Meeting Newer, Higher Benchmarks for Quality Management

Because Merkle RMG has done so much to enhance our offerings in recent years, our services are more unique and comprehensive than ever. But even as we’ve scaled and expanded our services, quality has remained our constant focus.

We’ve built every process for efficiency, security and accuracy from the start, based on criteria from ISO 9001 — a stringent global standard for quality management.

16 years and counting

ISO 9001 provides a framework to help us ensure our services are consistently meeting clients’ needs, and that we’re continuously improving our processes. Merkle RMG has been following ISO 9001 standards since 2002, and this month, we’re proud to share that we were just certified to ISO 9001:2015 — the newest and most rigorous version to date.

What the newest standard means

Before 9001:2015 was released, Merkle RMG operated under the prevailing 2008 standard. While both versions focus on consistency and ongoing improvement, the 2015 version goes beyond 2008 in several ways:

More Focus on Input and Results

Adherence and consistency were key under the 2008 standard. Certification centered on whether the processes being performed matched how they were documented on paper. That still matters under 2015, but companies also have to show that they’re measuring and properly assessing what goes into a production process, and that they’re achieving the intended outcome — whether it’s on-time delivery, cost savings, or lower error rates.

Emphasis on Leadership Commitment

2015 requires leadership to take a more active role in promoting quality management. This year, I underwent an intensive interview process that I’d never done before under the previous standards. Our ISO auditor wanted to know what I was doing personally to improve quality at Merkle RMG, particularly in areas like communication and information sharing, training and employee development. Overall, 2015 brings a greater focus on top-down quality management.  

More Attention to Risk-based Thinking

2015 is highly focused on risk analysis and prevention. It encourages organizations to identify potential risk scenarios and create action plans to mitigate them. In anticipation of this requirement, Merkle RMG worked with an independent third party to make sure we had a robust risk prevention plan in place moving forward.

Context matters  

2015 requires an organization to build its quality management system based on the context in which it operates. That means for a system to be successful, it has to meet the unique needs of its specific stakeholders. 

“Interested Parties” Applies to More People 

Under 2008, customers were often the only “interested party” an organization had to support in its quality management. In the 2015 standard, the definition extends beyond customers to include suppliers, personnel, shareholders, legislative bodies, society, internal customers, and others. It encourages an organization to consider all of these parties’ needs and expectations when it designs its services.

Continuous Improvement is Still Key

This has always been an ISO priority. But while 2008’s focus was high level, our 2015 certification required us to provide specific examples of what we’ve done year over year to continuously improve. 

How we did it

Every three years, Merkle RMG undergoes an three-day ISO recertification audit. In anticipation of the new 2015 standard, Merkle RMG worked with an independent consultant to ensure we were meeting the newest quality criteria.

Jess Schaut, Exception Services Manager at Merkle RMG, was instrumental in leading our team to prepare for the audit. When our director of accounting left, Jess took over the ISO preparation role with only about 30 days to identify any gaps and implement the new standards. Once that was done, she brought in the independent consultant for a comprehensive, objective assessment. As a result, we were more than prepared for our 2015 certification.

To me, this further demonstrated how important it is to have a designated compliance leader. That’s why I’m creating the new role of Audit and Compliance Administrator. This person will be 100 percent responsible for all Merkle RMG initiatives that require third-party auditing and have a compliance requirement —  including ISO, PCI DSS and SSAE 16.

How ISO certification benefits our clients

As far as we know, Merkle RMG is the only firm of its kind to be ISO certified. That means we’re holding ourselves accountable to higher standards than anyone else in our industry. Under ISO, we’re continuously measuring and improving what we offer our clients — making them the recipients of faster turnarounds, more efficient and accurate processing, and new services and capabilities.

With a common quality framework underpinning everything we do, Merkle RMG is able to be more creative in our offerings with the highest level of reliability — and that’s critical to our success in helping our clients achieve their objectives.