80:20 Management Consulting

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Something a bit different

Sorry it has been a loooooooong time since my last post. We have been flat out for the last 4 months which is great leading up to the Christmas Break.

As something a bit different this was a project done by one of my clients for the Royal Children's Hospital.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Risk Assessments are not a one person job

I've been working with quite a large business over the last few weeks and during that time there have been a number of workshops undertaken. One of todays workshops was focused on risk and I have to say it produced a great result.

If you are performing any form of risk assessment (safety, environmental, commercial, technical etc) it pays to do it with a group of people all brain storming and making suggestions as opposed to one OH&S, Environmental, Financial Manager sitting at their desk nutting it out.

I have performed both kinds of risk assessment and it's easy to see which one is more beneficial.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Timeframe for building a Management System

One of the first questions I am always asked by potential clients is "How long will this take?" It is a difficult question to answer because if I say too short, I run the risk of not giving myself enough time to build the system and having to work for free for part of it. Or I can say too long making my price unrealistic.

Some people also expect you to be able to build a system within 3 days and pass an audit no problem.  Funnily enough these are also the same people that don't want to have any involvement in it and generally cause headaches. I tend to turn down those jobs.

In order to build an effective Management System I would suggest at a bare minimum without the assistance of a consultant 1-2 days a week for 2-3 months. This would take into account documenting your system, implementation, auditing, corrective actions and review. With the assistance of a consultant you can shorten this as the learning curve is not as steep. This is assuming you are a small to medium business with around 5-25 employees. 

The main variable however is how complex your business is. For example you may be a large business with a lot of people, however your processes are very simple as opposed to a small business with complex processes. As an example a cleaning business with 250 employees would have less complicated systems than a microchip manufacturer employing 10 people. 

These days I err on the side of caution. I would rather say more time than I think it needed and come in under budget than get halfway through and realise there is no way I will be able to finish the system with the amount of time I've given myself. I've done both and I know which one feels better. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reduction of petrol consumption as an Environmental Objective

If you are building a new Environmental Management System and one of your high impacts is the use of vehicles, I highly recommend against using the reduction of petrol consumption as an environmental objective.

It's a pain in the butt to measure and it can also be majorly effected by the growth of your business. 

As an example if you run a small manufacturing business and do a lot of deliveries, you may have vehicle use as one of your aspects. You could set reduction of petrol consumption as an objective but if you have a high growth period and need to do more deliveries you aren't going to meet those objectives.

you're better off setting reduction of unecessary travel as an objective which will give you the same result but allow for growth.

The way I have structured this with one of my clients is by printing the most efficient route to each of their major clients using the www.whereis.com website. This tells you exactly how far it is from the office to the client. The driver then writes down their start and end km's on their delivery docket and it can be matched to how far they should have travelled. Set the objective that no trips should exceed 2km's from the designated route.

This way you can be sure there is no unecessary travel and keep fuel consumption to essential travel only.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1000 views

This blog finally hit 1000 views this morning. Thanks everyone for reading and I hope the articles have helped in some way.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Cost of Quality

There has been a debate on Linkedin and a couple of other forums raging for some time now. The topic being that there is no cost to quality.

The argument for this statement is that if managed properly, any costs associated with quality will be offset by improvements in efficiency, product and profit. The article below has some really good information about measuring the cost of quality.

http://www.platinumregistration.com/kbfiles/qp0906cokins.pdf

In a perfect world I agree with the statement. If you put effective processes in place that allow you to identify and correct issues early, you will save yourself A LOT of time and money. Finding an issue early in the process chain is a lot cheaper to fix than having it discovered by the customer at the end of the process.

The only time quality isn't cost effective is when it isn't managed properly. If your systems are weak and your Quality Manager is lazy you might as well scrap it all together. Having a system in place and not performing regular audits, identifying non-conformances and continually improving the system is a waste of time and although it may help you win a tender, it won't help you keep the business in the long run.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Accreditation Vs Certification

It's a quiet Monday and I don't have much to blog about but I thought I would comment on something that I find irritating, people using the word Accreditation in place of Certification (especially when consultants and auditors say it that should know better).

Businesses are Certified to ISO Standards, third party certification bodies are accredited.

For example if your business is being audited then you are going for ISO certification and are being audited by an accredited third party, not the other way around. 

Anyway thats the end of my rant for the morning. Remember you are ISO certified not accredited.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Certification is Important in a Recession

If you read the news every day it's doom and gloom and we will all be poor and living on the streets in no time. Unfortunately it's usually the media that starts the fear in consumers and creates the doom and gloom it has predicted.

