The latest revisions of several QA systems including ISO 9001 (and ISO 22000 in the next revision) call for a major shift in thinking about Quality.
No longer can a company rely solely on their QA department. No longer can the quality department be seen as the enforcer; always bringing a negative message; always pointing out the problems in someone else’s department; people to avoid, to pay lip service to while we cover up our mistakes. This is great news - but it won’t come easy.
This doesn’t describe us you say? That’s great. There are companies whose leadership understand that quality leads to improved processes, less waste, more profit and repeat customers. They promote quality throughout the organization and walk the “quality starts with me” talk. Unfortunately research shows them to be the exception rather than the rule.
LNS Research (http://www.lnsresearch.com) surveyed mid-sized manufacturers about their quality systems with the following results:
So it would seem many have a ways to go.
How would you characterize the alignment of your company's quality vision with executive strategy?
- Understood throughout the quality department
- Understood throughout the entire organization
- Led and supported by executives
- Followed by the quality department
- Followed throughout the organization
What about the perception of quality from other functions within the corporation?
- Quality ensures compliance
- Quality activity should be performed by the quality department
- Quality activity should be performed by all functions
- Quality is a policing organization
- Quality is a partner to other functions
- Quality is critical to customer satisfaction
- Quality is critical to strategic success
- Quality's primary responsibility is preventing poor quality
- All departments/functions should participate in ensuring good quality
Your answers to the above questions will give you a good indication of the task ahead. An anonymous company-wide survey of the above questions (try using Survey Monkey) will provide management with a baseline from which to start the paradigm shift to a quality culture.
The latest revision to ISO 9001 is trying to address this discrepancy and has been criticised by some for requiring this paradigm shift, but providing precious little guidance on how to get there. The reason is quite simply that no two companies are alike. The “how” will be different for each. It’s important to get our heads around this and, instead of looking at a glass half empty, take this as an opportunity to understand what sets your company apart and how embracing a quality culture will make you more competitive, improve profits, and increase customer loyalties.
This article from LEAN Compliance outlines 4 key changes in direction the standard has taken:
- Risked Based Thinking replacing Reactive Practices
- Process Based Approach replacing Disparate Activities
- Outcomes replacing Check-Box Compliance
- Continuous Improvement replacing Audit-and-Fix cycle
What can you do to help the shift to a quality culture?
Management should be aware by now that they are the key stakeholders for quality. They may not fully appreciate what this means in terms of their participation. One thing for sure – it’s not status quo. A paradigm shift requires leadership from the top. As a quality manager you are a key resource to help them understand what the new standards are trying to achieve, how this will benefit your company and where you stand in complying with the latest changes.
With the above survey results in hand (and perhaps your own gap analysis), your next step should be an internal audit. This will help explain the road ahead and the urgency to take action. If you need help to get you started, download this ISO 9001:2015 Internal Audit Template from our website. It is written around the changes to ISO 9001:2015 with an emphasis on leadership, risk-based thinking and continual improvement.
Internal audits are critical to the maintenance and improvement of your quality management system. They will most likely be a focus of each of your next certification and future surveillance audits. The team at 22000-tools.com provides these 10 Internal Audit Tips for food safety that are applicable/adaptable to most any QMS. There is a clear emphasis on training (that’s what they do), finding the gaps (non-conformities), record-keeping and reporting.
A software system like CIS – Continuous Improvement Software can really bring big benefits. The ability to access all processes, results, NCRs and assign responsibilities and follow-ups both seamlessly and instantly at all levels of the organization is a huge advantage and a great time-saver. It is also a great way to keep management involved and informed. The better you can summarize and present the facts and findings from your internal audit, the easier it will be for management to lead the culture change. Timely, effective internal audits, with thorough corrective action and follow ups, will breakdown traditional silos. Since the results are fact-based, it will become clear which departments have made the shift to a quality culture and which need some further management “participation”.
As an added benefit of CIS, you can also allow certification bodies to track your progress giving them confidence that your internal audit program is effective. This will pay big dividends down the road and replace the hide-and-seek approach that may have been part of audits in the past, with the common goal of improving quality to make your company better – another step in the shift to a quality culture.
Shifting your company’s culture is not an easy mindset to change. Helping management understand the benefits of a total quality culture, providing fact-based evidence of the gap and path forward and using software to provide visibility and accountability will go a long way to ensure you are not left behind in the race.