A management system is like an egg. It is made up of 3 distinct parts, it is easily broken when mis-treated, it has many uses and it will be useless if left on the shelf too long.
The 3 distinct parts relate to having a quality system of work where we say what we do (YOLK), do it and record it (ALBUMEN), and compare the record of what we did against what we said we would do (SHELL). The yolk represents our policies, procedures, etc. The albumen represents the work that we do and the records that we keep. The shell represents quality control or feedback of our compliance to intended arrangements – did we achieve what we intended to and did we give the customer what they wanted.
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO?
ISO 9001 requires us to have:
· Adequate guidance documentation and trained/skilled personnel to ensure consistency in methods and outcomes, correct problems that arise and prevent possible problems;
· Adequate records of activities to provide proof of what was done, designed, supplied, purchased or resulted from activities; and
· Feedback mechanisms such as internal audits, corrective actions, contract reviews and management reviews to monitor the “state of compliance” (i.e. did we achieve what was intended, and carry out any actions required)
ISO 9001 requires us to look after the egg. This means providing the resources to look after our products, and any items supplied by our customers, at all stages through to final delivery. This means we have to adequately monitor, measure and control our processes to reduce variation to achieve expected outcomes in terms of quality, price and delivery.
ISO 9001 requires us to monitor customer satisfaction. This brings our attention to the customer’s perception of our performance in relation to our products and services, highlighting areas of concern and opportunities for improvement, and we must act, or rationalise inaction, in relation to these concerns and opportunities.
Finally ISO requires us to focus on Continuous improvement. This means improving the effectiveness of the management system itself to work towards eliminating any gap between the intended outcomes/arrangements and the current performance of our products and processes.
To achieve the things above, ISO 9001 requires that the guidance, records and information that make up the management system are readily accessible to those personnel that need to use it.
WHAT DOES A MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ACTUALLY DO FOR US?
“If you don’t control what goes in, you may be able to predict what comes out, but you won’t like the prediction”.
Three simple rules of quality are:
· Every process has variation;
· You can’t improve something you don’t control; and
· If you don’t measure it, you can only change it, you don’t know if you improved it.
The management system provides us with a baseline of performance from which continuous improvement can occur. The policies, procedures, instructions, forms and records constitute the baseline of performance. They, along with the feedback/monitoring systems provide the necessary controls to reduce variation to an acceptable level.
The management system also provides us with the tools to take corrective action when variation exceeds acceptable limits, or preventive action where that possibility has been recognised.
By monitoring and measuring our processes and products we know what our performance is, and can trial potential improvements to determine their actual impact against previous performance.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The expected benefits not only include increased efficiency, increased profitability, reduced waste, greater job security, greater control over processes and consistently meeting expectations, but also credibility, marketability, providing a competitive edge, providing regular tune-ups for our organisation, corporate pride and prestige.
Down to Earth enough? (And for the purists, I know it doesn't cover everything!)