It is stating the obvious that more and more communications take place on mobile devices such as phones and tablets – so why should we Quality Specialists miss out?

I am in the throws of designing an App with a colleague here in the UK that I feel will add value to those

running a QMS system – but I would love to know what you think should be included.

Given all that a QMS has to cover, what are the major elements you think would look good in the palm of your hand. Whilst this will work really well for CPD purposes for yourself, also think of practical issues where having that information or form on a mobile device would really add value.  You can make use of simple text, pictures, audio, video, surveys, email and more so don’t feel there are any limitations – make the suggestion and leave it for us to decide if it is doable.

The plan is to launch it in September and I’ll make sure you have the opportunity to be first in queue when it is ready to download. Looking ahead, there are already some exciting ideas getting short-listed so please give me some feedback here so we can consider yours. It will get credited if it is included.

For any small company the requirement to appoint someone to look after the QMS can be a difficult decision. Invariably someone takes it on in addition to there main job which is bad enough, but the most difficult choice is when the Production Manager draws the short straw.  Surely, it is a blatant conflict of interest so shouldn’t be entertained?

However diligent they may be and competent in their QA skills, there will surely be occasions when they are faced with a choice – get deliveries out each day irrespective of the fact that non-conformances should be raised for one thing or another. At Goods Inwards, allowing receipts to proceed when they should be investigated further because the pressure is one to get the material allocated and used.

Keeping instruments in use perhaps when they are known to be out of calibration or damaged because withdrawing them would stop the production line.  The list goes on and on and I’m sure you have seen and could add many more scenarios. On top of that he is excluding himself from being able to audit so many aspects on the internal audit schedule because he is clearly not impartial to the workings of the process.  

So, care needs to be exercised when making the selection.  Production staff have enough to do already so look around the company and see if this role can be an opportunity for someone to show their potential perhaps. There is saying that if you want a job doing well then give it someone who is busy, but on this occasion perhaps not.

Have you ever faced that situation?  How have you got the company to reconsider? Please share.

First off, I need to say a quick ‘welcome’ to the new members of this group.  Many thanks for coming on board after seeing the blog. This is where we kick around some fresh ideas about 9001.

Now this time, instead of telling a story in the usual format, I have decided to throw a case study into the mix.  Let’s see how well you respond to the challenge of actually putting your knowledge into practice.  It’s just a bit of fun but, in all seriousness, I am sure you like me want to keep your skills honed and there is no better way in my opinion.

Bear in mind these two questions and leave your replies in the box at the bottom:

a. Would you raise a CAR based on what you know already and if so what would it be and which paragraph would you raise it against.

b. Are there any other areas where you are thinking there is a possible CAR but would seek out more evidence before making a decision?

CASE STUDY STARTS

The company is a single site and fabricates cabinets out of metal sheet by using a computerised laser cutting machine; a forming press; general machining and TIG and MIG welding.

You discuss the control of documents with the QA Representative and start by asking to see the Index and Change Control system. You are handed the Quality Manual and told that the index is at the back in an appendix. You verify a list of procedures only but note that there is no revision number included, only the title. When you query this you are told “Well if we added that then every time we amend a procedure then we would have to amend the manual which would be a real bind”.

When you ask if there is any other document containing this information then you are told “No, we’ve always done it that way”. You ask to see a copy of the relevant procedure for Document Control but are told they have never been told they need one which is when you spot it is not on the list.

You enquire as to how the procedures are authorised and reviewed before issue and how the company then communicates with staff that amendments have been made. You are shown that each procedure has the author’s name typed into the footer of each procedure with the date of issue and that staff aren’t told of amendments.

New or amended procedures are filed in the main binder with a copy in each of the 4 departmental binders (Sales and Purchasing office, Drawing office, Warehouse and shop floor) and the old version shredded.

CASE STUDY ENDS

I look forward to hearing your opinions and I will send an Amazon voucher as a thank you to whoever I feel puts together the best case.  Make your Quality stand out!

BarryNot surprisingly, this is a very common question from companies during my time on site whilst I am creating the QMS.

