Archive for April, 2010

CQI-15 and CQI-17 – new assessments join the family of CQI documents

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

A recent update from AIAG has announced that the new (CQI-15) Special Process: Welding System Assessment and (CQI-17) Special Process: Soldering System Assessment are now available in both hard copy and electronically as e-documents.

According to the AIAG update, “CQI-15 and CQI-17 focus on continual improvement, emphasizing defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain. The Soldering System Assessment helps frame a common approach to a soldering management system for automotive production and service part organizations, while the Welding System Assessment does the same for welding management systems. In addition, both assessments support the automotive process approach in ISO/TS 16949.”

These documents join the family of other CQI assessment documents that include automotive supplier self-assessments CQI-9, CQI-11 & CQI-12 for heat treating, plating, and coatings. The assessments are part of the customer specific requirements for ISO/TS 16949. Chrysler will require CQI-14 self-certification from suppliers in 2011.

For more info on these assessments, contact G3 Solutions today!

Customer satisfaction – the art of making the customer feel like they matter!

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Past the half way point in our top ten countdown of quality system nightmares -

Reason #5 – Customer satisfaction data is not analyzed, or even collected!

Whenever the subject of customer satisfaction comes up in quality system implementation, there is never a neutral or apathetic response from top management. Some are gung-ho on getting data and finding out where they stand, and others will wince in pain knowing that the big blowout last week with that top account will end up as a documented exercise in finger pointing. Everyone will have their personal take on gathering data, including just who should be solicited for feedback and who will analyze it.

”Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”
- Donald Porter V.P., British Airways

Often, those management team members that have direct responsibility for on-time delivery and zero defects may think customer satisfaction data is not necessary, especially when there has been a recent positive trend in both of those metrics. If the customer is getting defect free product and on-time delivery, what could possible be wrong? Why would anyone complain?

If you read ISO 9001 clause 8.2.1 – Customer Satisfaction, it states “…the organization shall monitor information relating to customer perception as to whether the organization has met customer requirements.” This can mean a lot more than good product on time. Your customer may have many issues regarding such matters as communication, response time to questions or concerns, or other service related items.

One of the most comical remarks we’ve heard from the ranks of top management is that “We don’t want to ask anyone now – we just sent out a lot of bad orders that are coming back!”

Waiting for customers to be in a really good mood should not be a part of information gathering criteria. How the company ranks in customer satisfaction is not the important thing. What a company is doing in response to customer satisfaction is the primary concern.

In fact, great customer relation-building opportunities await if customer satisfaction data is collected during times of product crises. Demonstrating that customer opinion matters, whether good or bad, and then actually acting on that information through such methods as corrective action, increased contact or even new process implementation will convey the message that no matter how negative a customer experience was, the customer is supreme!

For some creative ideas in measuring customer satisfaction, contact G3 Solutions today!

Next in our top ten countdown of quality system saboteurs – poor document control!

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Not getting maximum benefit from your quality system? Poor document control always adds to inefficiency!

Reason #6 – Document control is not enforced!

Making sure everyone is working off of the same page (often quite literally) is the primary goal of the ISO 9001 clause 4.2.3 – Control of Documents. We hear from many quality managers and management representatives that this rather simple requirement, which seems on the surface to be easy to handle, can be a real bear to nail down. It is hard to imagine that this would be a difficult task, with most companies relying on electronic documentation. So what gets in the way of making complete and effective document control a given?

It generally starts with most companies not knowing just what to control. Sometimes it is assumed that the only documents needing control are those that make up the quality system. This narrow (and incorrect) interpretation of the requirement can lead to document chaos. Most companies have multitudes of documents that affect not only information getting to the customer, but also between departments, areas, and processes. Documentation that is not providing the most current info can wreak havoc with production schedules, customer communication and overall product/service quality.

Some areas/departments that are more isolated from traditional design and production processes (such as Accounting, IT, and off-site Sales personnel) may develop a whole subset of documents that might fly under the document control radar. There may be the thinking that certain documents are not important to control since the individual department is the only group using them for intra-departmental correspondence.

If there is confusion with knowing just what to control, let this be your guide: if any document or form provides direction, status, guidance or is kept as some sort of record, it should be controlled! Why risk the chance that someone might make a costly mistake with obsolete info? This is obvious when it comes to such items as specifications, drawings, assembly instructions and the like. But remember, document control can even include the most basic of communication tools such as fax cover sheets, inter-company memos, or business cards. Even the seemingly smallest overlooked items on documents like incorrect phone extensions, old email addresses, revised building or suite numbers, etc., can cause confusion with a fellow employee or boss, not to mention the customer!

For more info on how you can get a handle on document control, ask the experts at G3 Solutions today!

