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Pursuing Excellence

Such as having a quality management system (QMS) should never be considered “its own thing.” Instead, it should be an integrated part of everything the company does every single day. But it starts with leadership and commitment. When businesses are launched, the owners have great intentions to give the business their “all” to do their very best so that at least they could earn the first sale. This same vision should exude throughout the years and down to the lowest level of the organization. Great leaders get all of the personnel to want to do themselves whatever the company is wanting. When the leadership wants high quality ie standards then this sets the expectations all throughout.

Demonstrate Leadership and Commitment

Today, we tackle the king of clubs. We equate this card to your organization’s leadership and the commitment in taking an active role in engaging, promoting, and ensuring the communication of and monitoring the performance and effectiveness of the quality management system. In all ISO management system type Standards recent updates used more of the term leadership versus management.

The Lacking Component

The easiest but seams more difficult than it needs to be is the communications. Demonstrate improved leadership by asking yourself every morning what communications do I need to have with customers, stakeholders, peers and subordinates then have those communications. Weekly communications with all departments goes a long way. The results of effective leadership and commitment is when persons in the organization understand how they contribute to the QMS and their efforts help the organization consistently achieve the intended results. Leadership is assumed to only be the owners, president and vice presidents, but there is a leader within everyone. The internal environment created is in which people are engaged and committed to the achievement of the organization’s objectives.

Alignment Within

Every organization is different: in size, complexity and even culture. Every company will apply their quality management system in unique fashions. However, what should be consistent is the accountability taken on by any leader within the organization for the effectiveness of the quality management system. Get straight the below graphic and review daily for how recent projects, product launches or new customer activations met to the mission, quality policy and even the values of the company. If there were differences discover for yourself the immediate corrections needed. This is how the QMS is sustained and worked everyday. These provide unity across the organization. Should some of the responsibilities or authority be delegated? Overall, the onus of the quality management system’s efficacy ultimately rests on the shoulders of the leadership in order to ensure realization of the vision.

3 Key Activities on how others can accomplish this in the organization
  1. Set Clear Expectations

First, the leadership needs to look at the overall picture. As a whole, they must review what the determining factors are for your quality management system while giving due consideration to the strategic direction within context of your organization.

Given the graphic above has been established next what should be reviewed by all management are their respective procedures and past results of the internal audits. Do these support the overall planning or present well at the management review.

2.Making Sure Everyone is on the Same Page

Next, you need to ensure that your organization’s quality management system is integrated and managed within your overall business processes. Simply put, this means that your quality management system cannot be treated as an add-on by your management or your employees. When this is the mindset, management and employees can feel overwhelmed when in fact the maintaining the QMS is running the business.

Your quality management system cannot be at odds with your company’s direction, policies, objectives or procedures. Your organization should view your QMS as system in keeping to high standards.

This can be done in several ways. The most straightforward of which is to include the QMS in your employee handbook. Also, using similar language and structure for all documentation within your organization will go a long way in integrating the QMS. Reward all employees that exude living the vision of high quality.

3. Promote the Process

Finally, management should actively promote the process approach as well as risk-based thinking. In taking the overall approach of the organization into account while creating and maintaining the QMS, management is ensuring the effective interaction between processes.

There should be a systematic approach designed to achieve an effective flow of inputs and outputs. Both input and output should be measurable and should be a part of any conversation regarding the performance of the organization. Any performance conversation should also include an invitation for those interested parties to address any risk or opportunities they see within the QMS.

Overall, the QMS is a living, breathing system in your organization. Everyone has a voice, and everyone is responsible. But in order to make this an effective part of your organization’s business operations it must be set up correctly and guided by the devoted leadership. So that the entire company can live the Dream. Download the pdf and this week spend time reflecting on these or create these for your organization and watch how success skyrockets.

From the Top 

The post It Starts with a Dream appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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Customer Focus

Customer Focus

We’ve all heard it, how can we ensure that our customers are delighted?  The most assured method is keeping the beat of what customers are wanting. Top management’s focus on the organization’s ability to meet the needs and expectations of customers and other relevant interested parties provides confidence in achieving sustained success. This is a statement right out of the introduction of  9004, “Quality of an organization-guidance to achieve sustained success.

