Category Archives: Quality

How to keep your quality management system simple

That may sound like a contradiction in terms, particularly if you’ve ever read a management system standard document! They’re not the simplest of things to comprehend but that doesn’t mean your management system has to be just as hard work.

Keep it simple!

A quality management system is mainly focused on customer satisfaction, in which a healthy amount of risk management is introduced for a good dose.

The vast majority of business owners want happy customers and lower risks right? So think about the steps that you naturally take to ensure these are achieved and hey presto! you have the basis for implementing your system.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It is not necessary to make a shoehorn in extra forms, registers, checks or balances to meet a theoretical need. Start with what you have and keep it simple.

Mandatory requirements

Among the mandatory requirements of a formally certified quality management system are a quality policy and quality objectives. Even if you have no need for a formally certified system, your business can still benefit from having these in place.

Your customers will be happy that you’re demonstrating your commitment to quality. Your business will have additional direction and purpose created by your quality objectives.

Be authentic

The remaining requirements of a quality management system include sufficient process documentation that you can be sure things are working to plan. You will define the measures of success and when and how these are to be monitored and evaluated.

Don’t be tempted to download a template package. Yes, I know it’s free and it promises to be super easy. The reality is it will never be anything more than a burden. Be authentic. Write your own.

Simply the best

The best systems are the simplest ones. Simplicity doesn’t mean that something isn’t fit for purpose. Conversely, just because something is complicated doesn’t mean it’s better.

The best person to write your policies and processes is you. You can employ the services of a consultant to coach and guide you. They may even do some writing for you but ultimately you know your business best.

If you’re a slightly bigger business with segregated duties and responsibilities, get the process owners to do the writing. Process owners are the people who operate and/or manage an activity on a daily basis. The experts.

 

This article has been written by Lucy Payne of valeqms.co.uk

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Risk management in relation to quality

The concept of risk-based thinking has been adopted explicitly by ISO 9001:2015 and replaces the previously stated requirement in ISO 9001:2008 for ‘preventive action’.

In ISO 9001 , risk is defined as ”the effect of uncertainty”. Therefore, risk management in relation to quality, involves the identification, assessment and prioritisation of risks to product or service conformity.  The purpose of this activity is to minimize the potential negative effects of opportunities and risks.

Risk in relation to quality

Both internally as externally quality risks can arise to the company. Internal risks include:

  • shareholders
  • employees
  • equipment
  • technology/software
  • storage of raw materials
  • storage of finished products
  • after-sales support

External risks, which could extend throughout the supply chain, include:

  • landlord
  • legal/regulatory compliance
  • suppliers/delivery partners
  • clients/customers
  • political/social/economic factors
  • special interest groups/action groups
  • general public

Identifying and assessing risks

Tools and techniques to assist in the identification of such risks to quality include brainstorming, fault tree analysis, process mapping and failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA). Effective application of these tools can help to identify risks.

Options to address risks

Options for addressing risks include:

  • avoidance of the source of the risk
  • taking action to reduce the likelihood of the risk
  • taking action to reduce the severity of the risk
  • transferring the risk to a third party
  • retaining the risk under informed decision (perhaps in order to pursue an opportunity)

Benefits of addressing risks

The benefits of addressing risks include:

  • reduced likelihood of occurrence
  • reduced insurance premiums
  • added assurance for investors/shareholders
  • improved customer satisfaction
  • improved employee engagement

Following a thorough risk assessment of your business operations, you can formulate a comprehensive, robust and practical Business Continuity Plan and/or Disaster Recovery Plan.  As a result, you are able to be proactive in identifying risks and addressing potential pitfalls.  This is surely preferable to simply leaving your business success to chance.

This article has been written by Lucy Payne of valeqms.co.uk

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KPI management

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a very important part of a (integrated) management system. They can show how good or bad the management system is functioning. However, we see a lot of KPIs defined and monitored by quality that are mainly focussing on compliance to standards, such as number of audits performed, number of inspections performed, number of sick days, etc. We do believe that when KPIs are more aligned with company goals, the impact of the management system will be a lot bigger. In line with that reasoning you as a quality management should own these KPIs. Make them your responsibility even though you might not have a direct effect on them. Simply own them and make the line managers or operational managers also part of that process in order for the alignment to work.

It Is Not About Absolute Figures

We are a strong believer of ratios when it comes to KPIs, simply because a lot of one dimensional figures don’t work when the company gets bigger. When you have more orders there is a good chance more things can go wrong and more people are getting ill, so use ratios.

