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Sharepoint is not a Management System

Sharepoint is a solution that is used quite a lot for a wide range of automation projects. Often pitched as the Swiss Army knife of software, it promises to do lots of back-office administration. However, it is most commonly known for its Document Management System. There are a wide range of Sharepoint consultants that build solutions within Sharepoint. This all sounds great, but there is a great fallacy in this way of working. Sharepoint is not an Integrated Management System, let alone a QMS or a QHSE solution. It needs to be developed, which comes with the same difficulties as developing software from scratch.

Mapping Processes

When a company tries to use Sharepoint to manage its IMS, it needs to build it within Sharepoint. All the logic, approval processes, questions, process flows, and everything else needs to be thought of. There are no best practices built-in, because it is simply a framework. Taking this approach means that the company needs to commit a significant amount of resources to develop the Management System. This commitment is without the development resources. If the company has Sharepoint developers in-house, this might reduce the costs of development, but it increases the opportunity costs. Of course there are templates available, but they never suit the company’s processes and certainly aren’t free.

Improvements

Quality and Safety Management is all about continuously improving the processes within the company. The Quality and Safety platform should, therefore, allow the people to make changes when improvements are required. Sharepoint is often too complex for ordinary people to make these improvements themselves. Either internal or external specialists need to be involved in making the improvements. Financial or time limitations will have a significant impact on the speed of implementing these improvements, which can lead to inefficient processes that are running for months on end. The problem in the processes has been identified, but it cannot be fixed, which is far from ideal. Proper QHSE platforms allow for rapid changes to be done by the QHSE or operational managers.

Maintenance

Maintaining the Management System is something most companies forget about. There will be no automated updates on the Sharepoint-based Management System. Every new feature, new field, or altered flow needs to be developed by either internal or external developers. Furthermore, these features need to be thought of by the company itself, which limits the options. Great platforms are continuously innovating their solutions based on feedback from companies facing the same difficulties. The result is that their customers can leverage the new features with simply a couple of clicks. No need for internal or external resources to develop new features.

Conclusion

In the end, Sharepoint can work as a QMS or Management System, but it was never designed to be one. This is painfully clear when you try to use it like this. In the beginning it all looks fine, but when changes are required, problems will start to occur. Make sure you pick the right solution for what you are trying to accomplish.

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How to introduce a QHSE management platform

Selecting the best QHSE platform is relatively easy; getting it adopted is the challenge. This is probably one of the most heard phrases when it comes to automating Management Systems. The buying process can be quite a challenge when it comes to making sure all the departments agree on the solution and finding the budget. However, the adoption and implementation is a different game and, most likely, a tough nut to crack. This is why we like to share some of our experiences on how to make it as smooth as possible.

The Consulting

During implementation, external help from consultants and product specialists is key. They know all the tricks in the book and how to set up the platform in such a way that it really fits the organization. They also have seen it running at other companies in the same industry and therefore have a good idea about best practices. Second, the consultant brings in a fresh pair of eyes. They allow the company to really look at all the documentation and check its relevance in the new setup. Great examples are things like procedures for managing NCRs or Document Control, activities that with a good QHSE platform will be automated.

Internal Training

Usually, the consultants will help with internal training. They train key users and administrators for the QHSE platform. However, most of the time, the internal training is mainly done by these key users who are the group expert on a department, plant or project team. Keep in mind that the internal training is as important as the training by the key users. Employees need to be trained on how to use the platform as effectively as possible to allow Quality & Safety to thrive in the company. Quality & Safety is part of everybody’s role in the organization, so people should know where to look when it comes to this.

Resistance

There will always be resistance by people; they are not really into change. Every organization has that one person that prefers not to change because everything seems fine as is. In the new way of working, some people might need to do a little bit more to bring the entire company to the next level. Convincing these people that they need to do a little bit more isn’t very easy. Regardless of the reason, there will be resistance, which will be hard to break.

