ISO 9001 Help - New Quality Manager - Upper Management Support Issues

#1
Hello!

To preface: I am a recent college grad with a degree in biomedical engineering and absolutely no background in quality. I was recently hired as a Quality Manager for a <10 employee company that, after a few bad audits from their customers, decided they wanted to seek out ISO 9001 certification and possibly other certifications in the future. The company currently has no quality program. Additionally, the owner would not like to purchase any of the regulatory handbooks describing the requirements for the certifications he would like us to acquire.

Within the last month, I have spent a fair amount of time getting to know the company's products and processes by participating in assembly and I have additionally created a Quality Manual (based off templates found online) that I am in the process of editing. Today, I also created an outline for management review meetings, which I have mentioned the necessity of to top management on multiple occasions and am hoping to begin within the upcoming weeks. In the process of creating the outline, I asked a member of management for his input on something and he told me that he would quit before having to attend a formal review meeting. He and the other management members have continued to make comments about not supporting the meetings since then.

How can I get employees that have been working for this company for 10+ years on board with the program? I already mentioned buying lunch or something to incentivize, but the three senior-most managers, the top naysayers, are not on board as they already buy lunch for each other on a daily basis and eat together.

Additionally, if you have any resources or advice that I could use to educate myself and implement a quality system, I would love suggestions! Again, I'm half the age of my colleagues and know nothing about quality management, so I'll take all the help I can get!
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Administrator
#2
Welcome to the Cove!

So, your management wants to seek out ISO 9001:2015 but does not want to provide resources? That represents immediate trouble, as the standard's requirements for top management support are specific and non-negotiable.

Also, they already buy lunch, eat together and you are not with them? Are you part of the management team or not? Quality Manager...

I recommend the book ISO 9001:2015 In Plain English by Craig Cochran, who is a fellow Cover. I have a copy of the book - it is very good. In my view it is even worth buying with your own money. When reviewing the book, you might find it describes things your organization already does. Does your employer have a business plan? If so, much, if not all of the Context requirements are being met.

There is no requirement for a formal, face-to-face management review. There is at least one Cover who says his management team never gathers for face to face reviews - it is done remotely. It can be done with a meeting app or the voting button feature in Microsoft Outlook. Chances are good that some of it is already being done during their lunches.

The beginning and end of it all is that top management must be involved for certification to ISO 9001:2015 to be effective. They can "ensure xyz" is done, but the definition of ensure is that they can delegate but are still accountable for the management system.

There are lots of free resources here, some of them mine, but I want you to start with Craig Cochran's book. Once you do that, you can move to the ASQ Handbook for Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE); it is available in various places for much less than the ASQ price. It makes a good desk reference, describing the various subjects and processes in a QMS.

The way to win over managers is usually to learn to speak the language of money. There is a good deal of wasted effort going into dealing with customer issues and product problems. Adding up that time and multiplying it by compensation plus overhead is a place to start when considering the return on investment into a quality management system, especially if you keep it basic. As long as we don't overdo it, the costs of doing the wrong thing almost always overwhelm the cost of doing the right thing. Kotter's 8-step change management method starts with getting people's attention in terms (in Western management that's usually money) they can understand and appreciate.

May the Farce be with you, my dear.
 

normzone

Quite Involved in Discussions
#3
[Amanda W], many of us have been there / done that. What you have described is known in the parlance as a " suicide mission ".

That cheery bit of encouragement having been dispensed, welcome to the business. Despite the challenges, odds are you will be able to teach them something as long as you don't let the frustrations crack you. Remind yourself, it's only a job, the reason that they pay you to do it is that nobody else wanted to do it, especially for free ::bonk:

When in doubt, seek the simplest, most cost effective method to get the job done. As above, pitch it in terms of cost and they'll be better listeners.

And this is just an early chapter in your career arc. What specific standards are they thinking to achieve ?

EDIT: PM sent
 
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Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
Trusted
#4
Hello!

To preface: I am a recent college grad with a degree in biomedical engineering and absolutely no background in quality. I was recently hired as a Quality Manager for a <10 employee company that, after a few bad audits from their customers, decided they wanted to seek out ISO 9001 certification and possibly other certifications in the future. The company currently has no quality program. Additionally, the owner would not like to purchase any of the regulatory handbooks describing the requirements for the certifications he would like us to acquire.

Within the last month, I have spent a fair amount of time getting to know the company's products and processes by participating in assembly and I have additionally created a Quality Manual (based off templates found online) that I am in the process of editing. Today, I also created an outline for management review meetings, which I have mentioned the necessity of to top management on multiple occasions and am hoping to begin within the upcoming weeks. In the process of creating the outline, I asked a member of management for his input on something and he told me that he would quit before having to attend a formal review meeting. He and the other management members have continued to make comments about not supporting the meetings since then.

