Top ten reasons for an ineffective QMS!

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!

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

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!

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!”

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!

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!

Congratulations! You are now in charge of creating an ISO 9001 system – now what?

August 31st, 2009

Quite often, the G3 staff is asked to recommend a plan of action for people who find themselves in the position of “being volunteered” to put together an ISO 9001 (or any other ISO 9001-based standard) system for their company. Unfortunately, for employees that have little to no experience with quality standards, this can be an overwhelming task. We recommend the following steps:

Step 1 – Before you can plan what to do, you and the management team need to know what is required. Start with an overview training session on the standard for yourself followed by a session for top management. Strongly emphasize that the standard is process based and highlight the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model. All parties involved in the implementation must realize that the standard has a couple of key principles that are referenced all throughout the standard – customer satisfaction and continual improvement. The ultimate goal is to make all customers happy, but the method of getting to that goal is by the continual improvement of your processes. This is where top management needs to make a little paradigm shift – customer satisfaction means more than a reduction in phone calls from the customer yelling about something that wasn’t just right. It certainly means more than assuming a customer is happy if they continue to give orders for more products and services. Remember, customers can multi-task by giving your organization a new purchase order while giving a new supplier the thumbs up for the next order. By the time some realize the customer isn’t happy, it can be too late.

This is where continual improvement comes into play. By knowing what your customers think of the level of service and value they receive from your organization, your company can initiate the proper continual improvement objectives that can reduce or eliminate the problems and issues that can make their way to the customer.

This is why you need to get all of top management involved. Everyone must get a clear view of the big picture. Having a quality management system (QMS) based on the appropriate ISO standard should become the implementation of a quality philosophy and roadmap for doing things right. Stress that it is a quality management system by which the company will operate and oh, by the way, it just happens to comply with the ISO standard. After that, don’t mention the letters “ISO” – just QMS. Companies that implement systems based on the need to meet ISO requirements often find that employees put an emphasis on doing things just to meet the standard as opposed to improving the process.

Additional steps will be discussed in future posts. Visit g3iso.com for more info.

Attention all automotive parts suppliers! Don’t miss the new revision to ISO/TS 16949

July 10th, 2009

ISO/TS 16949:2009, Quality management systems – Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2008 for automotive production and relevant service part organizations, replaces the 2002 edition which has been used by the major automotive manufacturers to provide a baseline quality system for over 35,000 organizations worldwide that produce and supply parts for the automotive industry.

The 2009 edition was initiated to ensure its compatibility with the requirements of ISO 9001:2008, Quality management systems – Requirements. There are no essential changes to the technical requirements. The modifications are mainly clarifications of certain requirements and do not add any additional requirements.

According to the IOS, up to the end of December 2008, at least 39,300 ISO/TS 16949:2002 certificates had been issued in 81 countries and economies. This represents a 12 % increase over 2007.

The IATF has set a transition period of 120 days from date of publication of the new edition – 15 June – for organizations to comply with the standard’s requirements. The details of the plan are given in a communiqué by the IATF Oversight Certification Body.

ISO/TS 16949:2009 was prepared by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), with the support of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 176, which is responsible for the ISO 9000 family of quality management standards. Copies of the standard can be ordered through iso.org or other groups such as aiag.org – be sure to upgrade your copy today!

For more information on ISO/TS 16949, contact G3 Solutions today!

Environmental reporting not keeping you busy enough? Get ready for Greenhouse Gas reporting!

June 22nd, 2009

It was only a matter of time – and the time has arrived.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to establish a nationwide system for reporting GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. It is a program that could serve as the basis for a federal cap on the buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming.

The registry plan would cover about 13,000 facilities that account for 85 to 90 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas output.

The plan will be adopted by the end of the year and greenhouse gas statistics will be available by the end of 2010. The EPA requirements would apply to large industrial sources that emit 25,000 metric tons or more a year, including oil and chemical refineries; cement, glass, pulp and paper plants; manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines; and confined animal-feeding operations. In addition to carbon dioxide, emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases would have to be reported.

The good news is that most small businesses would fall well below the threshold and would not be required to report, EPA officials said.

For more info on GHG reporting, contact the experts at G3 Solutions.

For AS9100, familiarity with OASIS is a must!

June 8th, 2009

If your organization is working on the implementation of AS9100, AS9110, or AS9120, the OASIS (Online Aerospace Supplier Information System) database resource is essential as an information tool. Maintained by SAE International, the system provides aerospace supplier certification and registration data that includes information on accreditation bodies, the certification bodies accredited for the scheme, auditors approved for the aerospace scheme and certified suppliers.

To use this resource, you must sign up and register. There is no charge to do this – sign up and registration is free. Simply go to www.sae.org/oasis and the on-line instructions are easy.

For more info or help with OASIS, contact the experts at G3 Solutions.

When implementing an ISO 9001 system, be aware of the tools that are available!

June 5th, 2009

The ISO 9001 standard was developed by the IOS Technical Committee 176. The committee has also been part of the development of many other standards to aid in the implementation and continual improvement of a quality management system. Be sure to look at some of these quality tools. They can help your organization implement an effective quality system that will provide real value in a number of areas.

Current standards from ISO/TC 176 and its subcommittees:

• ISO 9000:2005 Quality management systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary

• ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems – Requirements

• ISO 9004:2000 Quality management systems – Guidelines for performance improvements

• ISO 10001:2007 Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for codes of conduct for organizations

• ISO 10002:2004 Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations

• ISO 10003:2007 Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for dispute resolution external to the organization

• ISO 10005:2005 Quality management – Guidelines for quality plans

• ISO 10006:2003 Quality management – Guidelines for quality management in projects

• ISO 10007:2003 Quality management – Guidelines for configuration management

• ISO 10012:2003 Measurement management systems – Requirements for measurement processes and measuring equipment

• ISO/TR 10013:2001 Guidelines for quality management system documentation

• ISO 10014:2006 Quality management – Guidelines for realizing financial and economic benefits

• ISO 10015:1999 Quality management – Guidelines for training

• ISO/TR 10017:2003 Guidance on statistical techniques for ISO 9001:2000

• ISO 10019:2005 Guidelines for the selection of quality management system consultants and use of their services

• ISO/TS 16949:2002 Quality management systems – Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2000 for automotive production and relevant service part organizations

• ISO 19011:2002 Guidelines for quality and/or environmental management systems auditing