Improving Your Management System Profitability

Performance Improvement Solutions for Your Business Needs May 2009
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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.

If you have any questions about the articles appearing in this issue, or you want to suggest topics for future issues, please let us know.

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Improving Your Management System Profitability
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The updated introduction and support package for ISO 9001 is available online for free download. If you downloaded and used the version that was issued for ISO 9001:2000 you should acquire these new documents. This new support package has been updated to serve as companions to ISO 9001:2008.

The changes are meaningful and have resulted in a much improved and comprehensive package. While the introduction and support package documents are official ISO TC 176 documents, they are much less formal and easier to update than guidance standards or technical reports.

The following is a brief description of each module package:

  1. “Implementation Guidance for ISO 9001:2008” gives background on this new edition of ISO 9001, provides implementation guidance for users and answers frequently asked questions.
  2. “Guidance on ISO 9001:2008 Sub-clause 1.2 Application” explains and gives general guidance related to exclusions that may be claimed by ISO 9001:2008 users. There is also an annex that gives examples of typical situations.
  3. “Guidance on the Documentation Requirements of ISO 9001:2008” explains the documentation requirements and discusses development of a documented statements of quality policy and objectives, a quality manual, documented procedures and other documentation that may be needed.
  4. “Guidance on the Terminology used in ISO 9001 and ISO 9004” gives common dictionary definitions of common words used in these standards
  5. “Guidance on the Concept and Use of the Process Approach” for management systems provides an understanding of the concepts, intent and application of the process approach to the ISO 9000 family of QMS standards.
  6. “Guidance on Outsourced Processes” which has been a source of conversation. ISO 9001:2008 has added two new notes to describe an outsourced processes. These notes help users better understand what the standard means by outsourced processes and that the organization is required to control.

If you did use the earlier documents, you will find it easier with these new ones. The new module on terminology is much more comprehensive in its listing of general terms that are used in ISO 9001:2008.

Download the free updated introduction and support package

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Study: Where is Quality During the Recession?
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Despite the worldwide economic downturn, many companies continue to invest in quality and innovation – even doubling certain quality efforts – to keep up with or stay ahead of the competition.

In addition, some quality professionals say they are seeing more opportunities to become involved in business development activates, according to the latest ASQ Quarterly Quality Report, “How Economic Recession is Affecting Quality Activities.”

Other companies, however, are trying to survive the slumping economy by cutting workers, training and budgets for quality activities. Many companies have backed away from quality initiatives that organizations typically use to cut costs, said those who took the survey.

“The really good news, if there is a silver lining in these times, is that while some companies are shrinking back into their shells, other organizations are moving decidedly in a forward-looking direction and keeping quality practices at the top of the list, “said Ken Case, ASQ past president and professor emeritus at Oklahoma State University.

The report recommends a middle ground for organizations trying to balance efficiency with innovation and growth. Those who took the survey, mostly manufacturing companies, said waste reduction and increased efficiency are hot topics at their companies as well as ways to generate inspiration and new ideas.

Click here to view the full ASO quality report.

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Ten Step Method To Continuous Improvement
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Continual improvement is a type of change that is focused on increasing the effectiveness and/or efficiency of an organization to fulfill its policies and objectives. It is not limited to quality initiatives. Improvement in business strategy, business results, and customer, employee, and supplier business relationships can be subject to continual improvement. Putting it simply, it means getting better all the time.

What continual improvement is not. Improvement is not about using a set of tools and techniques. Improvement is not going through the motions of organizing improvement teams and training people. Improvement is a result, so it can only be claimed after there has been a beneficial change in an organization’s performance.

Gradual, incremental or breakthrough. Continuous improvement is gradual never-ending change, whereas continual improvement is incremental change. Types of improvements are call Kaizen,, Lean and Six Sigma improvement is common place. Breakthroughs are improvements, but in one giant leap – a step change. However, the method of achievement is the same, but breakthroughs tend to arise out of chance discoveries and could take years before being made.

When should continual improvement be started? All managerial activity is directed either at control or at improvement. Managers are either devoting their efforts at maintaining performance, preventing change, or creating change, breakthrough, or improvement. If businesses stand still, they will lose their competitive edge, so improvements must be made to keep pace and stay in business. Every system, program, or project should provide for an improvement cycle. Therefore, when an objective has been achieved, work should commence on identifying what is meeting the requirements of the process, and what better ways of doing it.

There is no improvement without measurement. An organization must establish current performance before embarking on any improvement. If it does not, it will have no baseline from which to determine efforts.

There are ten steps to undertaking continual improvement:

  1. Determine current performance.
  2. Establish a need to improve.
  3. Obtain commitment and define the improvement objective.
  4. Organize the diagnostic resources.
  5. Carry out research and analysis to discover the cause of current performance.
  6. Define and test solutions that will accomplish the improvement objective.
  7. Produce improvement plans which specify how and by whom the changes will be implemented.
  8. Identify and overcome any resistance to the change.
  9. Implement the change.
  10. Put in place controls to hold new levels of performance, and repeat step one.

