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No matter how many audits someone has gone through, knowing that someone will come and check your work always generates some tension and anxiety. Here are some recommendations to get rid of the fear and prepare for a successful ISO 9001 audit.

Prepare employees

  • Refresh the quality policy and make sure everyone understands it. There is no need for workers to memorize it, but they should have a clear understanding of what the organization has committed to in terms of quality.
  • Refresh quality objectives. Workers should know what the organization’s quality objectives are and how they contribute in achieving them. They should know and be able to explain how their day to day activities can influence these objectives.
  • Ensure that everyone has been properly trained to perform their tasks.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to find procedures, work instructions and forms relevant to perform and record correctly a specific activity or process.
  • Let everyone know the scope of the audit, what will auditors be checking in their areas and when they will be audited.
  • Workers should have the confidence to answer what they know, and have the same confidence to say ‘’I don’t know” when they are not sure what they are going to answer.




Check all documented information

  • Make sure document and record list has been updated.
  • Check that all documents have been reviewed, approved, communicated and followed by everyone involved in the process or activity.
  • Make sure no one is using obsolete documents.
  • Verify that all records are being used and that they are being filled out correctly.

Ensure all processes are being performed correctly

  • Make sure that all the procedures (whether they are documented or not) are being followed.
  • Ensure that critical processes are being performed in the same way (correct way) by everyone.

Review the corrective and preventive action process

  • Review the findings from previous audits and make sure they have been attended.
  • All nonconformities must be properly recorded, investigated and actions need to be in place or concluded by the time of the audit.
  • Corrective actions that have been executed and closed need to have a proper verification of its effectiveness.

Organize the workplace

  • It is very hard for quality control and assurance to happen in a messy, dirty and unorganized workplace, and auditors know that. So, take time to organize the workplace (offices, desks, warehouses, workshop floor, etc.).
  • Make sure records, forms, procedures and any relevant documents are at hand and easy to find.

Prepare to have a nice and professional audit

  • Make a good first impression. Treat auditors professionally and with respect from day 1.
  • Do not be predisposed. Auditors are not enemies, they will come to help the organization uncover their defects and weaknesses in order to take the necessary actions to improve.

Do not wait for the last minute to prepare for the audit

  • Preparing for an audit takes time and effort. The sooner the organizations begins to prepare for their audit, the more successful it will be. So start soon!




 

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Even if you have an informal quality management system within your business it is often difficult to implement the requirements of ISO 9001:2015. Depending on the size of your business this could be a task that may take six to twelve months to complete depending on the established current systems. It is vital that your staff are fully trained and engaged to make any implementation a success. The following 10 tips are vital to smoothly and effectively implementing an ISO 9001 management system:

  1. Get senior management commitment; while this may sound a little cliché, without the full commitment of your management team throughout the business it is going to be very difficult to drive home the changes and improvements that are required.
  1. Provide training at all levels in the business. Your staff needs to understand not only about the requirements of ISO 9001 but also the different quality principles that they should strive to implement within their every day work. Training should be provided on an ongoing basis according to perceived needs.
  1. Ensure that you have effective internal communication. Without this you are not going to be able to maintain the constancy of purpose that is required.
  1. Establish an implementation team with the authority to make things happen. You cannot just implement an ISO 9001 management system by assigning a management representative and expecting them to do everything in isolation. You need to identify the staff that will be required at all levels throughout the business to craft your system.
  1. Conduct a Gap Analysis; you need to fully understand where your current system meets or fails to meet the expectations of ISO 9001:2015 so that you can allocate resources accordingly.
  1. Involve customers and suppliers in analyzing your current systems. It is important to understand how others view the effectiveness of what you currently do and what they expect from you to improve things.
  1. Plan your implementation fully; responsibilities, roles and schedule. As with any project, the better that you plan it the more likely you are to have success.
  1. Create clear and concise policies and objectives for quality to provide the company with a common direction. Well communicated and understood these will help your company to move forward together.
  1. Encourage everyone to question and improve. It is not enough to only have auditors looking for issues with the systems; everyone should continually seek better ways to do things.
  1. Conduct regular reviews of your ISO 9001 management system through your auditing process to ensure that you are continually improving how your systems function.

