Qooling » Blog Archives

Author Archives: nickappel

Toolbox Meetings: Stop Wasting Time

Toolbox meetings are an important tool to inform the employees about everything related to safety. The topics can vary from just general safety to project-specific risks. Getting the employees together and talking about these topics is really important to keep the safety culture alive.

Despite the importance of the toolbox meetings, they do come with some pitfalls. We will touch upon them and give you some simple tips on how to prevent them.

The Planning

Planning toolbox meetings can be already quite a big deal. Figuring out who is available at which particular time isn’t all that easy. We have seen professionals trying to be everybody’s friend and taking all the agendas of the employees into account. Please don’t do this, it’s not feasible. Make your own plan, it’s best to just plan the meeting and don’t give people the room to renegotiate the time and date. When you agree to this, you will never be able to plan anything as they will constantly be moved about to suit everyone’s needs.

Attendance List

Related to the planning is managing attendees of these toolbox meetings. It is crucial that every employee has had access to the information discussed during the meeting. To guarantee this happens properly, an attendance list can help. It is then easy to see who attended the toolbox meeting and what was discussed.

Regardless of the importance of the attendance list, creating clear overviews of who attended which toolbox meetings in any given year isn’t that straightforward. Big Excel sheets are often to guide the process. This is where Qooling steps in and helps you manage this process with just a couple of mouse clicks.

Missing Toolbox Meeting

When the overviews of the attendees have been created, you need to start to fill in the blanks. Employees can be sick, on holiday or at a different location for work. Despite the reasons, it is your responsibility to make sure every employee has had all the information that was shared. Filling in the missing pieces can be a big pain because you need to invite these people again for a retake of the toolbox meeting. Which means that you end up doing the toolbox meeting at least 2 times, and maybe even more.

The digital toolbox meetings of Qooling allow you to simply distribute the toolbox meeting digitally and add some additional questions. This way the employee can check the toolbox meeting whenever they have the time within a fixed time period. Plus they always have all the historical toolbox meetings right at his/her fingertips. Want to try out the digital toolbox meetings? Click here

Published by:

CAPA Management and how to structure this

Corrective and preventive actions (CAPA) have been subject to changes the last years due to some modifications to several standards. These recent changes made a lot of companies choose to get rid of the preventive actions. Regardless of the changes, the struggles of managing these tasks is still present. There are still multiple actions pending per employee, regardless of the wording.

Origin of the Task

The different tasks can originate from a number of different sources. Activities like a management walk, incident, customer complaint or an audit. These tasks are then stored in Excel documents or similar, which leads to long lists of actions with different due dates and statuses. Tracking the origin of the task is not only crucial for analyzing the data, but also to track the progress. One incident can hold multiple tasks, these origins show exactly which tasks need to be done to finish the incident report.

Manage the Sheet

The Excel doc that holds all the tasks (CAPA) quickly holds hundreds of records. To organize the data, multiple tabs get introduced and more columns are added to allow better shifting of data. The concept behind this Excel document is that every employee checks his/her tasks in the document and changes the data when something has been done. This sounds great in theory, but it is not so good in practice.

Some things that happen to the file are:
● Employees don’t close the file and therefore “keep it occupied”.
● People start to add a bunch of fields to keep in the data or don’t know where to store it.
● Employees cannot find the document.

The list is pretty long, which is why this method breaks pretty quickly when you some employees. In order to solve this, companies make the Quality Manager responsible for managing the list. This method is undoable and requires a lot of time and effort.

Automate CAPA

Picking a proper solution for managing the tasks will give instant structure. The employees will not be able to change the sheet whenever they see fit. Everyone will get notified when tasks are due and they can access it from anywhere in the world. The integration with other parts of the management system makes it very easy to track why a certain task was started. This makes task management on certain incidents fairly easy because it is simple to filter which tasks are pending on the incident.

Tasks management is a crucial part of the improvement plan. Make sure you structure this properly in order to keep track of the improvement plan in the best way possible.

Published by:

Why Quality Management Automation Should Be on Your Agenda.

Delivering consistent quality for products and services is quite a challenge. There are thousands of variables that influence the quality. On the other hand, your customers expect the same level of quality every time they buy the product or use your service. All kind of mechanisms can be used to maintain a consistent level of quality. A few examples include the training of employees and providing standard ways of working including processes and procedures. Even with these tools in place, maintaining consistent levels of quality can still be demanding. A good automation solution helps to get a better insight into the challenges and how to approach them.

