(PRESS RELEASE: 02/12/11)
It may look like just another piece of paper but this one is the diamond standard in the computer support industry.
The certificate being proudly held up by the Bluegrass Computer Services team is the ISO 20000 international IT Service Management standard, awarded only to computer support companies who meet the highest standards in service quality, delivery, working practices and training.
Bluegrass Computer Services based at Pynes Hill in Exeter is one of the first companies in the south west to win this prestigious accolade from the International Standards Organisation.
‘It’s one of the most nerve wracking things we have ever done,’ said managing director David Thomas. ‘The ISO 20000 involves more than 100 pages of requirements, from planning, doing and checking work to evidence of staff training and service delivery. Then the examiners observe how we look after new clients, current clients, departing clients. Even how we handle complaints. And just to keep us on our toes, we had no idea what they wanted to see or whether they’d want to speak to the team about how the use the procedures.’
Bluegrass achieved the award in just four months. Their inspection came last week and they passed the test with flying colours.
Apart from a brief celebratory photo call, where Frank Tiley of IMSM, the company who worked with Bluegrass to achieve the award, presented the coveted certificate, it was back to the grind for David and his team. And no room for complacency either. The accreditation will be constantly monitored and reviewed annually in order for Bluegrass to keep it.
But awards and certificates aside, what does the ISO 20000 mean to clients?
‘It stands for consistency and excellence of service, ‘said David. ‘We’ve already taken on a client this week who cited it as the reason for choosing us. All the checklists and methods have actually made us more efficient so it’s improving our bottom line.’
The Bluegrass story began four years ago almost by chance.
David and his wife Hilary were running a project management company, IT Contracts, but were constantly frustrated at the poor level of service they received from computer support companies.
‘It made us realise how crucial good computer support was to the survival of any business,’ he recalled. ‘It was a bit of a light bulb moment when I realised this was the direction in which we should actually be heading ourselves.’
So four years ago, David launched his own computer support company One weekend he decided that the company name, IT Contracts, was just too dull and unmemorable. So he wrote up a selection of different names for the company on a whiteboard and asked visitors to choose the one that stood out.
‘Bluegrass won by a mile,’ said David, ‘and we haven’t looked back since. ‘
The company has expanded to eleven employees and is currently recruiting. With more than 200 clients on their books, the Bluegrass team look after the needs of a wide variety of sectors including hotels, dentists, charities, accountants, surveyors, call centres, solicitors, insurance and financial companies. Big names include Devon Air Ambulance and Bovey Castle who became the first clients to request 24/7 support.
One of the things that the team pride themselves on is monitoring and anticipating problems before they happen. The company has made major investment into monitoring systems that are displayed on huge screens in the office. Often clients are informed they had a problem often before they realised it, together with the good news that it has already been resolved.
David has a very clear idea of where the company should be heading.
‘My vision was to create a truly ethical company that does things honestly and for the best interests of our clients, where other businesses look at us and, we hope, admire our ethics and practices. And that we are a happy business with happy clients.’
‘It might sound cheesy, but that’s where we’re at.’
There’s nothing cheesy about having the industry’s highest accolade hanging on your office wall