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Written process that is ineffective as evidenced by multiple interpretations

M

METerry

#1
I am struggling with a written process that appears to be ineffective as evidenced by multiple interpretations. I cannot document a non conformance (other than the lack of effectiveness for the multiple interpretations) but my gut feel is that there is a nc here. My question is, "What clause would be referenced?". The counter argument is that since there are no non conformities, it must be effective.
 
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BradM

Staff member
Admin
#2
Now I'm confused.:confused:

If you are auditing, your interpretation should lead to the finding (is there evidence for what's in the procedure?).

What area/process is this, and where is the different intrepretations coming into play?

They're either doing what's written in the procedure, or they're not.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#3
I am struggling with a written process that appears to be ineffective as evidenced by multiple interpretations. I cannot document a non conformance (other than the lack of effectiveness for the multiple interpretations) but my gut feel is that there is a nc here. My question is, "What clause would be referenced?". The counter argument is that since there are no non conformities, it must be effective.
I, for one, need more detail to make a meaningful comment. How about an example to show us how it might get more than one interpretation?
 
B

Benjamin28

#4
Are the same tools being used? Are all requirements of the method satisfied? Is the end result the same?

It sounds to me that what you've found is not a nonconformance but an opportunity for improvement by standardizing your procedure so that the method of application is consistent and variabililty is taken out of the equation.
 

Jemos

Starting to get Involved
#5
Give more details as we cannot conclude with the information you have posted. What are the intepretations? This will enable us see it in a better way.
 
M

M Greenaway

#6
I think what the poster is saying is that they have created some process diagrams however when different people read them they interpret them differently.

This is a problem with process diagrams (maps, flowcharts, etc) in that they tend to largely only make clear sense to the author, or the team involved in their creation, this is largely due to the fact that these diagrams tend to be quite abstract, with no real conventions of grammar or syntax that you would get if you simply wrote down in words what you processes were. We all understand words, punctuation and grammer (to varying degrees admittedly) however can generally read the same document and get the same understanding (ISO9001 excluded - ha just a joke I think !), but pictures are another matter.

What I try to do is stick, albeit rather loosely, to IDEF0 conventions when process mapping, and try to make them all look the same, e.g. run from right to left, top to bottom, etc.

As to the actual question it would only be a problem if the users interpretations lead them to do things differently that resulted in the incorrect output of the process, or lets say missed a vital regulatory element or control point in the process. The nonconformity would then be raised on the resultant problem of varying interpretation, such as missed off widget X, root cause may indicate the process document is ambiguous, and corrective action would be to improve the process definition, or better still fool proof the process itself.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#7
I think what the poster is saying is that they have created some process diagrams however when different people read them they interpret them differently.

This is a problem with process diagrams (maps, flowcharts, etc) in that they tend to largely only make clear sense to the author, or the team involved in their creation, this is largely due to the fact that these diagrams tend to be quite abstract, with no real conventions of grammar or syntax that you would get if you simply wrote down in words what you processes were. We all understand words, punctuation and grammer (to varying degrees admittedly) however can generally read the same document and get the same understanding (ISO9001 excluded - ha just a joke I think !), but pictures are another matter.

What I try to do is stick, albeit rather loosely, to IDEF0 conventions when process mapping, and try to make them all look the same, e.g. run from right to left, top to bottom, etc.

As to the actual question it would only be a problem if the users interpretations lead them to do things differently that resulted in the incorrect output of the process, or lets say missed a vital regulatory element or control point in the process. The nonconformity would then be raised on the resultant problem of varying interpretation, such as missed off widget X, root cause may indicate the process document is ambiguous, and corrective action would be to improve the process definition, or better still fool proof the process itself.
I agree. :applause:

If a process is not accurately or adequately being represented in its directive, or is not being followed because the directive (procedure, process spec, etc) is unclear, too wordy or technical, and so on, it's not a trivial matter. A NC should be made to more closely align the directive to the process. If needed, the process owner should get the audit team's help or guidance into how an effective directive would look.

A number of causes could be afoot, among them:

1. Directive is written in engineer-speak and is needs interpretation by its users.

2. Reading comprehension skills varies in the users, for solvable reasons or due to learning disabilities or language processing disorders like dyslexia.

3. The directive is too dense for on-station practical use.

4. Personnel do not engage the discipline to use the directive.

Each of these examples would need different approaches to solve the problem, which (I can't tell from here) is either the process document does not match the process, or the document is just inappropriate for the need.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#8
I am struggling with a written process that appears to be ineffective as evidenced by multiple interpretations. I cannot document a non conformance (other than the lack of effectiveness for the multiple interpretations) but my gut feel is that there is a nc here. My question is, "What clause would be referenced?". The counter argument is that since there are no non conformities, it must be effective.
If there's no way to rewrite the document to remove ambiguity, you can provide what ISO calls a "sanctioned" interpretation. In other words, if there are multiple interpretations, and only one of them is "correct," you can list the "incorrect" interpretations and explicitly describe them as incorrect (along with the accepted interpretation, of course.

There will always be nitpickers who will attempt to apply their own interpretations regardless of having been told that they are wrong, and regardless of how explicit and clear the documentation is. Those people should be dealt with individually, and documentation shouldn't be changed to account for spurious or self-serving interpretations.

Added in edit: You can also do training. :D
 
M

M Greenaway

#9
I think the question was more to do with what is the effect of multiple interpretations. If you can see it leads to increased process output variation lets say, then hang your issue on that, i.e. increased process variation.

Simple, I think, or maye its just me.....
 
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