One of our clients in Germany have just been awarded a Certificate for ISO9001:2008 for their liquid roofing products.  The Company near Hamburg have been operating a 9001 based system for a few years but decided that it was time to have this formally assessed and certified following a relocation from a small site near Cadenberge.    We were pleased that they passed without a single non-conformity, the Assessor said that he was very impressed with the new factory and procedures.

ISO 9001 is an International Standard and the Germans see this as an endorsement of their manufacturing management processes.  I was particularly impressed with the attention to detail and planning that went into their application and their  ethos of getting it right first time, every time.
The visit took place during a rail strike and as such the roads were exceptionally busy; the autobahn leading to the Elbe tunnel was completely stationary, it reminded me of the M25!

The Hamburg port is a very busy one and there were miles of trucks going to and from the port. A sure sign that the economy in Germany is flourishing.  The vast majority of incoming ships did seem to be from China, while those going out were to all over the world.

The weather for mid-November was exceptionally mild with one of the days seeing temperatures of 18 Celsius.  I remember last year at this time seeing snow!

The client now has both product and management system certification and these give them easy access to a number of markets.  We are pleased to have been associated with this company and hope to be of help to them for many years to come.

The official blog for independent Management Training
Consultancy, Quality Matters Limited.

We get several calls each week from prospective clients saying that they are getting nowhere with tenders which require applicants to have a certificated quality management system, such as ISO9001. If they don’t have a qualifying system then their tenders are relegated to the state of  “also- rans”.  Inevitably these enquirers want to know how quickly it can be incorporated into their business, and of course, how much it will cost.

I explain that ISO9001 as well as other management standards, needs to be set up and then operated for three months before undergoing formal assessment.  I will often be asked if this time-frame can be reduced.  My answer is always the same; an assessor can only assess what you are doing and not what you planning to do in the future.  This is why the three month operational requirement is so important. 

In addition to this, a business will have to have undertaken an internal audit, carried out by suitably trained auditors, and a management review must have taken place.    If any one of these has not taken place then the assessment will fail.

The costs of preparing for assessment will vary from business to business and whether external help is employed.  In my experience businesses “doing it themselves” often make fundamental errors and are surprised when the assessment fails and results in a re-visit because it does not meet the requirements of the standard.  At the other end of the spectrum is the business that has procedures for everything and very prescriptive procedures at that (an example would be “take screwdriver in right hand, insert the blade into the screw head and turn clockwise” . No consideration has been made for left-handers, cross point screws or left-hand threads.  Making procedures so prescriptive actually sets you up to fail, while insulting the intelligence of operators.  It is often better to state “using an appropriate screwdriver tighten the screw to the correct torque”.

External consultants are often a cost effective method of achieving compliance to ISO9001; not only have they done it all before, you will have a simple workable system and you are guaranteed to pass.
We, at Quality Matters have a large sign in the office K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) which makes us realise that any quality system we produce has to be easy to use by our clients and effective. 

The official blog for independent Management Training
Consultancy, Quality Matters Limited.

Readers of this blog will know that I started to learn to fly gliders last year and all went well until the foul weather hit.  Some of my colleagues at the Gliding Club said that I was a fair weather member, and I can’t argue with that.  I fail to see what enjoyment can be had from being cold wet and covered in mud.

As I am writing this the sun is shining and the temperature is warmer than of late, my mind turns to the sheer joy of gliding.  All I need is the time to enjoy it.  I used to allow a day a week to get to the club but increasingly the emergence from recession has created far more work than I anticipated.

I am reluctant to turn work away so my diary is filling rapidly. 

More and more contracts are placing Quality Management at the heart of any requirements and any bidder not holding a certification to ISO9001 is simply not getting through to the final stages. Often I am contacted by organisations wanting to put a quality management system into place and stating that they must have it  in three weeks, three months or some other impossibly short time scale.

It normally takes 6-8 months to get a system into place and have it ready to assess.  After all any assessment body will want to see that a company is working to the system  and not just planning to work to it.

If it was just a matter of producing a quality manual and saying that it will be implemented, the ISO9001 standard would be valueless.  Fortunately the organisations wanting a good quality system also want the advantages that this brings in terms of efficiency and best practice.

The official blog for independent Management Training
Consultancy, Quality Matters Limited.