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Author Archives: Florent Kuiper

How to identify ROI for an QMS

It isn’t an unreasonable question for anyone to ask, especially if you are going to ask them to spend money on quality. If you want your business to invest in a quality management platform, you should have some idea of what the costs currently are and how long it takes before you earn back your investment. 

‘’60 percent of organizations don’t know or don’t measure their financial impact of quality’’

Measuring ROI on QMS

There are countless benefits of implementing a quality management platform. Some can easily be measured, while others are more intangible and take place over time. However, the most important fact is that quality management platform can significantly improve the efficiency and consistency within your organization, resulting in improved overall quality. 

To help you understand the ROI on quality management platform, I’ll give you some key success metrics that you can use to track your improvement. 

Paperless Workplace

Manual or cumbersome processes take up resources and slow down productivity. No matter if this is in man-hours or administrative work, this is time spent on the system, rather than the business. A lot of time can be saved in the preparation of paper forms and documents. This could be incidents, work orders, work instructions, toolbox meetings, and so on. 

Greater Client Satisfaction

Quality management platform improves response and customer satisfaction while ensuring that customer reported quality issues are always properly documented and effectively resolve. The possibility of losing a customer based on the problems is very hard to measure but we all know when we screw up too often we will get burned. Having a clear overview of these issues, big or small, will help you get a better feeling of the likelihood of this happening.

Up-To-Date

Keeping employees up-to-date with the latest processes, procedures, and other documents is not only very labor intensive; it is also prone to mistakes. Forgetting to train somebody can lead to serious costs when old formats are used or processes followed. This could lead to missing out on a deal or even losing a customer.

Increased Productivity

The real hard ROI can be measured on time saved. Here also lies quite a number of challenges. Most companies have no idea how many hours are lost with an unstructured management system. Companies don’t track the hours people spend on searching for documents to use or training on new procedures. These are seen as the normal costs of running a business. However, saving on these activities directly impacts the bottom line of the company and therefore can have a significant impact. Try to find a reasonable amount of hours people spend searching for documents within your organization in order to benchmark.

Real Time Insight

A manual or Microsoft Office based management system lacks the real time insight. Data needs to be structured from a Word document to an Excel sheet in order to do some kind of analysis. Besides the time it takes, mistakes are also made. When the data is used and input for business decisions, this means that they are made on the wrong data. Every time data needs to be keyed over to other documents, mistakes are introduced. Make sure you have a single source of truth that can be analyzed in real time.

Get Started 

If you’re at the point where you are ready to find the right quality management system for your business, we can help you. Through a short phone call, our product specialist will look at the problems you are currently experiencing, and will advise you with choosing the right solution that fits your needs. Get started today!

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Simple Guide to Process Improvement

As discussed in one of our previous blog posts on process mapping, the handover from one process to another is a critical point where many difficulties arise. When both processes are done by the same person, the difficulties might be limited, but when performed by more than one person, it becomes exponentially harder. On top of that, when information needs to flow from one system to another, significant difficulties can arise even when performed by the same person.

Different People

In the first case when the handover is between people, communication is key. Every person needs to have access to all the critical information. A good example is when the customer switches from sales to project execution, or from project execution to support, or in a different scenario from sales straight to support. Having the right information is crucial for the next person in line to support the customer effectively. All the information needs to be known to the next person. This includes all the things that went badly, as well as all the things that went well. This allows the next employee to be prepared for any potential difficulties. The handover between people can practically be done by having a physical or digital handover meeting. During the meeting, the team will have an open discussion. Simply start by creating a structured calendar for every handover meeting to give some guidance to the people.

Different Systems

Another potential pitfall is the switch between systems when one process flows into the next. For example, when a deal has been closed, it may have to go from your CRM to ERP for order handling. A seamless integration prevents people from keying in the information again and introducing errors. Hence, a good integration is money well spent. Also check which information is crucial for an effective handover. You don’t have to hand over every email and calendar invite, but make sure you give as much relevant information as possible. As pointed out in the previous paragraph, make sure you hand over what is important.

Outcome Is Key

Regardless if the process goes from one person to another or switches systems, the end result is what matters during the handover. It happens all too often that information cannot be found or just disappears. This seriously harms the outcome of the process and the start of the next. Make sure you have some sort of guidance in place for the handing over process.