The number one rule is making people part of the process while introducing the QHSE platform. Ask employees what they expect and what they would like to see resolved. Make them part of the design of a checklist or NCR form. Of course, you need to do this within reasonable levels because you cannot debate endlessly about a particular question. When they are involved, they will have a feeling of ownership and it will motivate them to want to use it in the future.

Second, show them how much easier it is than before. Make it clear how much time they save searching for documents. Also explain that they cannot do anything wrong. This will take away the fear of messing up. Lastly, communicate how the company benefits from it. Most employees do care about the company operating as good as possible. Showing them how the company benefit will help break resistance.

Training Material

Make sure there is some form of accessible training materials. These can be guides, videos or other documents. This allows people to have help options whenever needed. This documentation is critical for a great adoption.

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What Really Matters in QHSE Management

My days as a QHSE Manager are long gone, now I am lucky to be able to help many more companies than I could ever imagine. Every day, we help companies to push much further than simple compliance. Quality, Safety, and Security are about so much more than just compliance. Yes, compliance is an important component, but a company can get so much more out of a proper working management system.

Safety Is Everything

Safety should come before anything else. You can simply not do anything when people get injured all the time. Eventually, you will be left with nobody to do the job. The business reasons aside, we have a duty to everybody to make sure people leave through the door the same way they arrived. This has nothing to do with compliance perse, but just good moral and business practices.

With this in mind, safety should be practical as well. We hire professionals or train people to become professionals. Please trust them a little bit. Only intervene when things are getting out of hand and try to grow a sense for people that are slacking.

Quality Is Everything

Quality is not just the product or service produced or delivered by the company. Quality is everywhere from the marketing material, packaging, employees, and customers to even the way you handle leaving customers. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the Quality should be great and the experience should be even better. Not everything will go according to plan, but make sure the customer is informed and knows what is going on. Try to make these bad experiences as painless as possible.

In essence, this has nothing to do with compliance to begin with, it is just good business. The Quality standards (ISO9001/IATF16949/IS13485) are merely guidelines. As a company, you should strive to do the best you can, regardless of the applicable standard.

Security Is Everything

In today’s highly connected world, digital security should be an incorporated part of the management system. Even if the company isn’t certified for any standard, it is crucial to take the necessary steps in order to prevent a breach. Ransomware costs billions every year and up to 8 billion dollars globally. Having a proper security program in place is critical, especially for non-IT companies. It still happens too often that people click on a link or PDF without knowing the sender.

Again, the 8 billion spent on Ransomware has nothing to do with compliance. You need to make sure the company is ready and resilient to these matters, whether you are certified or not.

Culture

The certification, whether it is ISO9001, ISO14001, ISO45001, or ISO27001, is merely a framework. In the end, almost all the compliance topics boils down to culture. Some people might say, “It is not important” or “Don’t bother me with this”—but they don’t really get it. As a Quality/Safety/Compliance manager it is your duty to make them see the importance. It is not your job to do all the tedious tasks, those should be done by the responsible person. You should guide them, train them, and make them aware. A culture is created by everybody in the organization and the stakeholders close it. But it is your job to make Safety, Quality, and Security a part of the culture.

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The Art of Checklists

Over the last few years, we have helped a tremendous amount of companies move over to Qooling, either straight out of office-based Management Systems or migrating from other software solutions. During this transition, we always take a very critical look at the forms and checklists that are present within the organization. Implementing a new platform is always a great way to reflect on your current Management System. We have seen some weird, unnecessary, and even unknown checklists in our time.

The Unknown

These are probably the funniest. We always tend to find checklists and forms that are hardly used or nobody was aware of. They sometimes predate from 2010 and before, and are stored in some hard-to-find folder on the server. The Management System is a lively system that evolves and is managed by different people over time. Due to this character, people sometimes simply miss checklists and forms. The turnover of people can make it very hard to manage it all, especially when there is a great distributed system where everybody can contribute. Having a distributed management system is crucial for an effective one, but managing it can become quite difficult when there are lots of unknowns.