For many businesses work may start to dwindle as people tighten their belts which means your competitors will be searching for more and more ways to gain the upper hand. The bottom line is if you tender for work and your competitor submits the same price and is offering the same level of service, but has a certified Management System, most of the time you will lose.

From the customer point of view the certified business is a lower risk. You know they have to meet strict guidelines in terms of measuring customer satisfaction, have to regularly audit their processes and in the case of safety and environmental regularly review compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Would you pick the company that just says they do it or has to regularly prove they do it?

Government work is also one of the key areas that remains fairly stable during a downturn. Lucrative government tenders now always include QA, Safety and Environmental Certification in their tender review. With so many companies bidding for the work it pays to get all the points you can.

What Honda of San Marcos Should Do Now

As you may have learnt by my last two posts I am a bit of a car person. My last post showed how nissan responded positively to negative customer feedback.

Today's post is about how a dealer from another automaker should use QA principles to help deal with an issue that has been a PR nightmare.

Basically Honda of San Marcos stuffed up on a number of levels. They didn't have strong processes in place for managing ebay auctions and they didn't have strict policies in place for who is allowed to deal with the media. The end result is that it cost them the potential profit from the sale of the vehicle and also cost future sales because of the way it was initially handled.


From a QA point of view if I was the owner of the dealership I would be in Corrective Action mode ASAP. Short term solution would be to start reversing the negative PR. Make a statement via social media outlining how you intend to fix the issue and make all parties happy. Long term solution, put strict processes in place for all sales that cover what to do in terms of setting reserve prices etc. An external communication policy wouldn't go astray either.


Congrats to Xou Vang though for scoring an amazing ride and kudos to my fellow MY350z forum members (Marques in particular) for showing that the internet can be used for good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nissan's Response to Top Gear Issues

Nissan's response to Top Gear's issues with their electric vehicles is the perfect example of a corrective action done well.


Nissan turned the problem into positive publicity by addressing the problem and implementing a short term solution. How they will manage the problem long term remains to be seen.

10 good things ISO standards do for Small-Medium Enterprises

A good article from the International Stanards Organisation showing how ISO standards can help small to medium businesses.


Have a great weekend everyone

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Overseas Readers

A quick review of this blog's stats shows that the majority of readers come from either the USA or from France. I'd be interested to know what the QA, Safety and Environmental cutlture is like in businesses abroad.

I know in Australia to be considered for tenders with the Australian Government, being ISO certified is a big plus but I don't know about other countries.

Feel free to respond in the comments section or drop me an email.

Adrian

Subcontractor Management

Using Subcontractors to provide services under your company's name provides Quality, Safety & Environmental risks. 

The best way to try and reduce the risk is through a strong evaluation and induction process. Think of Subcontractors as your employees so perform a thorough recruitment process looking at:

  • References
  • Licenses
  • Certifications
  • Training Records
It is also a good idea to look at their processes they follow to see if they are consistent with your own.

If everything checks out and all criteria are met you will need to induct them into your systems. Subcontractors should always be aware of your Quality, Safety and Environmental processes as they may differ from their own business's.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Measuring Customer Satisfaction

One of the requirements of the ISO9001 standard is measuring customer satisfaction. How you measure this is up to you. The standard states that Monitoring customer perception can include obtaining input from sources such as customer satisfaction surveys, customer data on delivered product quality, user opinion surveys, lost business analysis, compliments, warranty claims and
dealer reports.


In my opinion the best way involves a combination of methods. The simplest method for a company in a service industry being developing a basic survey to attach with your invoices. 

The whole point of implementing a QMS is to improve quality, profit and efficiency so the perception of your customer is massively important. Try not to take any negative feedback personally (although this can be difficult) and use it to improve your systems.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Off the Shelf Systems

Off the shelf systems will always be a part of our industry and I guess they do have their place in some ways. The problem with an off the shelf system is that the majority of the time, it ends up right back on the shelf gathering dust.

By off the shelf system I mean a system that has already been implemented elsewhere and just basically has a different business name slapped on it. Majority of the time the documentation will meet the requirements of the standard but when you audit it, the processes don't reflect the business at all or there are massive gaps.

These systems will only work if you use it purely as a guide. Have a look at what someone else has done to see what kind of information has been included and then re-write the whole thing.