Let’s face it degraded abilities or lack of understanding of the needs and expectations of especially customers and now the ever-expanding relevant interested parties is not as apparent as we wish they were.  ISO Certification Audits ensure that systems are established for customer focus. How can we keep to the beat of their hearts and desires of our products and services as their favorites?  Top management must stay in relations by providing the means of customers being able to quickly and easily communicate their needs and expectations.

Customer focus is also one of the seven Quality Management Principles. We will address in its entirety the concepts of relevant interested parties in another article at a future date. Let’s agree though that customers should be considered 1 of the top 2 interested parties.  The other one being either shareholders/owners or employees depending on the culture of the company.

Your products and services are what makes your company. See ISO in Brief! These are needed and valuable, but what if the quality through time became of lesser quality because of competition, new advanced technology or worst losing sight of your customers’ expectations and needs? This week we correlate the King of Diamonds with Customer Focus.

Promotion of Customer Focus throughout the entire Organization

Let’s start to understand the intent of this requirement of Customer Focus of the ISO 9001. Most striking is that the same top management is to demonstrate leadership and commitment concerning customer focus and includes other bullets with the last one being enhancing customer satisfaction. Most will relate this to paying customers, but it can also mean citizens, patients, students, but you need to think whoever are recipients of your products and services.

Then it is up to for customer focus to be promoted throughout the organization. Also from 9004,” To achieve sustained success, the organization should focus on anticipating and meeting the needs and expectations of its interested parties, with the intent of enhancing their satisfaction and overall experience. https://msi-international.com/iso-topics/iso-9001-quality-standard/These requirements must be understood by all involved so consider if how subcontractors are informed of customer project requirements. There are some factors that contribute to the needs and expectations of your product. The needs and expectations must be considered when evaluating your processes. See our earlier blog about process map.https://msi-international.com/2019/01/13/set-your-company-apart/ With the Standard adding an overall focus on risk-based thinking to aim at taking advantage of opportunities and preventing undesirable results, ensure that a loss of key customers or segments as a risk.

Understanding Needs

To understand the needs and expectations of customers and even better future customers, you can look to several different tactics. You can work with those responsible for the processes, or you can use methods to collect the data that best serves such as:

  • monitoring customer needs, expectations, and satisfaction
  • reviewing orders received
  • having effective feedback and complaint processes
  • participating in relevant associations
  • market surveillance
  • competitive analysis
  • and more

All methods have their merits, but the data will give you a concrete understanding of what each party requires. From customer contacts to industry standards and permits to agreements with customers, the information resulting from these needs must be considered when planning your QMS.

Be aware that not only can relevant requirements be different for different products and services, but can change through unforeseen circumstances or intentional reactions to markets. Your organization must monitor and review these requirements as they change. Rely on the power of outstanding management reviews to pinpoint when pivots are needed.

So, paying close attention to your customers, industry and markets will greatly increase your company’s sustainability and value. These will refine your QMS, drive your organization’s perceived value, and meet everyone’s requirements.

Ask yourself, which customers should you be reaching out today? How can I as part of top management promote customer focus throughout that leads to furthering delightfulness? What is our data telling us today? What are some areas of improvement? Ensure that if you discover an area of improvement use your corrective action system to manage roll-out of customer focus improvements.  How can we make sure that we are tracking even slight communications from customers that could give us hints that our quality is becoming degraded?

The post Delighting Customers appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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We primarily get what we want by writing out the Company’s objectives, otherwise they are just dreams! Objectives are like wishes, but better defined and measurable. This week we are tackling the King of Hearts, the master of wishes and desires. We correlate this card to your Quality Objectives. Think of these objectives as markers to ensure your organization is working effectively toward its strategic direction and demonstrating continual improvements.

