Posts Tagged ‘standards’

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.

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!

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

Monday, 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.

New (or maybe rumored) Corrective and Preventive Action requirements! Make sure your system is up to speed!

Friday, May 8th, 2009

In order to accommodate the rumored additional changes to ISO 9001:2008, you will need to incorporate the following form into your organizations Corrective and Preventive Action system. It is also rumored that these requirements will affect additional standards such as ISO/TS 16949, ISO 14001, AS9100, ISO 13485, ISO 22000 and various other standards.

Free download: iso-mil-hf-car-par

The downloadable form was developed by members of the military to facilitate the documentation of key personal issues into a corrective and preventive action format. If you have any questions or require any help in the application or requirements of this form, please contact G3 Solutions. We will do our best to aid in the development of your quality management system and sense of humor.

When it comes to training, don’t forget the follow up!

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Most companies do a good job of providing proper employee training to ensure a qualified and competent workforce. Clause 6.2.2c in ISO 9001 clearly states that any training or other actions taken by top management to achieve competence must be evaluated for effectiveness. This also holds true for many standards such as ISO/TS 16949, AS9100, ISO 14001, ISO 13485 and others.

A common issue found during internal and external audits is the lack of evidence to demonstrate that effectiveness is evaluated. Keep in mind the standard does not prescribe how this is to be done, so there is tremendous flexibility in how this task can be completed.

Always consider that every ISO requirement does not need a new procedure, work instruction or form! Simple changes to existing process documents can, in most cases, do the job just fine. Make sure the method chosen provides a gage that is useful to the company in evaluating resource needs. Remember, the goal for any quality system is to provide value to an organization – not just fulfill standard requirements.

For more information, visit g3iso.com today!

The position of AIAG on OHSAS 18001 – Is it politics once again?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

In a recent official position statement from the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), there appears to be a rather unenthusiastic regard for the implementation of OHSAS 18001 throughout the automotive supply chain. The statement, dated February 2009, presents the AIAG position quite clearly:

“The Automotive Industry Action Group Health, Safety, and Environmental Steering Committee believes firmly believes that the use of formal management systems are necessary for the effective management of health safety and environmental programs, and thus fully endorse ANSI Z10 and International Organization of Standardization (ISO) programs such as ISO’s 14001 environmental management standard.

We believe that management of safety and health as part of an existing management system is necessary to achieve overall HSE excellence. We believe that the management of health & safety under the BSI OHSAS 18001 program is good practice, but less efficient in terms of both cost and time, as compared to managing health & safety as part of an existing management system. This is fundamental to making safety and health integrated within existing management systems and part of the day-to-day business activities.

In conclusion, AIAG:
• believes that the International Labor Organization (ILO); OHSMS Guidelines of 2001 provide a sound basis for any nation or organization to develop an effective safety and health management system
• is concerned when entities such as BSI issue ’standards’ utilizing a numbering sequence that at the very least confuses many into believing the standard was issued by ISO, and
• will work to integrate health & safety programs within a comprehensive and effective management system, but will not specifically mandate OHSAS 18001 certification.”

Yet again, when it comes to having a so-called “standard”, politics has raised its ugly head one more time. What do you think? Log in and let us know!

For more information on OHSAS 18001, visit our website at www.g3iso.com today!

Internal Audits – more than just a quality exercise!

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

There is a requirement in most ISO 9001 based quality management standards to conduct an internal audit of the organization’s management system. The requirement is even a part of the environmental ISO 14001 standard. This should be viewed as more than just an exercise to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s”. An internal audit is a great opportunity to ensure the effectiveness of the system by providing employees with an avenue to spot issues and even suggest improvements.

Some valuable secondary effects of a well-executed internal audit can include:

  • An opportunity to train or reinforce the workings of the system. Auditors should let the auditees know the findings that were uncovered during the audit and also provide the correct information on where to find answers to questions regarding the system.
  • Employee feedback on potential process improvement actions. Employees that perform many of the key process functions often have good ideas on increasing the efficiency and ease of the job.
  • A feeling of inclusion and teamwork in helping to make the company better. This can be the catalyst for change in an indifferent attitude toward company policies and procedures.

    If you’re not getting enough out of your internal audit process, contact G3 Solutions to find out how we can help!

  • Visit our full website at www.g3iso.com today!

    ISO 14001 implementation – worth the effort!

    Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

    Many times we often hear comments about the commonalities between ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. Both standards have such requirements as management review, corrective & preventive action, internal audits, document control, and a top level policy statement. While there are many seemingly identical components, it should not be assumed that it is easy to implement an EMS because of these similarities. Many companies make the mistake in assuming that implementing 14001 will be a walk in the park since they have a quality management system.

    Just because a company may not have an inventory of hazardous waste, there are still countless ways that an organization can have an impact on its surrounding environment, even if the organization’s site is comprised of nothing more than a few desks and computers.

    Identifying all of the potential aspects and impacts of a company can be a very challenging task regardless of the product or service created. It is also the key first step to success in implementing an effective environmental management system.

    Once these aspects and impacts are fully identified, a company can then move forward and implement programs that can be used to minimize any negative impacts on the environment. Some companies implement programs to pro-actively create positive impacts. They may even find out that helping the environment can be a profitable venture! Reductions in waste can very often show up quickly as cost savings in such areas as resources and utilities – and that’s a bonus in any type of environment!