How Do We Audit Analysis of Data?

Performance Improvement Solutions for Your Business Needs November 2007
In this issue

  • How Do We Audit Analysis of Data?
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Improve Audit Results With Interviews
  • Manufacturing Census Results
  • Training Courses
  • Greetings!

    Welcome to Sustaining Edge Solutions E- Newsletter

    Our newsletters provide guidance on operational and quality systems ISO 9001, AS9100, ISO/TS 16949, TL 9000, ISO 13485, ISO 14001, and others. This includes process improvement methods Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, and other topics of interest to our readers.

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    How Do We Audit Analysis of Data?

    Analyzing data is an essential activity for improving your system and its processes, as well as, your products and services. Data collection has no purpose if the data isn’t examined, evaluated, analyzed, and converted into proposals for decision making.

    The Guidance on Terminology resource at the ISO web site defines the term “analysis” as the breaking up of something complex into its various simple elements. The reason to separate something into its elements is to determine either their nature (qualitative analysis) or their proportions (quantitative analysis).

    Therefore, we analyze the data to show the quality management system is effective (achieving planned results) and to spot where improvements can be made. It is not enough to just collect the data, we must analyze it and reach some conclusions.

    As a result of the monitoring and measurement activities called for by ISO 9001:2000, Clauses 8.2.3 and 8.2.4, you will have collected a lot of data, which can be analyzed to indicate trends. Any trends you may find could suggest where there are problems in your quality management system and indicate areas where improvements are needed.

    Analysis of data can help to determine the root cause of existing or potential problems, and thereby guide decisions about corrective and preventive actions need for improvement. For an effective evaluation by management of the total performance of an organization, data from all parts of the organization should be integrated and analyzed.

    The overall performance should be presented in a format that is suitable for different levels of the organization. The results of this analysis can be used to determine:

    • Trends; customer satisfaction (and satisfaction of other interested parties)
    • Process effectiveness and efficiency; supplier contribution
    • Success of performance improvement objectives
    • Economics of quality, financial, and market-related performance
    • Performance benchmarking; competitiveness

    So, How do we audit the analysis of data? Well, it can be hard to assess because ISO 9001:2000 doesn’t say what data should be collected or how to analyze the data. The requirement calls for analysis of the “appropriate” data.

    Begin by looking at the results of the data analysis implied by other clauses:

    • Are they evaluating performance against their quality objectives (5.4.1)?
    • Do they know their current level of customer satisfaction (8.2.1)?
    • Are they determining the effectiveness of their key processes (8.2.2)?
    • Are they determining their level of conformity to product requirements (8.2.4)?
    • Do they track the performance of their existing suppliers (7.4.1)?
    • Are they examining trends to identify preventive actions? (8.2.3)

    If any of this information is missing or incomplete, see if the data is being collected and not analyzed, or if the data is just not being gathered. Writing a more specific finding will help the organization focus on the appropriate data and its analysis.

    Effective Communication Skills

    ISO 9001:2000 recognizes the importance of communication by stating in clause 5.5.3 that the appropriate communication processes must be established within the organization. And, in clause 7.2.3, the standard adds that the organization must determine and implement effective arrangements for communicating with customers.

    According to the HR Daily Advisor, a study by Sirota Survey Intelligence shows that the lack of communication is a key reason why initially enthusiastic employees become unmotivated in as little as 6 months after joining their organizations. The survey also shows that a company’s performance at communicating lags far behind any other facet of organizational performance.

    Lack of communication is obviously a serious shortcoming. Without communication, teams can’t work together. And, customers are misunderstood. Leaders may try to lead, but without effective communication, employees may not know how to follow.

    To improve communication, an article in the HR Daily Advisor suggests these strategies:

    Communication begins before conversation. Studies show that 40 percent of what is communicated comes through body language and tone of voice. Both should match the message being delivered. For example, if you say a mistake is not really a big deal, don’t send a different signal by rolling your eyes and wincing.

    Communication starts with a name. Nothing establishes rapport better than acknowledging others by their name. But in today’s transient world, names are easy to forget or confuse. Use a memory technique such as connecting the person’s name with someone famous. If you meet George, mentally connect him to George Washington.

    Start with small talk. Chatting amiably opens the door to more substantial messages, but, monitor the person’s reaction so you don’t go on too long … and never talk about workplace confidences or gossip.

    Tailor conversation to your audience. Talks with a boss, co-worker, or customer require different styles. With bosses, pick the right time and ask honestly for what you need and what they can reasonably deliver. For co-workers, be humble, reliable, and discreet. If customers call with problems, listen, apologize, and offer a solution. And a natural smile, when appropriate, applies in all cases, even on the phone.

