How to detect ISO 9001 cowboys – Five signs that should ring warning bells

Because ISO 9001 is seen as a pre-qualification toolukas_ms_043.jpg in the public sector, businesses are often under pressure to make decisions about who they choose to help them, so that they can qualify to tender for the work.  In those circumstances, it might seem attractive to choose a certification option that looks cheaper and easier to obtain.

Despite it being set out in European law (EC Regulation 765/2008) that certification bodies must use the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to check they are working competently, consistently and impartially, some certification bodies are claiming to hold accreditation with alternatives to UKAS.  UKAS uses the ISO 17021 standard to check that certification bodies are working properly.  In the ISO 17021 standard, impartiality is protected by strictly banning certification bodies from offering management system consultancy and certification.

You only need to search on the internet to reveal non-UKAS accredited certification bodies providing consultancy in combination with certification.  There is the potential of a two-year prison sentence or a large fine being levied upon those organisations suggesting they are able to offer both services.  However, this does not seem to be deterring them.  Because of the lack of action being taken against non-UKAS accredited bodies, people are also starting to question what damage is being done to the status of ISO 9001.  Additionally, a certification body coming in and imposing ISO 9001 upon a business without integrating it into the way they function, and then certifying it themselves, will result in the business receiving very little benefit, and may even lead to their ISO Certificate not being accepted by local government.

Five signs that should ring warning bells:

  1. Make sure that the certification body does not provide both consultancy and certification
  2. Ask yourself, does the certification seem very cheap and particularly easy to obtain?
  3. Does the certificate have a non-UKAS logo?
  4. Is the certification body listed on the UKAS website with the appropriate ISO Standards and scope of activities against it? If not, then it is not UKAS verified.
  5. Does the certification body seek to commit you to a long period of maintenance of your system once installed and certified e.g. for ten years? This is not necessary.

Based upon an article in Quality World by Rob Fenn, June 2017 p22 – 24

If you would like assistance to make the transition to the new ISO 9001:2015 and/or the new ISO 14001:2015 Standard in your business, or to implement these new Standards from scratch, why not talk to us about your needs?

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Strategic Planning the ISO Way

 

The new ISO 9001:2015 Standard is founded upon an Annex (SL) which sets forth a strategic management framework.  This framework allows more freedom to organisations, than that previously given, to formulate their quality management systems.

What this means in practice, is that organisations need to formalise an overview of the business environment in which they are operating, seek out the risks, try to find the opportunities in that environment, and develop a plan which uses available (or increased) resources.

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The determination of risks and opportunities should not be delegated to those below senior management, or to those who only have knowledge of one area of the business.  This would completely miss the intention of ISO 9001:2015, which is to ensure the involvement of top leaders in the quality process.  A committed leader supported by a senior management team should formulate the strategic plan.  Only they can really set worthwhile goals, having analysed the high-level issues involved.  The quality management system can then be shaped to fulfil the organisation’s business needs.  Obviously, the high-level strategies will also need to be interpreted as operational activities involving all interested parties as the process unfolds.

Based upon an article in Quality World by Derrick Choong, May 2017 p.35

If you would like assistance to make the transition to the new ISO 9001:2015 and/or the new ISO 14001:2015 Standard in your business, or to implement these new Standards from scratch, why not talk to us about your needs?

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Portsmouth International Port, ISO 9001:2015 and organisational context

 

Portsmouth_International_Port.jpgIn an interview in Quality World, managers at Portsmouth International Port were asked about their experience of the transition from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015. It turns out that the most challenging (and valuable) aspect for them was working on the context of the organisation; identifying their interested parties, their internal and external influences and how they managed risk.


The most difficult part was looking at the things that they had little or no control over, such as the external influences, for example, the politics around being a municipal port and part of the local authority, and impacts from other government departments, such as the Home Office.


They carried out a PESTLE analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technical, Legal and Environmental influences on their organisation). One of the major influences they identified was Brexit, an external influence over which they have no direct control. Despite this, they felt they had to manage this influence in some way. To do so, they decided to build up discussions with people who had specialist knowledge in this area, such as tax experts, and various shipping organisations. Nobody knows for sure what will happen, but they felt it important to keep tabs on the situation as best they can.


In addition, they have used several ways to involve stakeholders in the transition process; regular meetings with the Port Users Group and the Port Users Safety Group assist in this. They also hold daily meetings between their operations department, the ferry companies and statutory bodies.

Based on an article in Quality World by Natasha Cowan, April 2017, pp26 – 30

If you would like assistance to make the transition to the new ISO 9001:2015 and/or the new ISO 14001:2015 Standard in your business, why not talk to us about your needs?

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Four rules to writing a knock-out argument

We all face times when putting forward a cogent argument is vital to getting our message across aman_sitting_at_desk_7.jpgnd persuading those around us to move in a particular direction. Below are some simple rules that might stand you in good stead when you are trying to engage your colleagues in a specific piece of work.

Rule 1
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader, what would motivate them to read on? The first few lines are often the most important – you might have a wonderful argument to make, but if you cannot engage someone’s attention pretty quickly, they will not continue to read. You may have lots of accurate data, but if it is not presented in a readable manner, your argument is lost before it’s begun. You need to think like a journalist rather than an academic! You may need to put the conclusion first. Explain why they should read the paper or email, then go on to explain the how, leaving all that wonderful data to sit at the end.

Rule 2
Keep your language clear and simple. This probably sounds obvious, but keeping the jargon at bay, and using the simple option instead of the flowery one, can make your message a lot easier to read. You are not trying to pass an English exam, rather put across a succinct argument.


Rule 3
Avoid using what is called “the passive voice”. This is when the object of the sentence becomes the subject. For example, an action such as “Our troops defeated the enemy” gets turned around to become “The enemy was defeated by our troops”. Passives tend to make the piece sound either wistful or lecturing, neither of which are very useful in this instance. The use of the passive also makes the writer seem outside of the action, offering advice from the sidelines, rather than being part of the solution.

Rule 4
Keep things short. Sharpen the message as much as possible, because if it is concise it is likely to be more interesting and involving. It can take time to refine your argument, and this may not always be practical, however, if the message is important enough it can be worth the effort.

Try to keep to these four rules and you should find that the response to your written word will be markedly more positive.

Based on an article in Quality World by Neil Mellor, March 2017, pp32-33

If you would like to implement, or upgrade to, the new ISO 9001:2015 and/or the new ISO 14001:2015 Standard in your business, why not talk to us about your needs?

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Variation is normal -  an ISO 9001 business management system needs to accommodate it

If we try to control every variable in a process, we could be trying to create something that no-one is going to be able to reproduce every single time.  Perhaps a better approach would be to identify which variations are significant, and then establish means to manage these variations.  

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In other words, we should expect mistakes to happen.  What we need to do is work out which mistakes are particularly important to the whole process, and put in place mechanisms to pick up on them and correct them when they happen.

Let's not sweat the small stuff, as they say!  If tolerances are wide, why worry?  If they are critical, focus on them, and make provision for the times when they are outside what is required.

Based on an article in Quality World, November 2016, p10 

If you are using ISO 9001 as a management system and would like help with maintaining it, or would like to implement the new ISO 9001:2015 or ISO 14001:2015 Standard in your business, why not talk to us about your requirements?

 

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