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Manufacturing without Procedures and Work Instructions

E

Eloy Gomez

#1
Aside from the documented procedures that are required by AS9100 & ISO standards management is thinking about getting rid of our procedures and work instructions.

We have so many procedures and WI that are outdated, useless and do not reflect our current processes.

My concern is that when audited by our customer or 3rd party audits how should we respond to the auditor when he ask how do we know what we are doing? Could this be a finding if we dont have procedure for example: Material Control or shipping?
 
#2
Re: Manufacturing without procedures/Work Instructions

Aside from the documented procedures that are required by AS9100 & ISO standards management is thinking about getting rid of our procedures and work instructions.

We have so many procedures and WI that are outdated, useless and do not reflect our current processes.

My concern is that when audited by our customer or 3rd party audits how should we respond to the auditor when he ask how do we know what we are doing? Could this be a finding if we dont have procedure for example: Material Control or shipping?
Of course, you haven't provided the details of what exactly your management proposes to do. I strongly suspect they will not be so foolish as to throw the "baby out with the bathwater," but will make a sober review of each document and decide whether to

  1. keep as is
  2. revise
  3. discard completely
  4. create new ones to cover processes and procedures not previously documented
I recall a client company that did this and managed to discard work instructions for maintaining clutches on dock jeeps when they realized they had been using clutchless electric vehicles for nearly 3 years. Simultaneously, they discovered they had no maintenance protocol for the electric vehicles and so created one.

Spreading panic before the sky actually falls only makes you look like a genius if and when the sky DOES fall. Consider poor Chicken Little who interpreted an acorn as a piece of the sky.

The smart thing to do is say to a manager, "Wow! This is a great idea to go through our documentation about work instructions and to discard the obsolete ones, update existing ones, and write new ones. How can I help?"

That way, even if they weren't clever enough to realize "some" documentation needed to remain, you are NOT the one making them feel stupid because you imply they have already thought of that whether they had or not.
 
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D

DrM2u

#3
Re: Manufacturing without procedures/Work Instructions

:agree1: Great advice from Wes about reviewing your documnetation needs!:applause:

As far as how to respond to the auditors ... Describe to them then show them what you do (walk the process). You have nothing to worry about as long as the processes are effective, effcient and compliant with all applicable requirements. If anyone asks why there is no documentation then demonstrate that there is enough knowledge on how to perform a process/task without a documented aid (again, show them). Any documented finding should be against a documented requirement and supported by OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE. I encourage you to dispute any whimsical findings because often times they can be more detrimental than benneficial. As far as identified opportunities, give them some thought and act only on the ones that seem of value. Hope this helps.
 
#4
Aside from the documented procedures that are required by AS9100 & ISO standards management is thinking about getting rid of our procedures and work instructions.

We have so many procedures and WI that are outdated, useless and do not reflect our current processes.

My concern is that when audited by our customer or 3rd party audits how should we respond to the auditor when he ask how do we know what we are doing? Could this be a finding if we dont have procedure for example: Material Control or shipping?
How do you respond to "how do we know what we are doing?"? You can respond with "because we have been trained".
 

Pancho

wikineer
Super Moderator
#6
Aside from the documented procedures that are required by AS9100 & ISO standards management is thinking about getting rid of our procedures and work instructions.

We have so many procedures and WI that are outdated, useless and do not reflect our current processes.

My concern is that when audited by our customer or 3rd party audits how should we respond to the auditor when he ask how do we know what we are doing? Could this be a finding if we dont have procedure for example: Material Control or shipping?
Eloy,

Getting rid of obsolete documents is clearly desirable for any organization, but it is not desirable to rely on improvisation for consistent quality. To decide whether to get rid of or rewrite documentation, I'd consider the following questions:

How many people involved in each process? The more people involved in a process, the less likely that not having written documentation is the right solution.

What is the personnel rotation like? New workers must be trained consistently. Also, as older workers retire, you lose their knowledge unless you have captured it in documentation.

Why were the documents written in the first place? If the documents were created for the purpose of getting the registration, then it is likely they were useless from the beginning. If they were written as useful documentation and they later became obsolete, then you have a problem of document control.

Are our processes mature? If your processes are changing, or if you want to improve them, then documentation is the best way to go. From your description it seems to me that your processes do change.



Minimizing documentation may be appealing, but if your organization needs the documentation, then it is inappropriate. To avoid obsolescence in documents, they should be living things. Users of a document must be able to effect (or at least initiate) change in it easily.

Hope you find what works for your company and good luck!

Pancho
 
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Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#7
Getting rid of obsolete documents is clearly desirable for any organization, but it is not desirable to rely on improvisation for consistent quality.
While I agree with this idea, it has two sides. Documentation is often used to inhibit or prohibit improvisation, even when improvisation is necessary (and sometimes it is). An extreme example:

In 1998, at the large Chicago hospital where both of my kids were born, a shooting victim died on the doorstep of the emergency room. His companions had gone inside to get help, but doctors and nurses wouldn't go outside because there was a rule in place that prohibited them (while on the clock) from treating patients outside the doors of the hospital. This brings new meaning to the phrase, "The operation was a success (the rules were followed) but the patient died."

There are times when procedures must be rigidly followed, because experience has taught us that if "B" is done before "A," something bad will happen. There are other times, though, when unforeseen circumstances arise and the potential consequences change such that doing "B" before "A" will forestall something even worse. Sometimes we have to allow people to make decisions and not be inhibited by the documentation.

In the OP's case, it seems clear that there's a lot of documentation that's been neglected and allowed to accumulate. As others have suggested, the solution is not to just throw everything out, but to cull the herd, so to speak, and do a better job of maintenance of the system.
 
D

DrM2u

#8
There are times when procedures must be rigidly followed, because experience has taught us that if "B" is done before "A," something bad will happen. There are other times, though, when unforeseen circumstances arise and the potential consequences change such that doing "B" before "A" will forestall something even worse. Sometimes we have to allow people to make decisions and not be inhibited by the documentation.
:agree1:I have to agree with Jim on this one. Over-standardization, over-simplification and over-documentation can diminish the human ability to think (gather information, analyze and decide), let alone to apply logical thinking. It brings up the what-if question 'can I get a monkey to do this if I create enought prompts?'. The best example of this ignorance for the human ability to think was the assembly lines developed by Ford with Taylor's guidance in the middle of last century (I won't elaborate, research it for yourselves).
 
J

JaneB

#9
Lots of good advice already given.

I would focus on not throwing out the 'baby with the bathwater'. Strip it back, yes, get rid of excess/redundant etc, yes, but 'just chuck it all except the mandatory ones' isn't necessarily the best approach. The advice from Wes and Pancho and Jim is very sound.
My concern is that when audited by our customer or 3rd party audits how should we respond to the auditor when he ask how do we know what we are doing? Could this be a finding if we dont have procedure for example: Material Control or shipping?
Never forget that it's a system - documentation is a part of the system, but not the be-all and end-all. So focus on the various other aspects as well, including personnel competency (you know, how you specify what these are in PDs and the like, and select/train people so as to make sure they are), management planning, overseeing and reviewing what's going on, defined processes (processes can be defined without having to be documented) etc. Sometimes the answer to 'how do you know' is almost too obvious, so spend a bit of time thinking about it.

I know here, for example, in a firm that employs only qualified tradespeople, they come in already knowing how to do many things (that's why they're qualified tradies!) which means WIs and certain procedures just aren't required.

But yes, great idea to strip back. That will allow you to focus on what IS required and what might be missing/unclear at the moment.
 
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