Systems are only beneficial when they accurately describe YOUR business processes, not someone elses.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Life Without Facebook

In a follow up to my post the other day "Why I Quit Facebook" It has been a couple of weeks now and I have to say life without facebook is even better than expected. From a business standpoint I have stuck with my goal of typing less and talking more. The benefits have been astounding. 

From a social standpoint I've also been amazed at the number of people that have made the effort to catch up. Without social media like facebook I seem to be more social than ever.

I highly recommend to anyone ditching facebook for more face time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Using Sustainability to Improve Bottom Line

I just read this article and thought it was worth sharing


Implementing an effective Environmental Management System can help the bottom line IF Management really drives it.

Safety Risk Assessments

I have been harping on about the new Workplace Health and Safety laws lately but I believe it is hugely important. Workers should always go home just as happy and healthy as when they came to work. If they come to work unhealthy and grumpy then that's their problem. 

Work Safe Australia has put out a number of draft codes of practice that are really informative and should definitely be read by anyone with a duty of care to employees and workers.

I've provided this one today as it's a good starting point. It's the new draft code of practice for Managing and Assessing Risk. Click the link for the PDF version

Monday, July 25, 2011

Supplier Evaluation

Whether you are building a certified system or not it pays to perform an evaluation of your suppliers at least annually at a minimum.

Depending on what service they provide you, there may be critical information that they need to supply you on a regular basis that might be overlooked otherwise. For example if a supplier requires licenses, certifications etc to be able to perform work, you should know that they are current and applicable.

By ensuring that your suppliers have up to date public liability insurances and Workcover certificates of currency,  you help lower your risk if something happens. Professional Indemnity Insurance also gets overlooked. We pay quite a lot each year to make sure that we are insured for professional indemnity and yet no one ever asks us for a copy of our policy.

Develop a checklist of critical information and send it out to your suppliers. Keep the information on a spreadsheet and put any expiration dates into your calendar so that you can chase it up when the time comes

External Audits

Evening all. Apologies for the for the large delay since my last post, been quite a hectic few days as we are looking at purchasing another consulting business.

I had an external audit today and I have to say being audited is probably the least enjoyable part of my job. On a positive note though if you get a good auditor it can be a little less stressful. If you get a non-conformance of any sort it's not the end of the world. Generally it will just mean that you have to undertake a corrective action and show evidence that it has been fixed.

I think there is a lot of pressure on people to go through audits without any form of corrective action arising from it. There really shouldn't be. Corrective actions help you to learn and improve your systems. 

If you believe that the non-conformance is unjustified though remember that you can disagree with your auditor. Some auditors interpret the standard differently, you just need to explain your interpretation and back it up with evidence.

If you have any issues or questions from an audit please feel free to contact me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Importance of Compliance

The number of people I speak to in day to day travels and in social settings that either run a business or own a business and are unaware of the importance of compliance is a little scary.

I use the term compliance in terms of regulatory compliance, in other words what laws and regulations businesses have to adhere to. Just because you don't have a certified Safety, Quality or Environmental Management System doesn't mean you don't need to regularly assess your compliance.

If you are reading this and you are in a position of seniority, ask yourself a few basic questions.

1. Am I aware of ALL regulations that are applicable to my business?
2. How do I stay up to date if a regulation changes?
3. When was the last time we assessed our compliance with current regulations? 
4. Do I know the penalties that apply to me individually for con-compliance?

You have to remember that when it comes to being a business owner or Senior Manager, there are laws that if not followed and lead to death of a worker or other catasrophes, you personally may be fined or imprisoned on top of fines for the business.


It doesn't take long to get yourself up to speed and there are many wonderful people out there like myself to assist you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Continuous vs Continual Improvement

Whoever decided that the term "Continual Improvement" should be part of the ISO9001 standard probably didn't realise the drama that it would cause. If they did they probably would have chosen a different term. 

The difference between the two is that continual occurs over a long period of time but with intervals of interruptions where as continuous occurs over a long period of time uninterrupted.

It is due to this "same same but different" issue that many people building a system for the first time will use the terms interchangeably. Just like people use the terms "certification" and "accreditation" interchangeably. 

At the end of the day, if you just use "continual" you won't have any issues. In my early days building systems I was given a corrective action for using the word continuous instead of continual in a quality policy. As far as I am concerned that is just a prime example of an auditor being a jerk as opposed to a genuine fault in the system requiring in depth root cause analysis. In this case my root cause analysis determined that my highschool English teacher failed to cover the complexities of continual vs continuous. My corrective action could only be to go back to highschool and do English all over again.

