A story I've been following is the ISO certification of Sorsogon in the Philippines. This caught my interest because I’m a Filipina andI have previously worked on a cross-departmental team in a company for ISO certification. The certification I worked on was for a company that had a headquarters in the US and two overseas offices. I'm also just really into different frameworks. In 2019, Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero announced and launched a program which would lead his province into being ISO-Certified. Sorsogon has aimed to be ISO 9001: 2015 Certified in order to further develop and improve its Quality Management System (QMS). As of June 3rd, 2021 the province has been officially certified and was confirmed by the Certification International Philippines Inc. (CIPI). Their certification covers all 22 functional areas with no exclusions to the Standard. Sorsogon is the first to have province-wide ISO certification in the Philippines.
Where is Sorsogon?
Sorsogon is on the southeastern tip of the Bicol Peninsula on the island of Luzon.( I, myself, am from Olongapo City in Zamboanga on Luzon.) Sorsogon is a beautiful city in its province with tropical beaches and sprawling mountains. It's surrounded by water to the north and is considered the gateway to both the Visayas and Mindanao. If I visited, I'd probably hit up the Recidencia Del Hamor because I hear it has great food and who doesn't love being right on the beach. Another attraction, Museo Sorsogon, was opened in early 2021. It was formerly the provincial jail and courthouse. It now houses a museum which speaks to history and culture of Sorsogan and its people.
A quote by Lao Tzu heads up the Pilar Sorsogan website detailing their road to certification and it states "The impossible journey is the one you never begin." This journey was not impossible for them and Governor Escudero and his employees have achieved everything they have set out to do. The path included ISO training various Heads of Departments and Key personnel from various offices over the course of months. Multiple meetings were held in order to prepare, transition, and document the process across all departments. Employees at all levels were trained and prepared for the ISO Certification process and audits. Sorsogon initially went through its Stage 1 Certification Audit in 2020 before enhancing some areas for its Stage 2 Certification Audit earlier in 2021.
What is ISO 9001:2015 Certification?
So what is the ISO 9001:2015 Certification? The ISO 9001 is the international standard fora quality management system (QMS). A organization must follow the requirements set forth in in the ISO 9001 Standard to be eligible for certification which would mean that the organization demonstrates the ability to consistently provide products and services which meet customer and regulatory requirements while also demonstrating continuous improvement. The QMS is an aggregate of all processes, resources, assets, and cultural values that support the organization's goals of customer satisfaction and its own organizational efficiency. The standard is flexible in the sense that it isn't dictating how a company should conduct its business so it can be applied to various types of businesses. It is, however, a guiding principe that can help develop efficiencies by aligning and streamlining processes across the organization.
It’s exciting to see such standards and certifications being adopted in the Philippines. It'll be interesting to see if other provinces also follow suit. I am sure Governor Escudero and his team must be incredibly proud of such an historic and ground-breaking achievement.