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12 Ways to Simplify Your QMS, Part 2

In Part 1 we talked about staff engagement in your quest for ongoing improvements in your QMS.  Here are a few others…

6  Write a Quality Policy that employees understand. Though it is not necessary for employees to memorize the Quality Policy, they are required to be aware of what it states and how it applies to their activities. Beware of overly wordy or generic policies that do not meet the stated purpose of a Quality Policy--which is to direct the organization with regard to quality. If you have multi-lingual employees consider translating the policy into their native languages. To ensure comprehension have both the company’s oldest and newest employees review the policy for clarity of purpose.

7  Seek Partnership not Orders.Partnerships with clients are the result of relationships. This includes investing time to understand their company goals and needs (not just their order specifications). How many times a year do you reach out to your customers? How do you thank them for their business? Do you have an annual meeting to discuss what they appreciate and what they’d like to see adjusted? Honest dialog and partnership doesn’t happen on a 5-question survey, but the survey may indicate that dialog is needed.

8  Help your vendors to be successful. Do you ever feel like a mushroom (kept in the dark, thrown some fertilizer, and expected to grow). Is that how you accidentally treat your vendors? Learn about their processes, how long they take, what is a reasonable turnaround time, and what information they need to be successful. Then, set them up to succeed. Complete orders that include all supporting details/specifications make it much easier to get it right first time, every time.

9  Set SMART objectives. To be effective, objectives should be:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-based. For example, if your objective is to “reduce scrap,” the measurable goal is “by 20%” and the time frame could be “by January 2015.” Or, if your objective is “increase employee competence,” the measurable goal could be “cross train ## of staff in 1 new function or send to outside classes;” the time frame might be “by June 2014.” These objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based; clarity means employees can understand and work toward it. Note the goal is not 100% quality/100% on-time. If you always measure how you fall short of perfection, morale often drops and people stop trying. Instead, try realistic goals where the target increases each quarter, to keep staff motivated and encouraged.

10  Measure the What, then act on the Why. The old saying holds true “we measure what we value.” So, if you have a company value, how do you measure it? If you value on-time delivery, measure commit date versus delivery date, and then the causes for delays. If you value low production costs, measure where scrap or rework originates and then act on the cause for the trends. If you value sales try measuring close rate and look at the type to determine the why. If you value improvements, measure the ideas presented and their results and share them with the whole company.

11  Use audits as a mirror (review, reflect, adjust). Remind your internal auditors: an audit is NEVER an employee performance exam. Some of us like mirrors more than others, but if you never check yourself how will you know when something is wrong? Do you want someone else to tell you there’s jam on your face or would you rather catch it first? The purpose of an audit is to evaluate the system’s effectiveness to meet your goals, by observing the consistency of tools, information, and processes. In most cases smaller, individual process audits are easier to act on than a full system audit all at once. Changing the focus of an internal audit changes the energy around it. Instead of only verifying conformity, see the audit’s potential as a re-training tool and suggestion gathering method.

12  If it breathes: train it.  Remember: competence comes through many channels. Ensure your competence records include the On-the-Job-Training. If it measures: calibrate it.  Verification and validation of product is only as good as the tools you use.  Why double check info because you don’t trust your tools?  And don’t forget software needs validation too! If it’s written down: revision control it.  Whether it’s instructions, checklists, or notations on other documents, you should always know where the information came from, when, and who authorized it. If it’s not written down it didn’t happen.  Don’t leave your company’s reputation, improvements, or product validation to word of mouth (remember how information degrades when passed verbally).

In conclusion, regardless of where your QMS documentation came from--you own it. It is an ever-evolving entity that should continue to improve in clarity and effectiveness as your company uses it. Let us know (via the Comment section below) how we can support your quest for continual improvement.


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