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Primend’s journey to ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certificates

Author: Toomas Mõttus Time: 13.06.2022

At Primend, we like to do things well, and customer-focused mindset and operations create an important foundation for that. Our customers are people who want to increase the success of their companies with innovative IT solutions. To be able to offer such value, we must constantly learn and test. We have been rather successful at that and grown fast. At some point we discovered that everyone of us is great at some part of value creation, but the average result still felt average (at least to us). 

That is why we decided to review what we do, in what way and create a bunch of instructions how to do it better. 

And when you already start with such a great effort, why not implement a process of constant improvement and learning that is consistent with international standards? How naive of us! 

Implementation of integrated management system based on ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 standards was easier and yet harder than we had thought. 

Following of the requirements of the standards formally seemed easy, as we were already used to planning things well at Primend. We had organised our processes based on service management standard ITIL applied in IT world and had constantly improved our processes based on each service incident. We had also implemented a regular personnel training programme to take preventive action regarding the main issues. We had also applied support applications for project management, recording of solutions, automation of central management, and created automation between systems. 

The main question for us was how to improve our processes even more, relying on the standards, and how to perfect the processes for the maximum benefit of Primend, our employees and customers. 

Fortunately, Aleksei Räim had already realised that in order to implement the changes, we definitely needed in our team a process manager, and for managing the staff - the main value creator, we needed an employee experience manager. Our process manager, Marit Pajulaid, held the initiative throughout the implementation project, and helped the area managers focus on the development issues next to their daily tasks. Employee experience manager, Lilian Nõlvak, on her part helped to ensure that the new procedures were integrated into our common information management system, and easily found by everyone. TJO Konsultatsioonid was of great help in ensuring conformity with the standards. The thorough knowledge of Jussi Onoper of the standard and his openness to our way of doing things made it possible to create a manual that is integrated into the processes of Primend. The competent consultant was of great help in implementation of the management system, saving us time, giving valuable advice, and having useful perspectives. Development, implementation and further improvement of the management system was teamwork where every employee had an important role to play. To ensure a logical structure of the processes and documents, we formed twelve topic-based work groups who contributed by participating in the meetings and completing tasks entered into Microsoft Planner application. It all resulted in clear processes and an efficiently functioning Primend!

When we decided to implement a quality management system, we were still unable to predict various challenges.  

Implementation of the ISO 9001 and 27001 standards coincided with the addition of the Iteraction team, starting of the business unit in Lithuania, as well as major structural changes to provide a more personalised service. The major changes enabled us to discuss the standard implementation issues in a context where we had to take a look into the next few years – how will Primend look after fast growth and structural changes?

A big part of the systematization process was deciding on the goals for our teams and the performance indicators to measure. To help make the decisions, we created dashboards for each team with current performance indicators where everyone could see how many pending tasks they had, how many of them were overdue, and how satisfied the customers were with their work. When creating dashboards, it is always recommended to take the decision-making down to the grassroots level and create performance indicators for employees helping them to make the right decisions. Positive changes in service quality and customer satisfaction were apparent as soon as we made the performance indicators visible for the teams. Employee satisfaction has also increased during the period.

Simultaneously with the implementation of the quality system, we made big changes in the sales and customer account management, service procedures, project management and the work of the international teams of Primend. We also involved more management levels in the process of strategic planning and setting of goals. The process that lasted for more than one year culminated with an important landmark – successful certification. On May 30, 2022, BM Certification issued an ISO 9001 quality management certificate and ISO 27001 information security certificate to Primend covering all the services provided by Primend in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The certificate is a confirmation of reliability for the existing and future customers of Primend.

The positive result of the efforts related to certification is already visible through improved customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and clearer organisation of work. Net profit margin on the investment into the organisation that took place in 2021 can be assessed in the next periods. We can already see a positive long-term impact on the economic results of Primend in fast-growing turnover of subscription services.