Archive for the ‘Documenting parts of the management system’ Category

Effectiveness, value then efficiency

December 10, 2013

All of us have a responsibility for achieving more with less. To be more efficient, we experiment to see what works for customers, what nearly works and what does not work.

Organizations should start by studying themselves as systems. Once their leaders understand how their system helps employees to fulfill their mission or not, they think and work differently. They start their efficiency improvement cycles by developing their management system to drive their processes through the walls of silos to focus on customers. Then they can focus on improving the system to deliver what customers value.

Given an environment that supports such thinking, together with our colleagues, we start the experiment by studying customer demand, what customers’ value and waste. We may then set ourselves a hypothesis to test the best way to satisfy value demand and reduce failure demand. We carefully work to our new or updated procedure to see if it is effective. We try again until successful. We institutionalize the successful new process so others in the system can depend on it. This also enables us to improve efficiency further with another cycle of improvement.

Improvement often starts by eliminating the local causes of problems from a process. Perhaps by mistake-proofing the riskiest processes too. But, after several improvement cycles, we find the wider system has the greatest impact, both adverse and beneficial, on our process. System-wide impacts come from other processes in the system. These impacts include the shared organizational beliefs (or culture) that leaders reinforce or weaken with their processes.

When the continual improvement cycle is effective it continues to make the system and its processes more efficient. The speed of this investment should be a result of the calculation of risk and reward on behalf of investors who share the mission for customer value. The management system should deliver the information needed for these risk-reward decisions from the data collected on what customers’ value.

Conformity is necessary for effectiveness and predictable effectiveness is necessary for delivering value and improving efficiency. Predictable outcomes are a mark of effective processes and systems. “Luck” best describes an organization happening to fulfill a requirement with an unknown process or system.

Start by understanding your organization as a system. How does it help your organization to fulfill your mission? What are the leadership processes? Be prepared to think and work differently. Start your efficiency improvement cycles by developing your management system so it is process-based leaving no silos. Then focus on improving your system and its processes to deliver what your current and future customers value.

How do I develop my organization’s management system?

August 5, 2013

As Quality Manager recognize that your organization already operates according to its management system. Recognize that quality is primarily the responsibility of the people doing the value adding work. Also recognize that an individual’s performance is largely determined by the system in which that individual works.

Understand the organization as a system. Define the scope of the system. Assess its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Determine system objectives. Analyze what the organization does with its suppliers and customers to turn customer needs into cash in the bank. Determine the cross-functional key processes from the core process and as necessary to sustain and direct the core process. Assign and brief the process owners.

Analyze or design the key processes and their interactions. Obtain feedback (reality check or feasibility check) from the process teams. Incorporate feedback in the process descriptions (procedures). Correct minor nonconformities within two weeks (and issue corrective action requests for any remaining nonconformity). Train process teams in their new processes and in any new controls for existing processes.

Train leaders to run the management system awareness sessions so employees can see they are committed to requirements coming from customers, regulators and their management system. Have them promise management system performance reports.

Facilitate improvements of the system, its processes and products. Audit the management system for how well it helps employees to determine and meet requirements. Facilitate reviews of management system performance with top management so they initiate the changes necessary for their management system to improve the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Monitor top management’s engagement of employees in the use and improvement of their process-based management system to fulfill the organization’s purpose or mission.

Users need manuals they understand

October 6, 2011

Generally, people do not read their quality manuals. This is not new. IT has realized this for years with their helpdesk’s less than helpful responses “have you read the manual” or “have you rebooted your computer yet”.

Some quality manuals are full of many turgid policies. So, does the failure to read and understand the quality manual reveal a lack of interest? More likely experts write their manuals without total regard for the readers.

Many experts rewrite the system standard. This fails to respect copyright even as we try to protect our own property. It is not a manual that meets the needs of its readers.

Instead, write your manual so it explains how your management system works to:

A. Convert the needs of customers into cash in the bank;
B. Manage opportunity and risk (add value while preventing loss); and
C. Continually improve performance.

Use the present tense to reflect reality and rewrite for Grade 8 readability. Just like the Wall Street Journal (and this post).

You may include the one policy statement as an exhibit. Write just one for quality, health and safety, security and sustainability.