I bet I'm not the only one that has had grief over these words.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Different Approach to Management

Well it's a Saturday Morning and I have a slight hangover so no advice this morning.

I just wanted to post this video because I thought it was hillarious and seeing as I no longer have facebook this is my only way of sharing pointless videos.

I think this is how I should run my business from now on.

Not safe for work as there is quite a bit of swearing, have a great weekend everybody.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Setting Environmental Objectives and Targets

When setting objectives and targets for an Environmental Management System I see these same mistakes all the time.

1. Setting too many targets.
2. Setting targets that are unrealistic
3. Setting targets that you cannot have a direct influence on.

Firstly, you don't need to set targets for every environmental impact you have. You don't even have to set targets for all of your significant impacts.

My suggestion is that you pick a project each year. Select one area that you think you can make a difference in and put all of your effort into doing it well, rather than doing 10 half heartedly. You will meet the requirements of the standard and have a better result at the end of the year.

Why I Quit Facebook

Yesterday I made the decision to deactivate my personal facebook account indefinitely and I have to say it's a strange feeling, not unlike a breakup. I went through a lot of the same emotions except without the mandatory needing to get drunk with friends and start seeing other social media outlets

From a business point of view I decided Facebook was hurting the success of my company rather than enhancing it. Let's face it, a Quality, Safety and Environmental Consultancy is never going to be hot property on facebook. The distractions that come with it are also massively counterproductive.

From a personal perspective I also believe that it was hurting my social interactions rather than enhancing them. Catching up with friends no longer had any mystery any more. I already knew what they had done for the last two months right down to what they had for breakfast the day before and how cute their new niece or nephew was.

Most shockingly for me though I came to the realisation that by spending so much time plugged in to facebook I had started to lose some basic social functions that as a small business owner I need. It's become the norm to email people instead of call them because I am more comfortable speaking in text. I believe I am missing out on a lot of potential business because I've lost my nerve to pick up the phone and call someone out of the blue and say "hey, got any work for me?"

So my aim over the next month is to rebuild the social skills that I feel need working on and see what kind of an impact it has on my personal and business life. Hopefully in a couple of years time my blog post will read "why I quit Facebook and became rich"

Wish me luck

Monday, July 11, 2011

Managing Portable Data Risks

After my post this morning about Cloud Computing I decided to set up an online filing system using Dropbox

www.dropbox.com

Now I can access all of my files anywhere using my laptop, desktop, Smartphone etc as well as share it with my business partner and not have to worry about backups. As seems to be my mantra these days, with benefit comes risk. If I lose my laptop or phone there is a potential for my data to be accessed by undesirables. To reduce this risk I have added password protection to keep all but the most determined hacker out.

Portable data is a much bigger risk for larger businesses however. The majority of employees now have smartphones, tablets and all number of portable devices containing sensitive information. Once again, controls should be built into your document control processes and here are a few things to think about.

1. Do you have a register of portable devices?
2. How do you control company information stored on devices not owned by the business?
3. have you assessed company controlled devices to see how easily sensitive information could be accessed?

Cloud Computing & Document Control

Cloud Computing is the next step up in the growing functionality of the internet, providing the means through which everything — from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications, business processes to personal collaboration — can be delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need (providing you have an internet connection of course).

As with any new technology, with the benefits comes new challenges and risks. If your business is moving towards a cloud system as opposed to an on site server based system, you need to take a look at the risks that come with it and build some controls into your document control processes.

When looking into a cloud system you should really assess the following risks and ask a lot of questions from your potential cloud provider such as:

1. Where will the information be stored? Some countries may have differing views on privacy

2. What is the backup and recovery process if something goes wrong?

3. How viable is the cloud provider ie. will they still be around in 2 years? What will happen to your data if they go bust?

4. How is the data encrypted? The cloud provider should provide evidence that encryption schemes were designed and tested by experienced specialists.

As long as you do your homework and revise your processes, cloud computing can be a great tool.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Carbon Tax

With yesterdays announcement that the Carbon Tax will go ahead the online chatter about the issue has been in overdrive. As with any large issue everybody has their opinions and as this blog is my outlet I am going to voice mine.

I am against putting a price on carbon. Does charging big business to produce pollution then legitimise it's production?

As any environmental consultant would know, finding efficiencies and improvements in environmental performance costs money. It takes commitment from senior management and is generally driven by the bottom line. By increasing the production costs of 500 big polluters it is essentially taking away the incentive to find efficiencies. Would you bother spending money on improvements when you can pass the costs of pollution onto the consumer?

