Archive for March, 2010

Top ten reasons why some companies aren’t getting the most out of their ISO 9001 quality system

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

In the coming weeks, we are going to give you all of our top ten reasons why some ISO 9001 based quality management systems fail to provide some organizations with real process improvement. We may post another topic here and there, so you’ll just have to check back frequently to see our full list. Enough already!! Let’s begin-

#10 – Too many procedures – the company quality system is from a template!

When performing internal audits for companies, we sometimes see quality system documentation that is rather extensive, especially in older systems that were developed before the major ISO 9001 revision in 2000. Systems based on the old twenty element model contained a procedure for almost every requirement, not to mention a handful of work instructions for every procedure. When the revision came along, some companies interpreted it as a simple renumbering scheme and added a process map that looked like a wiring diagram for the Space Shuttle. Having a system today based on a standard from yesterday usually leads to a lot of frustration, minimal user friendliness, and can also become a “Rubik’s Cube” nightmare for document control.

Another reason for over documentation is that some companies have “borrowed” documentation from other organizations and tried to simply insert their name. This can be easy when the size and industry of the companies are identical, but when you try to implement a system from a 300-employee casting facility and your company is a 20 employee plating shop, you’re in for one big mess of a quality system. In a lot of cases, companies that were in a hurry to implement quality systems to please their customers would buy templates from consultants and were tempted to try the “insert name here” approach. Both approaches can diminish or even negate any value from implementing an ISO 9001 system.

The ISO 9001:2008 standard allows for an amazing amount of flexibility in documentation which provides a real opportunity to create a system that is simple, efficient and relative to the operations of an organization. If your system sounds like what has been described earlier in this posting, you may find it a worthwhile endeavor to overhaul your quality manual and procedures. If you’re starting out and are looking for an easy way to get something in place, contact the experts at G3 Solutions today!

Document control – it can be easier than some may think!

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Recently, I was perusing through a quality discussion forum and the question was asked “Is it ever a good idea to organize and name your company’s files, documents, procedures, work instructions, and other items according to the numbering system of ISO/TS requirements?”

I am always horrified when a company starts constructing a quality system based on a standard rather than their own internal processes. Standards such as ISO 9001 or ISO/TS 16949 should be used as a guide for the construction of the quality system and not the reason for its existence. These types of “let’s satisfy ISO first” quality systems have a tendency to become thought of as documentation for “that annoying ISO stuff!”. This can eventually lead to documents being ignored, or worse, rewritten and uncontrolled in order to be thought of as more relevant to their use.

There is no prescriptive method for numbering or naming your quality system documentation. Usually, simple revision date codes or numbers can be used to provide a level of control needed to meet requirements.

Make your documentation easy to use by somehow identifying it with the process they are associated with to provide a more relevant and effective understanding of their use.

For more tips on document control, contact G3 Solutions today!

Writing a corrective action when “It wasn’t our fault!”

Friday, March 26th, 2010

When dealing with quality system standards such as ISO 9001, it is important to remember the emphasis put on continual improvement.

A recent event at a client location involved a customer complaint that turned out to be a supplier issue. When encouraged to write an internal corrective action, someone within the organization made the remark “Why should we write a corrective action if it wasn’t our fault? It was a supplier issue!”

At first thought, it sounds like a valid point. The whole situation was caused by the supplier. The organization did everything correctly according to their procedures. They also have a robust supplier management program that, as most felt, would provide a solid system to notify the supplier and request a root cause determination as to how the incident can be avoided in the future.

So why a corrective action? First, every incident involving a customer complaint truly is a golden opportunity to make sure it won’t repeat – no matter who is at fault. If it can happen once, it can happen again. And although people within the organization know that this time it isn’t the company’s fault, there is a high probability that the customer doesn’t care. All the customer knows is that they used a company to supply a product or service and something went wrong. The customer is also probably wondering “If this supplier is used again, what other headaches and heartburn will we encounter?” This can and probably will affect the customer perception of the organization (reference ISO 9001 clause 8.2.1 – Customer Satisfaction).

Secondly, we can’t forget Note 3 in ISO 9001 clause 4.1 – General Requirements that states “Ensuring control over outsourced processes does not absolve the organization of the responsibility of conformity to all customer, statutory and regulatory requirements.” Sure, the supplier got it wrong, but we are still responsible for the product or service we promised to the customer.

Finally, the fact that the organization followed all of their procedures is good, but how do they know that the procedures are right? Have changes in the organization occurred since the procedures were written and reviewed? And if the answer is yes, do our procedures allow for the flexibility of dealing with those changes? There probably is much to examine, explore and revise if changes in operations have been made.

Again, continual improvement should always be the emphasis when the customer isn’t happy. In the end, taking this approach can be the difference between happy or irate customers – not to mention repeat or lost revenue.

New concepts in Team Building!

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

There have been many good quality ideas and programs that have come from Japanese manufacturing – i.e. 5s, KAIZEN, Total Quality Management (TQM), the Toyota Production System, etc. One area where they are not given enough credit is in team building – don’t believe us? Just watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwvVh0_ZelI

For less exhaustive team building ideas, contact G3 Solutions today!