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We all now need to be aware that strategic actions we take in business can impact on this group of people as stated in the upgraded ISO standards. A good example has been the development of, so called, SMART motorways across the UK, something you can identify with I’m sure.

CIP

These seemed to have been introduced without that much recourse to the views of motorists and now the RAC have reviewed them in their Motoring 2019 report and stated that 72 percent of motorists are worried about whether or not they would reach the refuge areas. Sadly, we already have reports of motorists that didn’t with fatal consequences.

Now I appreciate that this scenario may not fit the norm for a business planning to make strategic changes in how it operates, but the principle is the same. Consider the implications before making that decision.

As the report stated:
“We need to set the scene at the very start and communicate and consult with our customers, stakeholders or in this case the general public, especially if we want the initiative to be successful”.

Hopefully, the consequences where you work will not be as calamtous.

We all know that Preventive Action was replaced by Risk Based Management when ISO 9001 was updated. However, are you clear on the three levels that need to be assessed?

The top management need to look at the big picture and there is no better way than by means of a SWOT analysis.  Strengths and Weakness in the business and Opportunities and Threats outside the business. Sorted as per one of my previous posts – just search for SWOT.

As for the QMS, it’s a simple risk assessment model on a spreadsheet to score all aspects of the processes. So, we start at Enquiries and go right the way through to Despatch and on-site activities if relevant. The QMS then follows with general aspects such as IT features and Site Services. We simply look at:

  • Frequency – of the process taking place
  • Likelihood – of the process falling over despite current controls
  • Severity – the outcome to the business

It is so simple you will wonder hat all the fuss is about. Once you have set it up you just rescore it as things change. Fair to say that my clients were often dreading tackling risk, but once they see how straight forward this model is then they are all on board.

Finally, and I accept this is more within aerospace and other more demanding standards but still a good control to have in place, you have risk at the order level itself. Are you taking on sizes, materials, specifications or requirements on a drawing that you haven’t done before. If so what are the mitigating actions you will introduce – unless of course you just leave it to run and hope nothing goes bang!

Also remember that another incentive to tackle this is the simple requirement to review mitigating action at the Management Review. I often refer to a ‘rule of three’ within a lot of aspects of a QHSE system and, as you can see, risk is no different.

As I run various courses to make staff competent internal auditors, I always refer them to the section in ISO 19011 that refers to the skills needed to make a success of it. So often I see delegates put forward with little thought for whether they have the relevant ‘soft’ skills.

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When you take on board the list below you can, like me, see that there are a wide range of sills required. I’ll leave to you to decide if you meet the criteria.

Auditors should possess the necessary qualities to enable them to act in accordance with the principles of auditing and should exhibit professional behaviour during the performance of audit activities, including being:

ethical (fair, truthful, sincere, honest, discreet)
open-minded (willing to consider alternative ideas or points of view)
diplomatic (tactful in dealing with people)
observant (actively observing physical surroundings and activities)
perceptive (aware of able to understand situations)
versatile (able to readily adapt to different situations)
tenacious (persistent and focused on achieving objectives)
decisive (able to reach timely conclusions based on logical reasoning and analysis)
self-reliant (able to act and function independently whilst interacting effectively with others)
responsible and ethical (even though these activities may not always be popular and may sometimes result in disagreement or confrontation)
open to improvement (willing to learn from situations and striving for better audit results)
culturally sensitive (observant and respectful off the culture of the auditee)
collaborative (effectively interacting with others, including audit team members and the auditee’s personnel)

Be interesting to see how you feel about these qualities and characteristics, but for now I’ll just leave it there for you to ponder.

One tool that is perhaps more common in aerospace, automotive and the other high-end systems is the good old Turtle diagram. It is designed not only to give a visual link between your manual and procedures, but to set the criteria against which the process will be measured.

I have been preachig for many a year that your QMS can be the best written, best looking and best adopted that has ever been – but if it doesn’t ‘perform’ for the benefit of the business then what is the point? 

Check it out below and try and apply it to your key processes. You might suprise yourself – always remember as well that the metrics(s) should be realistic and agreed with the process owners.

Turtle