Job Descriptions - Using "or equivalent" - ISO9001

ScottK

Not out of the crisis
Staff member
Super Moderator
#1
My colleague in another facility just sent the following message:

‘equivalent’ should not be used anywhere as to qualification and requirements. The ISO guideline says as follows:

‘If job descriptions are used to define competence requirements, they may contain the expression “or equivalent.” To define every possible scenario that may be accepted as “equivalent” would be impossible. Therefore, the fact must be established that the organization has set parameters for making such a determination’.
what he's referring to is "High School Diploma or equivalent" in a number of our job descriptions.

The "ISO guideline" he refers to is specifically from DNV's Certification Interpretation book as DNV is his registrar. I saw nothing about it in the ISO9004 document.

What do you all think (especially the DNV people here)?

I disagree to some extent, especially in what my colleague is referring to, as I've alwasy seen it as common practice.
I think this is nitpicking.
 
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#2
Re: Job Descriptions and ISO9001... using "or equivalent"

Discordian said:
My colleague in another facility just sent the following message:
what he's referring to is "High School Diploma or equivalent" in a number of our job descriptions.

The "ISO guideline" he refers to is specifically from DNV's Certification Interpretation book as DNV is his registrar. I saw nothing about it in the ISO9004 document.

What do you all think (especially the DNV people here)?

I disagree to some extent, especially in what my colleague is referring to, as I've alwasy seen it as common practice.
I think this is nitpicking.
We got rid of "equivalent" when we transitioned from QS to ISO 9001. We define education required and the competencies required on our forms. As I recall, we could not be vague or dodge around this at all and "equivalent" was too vague. We have UL for our registrar. :2cents:
 
D

Duke Okes

#3
Re: Job Descriptions and ISO9001... using "or equivalent"

I agree that trying to define all the potential mixes of "equivalent" in advance would be difficult and not a good use of time. I would instead allow the manager who is doing the hiring to make the decision at the time of hire. After all, in some cases you have to adapt to what is available. If the manager documents why they hired a particular person, and that they considered this 'equivalent' or sufficient, then that's their decision (and not the registrar auditors ... how many of them could actually run a business???). Consider job descriptions as a starting point for the hiring process.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
Re: Job Descriptions and ISO9001... using "or equivalent"

Duke Okes said:
I agree that trying to define all the potential mixes of "equivalent" in advance would be difficult and not a good use of time. I would instead allow the manager who is doing the hiring to make the decision at the time of hire. After all, in some cases you have to adapt to what is available. If the manager documents why they hired a particular person, and that they considered this 'equivalent' or sufficient, then that's their decision (and not the registrar auditors ... how many of them could actually run a business???). Consider job descriptions as a starting point for the hiring process.
I think Duke is on the right trail here. Too many organizations paint themselves into a corner by making requirements so specific they lose efficiency by trying to find products, services, or people to fit the specific criteria which may not have been so necessary in hindsight.

Other organizations are so vague and loose, they find a platoon of jailhouse lawyers lined up trying to force the organizaton to accept an "equivalent" that simply won't fit the organization's REAL needs, merely because there is no "final decision" authority vested in someone or some department to make a distinction between "equivalents."

If you thinkabout education requirements, use a FMEA (Failure Mode & Effects Analysis) to consider whether ALL schools are "equivalent"

The solution may be to develop an arbitrary test with the skills and knowledge necessary to do a job and have candidates take and pass the exam before proceeding further with their candidacies, regardless of education level or school where it was achieved.
 

ScottK

Not out of the crisis
Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
Re: Job Descriptions and ISO9001... using "or equivalent"

Wes Bucey said:
I think Duke is on the right trail here. Too many organizations paint themselves into a corner by making requirements so specific they lose efficiency by trying to find products, services, or people to fit the specific criteria which may not have been so necessary in hindsight.

Other organizations are so vague and loose, they find a platoon of jailhouse lawyers lined up trying to force the organizaton to accept an "equivalent" that simply won't fit the organization's REAL needs, merely because there is no "final decision" authority vested in someone or some department to make a distinction between "equivalents."

If you thinkabout education requirements, use a FMEA (Failure Mode & Effects Analysis) to consider whether ALL schools are "equivalent"

The solution may be to develop an arbitrary test with the skills and knowledge necessary to do a job and have candidates take and pass the exam before proceeding further with their candidacies, regardless of education level or school where it was achieved.
Ah-HA!
and here is the rest of the paragraph from the DNV interpretation that my colleague left out...

"The parameters may be quantitative, such as detailing the number of years of experience in lieu of a formal education. Alternatively, the decision may be based on an interview process with determination made by the interviewer. Whatever the process, the organization must define the methods used to determine what is considered to be equivalent".

Can't pull the wool over the eyes of you guys!

So if I responded that as part of the hiring procedure the interviewer may determine the bearing of any "or equivalent" issues, it should be covered?

Still - I think it's nitpicky in some cases.
Like "High Scool Diploma or equivalent" That's just boilerplate.
That's a lot easier to write than High School Diploma, or GED, or X years of experience, or whatever they call a high school diploma in various foreign contries.
 
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