Establishing a Mature Quality Culture


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February 26-27, 2018 Phoenix, AZ  

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Our newsletters provide information on business management systems and process improvement methods. These systems, our services include ISO 9001 QMS, AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense, ISO/TS 16949 Automotive, ISO 27001 Information Security, ISO 13485 Medical Devices, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard, and others. Further subjects include methods of performance improvement such as Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, and other topics of interest to our readers.
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ATTENTION ISO 9001 and AS9100 Organizations: Time is running out! The New Year is approaching and you have just a few months left to transition to the new standard. Contact us now for all your gap assessment, onsite training, documentation development and internal audit needs.     

Establishing a Mature Quality Culture

As the new year approaches, it may be time for your organization to do a review of your current quality culture. No matter where your organization is on the journey, breaking down old habits and gaining sustainable long term growth requires hard work, including a long-term change outlook.

According to Eric Stoop, a contributing writer to Quality Progress the following are the most important habits of a mature quality culture. These are valuable points, and we have added a few of our own thoughts and insights to this topic.    


1. Walking the talk on quality
It’s a mistake to think aspirational messages like “quality first” are enough to lead your organization to a quality culture. Change is only possible when leaders are engaged at every level, consistently demonstrating quality principles in action, including and a consistently applied message; beyond for example, “What’s our quality policy?”
In practical terms, this means leaders must:

* Make frequent and highly visible appearances on the plant floor. Understand the department objectives and their outputs.  
* Be curious and engage in nonjudgmental conversations about quality. What does quality mean and how do you demonstrate it?
* Roll up their sleeves to help when necessary. As a prior Quality Manager, I remember sweeping the work center floor during Kaizen events and being asked by a senior manager “Why are you doing that?”
* Avoid behavior that puts cost, output, or schedule above quality. If you say quality is the top priority, but your actions indicate otherwise, your credibility is lost.


2. Energizing your team
Not everyone is going to be excited about quality or having additional work. Yet, in a mature quality culture, leaders find ways to energize the team and get people on board.
Strategies include:

 * Harnessing the competitive spirit: Instead of discussing how quality drives savings, tap into people’s competitive nature. Talk about blowing the competition away, or saving the company from failure in a mission-critical product launch.
Making quality personal: Connect your team’s work to the bigger picture. Is it protecting driver safety? Defending national security? Contributing to our soldiers in the field? The last thing you want is people thinking they just make a widget.
* Sharing expectations and results: Everyone needs to know his or her role in improving quality. Just as important, people need to see the results. Scorecards are a key tool in showing people their work has a measurable impact. Sharing process information with the workforce and allowing the workforce to improve their processes is vital to a sustained quality culture.


3. Focusing on processes
Across all industries, a culture of quality demands a proactive approach aimed at preventing problems rather than putting out fires. That’s difficult when quality people only conduct rear-facing product inspections, which is why mature quality cultures look at upstream processes.
Organizations that continuously review core and high-risk processes before errors lead to defects are proactive. Checking and rechecking areas linked to previous quality, customer and safety issues fosters process standardization and reduces variation. This consistency is a hallmark of a sustained quality culture.


4. Monitoring and measurement

Mature quality cultures invest time and resources into proactive monitoring and measurement. It sounds obvious, yet according to studies only one in three companies track the cost of quality, one of the most important operational metrics.
Beyond just looking at failure costs, mature organizations develop leading indicators that provide early warning of problems. For example, analyzing your process metrics and internal audit data might reveal correlations between:

 * Audit completion rates and defective parts  
* Time to closure for corrective action, time to effective resolution for customer, and significant quality escapes
* Number of annual audits and customer returns.  Process or product errors and internal audit results.  
Your metrics will be unique to your organization, but the goal is the same. When you see leading indicators slipping, you must take action before customers are affected.


5. Encouraging openness
When you look at companies with mature quality cultures, you’ll see they don’t shy away from problems.
They know that finding problems before they leave the plant is far better than having the customer discover them.
How do you create a culture of openness?

 * Staying calm when you discover mistakes: If you fly off the handle, people will hide problems from you.
* Involving management: Having leadership participate in internal audits (and becoming trained internal auditors) shows a commitment to quality at the highest level. That inspires people to open up with their own observations and improvement suggestions.
* Quickly resolving problems: When someone identifies an issue, or a suggestion for improvement you follow up with timely corrective or preventive action. Otherwise, people see no point in sharing.


Companies that treat quality as a cost instead of an investment are penny-wise and pound-foolish. Conversely, mature quality cultures give their teams the time and budget to pursue quality improvement projects. That may mean cutting back the red tape, but it can also lead to huge breakthroughs.
Mature companies reward these successes with recognition and even financial incentives. When employees are taking the initiative to pour their energy into these projects, your quality culture will become the new business as usual.  You will move beyond projects and become a world class organization.  