Why not provide tax incentives for spending profits on research and development?

I could go on and on all day about this one but I won't. I'm happy to discuss/debate the issue in the comments section though.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Something a little different

It's a friday so I don't have much to say today. For something different the video below is a cheesy documentary my business partner and I made about our time running the cleaning contract at a large Vegas casino in Macau. I was 19 at the time so it was a massive learning curve for me.

Ignore the advertising that pops up when you press play.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Corrective Action

Stuff ups in day to day business are inevitable. How you deal with them and use those stuff ups to improve your systems often means the difference between a good business and a great business.

Take a moment to think of the three biggest things in your business that always seem to have problems. Have you done a proper root cause analysis on these issues to see what the deeper issue is? Often the cause of the problem is not what you think.

You don't have to have a Quality Management System in place to implement a good corrective action system, all you need is a way of recording issues, analysing the root cause and implementing short and long term solutions.

The best place to start is with a register for customer complaints and feedback. Record all feedback for a 6 month period and look for trends. Perhaps one employee receives more complaints than others. The root cause analysis may show that the problem is not the employee but their lack of training. Once you know this information you can develop short and long term solutions to help combat the issue.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Workplace Health & Safety Act 2012

Change is great for a consultant like me but can be difficult for business. The new Workplace Health and Safety Act is going to be one of those changes.

Thankfully you have plenty of warning so my suggestion is to start readying for it ASAP. The below link is a good starting point to familiarise yourself with the new laws.

http://goo.gl/cfgUD

A copy of the new act (June 23 revision) is also available here.

http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/Legislation/ModelWHSAct/Pages/ModelWHSAct.aspx


This will replace the current OH&S regulations.

The new law will place a greater emphasis on duty of care and will also drastically change the way safety risk is assessed. 

If you are a business owner/manager, you need to know what your obligations are to protect your staff and your own ass.

Q & A

Well it's a hump day and no blog topics come to mind this morning so I'll leave this post as an open question and answer. If you have any questions relating to either QA, Safety, Enviro, Risk or Integrated Systems fire away. Hopefully my creative synapses will be firing better tomorrow.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Managing Social Media Risk

I've just come from a meeting with a new client and a big part of a new project they are starting revolves around social media.

Social media such as facebook, twitter, google plus (when google finally lets us try it out) etc, can be fantastic tools IF they are managed properly. I would not be at all suprised if future ISO9001 Standards contain a requirement for managing social media.

In order to minimise risk to your business you need to develop strong external communication policies and regularly monitor what is being sent out into the big wide world.

A few things to consider:

1.. Who is responsible for Managing your social media? How much authority to do they have to post on behalf of your business?
2. What guidelines have you set as to what can be spoken about in an open forum?
3. Who owns the social media account? 
4. What damage control procedures do you have in place?
5. Where do you draw the line between personal and business?

Here's an example of what I mean. If I hire a consultant and they have a blog similar to mine, have a private facebook page and have a twitter account I need to set some guidelines straight off the bat. Personally I don't want my business referenced anywhere in personal blog posts, twitter posts etc without my approval. The consultant may set up an 80:20 facebook page and 80:20 twitter account but in the end I own those accounts and have full access to them.

As social media grows and develops, the need for guidelines and policies governing their use will become more and more critical. It is well worth building their control into your Quality Management System.

Legal & Other Requirements

The necessity to determine your legal and other requirements and assess conformance is one of the areas that is specific to Environmental Management Systems and Safety Management Systems but not Quality Management Systems. In my mind this one area where the Quality Assurance Standard is lacking. All businesses should have systems in place that determine what their legal requirements are, what the conformance criteria is and how often they should be assessed. 

When developing your register of legal and other requirements, I suggest using a tool such as enviroessentials.com as they have already done a lot of the leg work for you and save you reading through page after page after page of mind numbing EPA or Worksafe documentation. They can also help you find information specific to your industry and send you regular notifications of changes to legislation.

Remember that it is a legal and OTHER requirements register. You are required to not only determine your legal requirements, but also specific non legal requirements such as customer reporting requirements. In order to capture all of your other requirements you will need to read back through your contracts and agreements with current clients and add in any specific conformance requirements that may be included.
As always if you require any assistance setting up your Legal and Other Requirements register or performing a conformance assessment give me a yell.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Risk Assessments Vs Aspects & Impacts

When building a Safety Management System or Environmental Management System one of the first steps in the planning process is assessing risk. 

