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30/03/2016 - Meet Daniel Graf, CEO of GRADAN GmbH, Chairman of ISO/TC 232 Committee

GRADAN GmbH is a leading consulting company for business optimization and development. As a management system DIN ISO 29990 expert, Gradan advises and supports training companies in their certification process. Gradan founder and CEO Daniel Graf speaks about the importance of setting quality guidelines and standards for training and education services.

What has driven you towards the creation of the GRADAN GmbH?
Working with Management Systems such as ISO-9001 for Quality-Management or ISO-14001 for Environment-Management ensures a high level of standard in each certified company. During my experience as a consultant, I emphasized on management systems as guidelines for client’s success. Such norms ensure the consultant takes all requirements into account, to streamline the development of his client. For the client, on the other hand, these standards are a qualified basis for further development.
Back to 2010, when the ISO-29990 was published, it was a signal for me to take action. I had been waiting for such a standard for a long time; though, we used ISO-9001 to certify learning service providers, I would be looking for a specific standard closer to the needs of education. Meanwhile, GRADAN has specialised on the implementation of Management Systems based on the ISO-29990 to overall improve businesses operating in the field of education, to ensure they can anticipate future needs.

What has been your way up to these responsibilities?
First, I worked in the automotive industry where I had the opportunity to get insights from major companies (including processes). Also at that time, I would keep on focusing on education topics. One reason for that: my family has an educational background where numerous teachers would keep on valuing education. From my point of view as well, there is nothing more important. Answers to any problem challenging our modern civilisation can all be linked to some education activity. More than any other country in Europe, Germany has to establish the structures and resources ensuring a high level of education in every possible field. Due to personal interests, misleads structures and misunderstandings necessary steps have though not yet been taken. My works and ambitions aim at changing things, at least a little. I used to be the leader of a private school and also taught at a German University. I worked in many European countries, studied languages and economics in Europe and consider myself as a “Child of Europe”. Given my state of mind and convictions, I will use my mandate at the ISO-29990 technical committee to establish guidelines and standards together with experts from all over the world, to develop the quality of education.

How mature is the ISO-29990 standard and how is its penetration and visibility on the markets?
The standard was created in 2010. Up today Germany has run 1000 ISO-29990-projects. In more than 20 countries all over the world, the standard also develops. Knowing most countries do not track numbers of management systems implemented, it remains difficult to get precise figures. In Germany, major companies (such as Siemens and some Bayer entities) are already applying the standard. Further to learning service providers, any company training employees may apply ISO-29990 as well. The German Army is currently working on an ISO-29990 based quality development and stabilisation program dedicated to its armed forces.
A standard’s visibility on the market is usually measured by the number of certifications delivered – well, at least it has been done that way in the past –. From my point of view, the number of certifications should not be considered as indicator knowing it solely reveals how many companies successfully passed the audit. My primary motivation is to get companies to work with the standard for themselves rather than for the audit. The ISO-29990 norm can be a perfect guideline for development, independently from certification. As mentioned previously, a consultant should always refer to a Management Standard, be it to obtain a certification or not. 1/3 of the projects run by GRADAN in the past where indeed not driven by a certification – the primary objective remaining the company’s development –. I am deeply convinced this is the right way to the future: Companies should more and more apply the standard for their own development and consider the certification as a “can” rather than a “must”.

How and where is the ISO-29990 standard recognized?
ISO-29990 is a globally recognized standard knowing the ISO is the worldwide highest standard developing organisation. Still, each country decides whether to adopt the standard to its national framework or not. If not, it solely means, no translation of the standard will be maintained. However, ISO-29990 can still be used to certify organisations.

What improvements shall next apply to the norm?
In 2016 the standard will face a revision. Additional new standards within the ISO-29990 family will be developed. They will set guidelines for single learning services and language learning services. In the future, standards for assessment and evaluation will be developed as well.
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