Data

Data is a key element in getting a feel for the consistency of the quality of your products and services. With this data, you can track customer satisfaction levels, customer complaints, supplier issues, quality and employee satisfaction, among others. Tracking data over time allows you to spot trends. It also gives the ability to easily see if the values are within range of the acceptable levels.

Though every company knows leveraging data is a differentiator, a lot of companies struggle to gather this kind of data in the first place. There are numerous different systems that don’t integrate with one another. On top of these systems, there are numerous Word and Excel documents that hold quality-related data. With all these silos it is hard to combine the data and turn it into actionable information. This is a big loss because all the information that has been gathered over the years cannot be used to actually see how the company is performing. In essence, the company isn’t really able to get a feeling on how it operates from a quality standpoint. While quality is one of the main values that most companies state either in their mission or in their corporate values, without the data this statement is not really measurable.

Automate

Wherever Excel and Word documents are part of the quality process, it is important to replace them by proper web and mobile solutions. These solutions allows for fast data gathering and store the information in a structured manner. In case other solutions are used like for example a separate app and some webforms. It is important to break these silos and make sure these systems talk with one another. On top of this, an integrated platform can hold all the information and allows the company to slowly break down their silos. This platform doesn’t have to hold all the information, as long as it is able to communicate with the other solutions used within the organization. With this way of working the information within the company can be used to improve the company.

Why Now?

Getting a real grip on the quality will help bring the organization to the next level. Data is a key driver in this process. This is why a well integrated solution for managing quality should be on the agenda of the directors. Every day this decision is postponed, the company loses valuable information that cannot be leveraged in the future. Aligning the quality activities and systems is crucial in maintaining consistent quality. Start now!

Published by:

Operational Excellence, how to bring it in practice

No doubt you have heard of Operational Excellence. It is a managerial buzzword just like ‘agile’, but Operational Excellence is also something every company should strive to achieve. Running operations as effective as possible will help the company not only to make more money, but also to keep employees happy. When less things go wrong, less people will complain.

But what is operational excellence? Well according to Wikipedia, Operational Excellence means:

The execution of the business strategy more consistently and reliably than the competition.”

This sounds nice in theory, but how do we accomplish this in practice? Hardly any companies have the same strategy so comparing companies is pretty hard, except of course when we look at financial figures. That is why it is very important to have your own benchmark to work with.

The Fundament

An integrated management system is the backbone of Operational Excellence. The IMS will consist of the internal process and the forms that are used for the required checks and balances. With modern online SaaS solutions the IMS can be managed with the highest efficiency.

These platforms will be your backbone that holds all your information together and allows you to distribute this information among your employees. There is no need to track and trace everything by hand. The backbone is critical for getting the right information and for creating that benchmark.

The Importance of Data

Data is a key ingredient in operational excellence. To benchmark your performance, data is required to do this. The data needs to be easily accessible and searchable to find the right information in your IMS.

Online platforms are the best modern technologies to not only have access to the data, but also to gather the information. However, in the end someone within the company needs to key in the data, as it won’t be created in the Cloud.

These modern platforms allow for secure access the data to anywhere in the world. At the same time their mobile apps allows for data creation at every location, production site or manufacturing plant. This way quality and safety related data can be harvested right at the time when something happens. The ability to create the report right away increases the number of reports significantly, which leads to more data overall to analyze.

Operational Excellence

When all the data has been gathered, it can be analyzed to see how efficient the company really runs. To reach Operational Excellence the company has to set internal goals to see how the efficiency can be improved. Trend analysis are crucial to track improvements over time.

Internal dashboards should be created to communicate the results with the company. The modern online platforms come with a built-in Dashboard manager to display the data the way you’d like. Displaying this data to every employee is crucial to create awareness and support by the employees, which will lead to better results.

Published by:

How to design a good nonconformity report

A good nonconformity report has all the information that is needed, and is easy to understand by others in the organization. This sounds trivial and easy to do, however in practice it can be a lot harder to put together. The report is actually a way to communicate what went wrong somewhere in the company with everybody in the organization. Clear sentences and proper detailed descriptions are crucial. A lot of confusion can be prevented by having an easy to use NC form, so it is vital that it is done correctly.

Keep It Simple

More often than not we see quite complex nonconformity reports. The form has a ton of questions which people in the field don’t feel like filling in. Their jobs are to build and produce, not to fill in forms. So it is important to keep the form simple. Make sure that the people in the field only have to fill in just a couple of questions which holds the bare minimum of information for the manager to create the report.

Reduce Freedom

In order to analyze properly, make sure you use pre-defined fields in your nonconformity form. This way you will have consistent information to analyze. Also ensure that the person filling in the nonconformity doesn’t have the option to come up with a whole story that is hard to understand. These predefined selections make life a lot easier both for the quality department and the person that fills in the form.