Audits

Audits are great methods to check how the handover is performed in practice, not just on paper. Companies come up with the best playbooks, but it doesn’t mean it always works. With an audit, you can simply check the handover and see what went wrong. You can even perform a brown paper audit to get a good idea of where the handovers actually are and which information is crucial during the handover.

Conclusion

Handovers can costs the company some serious money if they aren’t done properly. This means that a lot of money can be saved by coming up with a great way of handling this. Check out what information is crucial and make sure it is transferred properly.


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How to Manage Suppliers Effectively?

Suppliers are a key variable in the quality you can deliver as a company. Whether they supply materials or perform services, they do have a significant impact. Suppliers are almost as important as customers and employees. Therefore, it is crucial they are managed properly and evaluated regularly. 

Suppliers Check

When a new supplier is needed, make sure you do a thorough suppliers check. It is still very common to have the standard checkboxes, generally the ISO certificates is one of those boxes. However, with your knowledge of the certification processes, would you trust the quality of a company solely on their certificate? Especially when they are a key supplier for your product or service? 

You could go for a supplier audit and check their facility yourself. This is very labor intensive and time-consuming, so it’s unlikely you will do this for all suppliers. However, for critical suppliers this might be a good way to start. For less critical suppliers, you can do a paper check. Ask the company to get access to their management system to see how they operate and where their key quality checks are. Also, ask for some additional pictures or maybe a video about their facility to give you a better idea. It doesn’t give the complete picture, but it is much better than just checking the box of an ISO certificate.

Continuous Supplier Evaluation

When you’ve selected a new supplier, make sure there is a proper supplier evaluation process defined, preferably an ongoing process. Tracking minor and major issues related to the supplier is key here. This information is crucial during discussions with the supplier and how to improve the combined efforts. The information could be gathered by performing quality checks on incoming goods and services or by finding out through customer issues. A mobile app is crucial to make it very easy for people to register an issue. Regularly checking on-time deliveries is also a good method to evaluate the supplier.

Periodic check

On top of continuous evaluation, it is good practice to have a periodic check on the key suppliers. This doesn’t have to be monthly, it can very well be quarterly or yearly depending on the importance of the products or services of the supplier. 

This periodic check allows for a more thorough examination of the supplier. Again, this can be on paper or you could go for a supplier audit approach. Make sure you have a concise approach on evaluating suppliers so it is carried out correctly. An audit checklist or supplier checklist is a great way to do this. In this process, it is important you not only look for things that went wrong, but also look for positive things. When the audit is performed at the supplier on-site, make sure the auditor has a proper mobile app to file the audit reports. This makes analyzing the results much easier. 

Not only focusing on the issues but also communicating the positive results with the supplier will help establish a good relationship. Even though they get paid for their service, it is still good for morale to give them a compliment when they did a great job. If you want to go one step further, you can create different statuses for your suppliers. This will give them an incentive to keep up their good service. In the end, you are all in it together.

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Innovating Internal Audit: The brown Paper Audit

Innovative audit method

The Brown Paper Audit is an innovatieve audit method, where people who work together in a certain high level process are invited to map out the process and underlying procedures together. During this exercise people get a good feeling of what happens in the company. After this, the process will be improved in groups and concrete improvement actions are appointed. The brown Paper Audit is very effective in gaining insight into improvement, the prevention of  waste in the process and increasing (customer) value.

The complete group goes through a number of steps to identify opportunities for improvement, and translate these opportunities for improvement into measurable goals and actions. These action are then divided among the team members to create ownership of these actions among them.

Brown paper audit

The Brown Paper Audit offers room for discussing HLS-themes such as leadership, evaluation of performance or communication, and offers space for colleagues to participate. In some organizations it is clear that the distance between quality management and the business is increasing. The Brown Paper Audit brings these two worlds closer together and allows the participants to experience the added value of quality management.

Involve employees

The Brown paper Audit ensures that the focus shifts from checking to actively improving. Employees will feel involved through the innovative approach and employees can contribute to improvement from their own expertise and experience.

The support for this audit method with companies is high because the approach feels natural to the participants. By working with a clear step-by-step plan, the Brown Paper Audit brings structure and allows participants to share wishes, feelings and thoughts. By making time and space for each other, the Brown Paper Audit offers employees the opportunity to talk to each other about the quality in their organization.