For more information – According to Harvard Business Reviewless than half of employees say their organization exhibits a culture of quality.  


Q&A ISO 9001:2015 Webinar


Since the ISO 9001:2015 Standard was published, Certification Bodies have conducted a number of webinars on the subject.

One of the largest certification bodies in the world-NQA, recently conducted this webinar.  As a member company of the NQA Associate Consultant Register, we want to share some of this valuable information that was passed on to webinar attendees. 
All references to “exclusions” in ISO 9001:2008 sub-clause 1.2 “Application” have been removed. This is because all of the requirements in ISO 9001:2015 are intended to be applicable to all Organizations and any products and services. 

However, ISO 9001:2015, Annex A.5 recognizes that there may be circumstances where it is impossible for an Organization to conform to a specific requirement – for example, where it does not operate a “required” process.

In the case of claiming Clause 7.3 – Design and Development as an exclusion against the ISO 9001:2008, this can still be claimed as not applicable against the ISO 9001:2015 Standard under Clause 8.3 as long as it is justified accordingly.


The easiest way to provide objective evidence that you have reviewed your particular Interested Parties is to document the discussion within the minutes taken during your formal Management Review meetings.  Having already produced a documented list of typical Interested Parties and their needs and expectations allows a focus for subsequent meetings.
There is nothing within the 2015 Standard which prevents you from just adding a “last reviewed date” to the documented list of Interested Parties which coincides with the date of the last Management Review meeting to confirm this approach.


One suggested way is to create a Risk Register which lists and prioritizes all the identified Risks i.e. Business, Process, Product, Service, Internal, External etc.  Once this Register has been established and internally sanctioned by Top Management, the same Register can be used to review the current status during each subsequent Management Review.


The requirements of the 2015 Standard is a significant enhancement of what was the requirements of the 2008 Standard therefore it is highly recommended that existing Internal Auditors undertake some form of conversion training.  ISO 19011 states that, in terms of determining Auditor competence; Auditors should possess the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the intended results of the audits they are expected to perform.

ISO 9001 and 14001 – 2015 CB Audits

A notice from the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) that an official resolution has been reached regarding audits performed to ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004.

A key aspect of this resolution was the following mandate:

“Effective March 15, 2018, all audits performed to ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 must be performed to the 2015 revision.”


As the three-year transition for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 moves into its final year, IAF (the global association for developing the principles and practices for the conduct of conformity assessment) has passed a resolution that as of 15 March 2018, conformity assessment bodies must conduct all ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 initial, surveillance and recertification audits to the new versions – ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015.

Any organizations who need to move to the new version of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 should contact their conformity assessment body as soon as possible to make arrangements for their audit.

This resolution does not mandate that your transition audit to either standard be performed prior to March 15, 2018, only that the older revision will no longer be available after that date.

Note that failure to achieve certification to the 2015 standard by the deadline means that your certification is no longer valid and this may affect your ability to supply to all markets.


A copy of this resolution can be obtained from the IAF Here.



In the News
ISO 45001 OHS Standard Update  

ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems-Requirements with guidance for use-should be approved early next year and standards such as OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801 will be phased out over the following three years. However, this new standard shouldn’t be treated as the same as the standards that preceded it. Top management should start thinking about the changes ISO 45001 will mean for them.

ISO 45001 introduces a requirement to “maintain knowledge and understanding of its compliance status with legal and other requirements,” which is a new obligation as OHSAS 18001 only requires periodic evaluations. This in itself may be challenging for organizations that only perform this activity periodically. 


Risk Management New Version Ahead    

A new version of ISO 31000 is due to be unveiled early next year. As the threat of risk grows for governments, organizations, and the public alike, how can the new, streamlined standard help make our future more secure?

To meet this wide array of new challenges, organizations, big and small, around the world, have realized the importance of integrating risk management into their business strategy. Accordingly, the general scope of ISO 31000 – the first-born in the family of risk management standards – was not developed for a particular industry group, management system or subject matter field, but rather to provide best-practice structure and guidance to all operations concerned with risk management.

For more information on ISO 31000, see the ISO Website.

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Another new year is upon us. Will it be more of the same for you?

Think big for a change! The really positive thinker can achieve the impossible. It’s called a quantum leap. Give the following some thought…


  • You don’t have to be content with improving things gradually or incrementally. 
  • Focus on the ends, not the means. You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there, only where you want to go.
  • There’s no gain without pain. The road will be bumpy.
  • Be aware of your comfort zones. If you’re comfortable, you’re not stretching yourself.
Ask yourself: What were some of the things I did this year that were non-productive; things that, given another chance, I wouldn’t do? What will I commit to doing differently in 2018?


Happy Holidays!

Walter Tighe and SES Team  
Sustaining Edge Solutions, Inc.
Toll Free 888-572-9642


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