Wrestling The Bull By The Horns



Ahhh, the neverending saga of QS9000. Well, here I am once again with, you guessed it, a problem. As mentioned, we are a medium sized machine shop that hosts both CNC and Conventional machinery. We do all types of job shop work and also do "production" type runs of parts. We are both ISO9000 and QS9000 certified as of Sept. 19, 1999. Well, you know how the hype gets built up before the big show, everyone's excited and all of the key players are giving you their 100% support and effort in obtaining this goal. Once the "big show" is over, and you recieve your certification, all of a sudden, there's no more support from the key players of the organization. Now everything's back to normal. Product must be going out the door, no matter if whe haven't completed all of the steps defined in our quality system. "this job's a hot one, must go, no time for inprocess inspections" or "this job doesn't make us enough money to have an inprocess inspection". These are some of the attitudes towards the QS now. It's like the management has given up after the battle's been won!! My question to you is, does this seem to be a "trend" in other companies after succesful registration? Or is this place just gone plain bananas? Also, what would happen if our registrar were to come in tomorrow for a "survelience" audit? Please give me some senarios on what could happen here if this "mindset" continues? Thank you. B
PS: Mark, the forum is a truly great thing. I have turned here for many, many useful tips and opinions on the ever so confusing QS9000 quality system. The word is spreading, and I'm sure this forum will continue to grow. Thanks. ;)

Spaceman Spiff

My past experience in the automotive industry is similar to what you are going through. Once the battle is won, we (the organization) fell asleep. Oh, sure ISO/QS was mentioned, only as a blunt instruments to beat someone into submission, when it is convenient. Such tactics reduced the certification to a trophy, not a way for life. Certification does not equal change of behavior. Things returned to the way it was prior to certification.

However, the manufacturing group is not totally at fault for the state of erosion. Some of the root causes is that the system was too rigid, either by design or by some rediculous customer requirements (i.e., QS-9000). In the current state of business of running lean and mean in manufacturing (same amount of work with less people) some of the grandeos plans and procedures don't work under the "battlefield conditions." "Wartime" strategies aren't always the most formal ways, but effective to win the battle.

Lastly, the customers should take some of the blame as well, especially the B3. Since they erroneously equate QS-9000 certification with Quality, and that all their suppliers are now QS-9000 certified (whether eraned or purchased), the only distinguishing difference between competitors is... you guessed it, price. So, they've come to a full circle and back to price is everything. I am interested to see a survey of automotive suppliers that if given the choice without retrobution from B3, who would retain their QS-9000 certification.

I am glad to say that I now am away from the automotive industry! ISO isn't much different, but at least I can do away with the prescriptive nature of QS-9000 requirements.


Joe_1, I have had the same experience that you are having. To combat this problem I have utilized the only tool I have at my disposal "Internal Quality Audits". Auditing by quarter, we try to audit each element of the standard at least twice a year. These audits are split into several formats, Procedure Audits, System Audits and Follow-up Audits. All findings will result in a Corrective Action Form being issued. Each Corrective Action Form will be audited for effectiveness the next quarter.
I guarantee this doesn't make friends, but it forces the responsible Managers or Supervisors to do one of two things "other than hate auditors." 1.) It forces them to enforce procedures. It is usually easier to enforce the procedures then to complete the Corrective Action Forms. Remember the CAR will be audited the following quarter. Also note that review of open Corrective Action is part of the Management Review Meetings. 2.) It forces them to revise the procedures. The result of this is the procedures are closer to reality then fantasy "and we know most procedures originate more toward fantasy than reality. This method doesn't fix everything but at least it's a tool that can be used in the never ending battle.

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
......and the system works for itself, even if the players don't......CA followup is the key...just as chris suggested.

Another reason for having the system....cause common sense tells us what joe says happens will happen (in even the most disiplined of companies some time.....)


we are an iso company and i see similar things going on..so i think its the trend everywhere and u r not the only company to sleep after certification. now, we plan to go ahead with QS.. i have never worked before, am a fresh graduate and am responsible to get QS to the company, could i get some useful tips regarding how to get started, and anything you might think of that will be helpful to me,.. replies appreciated. thanks.


Fully vaccinated are you?
I'm right here. I don't really have anything to add to what's been said right now.

Andy Bassett

I agree with everything that has been said here, but it plays on my sense of pride when i leave a company and see a system die. Now i always have this potential problem in mind.

Here are my thoughts,

Is the system based on the company processes or on a standard. IMHO the only company that should have processes based on a standard is a bomb making company. Rewrite the processes to reflect daily activities.

If the QM does nothing all month, make sure he compile stats on every major/relevant process. Stats are hard to ignore if they are publicised every month.

I know this is a little airy-fairy, but it sounds like the company hasnt succeeded in developing or changing its mentality or approach,
Insist on a training budget to train in Problem Solving techniques or Conflict Resolution or Teamwork, these are things that are likely to give much more longer-lasitng value than any ISO cert.

In one current company we have defined all the major processes, and we are now at the stage of showing them/ or training all the necessary personnel. After 8 training sessions the result borded on apathy. Out of frustration i asked the process owners to present their own processes in the Training Group.
Result, much more discussion, interest, interaction etc (Now im bored because ive less to do).

Im no psychologist, but certain groups of people are averse to accepting anything from anybody. Take these people to visit other companies (dont call it anything fancy like Benchmarking).

I guess audits are a help, if they are done right, but audits to me always smack of control management. The Germans and the Japanese build excellent cars becuase the people want to build excellent cars, not because somebody is forcing them.
If you must audit tone them down into Improvement Reviews, or something similar.

Hope that helps

Steven Sulkin

I would agree with Chris. That's what the Internal Audit and Corrective Action systems are for. But they can be your saving grace or the push off the cliff....

Win them over by writing corrective actions that make that make sense to them. Write the corrective actions in easy to understand, common sense language. Its not enough for them to just fix the problem, you want them to understand why it makes logical sense to do so.

Use CA's to beat them over the head and pressure them into action in front of your management team.

Use the audits to get buy in. Are you using volunteers from employees outside of Quality? You can use them as change agents. The audit is also an opportunity to explain the benefits you are making to the success of the company to your management team.

Report a bunch of meaningless numbers in the management review. Explain what the audits found, what they fixed, and how the company benefited.

Hope this helps.



I've worked in 5 organizations (current one included) that have gone through either ISO or QS certification, and the story was the same each time; once certification was achieved, it was "business as usual." I've almost come to expect nothing else. Why does this happen? For several reasons, from what I've seen - management complacency, cultural change never happened, lack of high level quality champion within the organization, the "we only did this for our customer syndrome" but the one that I would sight the most is that the QMS, be it ISO or QS, was never accepted in the 1st place.

At my current work, we have been working on ISO, then QS, for over 3 years - and yet there are still people within the organizatin that have no inkling as to what is going on - and the sad part about this is that management are the worst offenders. It is truly a case of do as I say, not as I do.
I do agree there are many things that can be done to keep the organization on track - a good corrective and preventive action system, a strong internal auditing group, and intergrating quality planning into the business planning, to name just a few. However, as we all know, quality is driven from the top down, and unless upper managment plays an active role, leads by example, and fosters a culture of acceptance, complacency will rule the day.
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