Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Check out this short trailer for a series of videos coming soon.

It is a very common occurrence when I go on site to conduct my Competent Auditor session that I get asked, “Well that’s OK, but what does an audit look like and what questions should I ask?” Taking that on board, my colleague Amanda and I are putting this video out to see what reaction it gets. Would it help you, your colleagues or your clients get a clearer picture of how they should go about an audit and how to handle the responses?

It is only the trailer as the full video lasts around 12 minutes which starts with a good audit then follows with the three reasons it fails – system inadequate, disregarded or needed

Please leave your comment below and I’ll send the full version to those of you who offer the most constructive feedback. PLEASE don’t get hung up on the actual content and interpretation as we all know each of us will probably approach it in our one unique way 🙂

Remember we are always here to help and support you in your 9001 work. See for yourself by clicking through to the 9001 Support Centre.

It is stating the obvious that more and more communications are taking place on mobile devices such as phones to tablets – so why should we Quality Management 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 – 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.

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?


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.


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?

In ISO 9001 the concept of keeping training records seems one of the simplest required, but more often than not I find it is the one area of the system that companies get, well, the wrong way round.

It is very common to find that the training records are there for each member of staff and within them I will find certificates from training sessions and other relevant qualifications for what the current job holder has achieved. Unfortunately, this doesn’t demonstrate competence for the job in hand as required by the standard merely what training and experience relates to the current job holder.

What you need to do first off is actually forget the person and focus on the job.  Take each position and list what skills your business requires from a potential job holder in order for the resultant output of work to be effective, as if you were recruiting from scratch. Most companies collate this information into a training skills matrix with the skill often down the left with the job title entered across the top.  Now you can add back each member of staff working for you under the appropriate job title and then what type of the records you have on their file as validation.

Instead of being swayed by what they have got already of file you assess them against the requirements of the job. Where there are gaps then you have neatly brought to the fore your training needs and requirements.  From there you can integrate those into an annual training programme and budget.

Some companies go to another level by highlighting the actual experience each employee holds for a task. for example, you might have a numeric, alpha or colour coded key to illustrate ‘Learning’, ‘Needs Supervision’, ‘Can work unsupervised’, ‘Can train others’ etc.

Sounds simple but you would be amazed how many companies shortcut the process.

Further information on maintaining your ISO 9001 system can be found at the ISO 9001 Support Centre as part of the service provided by The BPAS Group.

Once you are in the driving seat of that QMS you soon start to realise that there is more to running that 9001 system than just knowing the standard inside out and being qualified to do the internal audits. You are the key person in your organisation and to be effective you will need to develop the so called soft skills – and fast!

Mulling over exactly what these skills might be with some of my quality colleagues we came up with the following guidelines that you might want to consider.

Approach the task with a thorough knowledge of the processes where you work, that all important eye for detail backed up with sound data analysis and problem solving. Develop a simple and effective system for people to buy into. Be determined and assertive as you take on the role of leader but remember there will be times you have to be the negotiator or the diplomat.

Communicate in a variety of styles as befits the situation. Have the ability to be the trainer, mentor, presenter and – most importantly – the listener. Be seen by your peers as credible, trustworthy, passionate yet patient if required and fully integrated into the management team.

Develop your own ideas in innovative and open minded ways and be inspirational to those around you. Finally, ensure you retain your sense of humour at all times and grow a thick skin for when you hit difficulties. Accept the need for humility for those times when you make a mistake – as you will!

Now, perhaps that sounds a bit of a daunting prospect but you’re not alone. Fortunately there are people available to help you on this journey. The need to mentor quality representatives exists so check out this initiative here if you recognise that you might need help along the way.

Recognising that businesses need information as quickly as possible in order to implement it and gain benefits,  I am now offering the full set of ISO 9001 Training Guide videos under the banner “9001 – The Collection”.  Rather than work through the free series each fortnight for six months you can be in total control of what you watch and when you watch it.

The aim is still the same, to lighten the load for the beleaguered Management Representatives who are often left to run the system on their own. You will hear me empathise with that situation here in the video taken from the new website:

Below are a selection of the comments I have received from subscribers of the free series and I feel they are testament to the warmth of feeling being displayed towards these videos:

* The videos are fabulous.  Your blog is a goldmine – and that and your videos have been a particular help to me.  Your clear communication style is wonderful, and one I want our audit team to try and emulate. You’ve gone viral here at Midland. Thank you for making this available and sharing your knowledge.  I hadn’t intended to write a fan letter, sorry I went on, but I wanted you to know your work is much appreciated. JB, Chicago, USA

* I would just like to say how informative and professionally set up your videos are, they really are priceless. TM, Kent, UK

* I would just like to start off by saying that I am thrilled to have your programme help me with my ISO journey that I have recently been put in charge of implementing at my company.  I am very new to all this and you are a saving grace to me.  I can’t thank you enough for your valuable insight. NW, California, USA

* Thanks Pete, the blog and the videos are actually a gold mine. Thanks a tonne , I  have recently been appointed as the MR for my organisation and I did not know where to start. JWT, Nairobi, Kenya

* I commend you for providing a wealth of great information that is easy to follow and gets you thinking about those methods in implementing good auditing techniques.  I especially like the Audit Methodology sections to help re-enforce the concepts and create new ideas on how to improve upon ones system. These are great refresher courses for all auditors at any level.  Thanks again, I look forward to receiving more information and reading your blogs.TL, Ohio, USA

* At the outset, I must thank you and congratulate you for your work. The guides are simply too good. The guides will help me conduct Internal Process Audits and design and improve upon the various checklists on the shop-floor. Looking forward for to a great association with you. AP, India

* And last but by no means least, thanks for the support videos.  What a fantastic idea!  They’re actually good too! MW, North Yorkshire, UK.

The new site has free samples for you to view so all you need to do is click onto “9001 – The Collection” so you can take advantage of them as well.

ps: By the way, subscribers to this blog should email me using the link at the very bottom of that website for news of a special discounted offer on The Collection!

The use of flowcharts causes much discussion, with everyone having an opinion as to the best style and structure. However, what’s all the fuss about when they are not even mandated as part of a QMS?  9001 states that the QMS can be recorded on any format so why not carry on doing what we always did and write those text based diatribes from yesteryear.


A picture speaks a thousand words

Well, for one, those of use running systems should always be developing them towards best practice.  With the emergence of a visual representative within the lean philosophy there has been growing pressure to move other management systems into line.  Secondly, the solely text based system is no fun to read, particularly if  formatted as if paper was going out of fashion, and a nightmare to write thus failing to address the requirement in the standard for ‘effective communication’ to those involved.

Now admittedly we could veer off here into learning patterns, but most would agree that a visual procedure wins hands down being more popular as a learning tool with most people. They also prove more efficient in trouble shooting a process in the first place when people get down to mapping it out.

Another serious disadvantage is that it doesn’t effectively depict ownership too well as they tend to be written in the sequence of the process so it jumps around the relevant departments and personnel.  A flowchart works far better with its ‘swimming lane’ approach as you can see ownership move before your very eyes.  Users can also scan it quickly to see how much of the process drops into their lap!

Personally I don’t advocate spending endless hours making sure you have the right symbol for absolutely every box, make do with a basic set that everyone understands.  However, it is useful to bring out key operations like Hold points with a symbol and colour that catches the eye.

Finally, for those with the skill, you can hyperlink the various operations in the process to any other part of the system.  Could be related procedures, forms, work instruction – just about anything that the user needs to have at their disposal.  That with a cool format makes them far more likely to be accepted and read.  Would you agree?

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?