    Consider your audience when writing. Develop your message for the intended audience and use the appropriate media for communication. Remember that others beyond the intended recipient, and perhaps into the future, may read your written words. Never write what you wouldn’t want to be openly read.

    Conduct more effective meetings. Nothing in business seems to irritate people more than useless meetings. So, meet only when necessary, with only the required participants, and always with an agenda. End the meeting by summarizing the decisions and actions. Thank everyone for their involvement. Send them off on a positive note.

    Improve Audit Results With Interviews

    When you audit a process, you can look for evidence by observing the process, reviewing its documents, and examining its records. However, an important source of evidence is the information gained through interviews. A quick overview of the interview process is shown below:

    Reasons for interviews

    • Supplements the documented process
    • Determines the actual defined process
    • Principal way of obtaining information
    • Allows auditee to explain work practices
    • Ascertains understanding; commitment

    Interview steps

    • Interview persons at their workplace
    • Conduct interviews during normal hours
    • Put person at ease (lower anxiety level)
    • Explain your purpose (what you want)
    • Ask about their job (question; observe)
    • Verify responses (confirm understanding)
    • Check the facts (use other sources)
    • Record evidence (notes on checklist)
    • Make tentative conclusion (no secrets)
    • Give opportunity to discuss other topics
    • Always thank them for their time and cooperation.

    Closed questions

    • Yes or no answers
    • Use sparingly to establish specific facts
    • “Do you keep a record of this operation?”

    Show me questions

    • Ask to see documents and records
    • You need to see the proof of conformity
    • You need to see the proof of conformity
    • “May I see the records for that operation?”

    Questioning techniques

    • Ask question and then actively listen
    • Rely primarily on open-ended questions
    • Ask for explanations and examples
    • Keep neutral; don’t disagree or interrupt
    • Ask “suppose” or “what if” questions
    • Ask the blunt question about quality
    • Learn from remarks of nearby people

    Want more? Interested in improving your audit system results from boring to brilliant? Click on link and course descriptions Process Based Internal Auditor Courses

    Manufacturing Census Results

    Industry Week recently published the results of their 2007 IW/MPI Census of Manufacturers. Response summaries are shown below for improvement methodologies in use, strategic practices, and focus of market strategies. Please note that multiple responses were allowed.

    Improvement Methodologies in Use

    • Lean Manufacturing = 69.6%
    • Total Quality Management = 34.2%
    • Six Sigma = 29.0%
    • Toyota Production System = 17.0%
    • Theory of Constraints = 14.4%
    • Agile Manufacturing = 6.4%
    • Other = 14.6%
    • None = 11.6%

    Strategic Practices

    • Continuous Improvement = 76.9%
    • Recycling/Reuse Program = 56.1%
    • Quality Certifications (e.g., ISO) = 55.9%
    • Customer Satisfaction Surveys = 51/4%
    • Value Stream Mapping = 45.5%
    • Kaizen Events/Blitzing = 45.5%
    • Kaizen Events/Blitzing = 45.5%
    • Benchmarking = 42.5%
    • Supplier Management Program = 36.1%
    • Total Productive Maintenance = 34.2%

    Focus of Market Strategy

    • High Quality = 73.7%
    • Service and Support = 55.8%
    • Total Value = 41.2%
    • Fast Delivery = 32.0%
    • Customization = 26.6%
    • Innovation = 26.8%
    • Low Cost = 26.8%
    • Product Variety = 13.4%
    • None of These = 0.0%

    For more information about the survey results, see the Industry Week Article.

    Training Courses

    Our October-December course schedule is now posted on our website

    To see the course description, schedule, and on-line registration click on the course title below. Courses are awarded Continuing Education Units.

    Understanding & Implementing ISO9001:2000
    ISO 9001:2000 Process Based Internal Auditor
    Documenting Your Quality Management System

    Understanding & Implementing AS9100B:2004
    AS9100B: 2004 Process Based Internal Auditor
    Documenting Your Quality Management System

    Understanding and Implementing ISO/TS16949:2002
    ISO/TS16949:2002 Process Based Internal Auditor
    Documenting Your Quality Management System

    Understanding and Implementing ISO14001:2004
    ISO14001:2004 Process Based Internal Auditor

    The Five Pillars of a Lean Workplace Organization
    Continuous Process Improvement
    Lean Six Sigma

    All courses can be delivered at your company. Don’t see a course, location, or date that fits your needs?

    Contact Us

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