ISO 9001:2015 one year on book is selling well

One year on the book I co wrote with Jan Gillett and Susannah Clarke of business improvement consultancy PMI continues to sell well – top of the searches on the UK Amazon site for ISO 9001 and sitting at Number 4 in books on Productivity. If you’ve bought a copy please let me know what you think and if you haven’t yet looked at the preview on Amazon, please do!

Shabby operators

Another holiday, another example of a #shabbyoperator. In this case it is car hire company @Europcar and their franchisee – @interrent_ES, operating out of Palma airport on the beautiful island of Majorca. It’s the usual story of picking up a hire car and needing to run round it with a fine tooth comb and I confess I missed this mark.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t look too much like damage to me. I’m insured so it won’t end up costing me but to hear the agent tell me that it is around 350 Euro to repair makes me fume. If only I’d seen the Telegraph article before booking this car I’d have been very wary.

Investigating further and it appears that it is corporate culture that drives this behaviour from agents on the ground. With a Europcar insider revealing that agents are being rewarded for identifying damage as one measure for team effectiveness, a far cry from the ‘we’re not interested in anything under 5 cm’ you are told when picking a car up.

The Competitions and Markets Authority carried out a review of the UK car rental sector in 2014 – published in 2015 and it seems there is no progress despite assurances from the Big Six that they would improve their post return practices. Below is a quote from the CMA report linked above:

‘We have concerns that, where damage matrices are used, it may not necessarily be transparent to the consumer on what basis they have been charged and how the amount has been quantified. This could enable car hire companies to recover excessive repair charges unless the matrices represent a genuine pre-estimate of the loss to the rental company, for example in circumstances where separate, minor damage to a part is caused by two different consumers (who are both charged for the damage) but the part is only repaired once.’

Question is: ‘Do you trust your car hire company to be honest with you?’

My answer, as far as Europcar is concerned, is a big, fat ‘No’.

July 2017




A lot has been posted over the years about quality management and the benefits to you and I, the consumer. How can it be in the 21st century consumers are faced with appalling service and service suppliers who reach for Terms and Conditions rather than investigate and resolve quality failings?

Two current battles ongoing are with @lastminute_com and @wizzair. Two travel industry companies destined to miserable failure because they have lost sight of the travellers they serve. Questionable business practices and a complete lack of empathy characterise these two #shabbyoperators.


The next edition of ISO 9001

You may have heard of it as ISO 9001:2015 but nobody knows when the next edition of ISO 9001 will be published. As with many things to do with the standards development process the publication date will depend on multiple factors, most of them invisible to the user  – you and I. Too much and, amazingly at the same time, too little has been said about the high level structure (HLS). Trawling around the bulletin boards and discussion groups you will have seen outraged expressions about the use of the word ‘risk’ in the committee draft (CD) and at the same time little debate about the sense in using an undemocratic / un ISO like process involving ISO’s TMB to come up with the HLS.

For me Risk is a no-brainier for anyone involved in quality. It is our raison d’être and has its roots in the evolution of quality control and quality assurance. I wrote a piece for the CQI’s Body of Quality Knowledge – here.

The HLS is another matter. National Standards Bodies were given a yes / no  vote without having seen it used in anger and the process to update the HLS is vague, to say the least.

As TC 176 goes about it’s business and the output leaks out I have to ask myself whether the output will be fit for purpose – or whatever your definition of quality is! 🙂

Quality blog

Welcome to the homepage of s2a2s. The purpose of this site is to provide free resources for those interested in quality, management systems and conformity assessment.

Quality has been evolving for as long as people have been on this earth and, to quote Isaac Newton a famous exponent of quality control, as quality professionals we are all ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’.
So 5 ½ millennia after some of the first examples of quality control how far have we really come? Almost on a daily basis our news is taken up with examples of poor quality. From recall of physical products including contaminated food, unsafe cars, spontaneously combusting TV sets and medical devices that are more likely to kill you than prolong your life to the brave new world of the service economy the same tell tale signs are there that we have failed to learn these same lessons and apply them.
From missold endowments in the 1980s to the latest announcements of banks being fined million for providing ‘inappropriate’ advice to the elderly and vulnerable control of the quality of financial services remains poor.
Our finance sector is largely charged with being responsible for the current recession, the worst crisis since the Great Depression as banks sought turnover and market share without considering the risk of lending money to people who did not have the ability to pay it back. The fallout from the initial collapse in 2008 is still with us and will, by all accounts, take another decade to resolve.
S2A2S are not here to provide easy solutions to complex problems. This ‘crash diet’ approach to quality does not work. Only re-education and a sustained quality programme will provide the results (or weight loss) that will last.
We will work with you protecting the principles of quality management and ensure managers don’t cherry pick the easy bits to do by convincing them that true change in quality performance is only achieved by hard work and sticking to the task.
We have to be able to see products and services with customer’s eyes and translate those into internal requirements for our organizations to meet. We then have to stubbornly champion these requirements and ensure they are consistently met throughout the functions. There is no hiding place. Control of quality is essential for sustainable success. We need to ensure that our organizations consistently deliver the products and services our customers pay for recognizing that we will be constantly under pressure for efficiency.
If you want to know more please feel free to contact Paul at