In our last post, we discussed the importance of the Quality Policy. If you haven’t established your Quality Policy yet, go back and nail that down. By its very nature, it will define and lead you in establishing very clear and precise objectives. For example, if your Quality Policy states that you are to exceed customer expectations, then one of your Quality Objectives should relate to a result that substantiates exceeding your customers’ expectations. The best advice to offer everyone is to establish 3 top level objectives around subjects that everyone can relate to, for instance of: On Time Delivery, Customer Satisfaction (through a survey result all questions or one of the questions) and product/service conformity is mandated. The objectives should be in alignment with other corporate goals, vision and values and prevent from causing conflicting objectives with these. From here your company should develop lower level KPIs (key process indicators) for most departments.

Measurable

More than just being consistent with your Quality Policy, your Quality Objectives must be measurable. These measures can be quantitative (e.g. percentage of daily output that meets quality standards) or qualitative (e.g. employee’s rating on customer surveys). Regardless, the objectives should be set and measured using suitable techniques, such as SMARTER, balanced score cards, or dashboards. In case you are wondering what the ER includes for Excitement and Reported.

There may be industry specific requirements to consider as well. And while these may meet the overall objectives of your Quality Management System, the Quality Objectives are a great place to communicate those specific, measurable requirements with your team.

And speaking of your team, you need to maintain documented information of your Quality Objectives. Examples of where you can choose to maintain documented infor­mation include, but are not limited to, business plans, balanced score cards, dashboards, intranet and communication boards as well as keeping trends in order that they can be easily transferred to the management review presentation. Lastly, the Standard requires that your organization is keeping everyone informed of the status towards meeting the objectives. Use the data presentation as a means to motivate all personnel to be committed to contribute to the achievements.

Achieving Greatness

If you have taken the above steps in creating your Quality Objectives, congratulations! You have a basic and functioning document. However, to ensure its implementation and effectiveness, there needs to be more in place.

There are four additional elements that will make your Quality Objectives really matter and help your organization achieve greatness. Each of your objectives should:

  1. Be relevant to conformity of products and services and enhanced customer satisfaction – There are innumerable objectives you could institute for the sake of quality. But is this objective directly ensuring the quality of my product or the customer’s need? Make sure your objective is needed.
  2. Be monitored and/or reviewed for progress – This could be carried out through any suitable means, including progress reports, customer feedback or management reviews. The key here is to ensure they are consistent and measurable. Then they are reported at the management review and if the objectives were not met, it is important to have some explanation and to have had a corrective action to be initiated. It’s definitely expected to revise the objectives as necessary.
  3. Be communicated clearly with all pertinent personnel – You should communicate the quality objectives throughout your organization at all levels and to interested parties, as necessary. Setting the expectations of what defines quality and how to measure it will save time and frustration.
  4. Be updated when needed – Potential or actual changes can impact your organization’s ability to achieve its stated Quality Objectives. Those changes need to be considered and action taken as necessary, to ensure new issues or requirements are addressed. This is why monitoring progress and communicating quality expectations is so important.

Now, set up your Quality Objectives! Remember, to take into consideration factors such as your organization’s current capabilities and constraints, customer feedback, other market issues and now new with the Standard needs and expectations of interested parties. Feel free to submit your objectives through our forms and we will supply feedback.

The post Getting What You Want appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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Ace of spades is the last of 4 aces

We attribute the Ace of spades to the Quality Policy.  Every certified company must have a Quality Policy. If your company is not certified, but may consider some day develop your Company’s Quality Policy. Why not? Establishing your company’s Quality Policy will definitely give your company a higher bar of distinction. The Quality Policy is brief, but powerful. It will set the tone for everyone from top management, employees, suppliers and of course customers. It basically should convey the importance of quality throughout. Let’s imagine if every company including services and professions had a mantra of doing their best to serve the customer.

The “Must Haves”

The brief paragraph must include the company’s commitment to satisfy applicable requirements from legal, to industry and of course what ever requirements customers mandate in orders/contracts. The other must have is that the brief paragraph includes the commitment to continual improvement, but more specifically to the Quality Management System. Otherwise, when drafting the Quality Policy consider what your company is about and the strategic direction. As it should set the framework of meeting those needs. It should be simple because everyone must understand it and how it applies to their responsibilities. Then it should give hint as to what objectives will be set to demonstrate fulfilling to the Quality Policy. Being careful not to have exceeding customers’ expectations because then it will be concluded that there is a goal that is being measured to demonstrate fulfillment. Lastly, it needs to be reviewed on some recurring basis. We suggest to review at the semi-annual management review. Once your management group has accepted it as the final, have it signed, dated and prepared to be beautifully posted throughout the company and especially in conference rooms so that it can be reflected upon when discussing important issues about the company and its customers.

