulting. Acquired in 2014, Gemaco Interiors is now a subsidiary of KBBO Group, a leading investment group with a diverse portfolio of interests operating in the UAE and internationally.
What the issues were
Gemaco had been certified to the three standards for quality, environment and health and safety for 12 months when at the first annual external monitoring (“surveillance”) audit by their certification body found serious failings in the system. This potentially would lead to the loss of the certificates.
The main reason for this was that the consultant previously engaged by Gemaco to establish a system for them frankly did not do a very good job. Rather than an integrated system, he gave them three separate systems that were not only not tailored to Gemaco, they also conflicted with each other in requirements.
Additionally, little or no thought had been given to giving Gemaco any coaching or advice on how to use and maintain the system.
Finally, through rapid growth, the operational systems and processes in place were no longer working effectively for Gemaco and it was decided it was time to re-engineer everything.
What we did about it
Episode worked closely with the Senior Management of Gemaco to deliver some specific, challenging targets:
- address all the issues (“non-conformities”) raised in the first surveillance audit and retain the certification;
- redesign the system into one integrated management system that ensured ongoing compliance;
- coach key members of staff in how to manage the system;
- provide a detailed specification to allow Gemaco to go to market to appoint an ERP provider;
- work alongside Gemaco and the ERP provider to design and implement the ERP system.
Inevitably we had to start from scratch. Firstly, we reviewed and audited the existing systems. By doing this we identified the failings in the systems, and coincidently identified issues that had the external auditor seen would have been raised as non-conformities. We then liaised with the external auditor to close out the non-conformance and ensuring the certificates were retained.
Then the more rewarding work began. We went back to basics – identifying what Gemaco needed to operate effectively and efficiently as a company (NOT what they needed to comply with ISO requirements. Of course the two, when done right, are coincidental). Many workshops were held to capture how things work now, how people felt they could work better, and put a comprehensive business management system together.
A new, integrated management system built from scratch unique to Gemaco was put in place (which passed its first external audit with no findings). The process of appointing an ERP provider is underway, and Episode has been asked to revise the system to comply with the latest versions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 (both of which were revised in the Autumn of 2015).
Episode has become an important partner to Gemaco and is now embarking on a planned programme of supplier audits on behalf of Gemaco.