The Weird One

These are the forms and checklists that are so complex that only the person who created it can handle them. Yes, there are deeper concerns when this happens, such as process misalignment, but still. These highly complex forms can be extremely simplified most of the time or even be broken into a couple of different forms for clarity. It is always important to take a greater look at the processes that this form/checklist is part of, to make sure they are aligned again.

Some other examples are the checklists, which have questions that nobody understands. Questions with double negatives, wording that nobody understands, or unclear sentences. These might look like small things but they can make it very hard for employees to understand the checklists, let alone fill it in correctly.

The Unnecessary

This is probably the biggest group of all. These checklists were created with the best intentions in mind, but they aren’t very effective. When we look deeper, we have to conclude that these checklists aren’t measuring anything. Great examples are checklists where every item needs to be checked “OK”. Looks great on paper doesn’t it? However, you will only receive checklists that have only “OK” as answer. What if something wasn’t ok? Do you really get this information? Yes, they might have fixed it right away but that has never been logged. Checklists that require only OK answers to be accepted are meaningless and create a fake perception of Quality. There are lots of these types of checks in the process because for most companies everything needs to be OK to go to the next step. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this but make sure you create such checks in a sensible way and you allow room for error. Everybody makes mistakes—that’s life—just don’t hide it and give people room to express these mistakes.

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What Is HSE 4.0?

In line with Quality 4.0, there is also HSE 4.0. Maybe this speaks a little less to the imagination, but there are some fantastic examples of HSE 4.0 initiatives. However, the same as for Quality 4.0, you need to have a solid infrastructure before you can even start to think about HSE 4.0. A proper and open HSE platform is a necessity if you want to push the HSE into the new era of HSE 4.0. Without this infrastructure, it will be next to impossible to handle all the data that is coming out of sensors, cameras and human interactions. The latest techniques will significantly increase the amount of data and a proper cloud platform is required to handle all the data.

The Data

HSE 4.0 will lead to a significant increase in the data that is generated in the HSE system. Sensors will be installed to track safety behavior, which leads to so much data that the platforms need to be able to handle this. There are even companies that are using cameras to detect unsafe situations and near misses. When this data is becoming available, the HSE platform should be able to easily integrate with these options to create near misses in the HSE system.

HSE 4.0 in real life

Quality 4.0 is quite straightforward when it comes to using data to improve the process, which should lead to better Quality. For HSE 4.0, the examples aren’t really out in the open but we do see some amazing examples of how to use AI, IoT and Augmented Reality. We have seen companies using sensors to detect stress on safety harnesses to detect when somebody falls. Also accelerometers in combination with GPS in helmets to see if people wear them is another example. When it comes to AI, companies are looking at options to use this technology to detect unsafe situations. Cameras are trying to identify these situations and classify them. Augmented Reality is used to show the safety instructions and safety data sheets in front of the employee when needed. These examples are premature but companies are experimenting with this. When these technologies become widely accessible, it is important to have the right platform to leverage them.

Better Safety Training

All the data that is gathered has as main goal: making work safer. That is the main goal for everything done within an HSE system. This should be accomplished by creating (awareness) training programs. The HSE data coming from all these different sensors and other data sources are the main input for this training. This way, the data get used to improve the safety of the employees. It is now possible to create training sessions based on machine-generated data combined with user-generated data. This will give a great option to build the training because people don’t always say what they mean, whereas machines don’t have this fallacy. Combining these two sources allows for much better training.

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Why Digitize our QHSE Management System

A QHSE management system gets built over the years and is mostly done with existing tools. However, a scattered QHSE system does more harm than good. A combination of an inspection app, with some Word and Excel docs and an ERP, is how most QHSE Management systems are running. Bring your QHSE to the next level by leveraging one seamless Digitize QHSE platform,.

Why Digitize a Quality Management System?