Alignment

The final Quality Policy should be in exact alignment with the company’s mission, vision, values and culture. Ask your self why is this just coming to your awareness? Companies may have policies around compliance, environment, energy, employment, occupational health and safety, quality of work life, innovation, security, privacy and data protection. Why not what we want the customer experience to be? And that expressing to all employees the importance of Quality and how it is of utmost importance.

An example of a Quality Policy:

“ Company Name” is focused on providing outstanding development services through collaboration, valued innovation and performance that leads to:

    • Increased value and competitive advantage to ensure total customer satisfaction.
    • Breakthrough Solutions  of  highest quality
    • Continual improvement of our overall effectiveness
    • Meeting requirements and Deliverables

simple Right?  Now draft your company’s quality policy and call it what you want so that it appeals to everyone. If you wish submit to us through our forms and we will provide feedback.

The post Be a Company of Distinction appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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ACE of clubs is this weeks’ card

Defining your Company’s processes really starts the QMS journey. Yes these could be shown in the organization chart, but what is needed for the processes is depth of information related to the processes.

Set Your Company Apart

You do Set your Company Apart by establishing the Company’s process Maps.  This is the most important activity you can do to outline how your Company’s processes interrelate. These are necessary for your most important processes. In fact, these will be the first request by the auditor to view and get an understanding of the organization’s QMS. The ISO 9001 Standard requires that processes are to be determined for the quality management system and how they apply throughout the organization. Processes needed for the quality management system include processes for management activities, provision of resources, execution of product/service and measurement, analysis and improvement.

The major caveat is that the QMS is really all about management, operations, designing if applicable and any other processes that are needed to ensure fulfillment to the end customer. What this means is that the Standard does not much address financial, accounting or stock holdings. With the exception of providing resources.

A “Process” can be defined as a “set of interrelated or interacting activities, which transforms inputs into outputs”. These activities require allocation of resources such as people and materials.

The typical processes that process maps are developed for are: Sales, Hiring, Training and Development, Operations, Design and Procurement. Next the Process Interrelations diagram would be developed to show the sequence and interaction of all of the Company’s processes.

“Must Haves” for Process Maps
  1. Required Inputs
  2. Expected outputs
  3. Criteria and methods needed to ensure effectiveness (KPIs)
  4. Resources
  5. Responsibilities and authorities
  6. Risks and opportunities
  7. Consideration of internal and external interested parties

Once the Process Maps are established then procedures can be developed with greater detail and these become much easier to draft. The exercise of developing your Company’s Process Maps could reveal gaps, help determine at first glance is the process currently effective, does the company have monitoring and measurements in place to ensure effectiveness.

To be effective, a business process must meet the needs and expectations of the customer.The customer of a business process may be an internal customer (e.g., another department within the organization) or an external customer. Any of these could be either internal or external interested parties.

Take time this week and review your existing processes by updating your Process Maps if they have already been developed and be determined to get started for all of your Company’s key processes.

Request our Process Map

The post Set Your Company Apart appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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ACE of diamonds

Enhance Customers’ Satisfaction

There are 13 references in the ISO 9001: 2015 Standard regarding enhancing Customers’ Satisfaction. Customer focus is #1 of the 7 Quality Management Principles and in fact it is Top Management’s responsibility to demonstrate leadership and commitment to this. I like what Ryan Holiday says in his book “Perennial Seller” when designing or producing a product or service always be thinking of what the customer wants. It’s to be reminded that customers want service and overall value. This is why we are linking the Ace of diamonds to all of the 13 references to enhancing customers’ satisfaction. When you think of diamonds they are charms, stones of great value and they last forever.

