Significance of the RAB - Including Registrar Customer Feedback and Data

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
From: Pat Dey
Subject: RE: Registrar Customer Feedback & Data /Dey/Kohn/Dey

> From: Brian Charles Kohn
> Subject: RE: Registrar Customer Feedback & Data /Dey/Kohn
>
> > From: "Pat Dey"
> > What precisely is the link between Registrars and the Customers which they
> > and ISO9k auditors claim to represent? How do Customers influence what
> > Registrars do?
>
> Excellent question, Pat. The end-customer, the true beneficiary of ISO 9000
> registration, is represented in the registration system by the national
> accreditation body, which is typically, but not always, an agency of the
> national government. The accreditation body is responsible for assuring
> that registrars operate in a fair and compliant manner themselves, for the
> good of the companies that rely on their attestations.
>
> Many of the accreditation bodies have significant participation from, and
> often are substantially controlled by, representatives of these end-customers.

Hmmm ... well let's look at the US body, RAB at http://www.rabnet.com/

"RAB is a private-sector organization that grew out of the U.S. voluntary standards community. As such, RAB does not report to ISO, the U.S. government or any other specific organization. RAB exists to serve the conformity assessment needs of business and industry as well as individual auditors."

I can't find anywhere on the site data which justifies the belief that "conformity is good for you". Nor can I find any data showing regular feedback from business and industry on its assessment needs and how well RAB is meeting them. (Maybe it exists but is not published on the website: if so, it should be.)

Compare this with the SEI's website at
http://www.sei.cmu.edu
(sorry, suitable for software quality management only).

The SEI are funded by the US Department of Defense - yet they have a whole section on their site devoted to collaboration: it's easy to find evidence that they listen to their user community which is much broader than defense suppliers alone.

Further there is a whole section of data: "The Software Engineering Information Repository (SEIR) compliments the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI) Web site. While the SEI Web site is a good source of information on practices and methods leading to improvement, the SEIR provides data and information on the experiences, benefits and use of these practices and methods in the field." So skeptics can find data which indicates the success or otherwise of their approach. Some might say the data are weak - but at least there's an attempt to gather, analyse and publish it.

So in summary: ISO 9k is just a model (a useful one at that). Compliance with it is an act of faith undertaken with no supporting data and with nobody trying to gather it. Control by customers is unclear. The SEI's program, by way of comparison, invites participation of all and publishes data on its effectiveness. (This is not a plug for the SEI in particular by the way, I'm using them as an example of how a quality program ought to generate data to justify its existence. There are other good programs in the software industry and I assume elsewhere.)

> > How do Registrars get data from Customers showing how effective
> > Registration is?
>
> Registrars should never be in the business of encouraging, or even defending,
> ISO 9000 registration. That, in itself, has the appearance of a conflict of
> interest.
>
> When I was a manager for a registrar, I would always present my services in
> the most professional matter possible, highlighting (perhaps) my strengths
> *over my competitors*, but I would never allow myself to be put in the
> position of defending ISO 9000 registration myself. I would simply say that
> if the client wanted registration we were the registrar to use; if they
> didn't want registration then that was fine with me.
>
> I would be very suspicious of any registrar who is actively trying to sell
> you on ISO 9000 registration. That's your customer's job, not your
> registrar's.

The problem with this is that there is no forum where customers come together to determine if the benefits of registration justify the costs. There is no forum for gathering and analysing the data on effectiveness. I had imagined Registrars would do this, since its their industry, but apparently they do not. I don't accept the conflict of interest argument: if they really wanted to, they could invent a way of measuring their effectiveness in a way which we all believed was credible.

So how do we know if compliance is, indeed, a good thing - something which helps us all do business more effectively. Without data on its effectiveness, ISO 9k certification is indeed, as someone remarked, no more than a marketing tool.

Regards,
Pat
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#2
Cruising the 'Oldies but Goodies', I came across this post. What struck me was "The problem with this is that there is no forum where customers come together to determine if the benefits of registration justify the costs."

But even more so, the contrast of the RAB to the SEI is interesting.

Seeing as this was written about 5 years ago, what comments do you have here and now in 2004?
 
A

A. Reggie Star

#3
Registrars should never be in the business of encouraging, or even defending,
ISO 9000 registration. That, in itself, has the appearance of a conflict of interest.
When I was a manager for a registrar, I would always present my services in the most professional matter possible, highlighting (perhaps) my strengths
*over my competitors*, but I would never allow myself to be put in the
position of defending ISO 9000 registration myself. I would simply say that if the client wanted registration we were the registrar to use; if they didn't want registration then that was fine with me.