Some great examples include recall per X units manufactured or issues per Y units purchased from supplier B. Ratios allows for scaling whilst still giving a great insight.

Align with Business

In order for the business to get some real value out of the management system make sure the KPIs are aligned with its goals. For example, track quality issues per model or per project and put a financial figure to it. Even though the figure might not be very accurate, it is so much better than working with nothing at all.

With this setup you as a quality manager can directly show the impact on the business. Costs of quality have a direct negative effect on the company’s bottom line. Make sure this is well understood by everybody in the organization.

Own Them

In order to show management that you are serious make sure you own the KPI’s and do whatever it takes to improve them. Set goals for the company based on the performance of last year or quarter. Showing ownership proves you take it serious. Go and talk with operational managers and discuss how the company can reach these goals, and what kind of processes need to be improved. Involve the line manager in the process of setting these goals, then celebrate reaching these goals with them and give them credits for it.

So in order for top management to not take the management for granted, make sure it adds value and show how it helps the company to increase the bottom line.

We have helped a lot of companies to get the insights in their cost of quality in order to go to an improvement approach. Top management can directly see what the (integrated) management brings them and how it adds value to the company, on top of staying compliant. Do you want to know how Qooling can help your organization with this? Just contact us.

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The Importance of Top Management Buy-In

Top management is crucial when it comes to a successful management system. Management should actively show that they can see the added value of the system. Almost every director states that quality is at the core of the organization and is recognized as one of the pillars of the company. Ensuring that this is actually the case and how to keep it maintained proves to be much harder. Once too often top management points the finger to the quality department when it comes to maintaining the quality. Having a quality department doesn’t say anything about the quality you deliver, actual actions should be taken.

Why a Management System?

Top management might feel like the management system is a necessary evil because they don’t see what it brings for them. Most of them may agree that having proper processes gives guidance to the employees and a certain amount of structure to the organization. However, when it comes to managing the system and more importantly the information that comes out of it, most managers get lost. When asked about the cost of quality of their company or their cost of safety they have no clue and might be able to come up with a educated guess. Though most agree that having these actual figures helps them to make better decisions. That is why using the proper solutions for managing the quality and safety are so important. Qooling gives top management constant real-time insight in their actual cost of safety. It also lowers the barrier for employees to file these mistakes which leads to much more data to analyse, and therefore the opportunity to make better informed decisions.

Lead by Example

Procedure and process can be annoying sometimes. They are designed to keep things organized within an organization with the trade off of losing some time efficiency. However, having people working according a certain system helps maintain consistencies and a certain level of quality and safety. Most processes have the organization in mind, sometimes at the expense of the individual employee.

Due to these trade offs, some top management cut corners when it comes to certain processes, which might be necessary at times. The implications can be quite severe because of the sign it gives to other employees. If you don’t think the processes is important enough to follow why should others?

Actively Involved

Being actively involved in the management system will show commitment to the company. This can be as easy as pointing out certain topics when walking around. A better approach is when top management is actively performing management walks or organizing toolbox meetings. These actions directly shows the commitment of top management to these things. This doesn’t have to be all formal but can be a life conference call to the company or just a certain location. The point is, it shows how involved top management is and how important they think these matters are.

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5 Questions That Reveal Management Commitment

Top Management Audits

There are two common types of Quality Management System audits. There’s the company’s 1st party audit where the organisation audits itself. This type of audit is more commonly known as an Internal Audit. Then there is the 3rd Party Audit, usually carried out by your chosen certification body. Regardless of which audit is in process, both almost always have one failing in common. Tope Management is almost always excluded from the scope of the audit.

There could be a number of reason why this is the case, not the least of which could be because staff charged with performing these audits, including the Management Representative, may be afraid of speaking to a director or an MD or are afraid of asking tough questions for fear of reprimand.

But let’s say that you have been encouraged by top management to do just that. So what should you be asking? Here are the top 5 questions that effective audits reveal about top management’s commitment.

  1. What is their vision for the company? Is that vision documented somewhere and, if so, how is it communicated to all staff and not just those immediately below them?
  2. What overall Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have they set and do they cascade this information down the organisation in a manner that all staff understand what is required of them to achieve those objectives. Even a staff member at the lower echelons of the organisation should be made aware of what he is required to do and how important his role is in achieving those KPIs.
  3. What resources have they budgeted for to ensure that the Quality Management System functions effectively and that their Quality Policy is fulfilled? The fewer the resources, the more the QMS department will struggle to get things done and vice versa.
  4. What is their role in the Quality Management System and how do they show their commitment to their staff. Their commitment and the way they get involved in the system is an indicator of the level of buy-in across an organisation and how well the system is adhered to.
  5. And finally, how often are Management Reviews held? When was the last review? Who was present and what were the key decisions that came out of that meeting? What happens to the minutes once they are recorded and to whom are they circulated? There is no point to these reviews if they are held just because the standard mandates it.

 

This article has been written by Birjees Hussain

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The Real Cost of Safety

The real cost of safety, or perhaps better phrased the real cost of a lack of safety is something that is not always clear and can be hard to calculate. There are so many factors involved when someone gets injured on the job that it might not always be clear the moment the injury happened. There are a number of topics that have an effect on the costs involved.

Direct Effects

When an accident happens on the job a lot of costs are made to perform a proper investigation. These investigations are always very thorough and properly executed. This is of course a good thing but it also means they take up a lot of resources like money and time. A safety specialist might be hired for the investigation and the operational staff will be busy with this. Sometimes the production needs to be put on hold to perform the investigation. This will lead to a serious loss of production time.

Indirect Effects

Loss of production hours of the employee is one of the indirect effects. As long as the employee is not able to work his/her salary still needs to paid, and a replacement also needs to be arranged, as the job must continue.

The second financial effect comes from the lost of potential contracts. Some contractors prefer the subcontractor with the lowest number of injuries with days lost. These statistic can become crucial for winning tenders.

The last indirect effect might be the increase in insurance premiums. Insurance premiums are based on the likelihood of an accident. Past incident statistics can be used to calculate current insurance rates. When these statistics go up this can be very negative for the insurance costs.

Emotional Effects

The employee and his/her family can have severe psychological damage in case of a serious injury. However, not only the family can fall victim to this but also the colleagues of the person that had the accident. Some colleagues might have seen the accident happening. Certain injuries can cause serious psychological damage the moment you see it happening. All the visits to the psychologist and loss of hours work can lead to a serious financial impact for the company especially when several colleagues were involved.

As with everything when it comes to safety: it is better to prevent than to cure. Automation solutions like Qooling can help companies in this process. When employees have an easy way to file near misses the (Q)HSE people can start finding the root cause to these situations and take appropriate (corrective) actions.

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Why Quality Management

A quality management system for good and socially responsible business.

With the increasing pressure on efficiency and costs, we see the attention of quality management evaporate. As if it were a luxury, those organizations could hardly afford to keep at least an existing certification. While an efficiently operating quality management system is just as important today as ever before.

The basis

The basis for a quality management system is to make work processes clear in relation to the output (customer service), the effort to be provided, and other resources (money for example) and content quality aspects for the customer and the staff. That transparency, plus and then controllable compliance with what has been specified, provides reliable and certifiable service on a basic basis for financing and customer trust.

At the same time, there is a basis for critical review of the efficiency of those work processes. Are there “lean” terms of “waste”, waste of energy on issues that do not contribute to the customer and the quality to be delivered? Are quality and effort in balance? A quality management system is not ‘complete’ after certification, but must constantly be used for continuous improvement of efficiency, customer satisfaction and quality.

Luxurious

And for those who still find it quite luxurious: it provides a basis for communicating with clients or financing about that balance and reasoned counterweight of pressure to work under the cost price, for example. An organization that has its quality management system in order and insight into its processes is so many times stronger against cuts and irresponsible financiers.

Finally, let’s not forget the staff. Insightful work processes that focus on client and staff interests contribute to motivation and productivity, lower absenteeism and better self-responsibility in the workplace – to self-governing teams.

In short: an efficient quality management system (supported by a good planning / control cycle and a risk management system) is the basis for healthy and socially sustainable business management.

This article has been written by Jantina van Rossum of iConact.

 

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How to Handle Risk Management.

An organization cannot exist without taking any risks. The question is, how to manage those risks to improve predictability and reduce the level of risk?

Don’t make risk management an expensive and time consuming project.

Too often risk management is seen as a time consuming exercise. I personally believe that this is unnecessary.  When we talk about strategic risk management, it is possible to have just one or two sessions of about 1.5 hours with the top management to list all the risks.

Focus on the top 10 risks

Make sure the focus is on the top 10 most important risks and don’t bother working on all the risks for the moment. It is important to assess the risks by next year, as by then you can focus on the other risks to the organization.

Align the company objectives with the risks

To accomplish this, start with the stakeholder analysis including the objectives of every stakeholder related to the company. This helps you focus on the important risks that have a direct effect on the stakeholders and the objectives.

Internal communication

It is very important that the employees support the risk management. In order to increase support it is essential to communicate the importance of the risks and that people understand why certain actions are taken.

Have a clear division of tasks

After all risks are registered it is important to assign owners to certain tasks, preferably people in higher management positions. They will then be responsible for the corrective and preventive actions taken to reduce the risk levels. The managers can give certain tasks to other employees but they are responsible for the risk.

Go further than only financial risks

Most companies have the financial risks in order due to the yearly check by an accountant. There are more than just direct financial risks for an organization. Make sure you also think about the broader picture than pure financial risks.

Use risk management as a guide for management

Risk management is much more than just listing all the risks. It is an instrument to help management get a good picture of the risks involved. Next to this, it is a great tool to perform and manage corrective and preventive actions based on these risks. Furthermore, it holds some great input for the yearly management and the actions give a good measure on how management performs.

 

This article has been written by Jantina van Rossum of iConact.

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Root Cause Analysis: 5 Whys

After the elaborate piece on the Cause and Effect diagram we will take a deeper look in the 5 Whys as a root cause methodology.

The concept behind 5 why’s is that you keep on asking the question why did it happen until you reached to the underlying cause. Due to this setup the 5 Whys methodology is a very power tool for the root cause analysis because it forces people to really think about what went wrong.

Example

A wrong product has been delivered by a supplier.

1 Why. Why was a wrong product delivered?

The purchase department provided the wrong information.

2 Why. Why did the purchase department provided the wrong info?

The found this info on the server which they assumed was the latest version.

3 Why. Why wasn’t the latest version on the server?

Sales had been negotiating with the customer and forget to update.

The analysis shows that something went wrong in the process. Modifying the process can prevent this from happening in the future. A possible solution could be adding an addition step in which purchase just cross check with sales before they purchase the goods.

Also in this example it is clear we didn’t reached till the fifth why. This is not important sometimes the root cause is clear after 3 steps sometimes after 5. But for sure the root cause is clear after 5 steps.

Boundaries

When it comes to 5 Whys there are not so many boundaries. The strong characteristic about 5 Whys is that it allows you to find a root cause within purchase while the issue occurred at sales. This broad and inter process root cause analysis can very effective because of characteristic.

However, with the 5 Whys it is very easy to reach a level where it is easy to just blame a person or department. It is important to leave the personal aspects out of the equation and focus on the processes and organisation. Blaming somebody doesn’t help, always try to look at the organisation. So when a particular person is making the same mistake multiple times maybe we should give him or her training to improve his way of working. Or maybe the recruitment process is not how it should be. Just try to prevent blaming people.

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Insight in Cost of Quality: the hidden gem

Total Cost of Quality is a very important topic but not well known by a lot of C-level managers. When asked about the total Cost of Quality, a lot of C-level managers simply don’t know or give an industry standard. This reaction is understandable but very striking at the same time. In many industries the estimated costs of quality is in the range of 20%, which is some serious money when you are talking about tens of millions or even hundreds of millions.

Open your eyes

Automation can help companies to get a better feeling for their cost of quality. This starts by providing employees with the tools to record a quality issue. A number of companies claim to have very little issues, only because their issue form is around 6 pages. No one in their right mind is going to fill that up so a lot of issues are not even registered. Providing a mobile app with just 2 or 3 fields and an option to add images lowers the burden significantly to report an issue. This will lead to a bigger influx of issues, which is great.

Pick up the issue

Now that the burden of reporting an issue is out of the window, the real power of automation kicks in. The different stages the issue needs to follow can be predefined with pinpoint accuracy which means that the right person can add information precisely at the right time. A good automation solution allows the option to create a structured actions plan, and distributes the action to the designated owner. This connects the corrective actions to the issue on hand.

The automation allows for the hidden costs to get exposed, for example costs like waiting hours by the team or repair hours required to fix the issue. Multiplying these hours with the internal hourly rate, the company will be able to put a price tag to the lost hours. Furthermore, the solution can give an indication of the costs the administration has cost based on the hours worked on the issue.

Finalize

When all the information required for the incident has been provided, the report can be closed. This way of tracking Total Cost of Quality allows management to get a real-time insight in the actual costs. They can always have a clear overview of what all these issues cost the company. Just check the example.

analyse issues

Dashboard

In the end it is very important to get a grip on your total cost of quality and clearly see where the company is bleeding money in order to fix this. You can only take this step when everybody in the company is able to file an issue easily. Have fun increasing your efficiency.

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