Why should we digitize our QHSE Management System on one platform? This is a valid question and one we get asked quite a lot. Well, the efficiency improvements are huge. Search time for documents and forms go down by hours, more data is gathered, errors are reduced. These advantages and much more allow companies to have an ROI on platforms of months every single year.

Current Situation

Over the years, companies have built their QMS within the solutions and tools they have been provided. Documents are stored as Word or PDF on the company server. Production issues might be filed in the ERP system, some basic quality checks are built in the ERP. Due to the rise of the mobile phone usage, there might even be an app to perform some basic checks.

This setup is acceptable for staying compliant, but the company will never utilize the full potential of the QMS, namely as a vehicle to improve Quality. This scattered landscape makes it hard for the employees to find relevant information or data, while the Quality department can’t start effective improvement plans. The system also gets very rigid and hard to align with the changes in the company and its environment.

Changes

The QMS becomes very rigid because changes to existing ERP or other solutions aren’t easy to realize or are simply out of budget. The Excel documents are pretty easy to change; however, with these documents it gets hard to enforce the use of the latest version. Getting actionable data out of these Excel sheets is even harder, let alone getting proper visualization. In the end, maintaining a fractured management system is undoable.

One QHSE Platform

Bringing all QHSE documents and data into one platform allows connecting the different parts of the QHSE system seamlessly. Employees know where they need to be for their documents and forms. No need to search for ages, the QHSE system is tailored to the role they hold in the organization.

Having all the QHSE data in one place and enriching it with other company data allows for finding the real root causes and implementing a data-driven continuous improvement process.

User Engagement

Having one clear platform for QHSE allows for much more user engagement. Mobile apps increase the number of NCRs by hundreds of percentage, data that is crucial for improving the company. Users know where to go to for their procedures and documents and can find them within a couple of clicks. Clear activity logs show who did what when and what are the next required actions.

Conclusions

Scattered QHSE management systems are harming the company. Digitzing the QHSE management on a single solution will allow the company to improve and maybe even go for Operational Excellence.

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The Unique Job of being a QHSE Manager

As QHSE manager, we can get somewhat cynical over time. This is completely understandable because we are constantly looking for ways to improve processes. It is even embedded in the continuous improvement methodology. You search for processes to improve so you mainly see suboptimal things. However, we should never forget that as a Q&S Manager, we have a certain position in the company that is rather unique. We are in direct contact with every aspect of the company and help these departments to do things better. Who else in the company can say that? Besides the involvement in the departments, you have different roles which are a great variation in the day-to-day activities. This special roles require some significant skills.

Connections

As the Q&S manager, you are at the center of lots of processes. You don’t own them, you are certainly not responsible for them, and a lot of them you don’t follow yourself. However, you should know how they flow within the company. In this unique position you are connected to every aspect of the company whether it be HR, Sales, or Production. Maybe you cannot go to all locations physically due to time/distance constraints, but you do know what is going on. You are also connected to the people that perform the processes either by working on improving the process or by auditing them. Alone or as part of the team, you are the one where people go to when they want to improve their way of working.

Involvement

You get involved in lots of projects within the company. Not always directly in the operations, but when something new is going to happen, you will be involved due to your focus on change and improvement. These can be simple improvement plans for better administrative tasks, but they can also be serious innovative solutions that help the company move forward. When you position yourself like this, you will be right at the innovation in the company.

Roles

The Q&S manager is a connector within the company. Within this role you are not just working along with the people, but you also need to motivate them and coach them.

Connector

You are the person that needs to bring people together to make the improvements happen,—the Connector. When everybody is informed, it is your main task to make people understand the importance and motivate them to change.

Motivator

After connecting people, the Motivator is needed to drive change within the company. People don’t want to change by themselves, you have to persuade them and get them moving, which is not an easy job. Being a great motivator will help a lot in achieving this goal. Getting some lessons and best practices will help a lot.

