Friday, December 14, 2018

It Ain’t What You Do, It’s the Way That You Do It…

By: Andy Nichols

While these lyrics to the Ella Fitzgerald song (or Bananarama, if you prefer) are typically seen in a fun musical context, they also can be applied to a very different context: an ISO 9001 Certification Body Non-Conformity Report. When this report is issued, it is common for an organization to have to respond with a corrective action within a timeframe of 30 days. But what action is really needed?

To answer this complicated question, let’s start at the beginning. A non-conformity statement should provide detail for an observed situation where the defined Quality Management System (QMS) was not being implemented as planned. That statement should include:
  • The Source of the Audit Criteria- where the audit criteria is stated (perhaps in a document such as the ISO 9001 standard, the organization’s documentation, a customer’s contract, a regulation, etc.).
  • The Audit Criteria- a statement of requirements against which the auditor evaluates what is being implemented.
  • The Source of the Audit Evidence- where the auditor found the evidence, which triggered the non-conformity report (usually a unique identifier relating to a place).
  • The Audit Evidence- the issue or fact(s) that demonstrated there was a non-conformity with the audit criteria or requirement.
Combining each of these elements, a well-written non-conformity statement might be phrased along these lines:
“Purchasing procedure, PUR100, rev 3, paragraph 3.1 states that the Purchasing Manager is responsible for approving all production related Purchase orders before release to suppliers.
Purchase Orders # 001223, 001224, 001225, 001225 issued in July 2018, for steel sheet used for stamping had not been approved by the Purchasing Manager.”
With the arrival of recent versions of ISO 9001, the requirement for an effective QMS has come to the forefront. Previously, implementing an ISO 9001-based Quality System was frequently described by the mantra, “Say what you do, do what you say, prove it.” This approach caused lots of documentation – manuals, procedures and instructions – to be produced with little regard for any kind of recognizable results (or process effectiveness).

Frequently, audit non-conformities vaguely report that “procedures are not being followed,” leaving management perplexed. With such an ambiguous statement, it is nearly impossible to accurately respond to the non-conformity. Management is left wondering, is the procedure effective, but the people don’t follow it for some reason? Or, are the people effective, but the procedure needs changing so it can be followed?

In cases such as these, it is possible to apply the “So What?” test and still not find clear answers for what the actual issue is. Take the previous non-conformity statement, for example. The Purchasing Manager didn’t follow the procedure and approve those four purchase orders in July. “So What?” one might ask…

What’s missing is information about the impact on the effectiveness of the procedure. In recent years, to fulfill this requirement of including ‘effectiveness’ in their reporting, Certification Bodies (aka Registrars) have used the following phrase for recording observed audit non-conformities:
“Could not be demonstrated as effective…”
If we merge the previous non-conformity with this phrase, we get:
“Purchasing procedure, PUR100, rev 3, paragraph 3.1 states that the Purchasing Manager is responsible for approving all production related Purchase orders before release to suppliers and could not be demonstrated as effective…
Purchase Orders # 001223, 001224, 001225, 001225 issued in July 2018, for steel sheet used for stamping had not been approved by the Purchasing Manager.”
With this new statement added in, let’s try the “So What?” test again. Are we any better off knowing what the issue is? We know someone didn’t “follow procedure,” but we still have no idea about the effectiveness of the result.

That’s What Gets Results…
It’s no longer sufficient to simply state that something about the Quality Management System isn’t effective. It’s much more useful (to management) to report on what affects the results of following a procedure. From the example, we know the Purchasing Manager didn’t approve the Purchase Orders, but what was the result? The effect on those POs could be significant – but from this particular audit report, we’ll never know.

Clearly, as far as ISO 9001 and Quality Management Systems go, the song has it wrong! It is both what you do and the way that you do it! Meaning, while it is important to have the statement of non-conformity, it is just as important to make sure the statement actually means something. As stated in the song, “That’s what gets results!”

We can’t act on something without understanding what the problem is. It’s no wonder that no one wants to receive an ISO 9001 Audit Non-Conformity Report. What’s needed is a more complete audit non-conformity that includes results


MEET OUR EXPERT
Andy Nichols
Quality Program Manager

Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025. His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He also has been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Attracting, Engaging & Retaining Employees

By: Deb Joseph

Here’s the good news: the unemployment level in the United States has reached a nearly 50-year low. The bad news is, there are now more job openings than there are skilled people to fill them. Nearly every manufacturer I speak with is feeling the impact of this nationwide talent shortage. In fact, 92% of small businesses surveyed reported they had a need for skilled workers, with only 7% feeling optimistic about finding qualified candidates. It has now become critically important for manufacturers to focus on how they will find the workers they need, and ensure they can retain them in the years to come.

The question is, what can we do about it?

The answer seems to be multifaceted and not a quick fix, requiring companies to rethink the very way they have operated for decades. They must find ways to be more attractive and achieve a good company culture and reputation. Be “modern” in how they approach both their physical and mental environments. Be flexible and willing to abandon their old ways and the mantra, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Learn to embrace technology and change.

As a previous recruiter in the manufacturing space, I can tell you that money is always a factor in attracting candidates. However, there are other aspects that weigh heavily when making career decisions. A recent survey from Boston Consulting Group proves this, with respondents ranking the following as the top 10 most important factors that make them happy at work:
  1. Appreciation for your work
  2. Good relationships with colleagues
  3. Good work-life balance
  4. Good relationships with superiors
  5. Company's financial stability
  6. Learning and career development
  7. Job security
  8. Attractive fixed salary
  9. Interesting job content
  10. Company values
As you can see, employees are looking for a comfortable and friendly work environment where they can make a difference. Jacob Morgan, best-selling author and thought leader in employee engagement and leadership, put it best when he explained, “You can’t pay someone a lot of money, treat them poorly, and expect them to do their jobs well just because they get a nice paycheck.” Creating a workplace that provides the aspects listed in this ranking is the key to attracting the workers you need.

Once this has been achieved and employees have been hired, how do you keep them engaged? And why is that important?

First, it is important to understand what employee engagement means. This goes beyond just job satisfaction. As Kevin Kruse explains in his book Employee Engagement 2.0, employee engagement refers to “the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals, resulting in the use of discretionary effort.” An employee’s engagement level directly relates to how well the organization will perform, making this a priority for all business leaders. Much like attracting employees, a number of factors contribute to employee engagement:
  • Career development opportunities
  • Flexible work hours
  • Competitive compensation
  • Continuing education and training
  • Positive and diverse company culture
  • Transparency and honesty
  • Autonomy
  • Inspiration
  • Communication
  • Employee recognition
  • Positive company reputation in the industry
Companies that provide these benefits to employees should find that workers care more, deliver better work and even stay in their jobs longer. This, in turn, leads to happier customers and a more successful business.

While it is critical to ensure you are successfully attracting workers, it is just as important to learn how to engage and retain employees once they have been hired to achieve greater results down the line. In order to obtain more skilled workers now and in the future, manufacturers must focus on how to master both attracting and retaining workers as the talent shortage continues to heavily impact the industry.

For further assistance with attracting, retaining and engaging employees, visit the-center.org or call 888.414.6682.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Deb Joseph
Business Solutions Manager

Deb Joseph is a Business Solutions Manager at The Center, primarily assisting manufacturers in the southern and central regions of the state. In her role, Deb draws from her experience in business development and sales, along with her knowledge of the manufacturing industry, to provide relevant and effective solutions to manufacturers' needs.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.