In addition to the above, foster a good relationship with your certification body. Your auditor is not there to catch you out. They will want to help you to develop and grow a system that will significantly benefit your business, so use them fully.

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Lean System

Introduction to the Lean System

As with anything in life, you will get out as much from your ISO 9001 management system as you put into it. If you treat it as a documentation requirement and burden on your business just to get certification then you are unlikely to see any real benefits; in fact, you may even stifle your own growth.

The aim of any ISO 9001 QMS is to enhance your businesses product or service quality by standardizing and continually improving all of your business processes. This in turn will help you to increase productivity and drive out waste of all forms within your business.

Why Use Lean System with ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 outlines what is required for a certifiable QMS. However if you read ISO 9004 you will see that it suggests a huge amount more than 9001 requires as a minimum. Merely aiming for what the standard requires so that you achieve certification is not going to help you actually improve your business in a way that is going to help you grow it.

A QMS should always consider the customer first, not the standard. It should also be put in place to continually improve the business and its output. Something that is also provided through implementing a Lean system.

Lean Manufacturing has grown out of what is known as the Toyota Production System (TPS), and is why Toyota managed to dominate the world automotive market in such a short space of time. Lean is in its simplest form just another QMS; when you implement Lean you put in place the controls and systems to provide the customer exactly what they want, where they want it, when they want it, in the right quantity, without any waste or delays.

Lean provides you with a host of tools such as 5S, which helps you to set up a highly visual, organized and efficient working space, through to continuous improvement techniques such as Kaizen. Lean fits perfectly within any ISO 9001 QMS and can only help you to further improve and grow your business using proven tools and techniques.

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Key Performance Indicators for an ISO 14001 Management System

Why Do You Need Performance Indicators for Your Environmental Management System?

Performance Indicators are the measures that you put in place on your processes and business that provide you with the information that you need to see how well your ISO 14001 management system is performing. Each process could have a whole series of measures that will let you know how well it is performing financially, with regards to quality, H&S compliance and of course environmentally. After all, as the saying goes, “what gets measured gets done.”

Each process could potentially have many different measures that are important to it. Many of these measures will be monitored, and action taken at a local level. While others that are more important could be elevated to being Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the business. This ensures that those measures that are vital to your business or have a potential risk associated to them are highlighted.

 

What Performance Indicators Do You Need for Your ISO 14001 Management System?

Many businesses are used to implementing performance measures as part of their quality management system, however they are equally as important as part of your ISO 14001 management system. Your measures need to be selected with great care for each process within your business and only those that are truly important should be elevated as KPIs for management monitoring.

Each business is of course different as are each of your processes. Therefore, your indicators and measures will always be different to those employed by other businesses. However, some typical measures are detailed below to give you some idea as to what you should implement within your own business:

Use of Natural Resources:

  • Water, electricity, and gas usage by the business
  • The amount of paper used within the business

Discharges to Air, Land, and Water:

  • Pollutant parts per million measures
  • Weight to landfill

Incidents and Potential Incidents:

  • Number of actual and potential incidents
  • Time lost due to incidents

Proactive Measures:

  • Risk reduction measures implemented
  • Environmental audit scores

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Quality

Have you ever stood staring at a range of products in a supermarket trying to make up your mind which one to buy?  They all look quite similar, but one stands out and you buy it.  Why?  It’s got a sign on the shelf and a logo on the product to tell you that it’s won an award for quality.

So you’ve just based your purchase on Quality – Your customers are making the same decision every day!

Quality is more than just finished product, it’s the processes, systems and people that are behind the product.   Quality is everybody’s responsibility.

Quality is the pursuit of excellence, striving to be the best we can and getting ahead of our competitors.  It is meeting the needs and expectations of all stakeholders – our customers, our suppliers, our staff and the community at large.

How can we ensure that we are exploiting all avenues to be the very best?  A recognized standard such as ISO 9001 certification promotes the use of quality tools in business.   The ASQ (American society for quality) estimates that for every €1 spent on a quality management system, such as ISO 9001, returns €6 in revenue, €16 in cost reduction and €3 in profit – that’s €25 for every €1 spent!