Through a brown sheet of paper, post-its and markers the wishes, feelings and thoughts of the participants are collected. The structure makes it easy to name opportunities and causes. In this way a positive collective start is made with continuous improvement. This approach shows that active improvement can be done in a fun and refreshing way, wherby the participant get excited to get started with improvement.

The audit cycle

More than 250 companies have become acquainted with Paper Brown Audit as an audit form and are setting up their audit cycle differently. These companies apply a combined audit strategy, a combination the Brown Paper Audit and classical audits. The brown Paper Audit provides a lot of new insights and concrete improvement actions that the organization can work with, while the classic audit helps in checking facts.

By applying the Brown Paper Audit to a process in which several officers or departments are involved, several subprocesses can be combined in one audit. This allows companies to shorten their audit cycle.

Please check out: www.brownpaperaudit.nl

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Process Mapping

Every company has their own way of working, and are either implicit or explicit in documented processes. These processes are followed by almost anybody in the company. In order to find efficiencies in processes or during the interaction between them, it is important to map the processes. Make sure every process is included in the exercise.

High Level

It is always good to start mapping the processes at the highest level of processes in the company. Don’t go into much detail of every process, for now just note them down. Some great examples of high-level processes you can think of are, for example, sales, order handling, and project management. Also point out the support process on a high level like HR, IT, quality, compliance, etc. As a guide, you can just answer this simple question:

For every company this can be different, but there are some defined steps someone needs to take in order to become a paying customer. Having a clear overview is key, so create some kind of flowchart to put the process in logical order.

Which process does a person/company following to go from a prospect to a paid customer and what other non-core processes are there in the company?

Dive Right In

When the big picture is clear, it is time to zoom in on the individual processes. Sales can, for example, exist of prospecting and selling and maybe even marketing. It depends on where you draw the line. On the other hand, project management can be just managing the steps to produce the product or maybe also on the side to install/implement it. You draw your own line, but make sure you go one level deeper and check all the steps that are within a high-level process.

The Handover

The points where one process goes into the next are critical points in your company. During the transition from one process to the next, communication is critical. In this part of the processes lots of improvements can be realized by many companies. We will touch upon this point in one of our next posts. For now, it is important to highlight these handover points in your processes to make sure everybody is aware of them.

Audits

A great way to have a feeling if people are working roughly according to the processes is auditing. The different ISO standards forces certified companies to audit their processes, but also for non-certified companies this would be a great practice. There are different kinds of auditing techniques, but the Brown Paper Audit is a great innovative approach. Next week we’ll look more at this technique.

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Workshop Qooling: How to use data as input to improve my business.

Last week we hosted a great workshop by Tessa Lange. She is an expert in continuous improvement and shows the participants how to use data as an input to improve business. Some key take-aways will be pointed out in this post.

Why Collect Data?

Lots of companies collect a ton of data without any valid reasons. Data is often described as the new gold and therefore companies just collect tons of it, sometimes without reason. The downside of this is that somebody needs to create that data. In a company setting, this means that the employees need to key in the data into some sort of system. Creating this data costs time and effort by the employees. Hence, collecting the data without any purpose is a huge waste of valuable time and effort. Also, when people need to fill in a ton of forms and they don’t see the benefits of this, they will either get very frustrated or simply stop filling in the data. With this knowledge, it is even more important to think twice about why you collect certain data. Of course, there can be very good reasons for collecting the data like laws, certain standards or maybe to improve the company. Just think about the reason for every point of data that you are collecting.

How Do I Rate the Data?

When the data is collected, it is important to rate the data and check its reliability and validity.
  • Reliability = If you measured it again, would the outcome be the same?
  • Validity = Do you really measure what you want to measure?
To be on the same page with your employees, it is important set certain norms on what data is right and what data is wrong. Data is often used as a yardstick to measure performance and in order to do this sensibly, you need to know if the data is usable.

Interpreted the Data

Interpreting data isn’t as easy as it may sound. To draw conclusions out of data you need to understand the context. Context can be the unit of the data point or the relation of the data to data in a previous period or even a benchmark you work against. Simply concluding if the company is doing a good or bad job based on the data doesn’t make sense. Make sure you have context. When the context is clear and you are measuring the same data over and over again, you can check for anomalies in the data. Look for spikes or drops in the data, or points that break the pattern.