First, let us assume the the company has someone who they are putting forward as the QA Representative – not always the case I know.  Also let us work on the basis that this person (you?) has another job, a main job, around which they have to find the time to look after the system. Now, there is a 4 – 6 month period ahead of you that involves a stage 1 audit before ending with the stage 2 audit.

To cope in this second phase when the system has been launched and staff start to work in accordance with it, I always suggest a day a week is required.   This is based on the fact that there will be invariably be at least 2 audits a month to do because the 12 month schedule has to covered in half the time.  On the first traunch of audits there will be CARs raised so they all have be be communicated, actioned – and chased?. There is all that data to locate and analyse on a regular basis; perhaps the approved suppliers list to amend because new suppliers are being sourced and then that Management Review meeting to fit in – and aren’t the majority of the actions going to be for you!

On top of that you have to make sure you know your way around the system, whether it is hard copies or an intranet or both, so you can speak about it with confidence when the auditor is on site. Don’t forget that procedures will need amending and perhaps forms as well so the whole change control process needs time allocating to it.

Mmm, quite a bit to do. It is important that the company and the staff see this commitment on a regular basis as you endeavour to make it all part of the company culture. I find a day a week to be a good test of that Management commitment, but I feel it is a fair and realistic allowance. What’s your experience?

If all that sounds a daunting prospect don’t forget help is at hand in the form of site visits, mentoring over the web and auditor training at the 9001 Support Centre.

ps: Next time I’ll move onto the commitment after the stage 2 when it’s all died down a bit – or has it?

Having gone to all that trouble to set up your Approved S&S system I know a lot of you then struggle trying to agree what course of action you should take to bring them into line should they fail to perform.  After all, you don’t really want the hassle of sourcing an alternative – assuming there is one of course!

Understandably, you are not in a position to storm in and lay the law down for a company that you have no jurisdiction over.  You wouldn’t like it if a customer did it to you I’m sure.  However, this is where you start to work the magic of a 9001 QMS.

Are the basics in place?

By this I mean the list with suitable criteria for inclusion; a clear indication of who you will monitor for performance; what you will check; what metrics you will set and how you will control this part of the 9001 QMS.  If you need to refresh these aspects then I suggest you click this link and go look at the training videos “9001 – The Collection”.  A sample is included below if you are new to them:


Also remember that you need to be operating a robust Non-Conformance System so you have the right facts on which to base your case.

How to get them to read the performance metrics

First off make sure you are producing regular performance data which usually means once a month, although this can be flexed either way dependent on throughput.  In addition to sending out an individual report of OTD, Quality and say Concessions why not appeal to the supplier’s ego and list them in a league table against the other suppliers.

Combine all three ratings into one index and place the suppliers from top to bottom, but shade out all names bar the one you are compiling the report for as that way you don’t create any undo hassle between companies.  I know a lot of suppliers who don’t react when they see just their own performance report, but change totally when they see how they compare with their rivals.

Choose your Weapons

Now to the sharp end.  Here are five courses of action I have used or seen used in the past so adapt them for your own business:

  • If you see a poor performance over three consecutive reports against your required targets then raise a CAR on them as clearly their system (or the people running it more like) aren’t responding to your reports which are effectively ‘complaints’.  Simply follow the same process as you would for internal CARs.
  • If stock happens to be tested as part of your subsequent order processing but fails, even though the supplier certifies on a similar test that it has passed, then get agreement for a third-party to retest it as part of your Goods Inwards procedure.  Do this for an agreed period of time or number of receipts before putting them into stock and charge the supplier for the costs incurred. I accept that this smacks of ‘manufacturing’ and ‘engineering’, but try an adapt it for your business.
  • Instead of dealing with random deliveries and quality at Goods Inwards insist on a pre-delivery inspection at their works by one of your staff or a nominated agent on repeated offenders so that you can filter out the rejections before they arrive.   Clearly this impacts on resources and cost, but if it puts the performance back on track? Why not get them to bear some of the costs.
  • On the basis that you know others that are buying from this supplier, why not form a collective to tackle the issues on the basis that a group carries more weight than an individual.  You have to approach this one carefully dependent on your relationship with the other companies but it is worth considering.
  • Finally, in this age of social media, have you checked if the supplier is on Twitter or Facebook? Forward thinking companies do this so they can hear what the customer has to say.  I think you might have something to add there don’t you?  Do not underestimate the power of social proof – or in this instance the lack of it.  Having customers give negative comments on these platforms is not good, so is likely to solicit a reaction.  Be careful though in what and how you say things, we don’t want lawyers involved now do we!

