80:20 Management Consulting

80:20 Management Consulting
part of the 80:20 Group

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Demistfying ISO9001 Part 2

As a follow up to an earlier post about simplifying the terminology of ISO9001, I decided to pick another section that seems to give first timers a bit of grief and break it down into simpler parts.

Section 8.2.4 of the standard covers Monitoring and Measurement of Product. This is another section of the standard that can be quite difficult to apply to non-manufacturing industries.

Broken down into its individual parts though it is a bit more management.

Part 1:

"The organization shall monitor and measure the characteristics of the product to verify that product
requirements have been met."

Ok, so what this is asking you to do is determine what your customers require of your product/service, and how to prove that the requirements have been met. This is still quite a "manufacturing" style requirement but it can still be applied to other business types.

Lets take a construction company for example. By setting check points throughout the construction process, you can accurately determine your adherence to customer requirements without waiting till the end and having to make changes.

Part 2:

The second part of this requirement basically echoes what I said in part 1.

"This shall be carried out at appropriate stages of the product realization process in accordance with the planned arrangements (see 7.1). Evidence of conformity with the acceptance criteria shall be maintained."

What this is asking is that throughout your production/service delivery process, that you set checkpoints (where you see fit) throughout the process to ensure that you are still meeting requirements and keep evidence of it.

So in the case of the construction company, keeping evidence of each verification stage (ie. customer
sign off on decisions) would meet this requirement.

Part 3:

The last part is pretty straightforward

"Records shall indicate the person(s) authorizing release of product for delivery to the customer (see 4.2.4). The release of product and delivery of service to the customer shall not proceed until the planned arrangements
(see 7.1) have been satisfactorily completed, unless otherwise approved by a relevant authority and, whereapplicable, by the customer."

This basically just says whoever is responsible for approving your finished product needs to keep records of approval that all requirements have been met before handing it over to the customer.

Hopefully this makes this section a bit more digestible.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Do you want to be a Consultant?

Becoming your own boss and starting a consulting business may sound like the perfect career change for a lot of Quality, Safety and Environmental experts. Below are a few of the things I would ask of yourself before you take the plunge.

How comfortable are you with unstable work conditions? 

Being a consultant for me is like starting at a new job on a weekly (sometimes daily basis). You go through the interview process (quoting the work and talking about your skills), winning the job, your first day on the job (meeting all of the staff, learning how everything works), understanding the office politics and then in some cases finishing up (if it's just a one off job) all in the space of a few days. If you are a shy person or uncomfortable with having to meet new people all the time, consulting is not the direction for you.

Could you survive without any income for 12 months?

In an ideal world you would hit the ground running and start earning immediately. The reality is that even if you have clients already lined up, it may take anywhere up to 3 months (or more) before you start to see any real form of cash flow. You may also face weeks at a time where things are quiet and you aren't invoicing enough to pay yourself a steady income. I've had projects that have taken 3 months of my time and then payment may get dragged out for another 3 months. That could mean almost 6 months with no regular income while you wait for the big payout at the end. Unless you have a decent chunk of savings or a financier with deep pockets, it may not be the best idea.

Are you a self motivator?

Consulting work can sometimes be so mind numbingly boring that procrastination seems like the only way of maintaining your sanity. Unfortunately unless you can push yourself to put your head down and get it done you are going to end up with a huge pile of work to do and a stress factor of 9000.

Are all of your eggs in one basket?

I have met quite a few people over the years who have gone out on their own because they have one or two large clients lined up that makes the move seem worthwhile. The problem with this is that work always dries up eventually and companies change. That golden client your entire business rests on might decide to employee an internal resource or scale down their spending on external consultants or they might just decide you're not the right match for what they are looking for. If you lose that income stream, do you have other work you can fall back on while you hunt for new projects?

These are just some of the things I have dealt with over the last 5 years. It is a very rewarding job with a lot of freedom, but it has to be the right fit for you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Three Things that Most Businesses Suck At

There are three specific ISO9001 requirements that I find most businesses I visit are terrible at.

These are:

- Document Control
- Corrective & Preventative Action; and
- Management Review

I'm not entirely sure why it is, but I think its because it takes a real drive from the top to make it work. Funnily enough the businesses that do it well are generally the ones where the business owner or General Manager has taken a really active role in developing and implementing the Management System.

Implementing Document Controls is an absolute pain when starting to develop a new Management System. Everyone loves to keep a copy of forms in their own personal folder so they don't have to keep looking for them when they're needed. People also love creating their own forms to suit their needs without going through any approval process. This is where the drive from senior management is required. If the boss is strict on document control then everyone tends to fall in line.

Corrective and Preventative Action is also a requirement that tends to get overlooked until right before an audit or until a major issue has occurred. By rewarding identification of potential and actual issues rather than punishing non-conformance it changes the culture of corrective and preventative action. People will be much more inclined to report issues if they won't get in trouble for it and there is an incentive to do so.