Start Improvement

When all the data is collected and you start to see trends that aren’t according to the plan, you can dive into these trends to see what goes wrong. When you really start to see a negative trend, you can start an improvement process to try to break the trend. This can be relatively easy, just for example, by talking with suppliers when they make too many mistakes. On the other hand, these plans can be pretty elaborate like complete safety awareness programs. The results of these improvements should be measured on an acceptable timeline. You cannot expect to see safety changes in a couple of weeks. While improvements from a supplier should be seen relatively quickly.

Conclusion

The most important lesson is “context”. Always have a context before you analyze the data. Before you know it, you are improving the wrong processes. Published by:

Choose the Right QHSE Platform for Your Business

When you decide to move your QHSE management system to an online platform, there are quite a number of important points to think about. Implementing such a platform introduces many changes in the company which should be managed properly. However there are several actions you can take beforehand to get a better end result.

Internal Changes Required

Every new platform requires the company to change their way of working. The changes can be small or big, regardless there are changes. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it is crucial to check if the company is ready to change. Talk with people and see if they are open to improving the company’s process. This doesn’t mean you should 100% agree with them, but give them some level of influence, as there are always people who simply reject any new initiative. Involving employees will increase the support for the decision. which will greatly benefit the speed of adoption when the decision has been made to implement the platform.

Way of Working

Every company has certain ways of working that are entrances into the operation. Some are deliberately created, like compliance checks, while others emerged organically. Whether the processes are manual or completely automated, processes will follow each other. A new system will have an impact on the process flow within the company. However, during selection of the platform, make sure there are enough customization options to keep parts of the process as they are right now. A significant number of solutions force companies to work according to a certain way, which seems great until it doesn’t. Processes might need to be changed or improved when the platform doesn’t allow for these changes, so you will end up with lots of resistance from the employees.

User Friendliness

Ease of use is a key component in the adaption of the platform. Of course the platform should be feature-rich, but mainly focused on the key users. The regular user only gets confused when there are a lot of bells and whistles he or she can click on and play with. Elaborate access management should be implemented to give you some great options to tailor the platform based on the roles of the employees.

Real Value

The value created by the platform is an important factor. The value can be quantified by means of a business case to calculate some ROI on the investment. However, the new platform will also give the company possibilities it didn’t have in the past. Calculating the ROI on these options is next to impossible. The real value will always be a combination of the real ROI and the new possibilities for the company.

 

Keep in mind! Pick a platform that increases the change of adaptation by the company when you really want to generate more data in order to improve the processes.

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Essential Skills Every Quality and Safety Manager Needs

The role of a Quality and Safety manager is changing significantly due to all kinds of technological enhancements. Regardless of these innovations, there is still the interpersonal skills that are required to be a great Quality and Safety manager. The role itself isn’t easy, you need to be likable in order to get information from people, but also be strict at the right time. Employees need to fill in the forms and inspections for you to get the information needed. On the other hand, you need to be strict when someone makes a mess. That last point makes the job so hard. Many Quality and Safety managers are seen as the police of the organization, which they shouldn’t be.

Resistance to Change

As a Quality and Safety professional, you are mostly looking for things to improve. This could be to minimize risks, run processes more efficiently or make them less hazardous. You are continuously looking to change things. This is the root of some of the internal struggles. Most people don’t want to change. They think the company is running fine the way it does. You on the other end are continuously looking for things to improve, it is even embedded in the PDCA cycle. This huge gap in points of view can make it very hard to get anything done. In order to overcome this struggle, try not to push too many changes in a very short time. You might distance the team too much which makes it hard to get them to support you during future changes.

Don’t Police

Still, a lot of Quality and Safety managers are seen as the police agent of the office. They correct people when they are wrong and they use internal audits to check if you stay in line. This is far from the truth but this perception still exists in a large number of companies. It is important to get this picture out of people’s mind. Never point fingers and don’t blame them. When something goes wrong look at how the processes can be changed to avoid it in the future. Just don’t blame the people. Except when they do not only break a process but also the law, then it is the people’s problem.