93% of organisations agree that the implementation of a quality management system such as ISO9001 was a significant driver of success and most would agree that without it they could not justify their pricing to customers.

If you are looking at ways to improve your ROI by improving your quality then consider ISO certification.   Using an expert to help you implement a quality management system will ensure ISO 9001:2015 accreditation which will in turn help you make significant improvements and lead to significant growth.

 

This post has been a guest posting from Joann O’Brian over at our friends at CG Business Consulting Ireland .

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ISO Implementation Process

Preparing for an ISO implementation process of any ISO standard can be overwhelming and frightening for many. How an organization prepares for implementation will depend on factors such as size and complexity of its processes, the current knowledge and culture related to the standard (quality, environmental, safety, etc), the maturity of any other existing systems related to the standard wishing to implement, and many others. Despite the differences there may be between organizations, there are a few tips that will facilitate the implementation process of any management system, these are:

Know the standard.

It is essential that some personnel knows the management system’s requirements. Everyone does not need to be an expert on the requirements of the specific standard that will be implemented, but key workers need to fully know and understand all of the requirements of the standard.

Inform everyone what is going on.

The implementation process is not a task of just a few chosen ones. Everyone needs to be involved in this process. Every worker needs to know what is being implemented, why is it being implemented, which are the benefits for the organization and for themselves, and how they will be involved in the process. When people are informed, they will be more open and willing to collaborate in the implementation.

Analyze the organization’s current situation.

Before starting to implement any ISO management system, an organization needs to know its level of compliance with the standard. This will allow the organization to understand beforehand its strengths and weaknesses regarding the ISO management system wishing to implement and estimate the time needed for implementation.

Map your processes.

Establish and record current processes in order to know the relationships between departments and how the processes flow within the organization. This will allow organizations to plan their implementation by processes and not just by areas and departments.

Review existing procedures and work instructions.

Many processes need written and documented information that will guarantee that activities are carried out in the correct manner. Organizations need to review which processes are documented and how many work instructions there are. It is not the same to develop a few documents and just review work instructions than to develop them from scratch. Organizations need to have an idea of how much time they will have to invest in developing and reviewing documents.

Review current training programs.

Evaluate existing training and awareness programs. Training and awareness are an important part in the implementation process and if an organization has not considered training its workers, it would be best to redefine these programs to make sure that a large percentage of workers are trained and informed about policies, procedures, regulations, etc that will be a part of their daily activities.

These are some recommendations that will help organizations prepare for the implementation process of any ISO management system. The most important aspect to keep in mind is to make sure that the whole organization is working for the same objectives and pulling in the same direction.

 

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  1. Commit to improvement.

For any QMS to improve, it is essential that everyone is committed to seeking problems, evaluating efficiency and effectiveness of processes and implementing better and improved ideas. Management should be the first to make this commitment and if management “walks the talk” then everyone will follow.

  1. Analyse and assess current QMS.

Organizations need to take a closer look at their current practices in order to identify any gaps between what is being done and what should be done. This can be achieved by interviewing workers in critical control points, reviewing procedures and records and observing how processes are occurring. Any steps that are not adding value to the process, the system or the organization must be identified, removed or improved.

  1. Include everyone in training programs.

A QMS is not the responsibility of one person or one department. Everyone must be involved in improving the quality of products, services and processes.

Organizations should establish a training program for new employees and existing ones.  These programs should promote knowledge, produce skills and capacities and reduce resistance when implementing new ideas for improvement.

  1. Define clear goals and objectives and make sure everyone knows them.

QMS should aim at achieving specific goals. If a clear path is not drawn, there’s a risk that people will be working real hard but in different directions. Time should be spent in assuring everyone knows these goals, how they’ll be achieved, how they’re measured and periodically they should be informed of where the organization is standing in relation to these goals.