Photos

Always add pictures to the nonconformity report. Pictures say more than thousands words and are much easier to interpret by someone else. He or she simply looks at the image and sees what went wrong. All mobile phones these days allow you to take a photo or two of the situation and add it to the report. With the latest quality platforms you now have mobile apps that integrate directly with your quality management system for even faster reports. Check out how Qooling allows you to do this.

Root Cause

Support some kind of root cause analysis for the nonconformities. There are more than enough options to use. Just make sure you pick one and follow through. Some options are:

The root-cause analysis really allows the company to find out why things went wrong. Finding the root cause is important for setting up the right actions to prevent this from happening in the future. Coming up with a solution to just one cause will not lead to the desired results and still leaves room for the same kind of mistakes.

Published by:

Introduction to NEN1090

Why NEN-EN1090?

The NEN-EN 1090 is part of the European series of product standards for the production of steel and aluminium constructions. Companies that work with steel and aluminium construction are required to meet this standard through the revised legislation on July 1, 2014. This means that all parts of steel and aluminium constructions must be provided with the CE-marking.

The FPC is a mandatory part of the EN 1090. This guarantees the quality of the manufacturer’s products. The main components of the FPC make it a kind of quality system according to ISO 9001, but more extensive with regard to technical requirements and less extensive in other areas, such as customer satisfaction. In addition, it´s a welding quality system based on EN-ISO 3834 (depending on the execution class). Finally, a welding coordinator should be appointed according to EN-ISO 14731. In order to continue to comply with this standard, it’s important that the administration is properly maintained.

The manufacturer declares with the CE marking that all structural requirements have been met. The basic principle is that a product must be accepted in all European countries if it complies with the standards. Member States can no longer impose their own requirements on products and companies. This should benefit every company that deals with construction.

How to continue to comply?

Proving compliance to the NEN-EN 1090 can be quite an intense job. The administration involved in showing traceability of welders and materials can already take up quite some time. On top of that, every weld needs to become traceable which in most cases leads to extensive Excel sheets and paper lying all over the workshop or production side. This will take up a lot of valuable production time because someone needs to fill in all the details, and needs to make sure it is archived properly and easily retrievable.

Qooling can help you to easily continue to meet the NEN 1090. We offer an online solution to keep the administration up to date and efficient so that unnecessary delay or failure costs are not incurred.

Through our software you can see at a glance what is happening within your company, and you have the complete traceability of all your welding.

Published by:

Why data is important in Quality Management.

At the center of all quality management systems is the concept of continuous improvement. This implies that you have the ability to prove that there has been some kind of improvement. It may sound straightforward, but it isn’t always that easy to do. Many times there is limited data or even no data to even come up any results. In order to prove progress, it is important to have the consistent data to back it up.

Collecting Data

Data is a main ingredient to show how the company improves on certain KPI’s. However, collecting the data is more often that not a very labor intensive task, mainly done by the quality department. In order to make it easy for the organization to share the required data, it should be fairly easy for employees to do this. A mobile app helps in this process. Having all the important forms at your fingertips makes it so much easier to share this information, which allows the quality department to focus on analyzing the data instead of pushing people to provide it. Also having an open IT infrastructure which allows for sharing data between systems is key in order to pull the data from different sources.

Analysing Data

When the data is gathered it should be analyzed properly. This is not just drawing graphs but also interpreting the changes of the data over time. Different time frames could show interesting effects. Furthermore, mapping out different root causes will give more insight on how to improve the company. It is important to play around with the data and not only focus on the predefined KPI’s. Playing around and plotting different variables against each other can give completely new insights. A great technique to check out where this goes wrong is by using the “Pareto” plot of the data.

 Showing Results

Maybe the most important aspect of using data to improve quality management is communicating the results. Not only to top management, but to the employees within the company. Every employee helps by providing the data. When you involve them in the results of the analysis, they see the impact they had on the company instantly. Which then makes them more willing to share again in the future.

 Pitfalls

The biggest pitfall with analysis data is the inconsistency in the data. It is very important the data is clean and usable. This can be easily checked simply by plotting the data and looking for weird spikes. Also during the setup, it is required to predefine certain choices. When you give employees the option such as “I don’t know” or “general”, they will most likely choose that. This will lead to a lot of data with that option, which completely ruins the possibility to analyze it, so try to prevent these options.

 

Qooling makes collecting information and analyzing it a lot easier by a simple to use mobile app and the straightforward interface of its platform.

