Archive for the ‘Company Culture’ Category

As I was about to start a Management Review session for a client the MD put his head round the door and stunned everybody by asking “Do you need me in this meeting”. This was before the new standard was published so it brought a smile to my face as I knew what changes were afoot. Changes that you, like me, doubtless welcomed as being a step in the right direction.

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Once we had all got sight of the new standard, most of us out there advising small SMEs began to wonder how MDs like my friend would cope with their new responsibilities. No longer could they simply declare, “If it’s quality then you need to talk to my quality man”.

The new section on Leadership is cleverly written to clearly differentiate between those duties the MD has to take on board and those he may delegate. However, if he has distanced himself in the past then doubtless many QA people will be giving him a crash course an all things 9001.

The changes will not affect those business where the workload is shared and the team addresses the relevant requirements of the standard knowing the boss had his finger on the pulse and is also chipping in with his contribution. However, they might be in the minority.

How do you you see this panning out where you work or with your clients? Will it also be the case that quality managers and indeed consultants will be excluded from an audit on the basis that the MD should be competent enough to hold a discussion by himself with the auditor?

Why not share your thoughts below.

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?

Following on the theme from the last post the CQI continue to put out some thought provoking content in their September edition.

To attempt to précis this article or even put together a meaningful introduction strikes me as being somewhat futile. For those of you with the slightest interest as to what was at the heart of the banking collapse this is a must read.

It comprises a detailed and personal account of events from non other than Paul Moore, dubbed the HBOS whistleblower, because of his attempts to make known his concerns over the banking practices at the time. As you read through it you will I’m sure experience several emotions as the plot unfolds. He will be addressing the CQI Conference in November.

Understandably a lot of focus is put on getting the quality system ready for that final audit but the need to do likewise around the site shouldn’t be overlooked. Whilst some may view these as very basic, those undertaking this audit for the first time might benefit from the prompt.

Housekeeping is an obvious one for starters. Go round the shop floor and have a tidy up – assuming it isn’t already engrained in the company culture that is. First impressions are important as they say. Get old machinery and parts out of the way and redundant stock and work in progress sorted. The same applies for office space as well so don’t forget to check that it all looks reasonable and make sure nobody has ferreted away old procedures if you have had to issue hard copies.

Walk round and convince yourself that, by what ever means you have adopted, orders are clearly identified. Rectify any areas where you are left scratching your head before the auditor does likewise. Also check that documentation relevant to these orders is in place and legible and hasn’t ‘wandered’.

The system itself should be sorted but no harm in getting someone to do a final sense check. Go through the master manual of documents to make sure nothing is missing or you’ve not generated some spurious revisions by some erroneous cross references. Don’t forget the intranet if you base your system on that as well. Check all the links work before you end up enduring that embarrassed silence when the auditor can’t make any progress through your system. Might be worth checking the backup regime whilst you’re at it to ensure the save has been validated i.e. would it work if called upon.

Ensure the Quality Policy is displayed around the place and that staff have a basic understanding of it. A good place to display it is on the log-on screen of your IT system if that is possible. Ensuring you have done all your internal audit programme and at least one Management Review meeting should be a given. However, don’t be afraid to do another MR meeting as the system gets up and running during that pre-audit period if it helps control the workload.

Finally, don’t forget your colleagues as you are going to need their help on the day. Make sure you have communicated the programme for the day to them so they know when and where the auditor will visit. Explain that you as the Management Representative (or your delegated colleague) will be with the auditor at all times but only as a guide and observer since the auditor will want to talk to them. Obviously tell them to keep to the area under discussion and politely respond to the questions and clearly ‘avoid going off on one’ if you know what I mean!

That way everybody is ready for the visit and the site looks its best – but then it always does, doesn’t it?