  1. Make sure the right key performance indicators (KPI) are being used.

Organizations need to carefully select and review their KPI. These should let an organization know how efficient and effective processes are and indicate where possible problems could be. If they are not giving a real overall picture of where the organization is at regarding quality, then another look should be taken to change or improve what and how performance is being measured.

  1. Listen to the suggestions of employees and customers.

Create a system that will promote workers and customers to share improvement ideas. Many great improvement ideas come directly from the people processing a product or the people that actually use it.

  1. Give people credit.

To encourage participation throughout the organization, motivate workers by recognizing their work and their ideas. Compensation or recognition should not necessarily be monetary, a simple public recognition in working meetings to can have great effects in lifting workers morale.

  1. Make the system simple.

A QMS that is extremely complex and overloaded with documents is not necessarily the best one. If documents and procedures are long and complicated, it is very likely that people will never use them. Evaluate the system and make sure that it makes sense and that it’s as simple as possible.

  1. Create quality groups.

In many organizations workers from different departments or areas are reluctant with sharing information. By bringing together people from different areas to evaluate processes and recommend improvements, an open and more effective communication can be achieved between areas that operationally seem to be apart.

  1. Have a quality attitude.

In order to reach the goals that have been set, organizations need to identify and detect problems and weaknesses but they must focus on improvements. If managers are constantly focusing on failures and defects and not on how to remove or improve them, the right attitude and mindset for quality will never be achieved.

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ISO 9001 System

Here are some of the most common mistakes made by organizations when managing an ISO 9001 system:

Mistake 1. Top management is not committed to the ISO 9001 system.  If top management is not involved in quality, if they don’t provide the resources and mechanism to plan, control and improve their products, services and processes, ISO 9001 can not be sustained over time. It’s essential for top management to take decisions that demonstrate that quality, improvement and customer satisfaction are an important issue.



Mistake 2. Not training key personnel in ISO 9001. Not knowing what ISO 9001 is all about can be a big mistake. It is important for organizations to train key personnel (someone who has a decision-making role) in ISO 9001, in order to understand what ISO 9001 really is and what it requires. Not knowing nor understanding ISO 9001 can take organizations through a path of disappointment and despair.

Mistake 3. Not training all personnel. Everyone must receive training on the important quality aspects of the activities and processes they work in. Everyone must understand the importance of quality and how they can achieve it. The training must be consonant with their responsibilities and the activities they perform.

Mistake 4. Making the system complex. If the organization is working to keep the system alive, it is a sign that it is too complex and all the work of filling out forms and documenting procedures is not adding value to the organization. The system must be kept simple and practical, and it should focus on results and improvements, and not on documents.

Mistake 5. Not using the corrective action process properly. Organizations need to take the time to investigate their problems and involve the right people in the investigation process. Most problems are recurrent, so using the corrective action process correctly will reduce or eliminate their recurrence.

Mistake 6. Not knowing what customers want. One of the objectives of ISO 9001 is to improve or increase customer satisfaction, and if organizations do not take the time to listen to their customers, they will not be able to reach this goal. A long and complicated survey is not necessary nor recommended, just by asking a few key questions will give organizations enough information to determine and plan for changes that will aim to fulfill this goal.

Mistake 7. Rushing into the implementation process. To build a solid ISO 9001 management system takes work and time.Trying to implement the system in a short time will be counterproductive. Organizations need to take the necessary time to plan, do, check and act in order to implement a system that will improve their products, services and processes.

Mistake 8. Not having a trained and experienced internal auditor. In many cases, internal auditors lack the necessary training and experience to distinguish small details from big issues in the QMS. Auditors need to focus on the issues that will help organizations improve their processes and the system itself.

Mistake 9. Believing that what works for one organization will work for their own. Every organization is different and what may work for one, may not work for another. Organizations need to focus on their specific context in order to build and develop their management system around it.

Mistake 10. Leaving the responsibility of the QMS to one person. ISO 9001 needs to be the work of an entire organization. If people do not take ownership of the QMS, it will not work out. People need to incorporate quality in their work and activities and an outsider will not achieve that. Guidance and training is needed, but if quality is not done on a daily basis in every process then the system will never add value to the organization.