One of the most important things to realise early on is that Environmental Risk and Safety Risk are two very different things and therefore require a different criteria for assessment. The standard safety risk assessment matrix like the one below (taken from www.dpmc.gov.au)


Is fine for assessing safety risk but I would not recommend using this model for assessing your environmental risk. When I perform an aspects and impacts assessment there are a number of criteria that I use that have no correlation with safety risk.

My recommendation for an Integrated Management System is to not fully integrate your risk management processes. I have yet to see a system that works for both safety and environmental risk. 

I am always open to new ideas though so if anyone has an example of a good system that works for both please comment below.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chemical and Hazardous Substances Management

For Australian readers you would know that any hazardous chemical in your work place requires and MSDS and a chemical risk assessment.

Too many businesses I visit view chemical and haz subs management as an afterthought rather than an integral part of their purchasing process.

When developing your purchasing process, ensure that there is a section devoted to the purchasing of chemicals and other hazardous substances. You should work with the people using the chemicals to develop a list of standard substances and suppliers for purchase. Each supplier would need to provide current MSDS's and if possible a chemical risk assessment before any chemicals are supplied.

By determining set limits for purchasing stock you can ensure that you are not spending too much AND you have a better idea what quantities you are storing on site.

Far too many businesses have no idea what they have in their workshops/storage cupboards etc.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Document Control Part 2

Following on from my post yesterday about Document Control (sorry I ran out of time and didn't get to finish it).

My last tip was if you have to have a file path or location in your footer then you have a problem with your document control. 

To elaborate on that point, you need to set up a solid filing structure so that files are easily located. This includes the folder structure AND the naming protocol for your documents. 

You should try to stop employees having their own folders where everything just gets dumped and forgotten. Even if something is a work in progress it should be filed properly, marked as a draft in the file name and given a revision number.

I have a good example of a solid filing process but I'm not going to give away all of my secrets on here. If you have any questions about document control feel free to ask me in the comments section below.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Document Control Part 1

Aaaaaaah document control, everyone has to do it but no one seems to do it effectively. It always seems to be inadequate or total overkill.

If you follow the below guidelines you can't really go wrong and you can gain much greater control over your documents.

1. Before you even start writing your Document Control Procedure, pick someone within your organisation to take ownership of it completely. You want one person only to be allowed to create documents for approval. Others may create drafts but they must all be funnelled to this one person.

2. Choose somebody who is a bit of a stickler for detail. People who get annoyed if things aren't spaced properly or aren't aligned are great when it comes to keeping control of their documents.

3. Create a solid approval process. Your employees need to know that documents they create MUST be approved before they go anywhere. I have seen many tenders get messed up because it has been sent out without final approval and the price is incorrect.

4. Document control must be driven from the top. If you are the business manager or owner be on the lookout for document control issues and be sure to follow the process yourself.

5. Create a standard footer for all documents which shows the following details
- Page x of y (too many people just do page x, how do you know if a page is missing???)
- Revision Number or date or both
- Approved by (preferrably with a signature)

6. If you have to put a path in your document footer, it is a good sign that your document control system isn't working. 

I will continue this either later today or tomorrow as I have to do some real work but as always if you have any questions about document control please feel free to ask me in the comments below or shoot me an email

Monday, June 27, 2011

Aspects and Impacts

I apologise for the long delay between posts (not that there is a massive crowd awaiting my written word) but it means business has been good.

When building an Environmental Management System for the first time, The part that pretty much everyone gets wrong is their Aspects and Impacts (followed closely by legal and other requirements). The reason for this is fairly simple. Unless you have been trained in how to do it or have some assistance, it is actually very difficult and will require a lot of time and research to do it properly (depending on your business type).

When assessing your aspects and impacts you are essentially performing an environmental risk assessment on all tasks performed in your business. Unless you know what you are doing or have some guidance most people get it wrong because they don't know what they are doing.

If you are looking at getting your business ISO14001 certified do yourself a favour and enrol in a basic 2 day course on how to implement an EMS. It may cost you around $1500 but it is money well spent. Alternatively use that money to get a specialist to spend some time with you to explain how it works and how to apply it to your business.

If you have any questions though in regards to Aspects and Impacts contact me in the comments and I will be happy to help.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Surviving an Audit

Part of the fun of building a Management System of some description is knowing that at some stage you are going to be audited on it to get it certified.