How can I get employees that have been working for this company for 10+ years on board with the program? I already mentioned buying lunch or something to incentivize, but the three senior-most managers, the top naysayers, are not on board as they already buy lunch for each other on a daily basis and eat together.

Additionally, if you have any resources or advice that I could use to educate myself and implement a quality system, I would love suggestions! Again, I'm half the age of my colleagues and know nothing about quality management, so I'll take all the help I can get!
OK. You ready. I assume they let you buy the ISO standard. Read it, get to know it, and make of copy of it for yourself. Then call a meeting. Get everyone around and burn the stupid standard right in front of them. Hopefully that will kill the silly "meet the standard" stuff. Wipe ISO from your vocabulary.

Then go out and look at everything from a business perspective. Use the book Jen recommended and the copy of the standard you made to provide some guidance, but don't do it for the standard. Whatever you do MUST MAKE BUSINESS SENSE. 80% of the standard is simply good business practice. Tackle you problems one by one. Start with your customer audits, and fix the problems they found. Then move on from there. Start tracking basic KPIs like on time delivery. Whatever you do, don't add stuff like meetings "to comply." For example, instead of having a management review meeting (as you saw it didn't go over too well), incorporate the topics into the meetings already taking place.

Don't over complicate it. It's really a few simple questions:

1) How do we know what to make?
2) How do we know what to buy?
3) How do we know what we bought or made is correct?
4) Can we do it in the time allotted?
5) How do we know we did it?
etc.

And then ask you questions here. Good luck.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
How can I get employees that have been working for this company for 10+ years on board with the program?
Welcome to The Cove.

You have a big challenge ahead of you. The biggest obstacle is to:

1[sup]st[/sup]) understand what a value-added, sustainable, business-savvy quality system is, and,
2[sup]nd[/sup]) explain and convince the rest of organization of what it is.​

Most people perceive quality as non value added bureaucracy, paper work, policing, inspection, testing, business-slow down, etc...activities. Until that perception is changed, very few people will want to embrace any initiative that you put forward.

Until the workforce understands the value of a system that enables growth in a controlled manner and top management understands how critical a system that keeps customers coming back and keep them (top management) out of jail is, you will be in an untenable situation.

As for tips, you've already found the best online community to support you. One thread that might give you some insight is Why do so many ISO 9001 Implementation Programs Fail?

Good luck, and come back with workable questions and you will get help here. Questions like "how do I solve world hunger?" tend to go unanswered.
 
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Big Jim

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
You have an uphill battle. Without management desire to participate and support it will be very difficult. I encountered a company with about the same issues. They have a reasonably good system, but it is entirely because the quality manager does everything about it without support or appreciation. He has a very hard life.

You should be strongly considering if that is where you want to be. It seems like a waste of talent and education. Life is much better when you work where you are appreciated. You likely never will be there.
 

AMIT BALLAL

Quite Involved in Discussions
#7
Hi Amanda! :bigwave:

I had started my career with the same problem that you are having. Following are some of the tips I can give (based on my experience):
1. Get familiar with the standard: To understand the requirements and how it can be/ are being complied at your organization. Unless you understand what is QMS, you won't be able to help others.
2. Refer books written on ISO9001:2015 standard. I would recommend David hoyle's book (Because I used the 2009 version when I was new, and it helped a lot)
3. In case of any questions, visit this forum and ask questions.
4. Have interaction with people nearby in the field of QMS (If possible) and learn from them
5. Go to IAF website using the following link. You'll find some guidance documents for auditor. You'll get to know what auditor look for during the audits and how to comply with the requirement.
ISO 9001 Auditing Practices Group
6. Visit youtube or similar websites, you'll also find something helpful there to improve your knowledge
7. Discuss with the people in your organization and get to know why people are not willing to attend the management review meeting. It may be like they are scared to death by the name ISO itself and feel like their job will get difficult because of it.
8. Motivate people: Keep pushing people, tell them why this is important and how it can benefit them and the organization.
9. Have courage: Don't lose patience and hope, keep going

All the best!
 
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Mike S.

An Early 'Cover'
#8
I agree with Big Jim's line of thought -- either the Big Boss steps in to support you and tells the other managers to get in-line or hit the bricks, or else you will lead a miserable work life there and be a scapegoat. Life is too short for such BS. If you cannot get support, quickly find somewhere else to work.
 

Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
Trusted
#9
I agree with Big Jim's line of thought -- either the Big Boss steps in to support you and tells the other managers to get in-line or hit the bricks, or else you will lead a miserable work life there and be a scapegoat. Life is too short for such BS. If you cannot get support, quickly find somewhere else to work.
Yes but support isn't capitulation to the quality manager's every desire. The QM has a responsibility to keep the QMS lean and workable. Take the incident that started this post - a management review meeting. There is no need for a new, separate meeting. In fact, one of the least effective means is the annual meeting. One of the keys to ISO success is to make compliance seamless and hidden.
 
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