Posts Tagged ‘auditors’

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.

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!

When analyzing data, be sure to connect the dots to continual improvement

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

As in many ISO standards that are based on ISO 9001, there is the requirement to analyze data that has been collected as part of the quality system. Such standards as ISO/TS 16949, AS9100, and others state this quite clearly in clause 8.4 Analysis of Data. Not only should information and metrics be looked at for such items as customer satisfaction, product conformity, process trends and suppliers, but there should be some sort of evidence as to how analysis of these items drive continual improvement.

As consultants and auditors, we occasionally run into situations where a company can show us literally walls of hanging data including SPC charts, Pareto diagrams, pie charts, bar graphs and other like items. We have seen entire “war rooms” devoted to this type of information, yet when asked of management to explain how all of this colorful wallpaper drives continual improvement, the answer sometimes becomes a deer-in-the-headlights stare and struggle for an answer. A word of consulting advice – don’t let this happen to you!

Make sure the analysis of data can be tied to continual improvement initiatives, corrective and preventive actions and other methods of becoming a better organization.

Visit g3iso.com for more info on continual improvement!

ISO Internal Audits – can they be done by an outside party?

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Many companies are choosing to outsource their internal audit process because of various resource issues within the organization. A number of reasons for this trend are becoming more common throughout many industries.

After spending large sums of money training a pool of good internal auditor candidates, an organization may find that some within that group take on new positions and responsibilities that either do not allow time for conducting internal audits or they are no longer able to audit certain areas because of their new role. Some employees will leave the organization and some will just decide that internal auditing is not for them. This is especially true in companies that are registered to such standards as ISO/TS 16949, AS9100 and other industry specific standards based on ISO 9001. The methods needed for conducting internal audits in these standards can be rather time consuming in terms of preparation.

Another reason is that some companies will use a large pool of internal auditors where most of them may only get a chance to audit one time per year. For small companies with simple processes, this isn’t a big deal. For other organizations that have a multitude of key processes and departments, the auditing process can lose its effectiveness because of a lack of auditing experience by the internal auditor.

If your internal audit program has stalled and surveillance audits are approaching, let G3 Solutions show you how to ease the burden of having limited time for a complex internal audit schedule. Not only can G3 Solutions auditors pinpoint critical areas and nonconformances, G3 Solutions consultants and auditors can provide expertise in helping your organization develop cost-saving strategies to implement as part of the corrective action.