In 2008, little more than a year after S.M.C was formed, Mr. Beveridge (COO of BS) suggested that an ISO certification for the company would give it legitimacy and visibility in the market. Companies such as ours do not normally have their own ISO certification, functioning under the certification umbrella of the ship management companies they form part of. ISO 9001-2008 being a generic document needed to be adopted to our specific business viz. “the provision of consultancy and project management services for shipbuilding”. There was nothing to go by, no precedent, no examples to follow and no guidance available so everything had to be started from scratch. Clause by clause as per ISO, we started writing the manual, the procedures, the Site office manual, the mission and vision statements, forms and reporting systems. The initial draft document was submitted to LRQA for document review, gap analysis (from ISO standards), modified several times and released for initial feedback to our employees in office and site. Even LRQA had no examples or precedent to follow and for them too this was first time. In our type of business, most things are done traditionally so the challenge to get initial buy-in was huge but once we had something to start with, the implementation was slow and steady. Doing site office and office audits was a challenge. LRQA found it difficult to find auditors sufficiently authorized and qualified for the codes but finally after completing all the processes, we received our initial certification in Feb 2011 after almost 2 years of persistent work.
After that there was no looking back. The internal auditors from our Group LPSQ had to be familiarized with our processes as domain knowledge was essential to do successful audits. We had to train our site managers, project managers and supervisors in understanding and implementing the systems and the site manager training held twice every year was a convenient forum to do so. The next challenge came in 2018 for rewriting our manuals for the transition to ISO 9001-2015 which was successfully done. Presently, we have gone through the cycle of 3 renewal audits in 2014, 2018 and 2020 and the latest certificates are proof of a robust system within SMC which is implemented by all project sites and offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Our ISO certification has been much appreciated by clients and various stakeholders and helped convince Owners/Clients that we have robust quality management systems audited by LRQA which their Banks /investors find easier to accept as a stamp of doing things right. In December 2019 the whole system and all its records have been transferred to PAL for easier access for all sites worldwide.