Back in the Beginning

Remember when you and your management team started the business and the intent of working with that first customer and how proud and eager your company was to work for them, but to serve their needs. As the services and products were provided, did your team think through what went well and what could be improved upon for the next delivery. Reclaim that sense of wanting to do better and offer more value, but it comes with asking the question what do these look like to the customer. Last week, we started with the Ace of hearts and which is a lot about what is your company about and top of what your company is about is about who your customer is. Then with this what is their top needs.

Measuring Customer Satisfaction

Measuring customer satisfaction is one of 34 references to what is to be monitored. The ISO 9001 Standard added the word perception back in the 2000 version and this is to be monitored. Monitoring meaning to the degree to which their needs and expectations have been filled. The most popular methods to doing this by surveys. We suggest making your surveys simple so that they can be quickly filled out, but with nuggets of feedback. Other examples the Standard has as notes to capture this information is to get customer feedback on delivered products and services, meetings with customers, market-share analysis, compliments, warranty claims and dealer reports. I like what Beth Comstock says in her book “Imagine it Forward” gather feedback from everyone, not only customers, but employees (how do they think the company is serving the customer), suppliers (what could be improved upon), partners, and even stretching to competitors and then even the public. Now with social media this is becoming more readily available. Ultimately, the customer is the judge on if your company has enhanced satisfaction so have this be a direct question on the survey or see from trends of the surveys.

Guarantee to Enhancing Customers’ Satisfaction

Ensure that every employee knows how important this is by addressing in the Quality Policy and as a key measurable objective. The results of measuring has to be reported at the management review and trends should be visible. Opportunities for improvement in regards to enhancing customers’ satisfaction have to determined and selected. This can be done by improving lead times, adding product features based on feedback and by also improving customer service. What ever opportunities are selected be sure to formalize in the Risk and Opportunities program. Think through how robust your company’s efforts are in enhancing customers’ satisfaction. Could you be asking your customers more directly how to service them better?

The best results is when customers refer your company to their trusted contacts.

The post Enhancing Customers’ Satisfaction appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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You and your Management Team hold the cards to growing your business

Whether you are starting a business or have been in business for several years, you and your management team do have it in your hands for total success. Just as MSI has been providing ISO consulting for now 20 years, we keep thinking of ways we can be more innovative and add value to our customers’ businesses each and every day.

Today we are launching ACE Your Business. We will introduce business concepts based on a card from the deck of cards. Today is the ACE of hearts and we correlate this to clarifying your company’s purpose and strategic direction. Why do we connect this to the ACE of hearts? Because without being clear about what your company is about your company will be subject to the whims and fads of the day.

This does not mean that your company should not be innovative, but that make sure proposed ideas are aligned with the company’s purpose before being implemented. This is referenced in the ISO Standards in the paragraph Context of the Organization.  Also in ISO 14001, but with more of an emphasis on how the purpose relates to its ability to achieve outcomes of being more environmentally proactive.

Obviously, it’s important to define what your company is about, but very often what happens is that companies slip into other types of businesses. I’ve have been reflecting on this video the last of couple of weeks that is very inspiring. What is your WHY  Most important is for you and your management team to keep focused and ensure that all of your employees can speak to what the company is about and its mission. Is Quality a priority? The 2nd part of the context is what is the company’s strategic direction. We refer to a chart when we 1st start with a company’s QMS implementation as well as EMS and it is broken down into these 5 choices:

  • Lowest cost provider
  • Broad differentiation (multiple segments of customers)
  • Best cost provider (value and support)
  • Focused low-cost provider
  • Focused differentiation

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Perfect for the beginning of the year to review and reflect for the week on your company’s written purpose and strategic direction and ask several questions: did we get off course? what proves we are on course? do we need to fine-tune the company’s purpose and strategic direction? what are the external and internal issues that could affect your company’s ability to achieve the intended results? Maybe update the company’s SWOTT (extra T for trends). As these are answered, do the needs and expectations of your customers change? Discuss these with your management team and compare how aligned each of you thinks your company is with the purpose and strategic direction. As a result, greater success this year.  Bookmark MSI’s blog as we will post here first and then to our other social media channels after receiving your feedback. Very soon, we are launching membership subscriptions and comprehensive online training offerings. The next card is the ACE of diamonds. We are correlating this to Customer Satisfaction.