Use Examples

Especially in safety, visual examples why changes are required work great. It is crucial everybody goes home the same way they arrived in the morning. Sometimes changes are required to reach this goal. These changes might make some activities more time consuming due to the safety preparation. Explaining why these activities are so important helps a lot, showing a picture of how it will help them is key. It isn’t all that easy but keep explaining this to people.

Feedback

Give people feedback when they help out. When they take their time to fill in a form or report an incident, make sure you give them feedback of the actions. This direct feedback keeps people engaged and involved. They see how the company takes actions when the employees report something.  Automating the feedback reduces a lot of time.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be friends with everybody, but it is critical to be among the people and have their respect. This is the only way they will share knowledge with you and listen to you. In the end, you cannot change anything on your own you need the employees on your side to reach these goals.

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Safety Management in a Thriving Economy

The economy is on a rise again and companies are ramping up production. A lot of businesses are running a tight schedule and projects need to be completed as soon as possible. This environment is great for business but not necessarily for the safety perception. During these times it is crucial the safety officers keep safety as top priority at the workplace. To prevent safety becoming the victim of tight schedules, we have pointed out some topics to take into consideration.

Tightly Planned Project

As a safety officer, it is always good to have a close connection and understanding of the ongoing projects and their status. People are inclined to work as hard as possible to finish a project on time, even at the expensive of their own safety. The tight schedule can put so much pressure on people that they start to make a consensus on safety. Being present at the worksite helps to remind the employees of the importance of safety. You will personally be the trigger for them. Furthermore, it allows you to keep track of the safety culture and correct workers when they take irresponsible risks. Of course you cannot do this on your own, so make sure project managers and site managers are properly trained.

Continue Training

The tight planning reduces time for things like safety training and awareness programs. These techniques are crucial to maintaining a healthy safety culture. Make sure the training time isn’t reduced due to time constraints. Yes, top management will put the customer first, but ensure that it doesn’t happen at the expense of safety. It is crucial for the health of the workers but also the organization that people feel safe and secure while they do their job. Come up with measuring tools that show how important the training is. These can be safety culture perception or more hard figures like number incidents and their costs to handle them.

Reduce Barriers

Enable employees to easily file incidents and unsafe situations. It is crucial employees have the right tools to provide you with the necessary information to plan your actions. This information is a great input for things like:

  • Creating training plans.
  • Improving certain work instructions.
  • Planning specific toolbox meetings.

Positive Note

Due to the strong economic times a lot of companies have budgets available for topics like safety. Safety officers will notice it gets easier to get budget approvals. Make sure you leverage these great times wisely. In order to prove to top management that money was well spent, make sure you have proof. Show that the safety awareness went up, or that major incidents went down, or whatever metric you use. Just make sure you have data to back up the expenses. This will make approvals in the future a lot easier.

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Effective Technique to Prioritize Your Actionlist

Setting priority on pending actions is more of an art than a science. It is a continuous struggle to divide the resources available across the actions pending, and every company has to deal with this. We are continuously changing priorities on certain actions based on the changes in the landscape.

There are a couple of techniques you can use to prioritize the different tasks, which we will discuss in this post. However, it is very important that when you have made the decision to put the resources behind certain actions, that you keep them there. Otherwise, you might end up with a lot of unfinished tasks, and this could be disastrous.

Low Hanging Fruit (High Impact/ Short Period)

These are the actions that require relatively limited time but give you some good results. They are the no-brainers in your actions list and easy to finish. Make sure you put these high on the priority list because they give you immediate results. These actions are very important to improve the quality and safety awareness in the company because employees will also notice the changes.

Strategic Actions (High Impact/ Long Period)

These are the actions that require a lot of resources but deliver the company great results. Due to the lengthy process, employees don’t see the results quickly. It can even be the case that improvements occur gradually and employees don’t even notice them at all. However, they are crucial for the long-term strategy of the company. Think about awareness progress for safety.

(Low Impact / Short Period)

When there are still resources available, you could make a decision to work on these actions. Due to their short time period, it is relatively easy to finish them but their impact is pretty low as well.

Then we are left with the Low Impact / Long period type of actions. These are mostly not worthy enough to put any resources in. However, there could be changes in the environment that change the urgency of these actions. That is why it is important to keep them in mind.

Using this technique, you should be able to prioritize the tasks that need completing in order of the time they will take and the impact they will have. Then you can spread the resources among them to ensure the company is progressing and improving in the best way possible.

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