I would be very suspicious of any registrar who is actively trying to sell
you on ISO 9000 registration. That's your customer's job, not your registrar's.
I wonder.... is this thinking the norm? Do we believe, after 5 years, that a registrar shouldn't be "encouraging" their product and/or service? I mean, really! :bonk:
For lack of a better analogy, picture a domestic car salesman trying to covince a usually import buying auto consumer the benefit to buying an Impala, but not being able to defend Chevrolet when the import buyer blatantly says, "General Motors Stinks" or whatever.... (just an example)

I'd be interested in hearing what others think about this business "ethic" (if you could call it that...) :confused:
 
A

AllanJ

#4
This matter of whether or not registration has benefits is one that has drifted on for years. I am unaware of any thorough analysis having been performed in which a statistically significant sample of registrants businesses have been subject to a meaningful assessment of the costs and benefits of registration. Most of the statements I have seen are anecdotal: nonehave ever been supported by a valid CBA.

Naturally the registration industry avers registration is worthwhile. That is the usual nature of any involved party wishing to protect its income. What turkey would vote for Thanksgiving?

But, one question that has never been adequately raised is this: if the 1992 Single Market "scare" had never occurred (through which American firms came to believe registration to ISO 9K would be essential to protect their exports to Europe) and if major organizations, such as the Big 3, government departments and so forth had not mandated registration, would the ISO 9K (and its offspring stadards) registration have occurred? We see, at present a stampede for 6S that has developed because Merrs Bossidy and Welch happened to believe it delivered financial benefits, some of which they attempted to quantify. If registration delivered similar "spectacular" benefits, quantified in dollar terms, surely the CEOs would have waxed eloquently between themselves of the benefit and this would have develeoped that registration market.

The real test would be that unfettered market free of the coercive force of large customers/ sectors mandate (or imposotion) CHOSE registration because users had rock solid quantified evidence of a substantial ROI.

One thing is for sure, at the macroeconomic level, society also should take into account the cost of disasters such as the deaths and injuries that occurred when Ford Explorer vehicles truned over after tires made at a "registered" factory blew out.

The benefits of registration (if they actually exist) must be offset by the failures that have occurred in "registered" firms' products. And, no, I have never subscribed to the specious statements of registration advocates that complaince with the standard does not guarantee good products because, as I have remarked at a different time and in a different place, if the standards are not aimed at ensuring product quality, why bother? They then have no purpose, as does complying with them. In that case, it is difficult to see what are the benefits of registration.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
"Defending" ISO Standard versus "pushing" registration

In my experience, execution of a plan is important to the success of a plan. Vince Lombardi often replied, "Execution, Execution, Execution!" when asked the three most important things in football (similar to a real estate person touting, "Location, Location, Location!")

If I were a Registrar and someone (a prospective client) were to denigrate the ISO Standard as being worthless, I would feel ethical in defending the value many organizations find in adapting their QMS to the concepts of ISO Standards. If someone were to query why register instead of just "comply" instead, the discussion becomes a little "dicier."

An ethical Registrar might safely point out the decision to Register or not is strictly up to the client. He might also point out many customers require Registration as a condition of doing business as a supplier. His stance should always be:
"I will give you, Mr. Prospect, all the information I can about the pros and cons of Registration. I will not try to influence your decision one way or the other - you must make the decision whether to try for Registration or not. If you do, I want to emphasize how good our firm will be to act as your third party auditor."

Similarly, if the question about Consultants should come from the prospect, an ethical Registrar could say, "Organizations have been able to achieve registration without outside Consultants. We cannot offer a recommendation on using a Consultant or even answer any questions about whether one you have heard about is good or bad, BECAUSE that is specifically forbidden by the rules we must follow as Registrars."
 
A

AllanJ

#6
Wes Bucey said:
Similarly, if the question about Consultants should come from the prospect, an ethical Registrar could say, "Organizations have been able to achieve registration without outside Consultants. We cannot offer a recommendation on using a Consultant or even answer any questions about whether one you have heard about is good or bad, BECAUSE that is specifically forbidden by the rules we must follow as Registrars."

Sound words, Wes, provided they are delivered in a purely neutral manner. Therefore, I would amend your advice as follows, so as to be somewhat more ethical, "...without outside Consultants. Likewise some organizations have engaged a consultant and found that to be a beneficial experience, whereas some have not had that experience after having engaged a consultant to assist them. We cannot offer..."

Like any other field of human activity, there are good and bad consultants.
 
A

A. Reggie Star

#7
Not sure if they're still taking feedback or not, but here's an interesting link to a survey where you can express your opinion about the ISO standards.

Apparently, all feedback is reviewed by the Technical Committee 176 (TC 176), drafters of the ISO 9000 standards.

Some say they'll be revising the quality standards as early as 2008? :confused:

Here's your chance to maybe make a difference! :agree1:

http://isotc.iso.ch/webquest/tc176/index.html

**(hey, maybe this should be a separate thread?)***

The Reg
 
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