Coach

When you are able to motivate people to change, you also need to be their Coach in achieving these changes. Motivating them is just the first step, then you move into the coaching role and make sure the people are able to put the improvement into practice. Being a coach is hard because every person has a different way of absorbing knowledge and information. Make sure you have some techniques in your toolbox to coach the people.

Conclusion.

Being a Q&S manager is pretty awesome. It is definitely challenging and hard at times to get a budget for improvements or getting people on the same page. Never forget, you are really in the middle of the action and can have some great impact on the company. Please appreciate your role but keep fighting for the things you consider important.

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HSE management isn’t a cost center

Last week we touched upon the advantages of Quality management and why this is actually a strong driver for growth. Of course, the same is true for Health and Safety. The people make the organization so their health and safety should be a top priority. Unfortunately for lots of companies, this isn’t the case, and they see the HSE as a cost center and not a driver of growth. When employees feel happy, they are able to excel and bring the company to the next level.

No Cost Center

Yes, HSE costs money and yes this will have an effect on the bottom line of the company, but it isn’t a real cost center. Maybe when you strictly check the definition of a cost center it might be one, but then every department is except for sales. The real HSE costs occur when incidents happen and people aren’t able to work. This is when the company really starts to pay and then it pays for a lack of HSE management. As the HSE department, it is imperative to express this a lot, not only to Top Management but also to all the other employees. You are creating a culture that should guarantee the safety of the employees, so make sure everybody is aware of this. Everybody in the organization needs to feel safe to thrive; without it, people will freeze and won’t add much value.

HSE Management System Implication

The same as with the Quality Management System, the real difficulties start with the HSE Management System. There are all these procedures and policies to make HSE somehow tangible. Top Management cannot relate to it all and don’t really do anything with it. The “required” audits and checks feel like a burden and people don’t see the added value, they simply want to do their job.

On the other hand, they do want to go home in one piece after a day of work so everybody knows that HSE is important for their own wellbeing. It is just that enormous colossal of a Management System that companies have in place that prevents employees from taking it seriously. Safety isn’t really embedded in their job. A good safety culture is important to take care of this. A readable and easy to use management system is crucial for a functioning safety culture. People should be able to report a near miss or accident fairly easy to make sure you as the HSE department get this information. It also should be easy to access the safety instructions on the web without difficulty.

Tools and Equipment

HSE does require a significant investment from the company. Not just in time but also in tools and equipment. People need tested and safe PPEs, there needs to be safety training, documentation needs to be available, adjustable table and chairs for office people, etc. In essence, taking care of people and making sure they can do their job safely costs money but not doing anything could be much more expensive.

Use Data

Data is always a great way to measure activity but also a great approach to involve Top Management. Showing the results of safety awareness training by fewer incidents or fewer injury hours has a significant effect on the mindset of Top Management. Harvesting and collecting data is the number one requirement to even be able to show the data. Make sure there are tools available within the organization to do this properly and fast. Good HSE data management is essential in creating a safe workplace.

Keep in mind you need to do whatever you can to make sure people go home the same way as they arrived in the morning.

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Mobile app in QHSE Management

The mobile phone and usage of apps has got a prominent place in our lives—maybe a bit too prominent. Still, many companies don’t allow their employees to use their mobile phones during work time. There are numerous valid reasons for not allowing it: unsafe, loss of productivity, distractions, etc. When a company applies this policy, they mainly look at the negative sides of using a mobile phone.

There are indeed drawbacks of using mobile phones during work, but simply blocking them out means the company misses out. There is much potential in mobile usage for the QHSE management system, so it’s a real shame not to utilize this.

Why Not?

Companies have great reasons why not to use the mobile phone during working hours. They claim that people will use the phone for personal activities, such as personal calls or simply using Facebook. Yes, people will do this when they have their phone in reach, but you should also trust your employees that they know the balance between work and personal time.

The point of it being unsafe is a lot stronger. People will use the phone while they are working, which means they don’t pay attention to their work. We’ve all seen the videos of people getting into accidents due to this.