Then train the leaders to explain to the employees the benefits of their management system. Help the leaders understand its obligations on the leaders and on the employees. Help them to explain the benefits of using the management system. Help them to develop their presentation, handouts and any other materials. Help them to plan and deliver the employee awareness campaign.

You want to make your manual friendly to auditors? Include a conformity matrix as an exhibit for each management system standard. Competent auditors do not need a rewrite of the system standard.

Write your system manuals to enthuse the leaders and employees. Encourage them to understand, use and improve their management system.

Reasons ISO 9001 projects fail or succeed

September 26, 2011

Big Q thinking says everything the organization does is for quality. Organizational thinking in this way can result in highly successful holistic system development projects. Some organizations, though, are stuck in little-q thinking, perhaps kept in that state of mind by their dying QC department.

Since 1986 here are four reasons we have observed for organizations failing to obtain the full benefits of ISO 9001:

1. The leaders are not willing volunteers in developing their system.
2. The leaders ignore the system that actually is their organization.
3. The leaders delegate implementation of procedures written around ISO 9001 instead.
4. The quality professionals do not include the financial processes in the management system.

The key to developing a process-based management system is to go with the flow of work in the organization.

Embark on a voyage of discovery rather than implementing a standard:

A. Discover what the organization already does to determine customer requirements (and get paid for meeting them).
B. Discover what the organization already does to fulfill these and other requirements.
C. Discover the processes in the management system (and determine any new ones needed by the management system).
D. Discover what is done in each process to prevent nonconformity instead of how nonconformity is detected.

Telling an individual to implement ISO 9001 is not a good idea. The system development project needs a cross-functional team that is able to analyze its system, determine its key processes and analyze each of those key processes and their interactions.

Just a few of the management system’s processes need to be newly designed and implemented after training of the process team.

Respect the system that is the organization otherwise the system development project will fail. One way to do this is to use the “as-is rule”. Document the process lightly as it is not as you would like it to be. Then, by using and improving the management system it will cause any needed improvements and grow the detail where needed.

What if the process is so bad it does not conform to the standard? Well then, use the two-week rule: record the nonconformity and say “you have a fortnight to correct the process then we will re-document the improved process as it is”. If too difficult to correct in two weeks then feed the nonconformity into an early corrective action using the newly developed management system.

A summary of common mistakes:

i) Leaders not showing their commitment to requirements.
ii) Putting the documented procedure ahead of the process.
iii) Ignoring the system that is the organization.
iv) Implementing ISO 9001 instead of developing the organization’s existing management system.

The system should help people to determine and meet requirements including the requirement for continual improvement. The procedures should be owned by the people not the “we know best department”. That way QA is delivered as a result of everyone using their management system to fulfill requirements.

Learn how to do this for yourselves here.

PErfect ISO System

August 17, 2010

The perfect ISO system died today. Beautifully crafted and wonderfully presented, it was 10 pounds of flowcharted and textual procedures and work instructions written for ISO 9001. This perfect system “won” accredited certification for the company and kept the Quality Engineer employed for years.

When managers and employees said they wanted to change the system to avoid duplication and triplication the Quality Engineer assured them that the inefficiencies were required by ISO 9001. So it stayed, not as a system to help the business, but as a millstone to keep the certificate.

Everyone but the Quality Engineer hated it. It was a work of fiction and it made liars of them. Before the registrar’s auditor visited, the Quality Engineer would do a quick audit to verify conformity to ISO 9001 and hold a management review meeting. The managers went through the motions, obtained no value and were assured that ISO required this charade.

Then the credit crunch hit and management had to look at whose jobs generated value. They decided to let the Quality Engineer go. And what was to become of the perfect ISO system without its champion?

The Operations Manager took control and transformed the despised ISO system. With support from the management team, she is developing their Business Management System that helps everyone to determine and meet requirements for customers and continual improvement. The management system that actually runs their company is captured and shared electronically in flowcharted procedures without the textual duplications, and strangely enough, it happens to conform to ISO 9001.

The perfect ISO system is dead. Long live business management systems that work and happen to conform to ISO 9001.

For more information on how to transform your ISO system into a business management system that works, visit: