Monday, October 26, 2009

Why embark on a journey to ISO registration?

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. In my twelve plus years of experience as a Quality professional, this is the question I have run up against most. Of course the answers range widely from, "because our customers demand it" to "we think it will help us be a better company". Actually, truth be told that last reason I don't hear as often as I'd like and the first, I hear way too much.

To the purist, the only reason to embark on a journey to ISO registration is to improve the operation of your business. Unfortunately, most purists also get offended at the notion that the deployment should return on the investment in a very real way. The purist believes in Quality for Quality's sake. Being that I am somewhat a purist (reformed slightly) I am a strong believer in the instrinsic value of Quality. I do recognize that companies are not in business for altrusitic reasons, but rather, to make a profit and the notion that a Quality Management System should contribute to that profitability is an altogether reasonable expectation.

The challenge is that Quality Management Systems, as they are typically deployed, are bureaucratic and cumbersome. Ultimately they do not contribute to helping people do their jobs better or easier. Deployment leaders can improve their credibility by keeping some concepts in mind as they progress. First, keep it simple. The base ISO 9001 standard only requires six written procedures, SIX! My experience is that every place I've ever reviewed has had much more than six procedures. So where did all those extra procedures come from? The easy answer is that they come from a misconception based on a simple idea that underlies all registered quality systems, "say what you do, and do what you say". From this simple idea comes the incorrect notion that everything said must be documented. I suggest an easy exercise to decide if a process needs to be documented; look at how its performing. Are there frequent defects, is the process complex and difficult to execute, is the process done infrequently, do people tend to make mistakes while doing it? If any of those conditions exist, then consider a documented procedure. If the process is working well as it is and no requirement exists to document it, don't. The idea is that the QMS should support the business, not add a burden to it. The second principle to keep in mind is to find opportunities to tie the QMS to key business results. This concept is key to getting managements' attention. The key business objectives should be clear to everyone in the organization. What can the QMS help improve upon? Can internal audit reveal anything about why key objectives are not being realized? Could a structured problem solving approach solve key customer problems? If the deployment leader can find real results to tie the QMS to, they will have a much easier time getting management onboard with the system.

The key ideas ingrained in the ISO standards are things that we all can agree are good to do. We should all periodically review the performance of the business (Management Review) using data (Analysis of Data), impartial observers should periodically check to make sure we are doing things right (Internal Audit), whenever we have a problem we should fix it (Corrective Action) and try to prevent it from happening again (Preventive Action), and that people should be skilled at the jobs they do (Competence, Awareness, and Training) among other things. So while embarking on a journey to ISO registration can be successful if motiviated by almost any reason, it will ultimately not be a part of the fabric of the business, unless it supports the needs of the business rather than adding unnecessary burden to it. The ISO standards are truely intended to be a template for how to run a successful business, if only they are used that way.

1 comment:

Ngo said...


I read a same topic 2 month ago. The topic helps me to improve my competency.

Apart from that, below article also is the same meaning

ISO 9001 Standard

Tks again and nice keep posting