These are both serious complaints, and awareness training sessions should be provided to make this really clear. People should only use the phone during work when it is safe and for work-related actions.

Why?

There are quite a few reasons why phones should be banned from the workplace. However, the possibilities of the mobile phone in QHSE are enormous. The use of mobile apps in the QHSE management system will lead to a significant amount of new data and insights.

The ease of use of the mobile app in QHSE management is tremendous. People are so used to grabbing their phone for everything in their personal lives, hence training time and adoption. Most people intuitively know how to use a mobile app, especially when it is designed similar to the other apps they use on their mobile phone. The user is used to getting notifications when things change in apps, which is very convenient when things need to be done for the QHSE management system.

Harvest QHSE Data

Employees can file NCRs, fill out forms, and check out data without hurdles. They don’t have to find the form somewhere on a computer and type everything that they need to fill in—don’t get me started on the challenge of adding pictures to it. Doing this on an app is very simple if the right platforms are used.

Filling in forms and gathering the information is one easy example of what is possible with the mobile QHSE app. We have seen a 100 percent increase in issues filed due to the ease of use of mobile phones. Also, the ability to autocomplete data makes the mobile app the number one platform for creating QHSE management data. Things like QR-code scanning and GPS data make it so easy to gather lots of data without much effort. Next to the administrative actions, online training for safety and quality awareness or new work instructions can easily be performed on the mobile with the right platform.

Proper Policy

When you allow employees to use the phone on the production sites, it is crucial to have some clear guidelines to prevent undesired behavior. The employees have to understand that they get this freedom but always have to put their own safety first no matter what happens. Also make it clear that they need to do the work and don’t spend their time on Facebook. Good guidelines and clear consequences when they don’t follow the guidelines.

Conclusion

Not utilizing the mobile phone is a loss of opportunity to improve the QHSE management and the safety and quality culture. An app makes it so much easier for employees to interact with the QHSE management system and makes them more aware of this. Give employees this option but clearly communicate what kind of behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.

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How to Set Great Quality Objectives

Quality objectives are measurable goals and the base of long-term quality improvement planning. After setting a target, simply hoping that changes occur to achieve the goal is not an effective way to improve a QMS. You need to work towards that goal.

Make it SMART

Once you’ve determined which products or processes you want to monitor, measure, and improve, you need to make sure that your quality objectives are achieved effectively. To have the best chance of achieving these goals, I would recommend you to use the SMART method. This method states that all quality objectives need to be Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, and Time-based. Here’s how you do this: 

Specific: Describethe quality objective as specific as possible so that everyone in the organization understands it. Rather than striving “to reduce production defects,” a better description should be “to reduce production defects by 10% in the engine assembly line”. To test whether it’s specific enough, you can try to see if your goal could be interpreted differently. If so, your goal is not yet well formulated. 

Measurable: Without measuring your goals, how can you determine if an objective is achieved? To show visible improvement, it’s important to express this in percentages or numbers. For instance:  

  • Reduce production defects by 10%
  • Obtain 90% customer on-time-delivery

Agreed: Objectives can’t be achieved if they’re created inside a vacuum. Top management buy-in is crucial in setting quality objectives, and make sure they’re communicated throughout your organization so relevant parties are made aware. All employees of the organization need to agree that the goals are achievable. 

Realistic: Setting unrealistic goals is never a good idea. You aren’t going to motivate your employees by telling them you want to go from 20% production defects to zero. Especially when you don’t have the resources to support this level of improvement. To keep everybody satisfied, set realistic goals—this will motivate them to put in a little bit of extra effort next time. 

Time-based: Finally, to be truly effective, objectives must have a specific deadline for results. Without a timeline, goals might be easily forgotten when overshadowed by day-to-day activities. For example, “reduce production defects in the engine assembly line by 10% in the next year”. 

Quality objectives can be established for any process and can be specific to a department, team, or project, as long as they are relevant to your QMS. Always make sure that quality objectives are properly communicated throughout your entire organization so relevant parties are made aware. 

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