Lastly Management Review is probably the most poorly handled ISO9001 requirement that I see on a regular basis. It is rare to see a properly minuted, detailed and beneficial Quality Management Review that covers all of the agenda input items required by ISO9001. The majority I see are done purely to meet auditor requirements and provide no real benefit to the business whatsoever. This is one requirement that really needs a strong leader to ensure it gets done and gets done well.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Home Health & Safety. Christmas Tree Fires

Someone just sent me this video which I thought I might as well post it here seeing as Christmas decorations will start going up in homes around Australia tomorrow.

It's amazing how quickly the Christmas tree on the left (unwatered) goes up in flames versus the one on the right (regularly watered).

If you're going to have a real Christmas tree, ensure that

  • You only have lights on when you are around (definitely turn them off before bed)
  • You have a fire extinguisher readily available in your house.
  • You check your lights for cable damage (Some can be ooooold and may be frayed); and
  • You regularly water your tree to make it last longer and less flammable

Demistifying ISO9001 part 1

the ISO9001 standard (whilst good for its purpose) is a boring document that can be quite difficult to comprehend for a first timer. There are certain sections of the standard that can seem really difficult to apply to some industries if you haven't been through the process before.

For example lets look at Product & Service Provision.

7.5.3 Identification and traceability
Where appropriate, the organization shall identify the product by suitable means throughout product realization.
The organization shall identify the product status with respect to monitoring and measurement requirements throughout product realization.
Where traceability is a requirement, the organization shall control the unique identification of the product and maintain records (see 4.2.4).

For a company in a service industry, this requirement can be as confusing as hell.

Sometimes it's a matter of tweaking the terminology a bit and asking the question in a different way.

If you were an accountant for example your product is your time, advice, reports etc. So in this case, what kind of identification methods do you use to differentiate clients? Do you have a numbering system for reports? How do you track your time spent with a client for invoicing.

The next paragraph is a bit trickier. How do you identify the status of the work you're carrying out throughout the process? Using the accountant example again, how would you identify work in progress versus work completed? Perhaps you save all work in progress in a separate folder and mark it as draft?

The final paragraph may apply to you, it may not. What you need to ask yourself is "Does the product/service I'm providing need to be tracked or identified in some way. If it does, you need to keep records of it as per your records control procedure. Using the accounting example again, the product might be a tax return. You might save them with an individual file name or reference number and this would be listed somewhere (ie. records control register)

I hope this helps make at least one requirement of the standard easier to apply.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Another one for the QA "WTF" files

I posted a blog the other day about companies claiming quality without proving it.

Today's post is a bit different but still along the same lines.

I purchased some new drill bits the other day and when I turned over the packet to open them up I read this on the back.

There are two issues here. First one being you're not "accredited to ISO" you are certified. More importantly, ISO 9002 hasn't existed for over 12 years!!! Seriously, who is handling your document control???

I quick check of their website shows they are certified to ISO9001, but there is definitely a gap in the system somewhere.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

HHS, Home Health & Safety, OH&S's slightly dodgy sibling

I spend a lot of time working with companies to help improve their Health and Safety performance, however sometimes I forget to apply those same principles when I get home, and naturally there are consequences.

As some of you may know I am a rev head and enjoy restoring old motorcycles and tinkering with cars.

Generally this kind of work is conducted with a beer in hand, my best pair of safety thongs (flip flops for the overseas readers) and a high visibility singlet (high visibility from the sunburn radiating off my shoulders).

Unfortunately this also greatly increases my potential for injury as evidenced below.

Starting with the most recent, removing the chain from the motorbike, chain rotated and munched my finger through the nail in the sprocket. Should have put the bike in gear first before working on the chain. Can't see it very well in the picture but the tooth of the sprocket went right through my nail.

This one was sheer stupidity, put a soldering iron on the ground for two seconds, stood up to grab something (whilst wearing thongs) turned around and placed my toe squarely on the iron. The iron got stuck to the skin. Smelled reaaaallly bad

Here I slipped whilst trying to loosen a bolt and punched a sharp seat pan on the way through. This did not put me in a very good mood.

And possibly the stupidest of the lot was when I was using a wire brush drill bit to remove paint from a fuel tank. I wasn't concentrating and was wearing a fairly loose t-shirt. I slipped and the drill bit caught in the shirt and worked it's way up my torso munching me here and there on the way. I was lucky I didn't lose a damn nipple (the tear at the top of the shirt is where it finally stopped).

although none of these were particularly life threatening (mostly just involved a lot of swearing, band aids and stern looks from Mrs Taylor), it just goes to show that taking a relaxed view of safety at work or at home can have serious consequences.

In all of these instances, I would have avoided injury if I stopped, thought about what I was doing and planned a bit more carefully before rushing in.

I bet I'm not the only one that feels invincible in my own home sometimes. In most cases, improving safety is a matter of changing attitudes towards safety.