The post ACE your Growing Business appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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Customer focus is the first of seven principles in determining what your company’s Quality System should be about. Are the objectives aligned in achieving their exact needs? Being crystal clear on what your type of customers’ expectation are and ensuring that employees are aware of these expectations will contribute to the long-term success of your organization. Having a QMS within the company, increases the confidence of your existing and future customers. Not only do your company’s objectives need to be aligned but also the key processes that can influence meeting their expectations.

The remaining 6 principles are: Engagement of people, Process approach, improvement, Evidence-based decision making and Relationship Management

The post 7 Principles that form the Foundation of Your Company’s Quality appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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MSI has had two customers go through their initial certification and a re certification to the ISO 9001: 2015 Standard in January. Both were very successful.  Less documentation is mandated with both of the ISO 9001 and 14001 Standards.  You get to dictate what processes need the most attention.  Also the Standards help you: Assess the overall context of your organization to define who is affected by your work and what your customers and other interested parties expect from your company. This creates a more systematic approach by understanding these needs to clearly state your objectives and identify new business opportunities.  Putting your customers first, has always been a driving principle.  This makes sure that all of your employees consistently meet customers’ needs and enhance their satisfaction. This can lead to repeat customers, new clients and increased business for your organization.  One of the key subtle changes that we really like is for organizations to determine their Strategic Direction.  This was assumed, but now it is actually referenced in the body of the requirements within the context of the organization, leadership, policy and the management review sections. Certification benefits all types of companies even more so as these Standards were written to be more suitable and especially with intent to increase sustainability of your business.

MSI can assist by meeting with your management group to perform Gap Analysis by reviewing your current documentation and being at your site for a limited amount of time. Guide your team to planning out the major changes throughout the organization.  Provide the necessary training and perform the needed internal audits and even be present at your re-certification audit. Call Today 888-914-9141 or go to our website https://msi-international.com/services/consulting to easily submit your information to obtain guidance for what it will take to update your QMS and /or EMS. 

The post Reap the Benefits of the Updated Quality and Environmental Standards in 2018 appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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You may have heard that following an ISO 9001 implementation guide is good for both your customers and the growth of your business. But, what is the ISO 9001 implementation process, and how is it beneficial?

Planning, Procedure development, Training, performance of internal audits, management review of the overall status of the QMS and finally certification to ISO 9001 is a way for your business to be internationally recognized as meeting certain set of business best management practices. All certified businesses have a series of requirements they agree to implement and continue to follow. These guidelines are the same for every country that recognizes the certification, and ensures the customer a certain degree of quality in both products and services.

  • Why spend the time and money necessary to certify your business? ISO 9001 Certification has many benefits:
  • Increased customer confidence. Knowing that you are following internationally recognized standards will provide your customers confidence in your business or service.
  • Increased sales and return customers. Confident customers lead to greater sales and customer retention.
  • Manage your business more systematically. Following a set of guidelines will help your business run more smoothly.
  • Improved business efficiency. With increased efficiency, you can save valuable time and increase production. Increased production leads to an increase in profits.
  • Reach new customers across the globe who are looking to work with an ISO 9001 certified business. Many customers will choose your business over a non-certified business.
  • An internationally recognized certification makes it easier to measure and compare the progress of your business.
  • A standard set of guidelines ensures that all employees and managers are on the same page and working toward the same goal. Improves training and development of all employees.

The bottom line is that ISO 9001 certification is beneficial for both customers and businesses. Customers benefit from standardized consistent processes, internationally recognized standards. They know a certified business will provide reliable, professional, timely products and services. Businesses benefit from an increase in customer trust, satisfaction, and retention, ultimately leading to an increase in sales. Businesses also benefit from improved productivity, efficiency, and ease of management.

The post The Benefits of ISO 9001 Certification appeared first on ISO Consultants | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | AS 9100 | ISO Internal Auditors | Management Systems International.

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