One parting shot

Ok I know some people will say that all this is unfeasible when the issue is with a sole supplier and you can’t do without them etc etc.  I appreciate you have to be careful on the commercial front but, surely, isn’t it even more imperative that you find a working solution in that case?  Views on that one welcomed in the comments box below.

Remember the basics of 9001 like this are covered in my free training videos. The full range of service from me are on my website.

That might seem an odd question but it was the one that CQI’s CEO Simon Feary asked of the local Yorkshire Group recently when we met at Leeds earlier this month.  Simon is currently ‘on tour’ going round the various regional groups to get feedback on this issue.  He also wanted to let members know that he has a vision whereby the CQI will become a ‘must join’ body in 2016.

But why?

Well, you may remember some time back there was a certain report issued stating that there could be a serious amount of money added to UK PLC if more companies made use of a quality management system (QMS) within their businesses.  There was a strong feeling that this would seriously raise the profile of the quality professional, but what happened – nothing.

Likewise, over recent years there have been numerous failures within businesses that can be taken as good examples as to what can happen without the controls that a QMS brings to a business.  Remember the financial meltdown of 2008, that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the contaminated baby food in China, the fiasco with the food supply chain here in the UK, the irregularities with the tender process for a UK main line rail route and so on and so on.  However, what was the outcome as regards us Quality professionals – nothing.

Why was there so little interest?

You begin to wonder what has to happen in order to get the Q word used and accepted as a must have in the future, so why was it met with such apathy. The belief is that the media don’t really understand what quality is, after all how would you describe it?  The common threads that come through from these disasters is the ‘risk to the brand’ and the ‘high costs’ incurred – not forgetting that lives were lost both as victims and management.  Some would argue it also brought, and may still bring, some of the businesses perilously close to the edge.

On a much smaller scale, I recall offering an article to my local respected business newspaper on the benefits of 9001 to SMEs only to be asked – what’s 9001?

Do you know the way forward?

So, have you any ideas as to what the Quality community needs to do to make itself sexy?  Let’s be hearing from you via this blog.

Anybody going around a company performing a quality audit might be forgiven for thinking such issues lie within the 18001 health and safety scheme – but think again.  It beholds us all not to disregard a situation that impacts adversely on employees health and safety within the workplace.

Now this goes beyond the statutory (law as on the statute books) and regulatory (as required by an organisation) stipulations in 9001 which are there in relation to the product or service being provided.  For example, producing vehicles need you to comply with all the relevant requirements to get a vehicle on the road such as MOTs, Road Tax and perhaps Certificates of Compliance dependent upon where the vehicle originated.

However, if on walking around the workshop as you conduct your audit ( assuming you do get out of the office of course ) you spot a set of jacks or ramps with a vehicle hosted in the air but clearly in a more than precarious position you are at liberty to bring it the attention of the site representative.

How about walking around a paint spray shop full of paint and vapours only to find an unprotected oxy-acetylene welding rig bang ( sorry ) in the middle of it all; bar stock in racks with the heaviest stored at the top instead of the bottom or the FLT driver lifting these down by balancing them on the forks because they don’t use pans on the racks; a dirty and noisy shop floor where operators have no option but to eat their snap ( sorry, food for those south of Birmingham) by their machines because there are no canteen facilities or a work space where heavy components have to be hand carried because of the lack of lifting tackle. Now, these may seem far-fetched and I’d agree except for the fact I have seen them! I’m sure you can think of others.

So, even though it doesn’t sit formally inside your audit, remember to raise such issues to be, literally, on the safe side. Imagine how you would feel if you walked away from site then the next day you heard of an accident related to what you witnessed the day before.  You have a duty as a quality professional and it is also another means of adding value to the audit.

ps: If you feel incomfortable because you haven’t got a definitive section of 9001 to lean on then why not suggest it as a preventive action?