Posts Tagged ‘system’

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!

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!

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

Wednesday, 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!

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!

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.

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

Friday, 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

During an internal audit, get honest feedback from employees

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

The internal audit process is an extremely important part of any ISO-based quality or environmental management system. It can be the “make it or break it” process that will determine just how effective your system will be based on the proper input from employees. Unfortunately, as part of the natural human tendency to avoid anyone with the title of “auditor”, people will often treat the internal auditor as someone to avoid in fear of being singled out or used as an example.

“I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.” – Hunter S. Thompson

This is why companies must give some good thought as to the audit team they will select. Not only must the auditor be a good communicator and data analyzer, the auditor must be able to get people to want to talk about what they do and how they do it.

Sure, there is plenty of guidance as to what makes a good auditor in ISO 19011. In fact, some of the terms used to describe auditor qualities in 19011 sound like a scouts honor pledge – honest, trustworthy, loyal, brave, etc… (Well, OK, maybe not those last three!) Certain stated qualities are important, but there are some things that just go by feel – is the person approachable, enthusiastic, and positive? Can they express themselves well and “message” people who are overly sensitive to anything that may seem like criticism, like a minor nonconformance?

If it is becoming a real chore getting the right people in your organization to perform internal audits, consider the option of an expert and true auditing professional conducting your audits – it may be the smart choice. Contact G3 Solutions today to find out just how affordable and value-added contracting/outsourcing your internal audits can be!