Published by:

Process approach to GDPR

In our previous post on GDPR we touched upon the impact it has on your quality management system. We also gave some examples of important topics you should take into consideration. Last week we had a great consulting session with our trusted partner on GDPR and which areas are best to focus on. In this post we will give you some of the useful tips and tricks that came out of that meeting.

Process Approach

The process approach is a good way to find out when and where your company touches personal data. This can easily be done by walking through the processes that are followed within the company. For example, start with sales and go all the way through to the point where the invoice is sent to the customer. When the primary processes have been checked, the secondary processes such as HR and IT can then be checked. This exercise will show you exactly where personal data is touched. Make a list of all the points where this data is handled by your suppliers.

When you are aware of which data is in the company, think about who is handling the data and different ways that it can be handled. You can classify the data as described in our previous post. Make sure you clearly describe who is the processor of the data. When the data is classified and you describe why you need it, you put an expiration date on it and you are good to go.

Sub Processors

An important part to think about is sub processors. Sometimes you are not the one that has the power to change the data, but you give that right to someone else, your sub processor. A good example where you see this often is salary slips. A lot of the time it is accounting firms that are the ones managing the salary slips. However, the majority of companies don’t do this themselves, but they also outsource this to a dedicated supplier. When this is the case make sure you have an agreement in place between you and your accounting firm, because they have the ability to alter the data. In this setup the accounting firm needs to have a data processing agreement with the company that processes the data. And remember, don’t forget to ask your supplier for a data processing agreement.

We provided dozens of companies with the easy to use tools to manage their GDPR and compliance in a broader sense of the word. Want to know how we accomplished this? Feel free to contact us.

Published by:

GDPR in Quality Management

The date that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming into effect is approaching soon. This new law affects almost all companies, but it can have a bigger effect on certified companies. Regardless of the certificate the company holds, all ISO certificates have the fundamental rule:

“The organization needs to demonstrate that they meet the legal requirements.”

This small but fundamental rule means that the certificates are only valid when an organization operates according to the law. Now we know that laws can be fluid and also contradicting depending on regions and countries, but we won’t go into this now. It is fair to say that all companies need to operate according to the GDPR. In this blogpost we provide some easy tips on how this can impact your management system. In the end a lot of companies treat compliance to laws in the same region as compliance to international standards.

The Data

There is a lot of data going through the company. In order to understand which data is stored where, classifying the data helps a lot. A good point to start with is classifying the data owners in line with the stakeholders identified in the stakeholder analysis. Most data can be classified into three categories: customers, employees and suppliers. When the type of stakeholder is known, it is important to classify the kind of data, such as: personal data, company data, payment data, etc. These classifications are highly dependent on the type of service or product you deliver. It is important to know where the data is stored. In order to have this overview you should map out all the products/services you have that hold any kind of data. Some topics we use for such a register are:

  • Company name
  • Contact person
  • Purpose of data
  • Type of Stakeholder
    • Customer
    • Employee
    • Supplier
  • Type of Data
    • Contact details
    • Payment details
    • Personal details
  • Duration of saving
  • Agreement (PDF of contract)

Management System

On top of the register there are some processes that need to be added. People now have more rights, and in order to observe that it is important to document how you support these rights. Two important points here are:

  • How is the organization going to make sure that people have the right to be forgotten? In essence, how are you going to delete all their data across all databases?
  • How will the organization support a request from a customer to get an overview of all the information the organization holds of that person?

These are just two important questions, but it shows that clearly defined processes should be in place and therefore must be added in some way to the management system.

Organizational Impact

The organization can be quite significant. You need to assess whether a data protection officer is required. The three main assessment points are:

  • Public authorities or bodies, except for courts acting in their judicial capacity.
  • Companies who process data requiring ‘regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale’.
  • Companies who process, on a large scale, any special category of personal data. This includes data which reveals racial or ethnic origin; political opinions; religious or philosophical beliefs and other such information.
  • Companies who process, on a large scale, personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences.

In case you are required to appoint a data protection officer it is good to include this in the management system, just like your prevention officer is part of the management system.

Policies

The last important part of the GDPR is that the organization has a clear policy on how to handle data and how to protect it. This policy should be readily available and easy accessible for stakeholders.

Impact on Management System

With the requirement to work according to the law and regulations, the GDPR has a clear impact on most management systems around the world. Due to the overlap in a lot of best practices within international standards, we recommend to make the GDPR an inclusive part of your management system, and not to treat it as a separate part.

If you want to know how you can structure a lot of the GDPR related activities within an integrated management system, just contact us.

Published by: