BATN: Setting Standards in Quality Management


British American Tobacco Nigeria recently got re-certified with the latest quality management system, ISO 9001:2015. Eromosele Abiodun examines its significance

In the world today, there is a growing inclination towards the implementation of quality management procedure among organisations, owing to the tremendous advantages in the use of the system.

With advancement in production technology and competitive pressure in the market, customer requirements keep changing. Therefore, organisations are left with no choice other than to continually improve their products and process to enhance customer satisfaction.

The premium placed on attaining customer satisfaction nowadays, compels organisations to implement recognised quality management system which helps to guarantee this by meeting their requirements, and ultimately boosting their confidence and loyalty.

Particularly for fast moving consumer goods, quality services and products delivered in a reliable and sustainable manner and sanctioned by an internationally recognised quality management system help to maintain and increase the manufacturer’s market share and put it on par with international standards.

Experts’ Views
According to a leading and independent management and ISO consultant, APB Consultants, “Implementing quality management system helps the organisations to analyse customer requirement, determine the process which are needed by the organisation to produce product which meet customer requirement and is acceptable by the costumer. It also ensures that processes are under control.”

Experts are of the view that organisations need to improve continually their products and process to enhance customer satisfaction as customer requirements keep on changing because of competitive pressure and improvement in technology in general.

It is this continuous process involving implementation, maintenance and improvement that stands out the quality management system from many other forms of audit regime and certification. More importantly, it keeps an organisation constantly on its toes and places an obligation on it to improve its effectiveness and efficiency and to keep abreast with industry standards as its operations come under regular periodic review by the regulatory body.

Conscious of the significance of the quality management system, many organisations in Nigeria are increasingly embracing it even though the certification is still voluntary in the country.
This fact was recently demonstrated by the British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) at the formal presentation of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria’s (SON) ISO: 9001:2015 quality management system certificate to the firm in its factory in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Represented by Mrs. Oluremi Ayeni, SON’s Director of Management System Certification, the Director General of SON, Mr Osita Aboloma, commended BATN for adhering to statutory and regulatory requirements in Nigeria’s tobacco industry and its role in “securing a better regulated market to safeguard the life of consumers and sustain the livelihoods of tobacco farmers.”

Quality Management System
He said the recognition was based on quality management system put in place by BAT Nigeria in improving the tobacco sector, stressing that the company had been playing remarkable role in securing a better regulated market to safeguard the life of consumers and sustain the livelihood of tobacco farms.

He added that the certification was a demonstration of BATN’s management system’s conformity to internationally acceptable standard and the ability of the company to align to best practices.

Highlighting the benefits of the certification, Aboloma stated that “the NIS ISO 9001:2015 reporting management system approach now provides you a robust, globally recognised and acceptable solution to address the challenges associated with consistently meeting business and regulatory requirements.” He noted further that the “adoption of the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System framework reflects the commitment to one of your strategic goals geared towards continually operating at the highest standards of corporate conduct and transparency, benefiting governments, consumers, and the environment.”

Aboloma, however, charged the company to ensure that the system remains effective and up-to-date in order to “reap the benefits of ISO approach to quality management.”

“This system having been re-certified has been placed on annual surveillance audits to track effectiveness. In the course of the audit exercises, where non-conformances are observed and are corrected within specified time frame, the system will retain the certificate. However, the certificate will be withdrawn, if the structures in place for certification breaks down and necessary corrective actions are not taken on observed non-conformances,” he said.
“Being one of the very few certified in your professional segment in Nigeria, you will agree with me that your biggest challenge in this endless journey to excellence is to direct your efforts towards consistent quality product and service delivery in tobacco and cigarette manufacturing supply chain,” he stated
He added that by the presentation of the certificate, the company had been adjudged as having a system that gives customers and interested parties assurance of its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet requirements.

He stated that BAT Nigeria’s focus on quality products and service delivery would also strengthen its competitive strategies, stressing that by its feat, it had retained its spot among a privileged class of quality management system certified organisations.

Quality Process
Area Operations Director of BAT West Africa, Charles Kyalo, while appreciating the management of SON for the recertification, described it as a revalidation of the company’s quality process.

“It is a great honour for BAT Nigeria to be considered worthy to be presented with this certificate and I believe this certification demonstrates our continuous effort to ensure that the best quality products are produced in our factory and buttresses the fact that we are a company that consistently complies with industry regulations as provided by the authorities. I believe that quality is a competitive advantage. The re-certification is a re-validation of our quality processes. All the way from top management, we are committed to quality. This means that our customers could actually have confidence in the products from our plants. These products are exported to 14 countries in West Africa. It is also important for our customers to know that such factory where the product is coming from complies with the highest international standard of quality,” he said.

Meanwhile, since its first certification with the ISO 9001:2000 by SON on May 18, 2005, following the completion and inauguration of its factory in Ibadan, BATN has successfully been re-certified over and over again after undergoing recertification transition assessments by SON.

SON’s ISO Standards especially the Quality Management Standards enable businesses to plan future growth around meeting customer expectations, enable transparency about products and best practices for limiting their impacts.
While BATN has commendably earned itself the recertification through the continuous embrace of quality standards, the system certification in the country remains voluntary as observed by Ayeni during a chat with THISDAY.

SON anticipates a time when most businesses in the country will warmly embrace the system without being compelled to implement its huge benefits.