Audits can be massively stressful for some people and I know myself I still sometimes get a few nerves when a client of mine is being audited for certification. The thought of getting a non-conformance and having to be re-audited makes me nauseous if a company has put a lot of time and money into it.

There are a few ways that you can reduce the pressure a little though.

If you have any areas that you know aren't quite up to scratch for gods sake do an in depth corrective action for them. Show that you know they are an issue and that you have a timeline for completing them. This can be the difference between getting a non-conformance or an area of concern. An area of concern or minor non-conformance is not a big deal and will be looked at in the next audit.

KNOW THE STANDARD. I know this is a bit of a no brainer but learn the standard inside and out and learn how to make it work for you. There is so much in a standard that is open to interpretation. Many auditors have their own idea of what needs to be done to fill a requirement but that doesn't mean you have to agree with them.

Don't be afraid to disagree with an auditor. If you think a decision on a requirement is incorrect then tell them. At the end of the day you are still their customer, you are paying them to do an assessment of your business.

Lastly if you have any people in the office that you think aren't going to be able to answer questions about the system properly, give them the day off or tell them to work from home or something. The last thing you need is some bright individual who hasn't paid attention to inductions etc to say something stupid. I've seen it before where a company has spent a lot of money trying to train their staff and some people just couldn't give two proverbials about it. It's embarassing having an auditor ask an employee about their environmental policy and they respond "what policy?"

Although stressful, the moment you realise that the audit is finished and all the auditor has to do is write their report is very satisfying. Every audit I have gone through feels like a little victory once it's over.

if you have any questions about the auditing process please don't hesitate to contact me

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Writing Effective Procedures

One of the most important parts of developing any system is writing procedures that are easy to read by all levels of staff and will actually be used. This is pretty much a no brainer but everybody seems to get it wrong.

First of all, ditch all of the information at the start that you don't need. If you need to put the "purpose" of the procedure then you need to look a little more closely at the people you have working for you. I have honestly seen a purchasing procedure with the first paragraph being "Purpose: The purpose of this procedure is to explain the purchasing process of the business" really Captain Obvious?

Things such as "scope", "preamble", "introduction", are just padding and are just more inclined to make an employee put it in the CBF basket. If a consultant writes a procedure for you that takes a whole page before even giving you any actual information is just padding out their time basically.

I've always found the best thing to have at the start of the procedure is a responsibilities matrix showing the tasks involved in the procedure and who is responsible for looking after them. This way an employee can quickly scan the matrix, see what they are responsible for and then go to that section to see what they need to do.

After that any definitions that you may need for common abbreviations unknown to new employees may be necessary but a full page of definitions is once again just padding.
Depending on the procedure it might not hurt to reference any relevant legislation or codes of practice that may apply to the task.

After all that it is a matter of going through the process step by step and documenting it in clear language and then auditing it to make sure it is correct.

Writing a procedure doesn't have to take 2 weeks and as long as you have someone who knows the task well  to speak to you don't have to be an expert in it either. I have written procedures on how to maintain hydraulic front lifters without the slightest training in hydraulic mechanics because I researched the codes of practice and asked lots of questions. 

If you would like any assistance writing procedures for your business please feel free to contact me adrian@8020mc.com.au

Integrated Management Systems & Tendering

A lot of my customers come to me in response to a tender which has a requirement to be either certified to an ISO standard or have some form of ISO system in place. For some companies this the kick up the bum that they have been waiting for to put a QHSE system in place.

In reality, unless you have at least 3 months until your tender is due, you will not be able to implement a system and get it audited in time. I have helped some people get their system certified faster but they basically just said "we want it, we want you full time for 2 months and we want to start yesterday" This is a very costly way of doing things but sometimes if it is the difference between getting the job and not getting it, it is worth it.

If you don't have the time or the funds there are still a couple of ways of showing in a tender document that you are at least in the process of implementing an ISO system.

a. Contact a consultant like myself to help you get started with the basics. When this happens I will generally write a letter on our letterhead stating that we have been engaged to assist with implementing whatever system it is, and that we expect certification in however many months.

b. Do the basics yourself. You can generally put together a QHSE policy, a simple manual with the more crucial procedures, some forms (ie. risk assessment and corrective action) and some form of plan together to help get the tender across the line. If successful you can then start budgeting to implement the system properly.

As much as people would like to ignore it, ISO systems are becoming fairly common requirements in most tender documents these days. When it comes to the crunch if you are competing against someone with the same price and same relationship, the person with the better systems is going to win.