Continual improvement is far more than a set of techniques. For many organizations, it involves a radical change in attitudes. The defense of the status quo, and resistance to innovation, cannot be treated as normal management behavior. A fear of reprisals for reporting problems has to be replaced by congratulating people for identifying an opportunity to improve. Hoarding of good ideas within departmental walls must be a thing of the past as people share their knowledge and experience in the search for greater collective success.

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Preventing theft of electronic data with ISO/IEC standard
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Security is perhaps one of the greatest concerns of the millions of users that routinely exchange data over the Web or store information in computers which may be accessed by unauthorized parties.

To protect the confidentiality and integrity of data being transferred or stored, ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have jointly developed a new standard which defines authenticated encryption mechanisms that provide an optimum level of security.

“With the rise of electronic transactions involving sensitive information, such as the transfer of bank data or personal identity information, this standard responds to a growing need for increasingly demanding security requirements.” says Prof. Chris Mitchell, Project Editor of the new ISO/IEC standard.

The standard, ISO/IEC 19772, Information technology – Security techniques – Authenticated encryption, specifies six encryption methods (based on a block cipher algorithm) that can be used to ensure:

  • Data confidentiality (protecting against unauthorized disclosure of data)
  • Data integrity (enabling recipients to verify that the data has not been modified)
  • Data origin authentication (helping recipients to verify the identity of the data).

The standard takes the specific security needs of different operations into account. For instance, while encryption may be used to prevent eavesdropping when data is being exchanged, Message Authentication Codes (MACs) or digital signatures are ideal for protecting data from being modified. Some situations may require a combination of operations, but not all combinations will provide the same security guarantees.

Prof. Mitchell explains, “It has recently become widely recognized that using encryption on its own (or even combining encryption and MACs in non-optimal ways) can be dangerously weak, as shown by recently demonstrated practical attacks on implementations of widely used security protocols such as IPsec and SSH. There are thus excellent reasons to believe that it is better to rely on a single comprehensive data protection method.”

The mechanisms specified in the standard have been designed to maximize the level of security and provide efficient processing of data for optimum results. The standard includes mechanisms that can be applied to ensure the integrity of data even when not encrypted (e.g. to prevent modifications of e-mail addresses, sequence numbers, etc.).

“ISO/IEC 19772 will give confidence to users that their data is safe. Not only will it be useful for protecting information, but also for furthering the development of online transactions and e- businesses, and other applications involving sensitive data,” concludes Prof. Mitchell.

Purchase the standard through the ISO store

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8 Do’s and Don’ts to Job Descriptions
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Management Systems require top management to ensure responsibilities and authorities are defined and communicated within the organization. Properly written job descriptions not only convey responsibilities, they also help with hiring, retention, and legal compliance.

According to the HR Daily Advisor, the do’s and don’ts for worthwhile job descriptions that will really support HR operations include:

  1. DO give specifics. For example, rather than stating that a maintenance worker “keeps up equipment,” it is better to spell out the position’s requirements, which might include performing routine maintenance on assembly machines, including adjusting settings; cleaning and lubricating shafts, gears, and bearings; and dismantling and replacing defective parts, etc.
  2. DO use accurate adjectives. Include adjectives that describe the pace of work (“deadline-driven,” “fast-paced”) or the work environment (“enclosed area,” “noisy setting”), but avoid flowery and overly long descriptions (“cozy but comfortable work environment that encourages creativity”).
  3. DON’T use subjective terms. Avoid using words that are subject to differing interpretations. Instead of saying you seek a certain attitude, cooperation, or initiative, describe expected outputs, different constituencies with whom this position interacts, and the nature of those relationships (such as “reports to,” “provides support to,” “supervises”).
  4. DON’T rely on abbreviations or jargon. A job description should be clear to applicants and employees. Abbreviations and jargon that are specific to your organization, and not to your industry, should be avoided or explained.
  5. DON’T use words that raise a question of discrimination. Avoid language that would be questionable in a job listing. For example, don’t use words such as “youthful” or “able-bodied.”
  6. DON’T list unreasonable expectations. Most managers hope their employees will exceed their expectations and take on tasks and responsibilities beyond what’s required in the position, but avoid the temptation to include standards that don’t currently apply to this job.
  7. DON’T list excessive qualifications or experience. If you include more than what is needed to competently perform the position, you will end up with bored, overqualified workers and you will limit your ability to place otherwise qualified candidates in the position.
  8. DON’T include anything derogatory or specific about a person who previously held the position. Job descriptions are not the place to air grievances or disappointments about individuals who previously held the position. You can use past experiences to help ensure all necessary information is included, but make sure you describe only the job.

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

Understanding & Implementing ISO9001:2008
ISO 9001:2008 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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