A LITTLE BIT OF ADVICE BEFORE YOU JUMP!
by Dave Pine
Just about everybody I talk to in the NZ plastics industry agrees that ISO 9001 is an excellent standard, but it will not solve your problems, if it is not implemented well.
We all know the implied value of a QMS. In our case, having accreditation was a requirement driven by a large export customer – if Synapco wanted the supply contract it was a ‘must have’, and once we got our head around the standard and what was required it really wasn’t such a big deal.
Ironically the main emphasis of ISO 9001:2008 is all about customer satisfaction, so we really had the perfect motive to keep momentum up on our implementation programme.
In my experience, the most critical requirements that make a QMS successful is to have full management buy-in, and generate the system in-house.
Paying a consultant or contractor to do all this tedious work seems like the best deal, but once they have told you what you need, supplied it, and charged accordingly, you will be on your own. You will have missed a perfect opportunity to learn everything you need to know about ISO 9001 whilst tailoring a quality system that fits exactly with your company, that you can easily understand and improve, and most importantly that you can fluently defend during those stressful external audits!
There is nothing wrong with using a consultant as an advisor and teacher (in fact I would recommend it), but you must take ownership of the system, and that means doing the work yourself, if you expect to succeed in the long-term. I would liken it to paying some other kid to do your homework back in school – sure you wouldn’t get detention for not doing your homework, but when exam time came around, you’d be likely to fail. Don’t go there!
After the manual has been approved by your ISO consultant, you can implement it. People often assume that generating the required documents is the hard part, but they would be wrong! Implementation will actually be the hardest part because you might find that it involves a quantum shift in your company culture.
Before you embark on this harrowing journey to accreditation carefully consider the following:
- Is ISO9001 a customer driven need?
- Do you intend to do it in-house, with your own people?
- Is management totally committed to the goal, and the financial resources required?
- Do you have access to a good consultant to act as a facilitator, and trainer?
- Are you comfortable with change, and able to execute the hard calls to make it happen?
If you answered yes to all the above, you will achieve the ISO standard just fine. You will end up with a surprisingly minimal ‘business manual’, which will cover every aspect of business operations including Health and Safety, and satisfy all aspects of the standard to even the most pedantic ISO 9001:2008 auditor.