Chrysler to require CQI-14 self-certification from suppliers in 2011

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

A recent AIAG announcement states that James Bruin, manager, quality and warranty programs, Chrysler Group LLC, will formally announce on May 5, 2010, that Chrysler will require self-certification to the CQI-14 consumer centric warranty process in 2011. CQI-14 demonstrates how companies throughout the supply chain can embrace cultural change and reduce risk by striving to reduce warranty incident rate and feeding lessons learned back into the product development process.

According to the AIAG announcement, Mr. Bruin states that self-certification would be required of Chrysler suppliers. Over the last several months, Mr. Bruin has solicited input from members of the OESA Warranty Management Council and the AIAG Quality Steering Committee. On May 5, AIAG will also announce that CQI-14 warranty process training classes will be available in the latter part of 2010.

The announcement will take place during a larger session on consumer-centric warranty management that will be held at the MSU Management Education Center, Troy, Mich. During the session, AIAG and OESA will release the second edition of CQI-14, also known as “Consumer–Centric Warranty Management: A Guideline for Industry Best Practices.”

Are company objectives for quality really working as a tool for improvement?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Part of our top ten series of reasons some companies are not getting the most from their quality system -

Reason #7 – Quality objectives are never changed

One of the key requirements in quality standards such as ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, AS9100 and others is that an organization must establish and measure objectives for quality. Even though this is just one of numerous requirements found in various ISO standards, this one key mandate may provide the most overall benefit to an organization.

Setting objectives for quality throughout the company and monitoring those objectives should provide a useful overview of how well processes are performing. At times, we see companies that establish simple goals and objectives that are too easily met and remain virtually unchanged, sometimes over a period of years. When this pattern of perceived “success” in meeting objectives is investigated, it is often exposed that there is a company culture that assumes it is better to portray a positive than display any type of negative trend to either customers or third party auditors.

This can be a major roadblock in making the quality system a true tool for continual improvement. It often fosters a feeling of apathy in many employees who view the quality system as simple window dressing for keeping the current customer base happy and impressing potential customers. Once this attitude becomes part of the overall organizational culture, it is tough to reverse – but not impossible.

A primary function of top management should be to examine if current objectives and goals are providing a true evaluation of overall performance. The key output of this review should be to establish new goals that may be more realistic in terms of driving process improvement. Just because an organization may not be meeting goals and objectives and an analysis of data may show a negative trend, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is a quality freight train wreck.

By linking continual improvement initiatives and programs to numbers that aren’t traveling in the desired direction shows that the organization is truly dedicated to continual improvement. Once the top management of an organization like that described above makes a strategic paradigm shift in reviewing and understanding quality objectives, good things will happen. It will not only make the company look stronger to customers and auditors, but to those employees who are hoping for real process improvement.

Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, G3 Solutions can help!

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Top ten reasons why some quality systems are ineffective -

Reason #8 – The quality system is handled by one person

At G3 Solutions, we often receive calls from companies that are in need of expertise to help with quality system issues shortly before a third-party audit. This is often due to a lack of resources and downsizing from the recent economic nightmare of the past year.

Unfortunately, those employees that fell under the umbrella of “quality” were some of the first to be downsized. Since these employees were in charge of such key systems as internal audits, corrective actions and analysis of quality data, the maintenance of these systems would continually get put off until the last possible minute, if they were done at all. This is not the way a well implemented quality system should work.

Generally, the reason for this type of system meltdown is that most, if not all key functions of the system were handled by one employee whose primary purpose in the company was to be “the ISO person”. They were responsible for making sure all of that ISO 9001 “stuff” got done, and now they are not around – and no one has a clue as to what needs to be maintained.

A well implemented system will almost run by itself, with just minimal oversight by the selected management representative. Key systems should be shared and divided by top management; not handled solely by the quality manager or ISO coordinator. Not only will this shared strategy help maintain key processes, but will also encourage and promote employees to work with and improve the quality system.

For further information on how we can help, contact G3 Solutions today!

Top ten reasons for an ineffective QMS!

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Reason #9 – Negligence in training employees to properly use the system!

Competence, training and awareness for employees is more than just a simple ISO 9001 requirement – it is a major factor in the difference of having a system that will work as either a) a tool for continual improvement, or b) a worthless set of documents that are not followed.

Many third party auditors will often look at the training records of the oldest and newest employees as well as directly asking them questions as to how they access and utilize their system. It can be a very good barometer of how well the entire quality management system (QMS) is working.

The reason behind this type of audit sampling is that many company “veterans” will often provide candid feedback on portions of the system that are not operating as documented. In some instances, these employees will even reveal ways that the current system is bypassed for efficiency, especially when improvements to processes are not made. With new employees, training effectiveness is easy to assess based on whether the QMS information and training given to them is memorable, and then asking if they can actually demonstrate use of the system.

Training on the quality system for new hires and ongoing training for veteran employees should be a priority for any company looking to get the most out of their QMS.

For some creative ideas on how to get your employees trained as QMS experts, contact the ISO experts at G3 Solutions today!