Posts Tagged ‘corrective’

Too much time to document corrective actions? Consider the long term benefit!

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Reason # 4 in our Top Ten Countdown of quality system mistakes-

#4 – Corrective actions aren’t documented!

When conducting internal audits, we often see third party registrar reports that contain a nonconformance finding for not documenting corrective actions as stated in the company’s written procedures. The usual response is that there just isn’t enough time to document issues when they can be solved (or perceived as solved) within a short period of time. Although this may seem true on the surface, after a little investigative auditing, we often find that some of those issues that were “fixed” on the fly are coming back repeatedly either in the same area or in other areas of the business.

Although it is easy to rationalize the behavior of making simple quick process corrections without going through the formal documentation route, the end result is almost always the same. Since the issue was not documented and many other areas of the company were not aware of the problem, not to mention the solution (which may or may not be long term), the problem keeps raising its ugly head.

There is tremendous value when a corrective action is properly documented, true root cause is determined and long term solutions are communicated to all functions of the organization. These “extra steps” that can, on the surface, seem troublesome and time consuming but can actually save both time and money by reducing or eliminating repeat nonconforming issues. Please keep in mind we are not suggesting the documentation of every little operational issue that requires simple adjustment during the course of doing business. We are talking about those issues that can affect the customer and/or have an effect on internal processes.

For information on how to effectively document corrective actions, contact the experts at G3 Solutions.

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!

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!

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.