If you would like any assistance with your next tender please feel free to contact me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why the hell would you want to get into this industry?

Growing up, being a QHSE consultant wasn't exactly in my top 10 list of dream jobs. I didn't all of a sudden wake up one day and think "you know what, screw being a paleontologist, ISO standards is the domain for me".

I think it is the kind of field that you just fall into and either enjoy it or hate it. For anyone thinking of becoming a systems expert there are a number of perks to it. There is a lot of variety in what you do and it is something that you can do anywhere in the world quite easily. Being an international standard, ISO9001 for example is exactly the same in Australia as it is in Italy. One of my first positions was a QA Manager in a casino in Macau. For a 19 year old it was a pretty amazing experience that taught me a lot. It also made me grow up very quickly and learn to deal with people a lot more experienced than me.


Over time you will also understand how every single function of a business works. I have many clients these days where I could honestly walk in one morning, fill in a tender document, roster the staff for the week, do the accounts payable/receivable, handle payroll, do a risk assessment on the tasks for the day and then have a meeting with myself. 


There are some negatives though. Writing procedures is boring. There I said what every QHSE Manager is thinking. Sitting down and writing a procedure will lead to procrastination, playing angry birds on your phone or staring blankly in to space contemplating which Jessica you would rather be spending time with, Biel or Alba. But it has to be done.


You will also deal with some knobs from time to time. It may be an auditor or it may be a business owner or one of their employees that just plain gives you the shits. I have had some wonderful auditors over the years, I have also had some that make me want to drown them in their coffee to end their power trip and save the sanity of some poor first time auditee down the line.


But in all honesty it is a wonderful job for someone like me who enjoys travel, not sitting at the same desk every day and meeting new people all the time. 


If you are interested in getting into ISO systems management please feel free to contact me at adrian@8020mc.com.au and I am happy to answer any questions.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How much is this going to cost me?

This is generally the first question any business owner will be thinking of when entertaining the idea of implementing an ISO system and getting it certified. It is also the question that potential clients usually ask me first.

There is no simple answer but by determining your requirements using the following factors you can set yourself a budget to work with.

The first question you need to ask yourself is who do you want to implement the system? Your options are generally restricted either yourself (General Manager or Director etc.), an employee or a consultant. If you decide you want to do it yourself your main cost will be your time and around $100 for a copy of the ISO standard. If you have an employee in mind you need to budget at least 3-4 weeks of their wages as this is how long it will generally take a semi-experienced person to design and implement a certifiable system. The main issues with doing it yourself or using an employee is that it generally takes longer and may not pass the audit first time. If this is the case your audit costs will go up and the slower your system will be implemented. Consultants can be expensive however this does come with benefits. When looking for a consultant it can be cheaper to use them to just assist with building your system rather than building it for you. fees can range from $2-3000 for basic assistance to tens of thousands depending on the consultant and depending on the size of your project.

The next question you need to ask is who do I want to certify me? There are many third party certification bodies out there so it is important to get a few quotes and if possible find someone that understands the industry you are in. The most recognisable is probably SAI Global with their 5 ticks logo however they may not be the most cost effective option for a small business. Budget at least $3-4000 for a certification audit to allow some wiggle room. It may be less for small businesses or much more for large.

The last thing you need to think about is who do you want to maintain the system? For a system to be effective and worthwhile it needs to be reviewed regularly and evolve with the business. For many small businesses this is not a full time position but it will require someone with experience or training. For a large business with many sites or customers it can require a full time employee. allow a budget of between $1-3000 to put a current employee through at least a two day auditor course or a course on managing a particular ISO system. We highly recommend Gray Management Systems http://www.grayms.com.au/ for ISO training.

I hope this is helpful and as always if you require any more information or would like us give you a quote for consultation please contact me adrian@8020mc.com.au or visit us at www.8020mc.com.au

Welcome

Welcome to my new Blog. As an introduction my name is Adrian Taylor and I am the Managing Director of the 80:20 Group which includes 80:20 Management Consulting & 80:20 Recruitment Consulting. We specialise in building Quality, Safety and Environmental Management Systems for all business types as well as finding the best possible people to manage them.

for a brief video about us please click here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cordeC9dNuY

This blog is designed for business owners or managers that either have systems in place or are looking to implement a Quality, Safety or Environmental Management System and are unsure about how to go about it.

Please feel free to email me with any other questions you may have and I will do my best to respond promptly