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Why You Should Use a Quality Management System

by The Quality Hub

Episode 1 – Why You Should Use a Quality Management System

Why You Should Use a Quality Management System

This episode with Suzanne Strausser, Vice President of Consulting and Development at Core Business Solutions, is an intro to the reasons for starting the Quality Hub and takes you through the basics of why you should use a Quality Management System. In addition, we discuss the benefits of a QMS for employees, management, and your business.

Core Business Solutions publishes ISO Certification podcast episodes weekly. You can find more episodes here.


Episode 1 Key Content

Today’s show is entitled Kickoff for Quality, and we’ll be discussing the benefits of implementing the ISO 9001 standard, which is a quality management standard. 

I would like to talk a little bit about the goal of our podcast. We want to do is we want to share the knowledge that we people like Suzanne and other guests that will be on here, what they’ve gained by working in quality management systems and ISO standards and other business aspects to your listeners so you can gain some insight or even be encouraged on that journey.

Our organization is inside of a vast amount of combined experience, like I said before, working with thousands of customers. And we want to share those stories and lessons learned with folks. And we understand that these concepts can be confusing.

Our goal, normally in any project or interaction with the customer, is to be a translator, to kind of demystify these requirements and simplify these principles so that people can apply them to their own business.

I know that over the upcoming weeks and months, we’re not only going to be exploring ISO 9001 implementation but also other topics that pertain to business. One of our upcoming ones, probably in about a month and a half, two months, is going to be about how to promote your certification and more. So it’s not just going to be about getting into the standard, talking about it, but aspects of business that are going to benefit you, the listeners.

But for today, we are going to tackle some basics. First off, what is and why use a QMS?

QMS stands for Quality Management System. Quality management principles have been around for many years, really as a benchmark for good business practice and a QMS can provide a framework to ensure you’re meeting your customer requirements. You have to monitor customer feedback. So it’s a heavy focus on your customer base.

How did these ISO standards, right now we’re talking about 9001, which is quality. How did they get started and evolve?

ISO itself has roots in military standards that were developed for procurement purposes and in Europe. ISO was used primarily as a way to facilitate trade. So basically to give assurance to customers that this particular supplier had systems in place not only to produce quality products and services but also to respond to problems and so on. So now it’s this internationally recognized standard, which is the basis for certification.

And I think it’s important to know that these are written standards and they get revised periodically to keep up with changing environments.

Well, that makes sense that a standard would change with the times. Businesses evolve. So what are some of the business benefits of having a quality management system?

I think having an effective quality management system helps your organization define and improve your process as ultimately it enables you to identify and reduce risk and to avoid potential problems.

When we start an implementation process, we look at what ISO calls the context of the organization, it’s a fancy term.

What does the implementation process mean?

It asks you to imagine your business as the center of the universe, so to speak, and think of all the things that could impact the context internally and externally, which in turn impacts your ability to meet your own customers’ requirements. This is all related to risk.

We have some examples of those. I know that’s something that we have talked about in the past as an internal factor. You talk about internal and external, an internal factor might be an aging workforce and working through the consequences of losing people that they have a ton of knowledge about maybe, how to do things. If you’re in manufacturing, all that knowledge, what happens when they leave or retire?

Right. That’s a real issue and you have to plan for those factors. An external example might be cybersecurity threats and how prepared you are for that eventuality.

That’s a big thing right now.

You know, the QMS makes you think about these things and prioritize them based on risk and develop plans. These are improvements to your process, things that may not be apparent to your customers right away, but they would certainly impact them negatively if he didn’t address them in the long run.

So you’re identifying risks and you’re satisfying customers. Those are some of the main benefits, which I mean, are big things. And having a system in place to address those things, that’s got to be a serious benefit. So, let’s look at another aspect of a company which is going to be its employees. What may be some benefits of the quality management system gives to them?

I think for employees, I think of the word predictability. A management system by definition has specific and repeatable outcomes. So as an employee, I know that I’m going to be trained because that’s a requirement of the standard.

And it’s probably good practice.

Yes. And there’s, you know, specific ways to solve problems through the corrective action process, and that I should be aware of the quality policy for example, or associated measures of my job to know how I’m doing.

You mentioned training and problem-solving. Having those things in place can have a positive effect on employee morale. Yes, I’m aware of what my job is. If there’s a problem, I know who to seek out or what to do.

And also, I think when a management system is implemented with transparency and you can argue that the standard says it needs to be, it helps align everybody in the organization on common beliefs and measures and even attitudes toward customers.

Everybody’s pulling in that same direction.

Yeah, this helps immensely in our own decisions when we have to make a choice. And I know so I know which path to take and the steps I need to get there because it’s defined and it’s repeatable.

You know what to expect and what to do if something unexpected happens which can give the employees a sense of security in the decisions that they may need to make.

Also, planning and taking specific steps that can help keep them from confusion. So those are employees and their benefits. What are some benefits for management?

Well, certainly the alignment of your organization, as we were discussing, is no small benefit.

Yeah, I mean, getting everybody focused.

I’m amazed at how many small businesses I’ve gone into over the years aren’t measuring anything.

They don’t know if they ship on time how many customer complaints they have who’s truly trained or why it’s really what I think of as a kind of controlled chaos.

That’s a really neat way to put it. Controlled chaos, but it makes sense.

Folks are in business despite themselves sometimes. So having less upheaval and drama because employees know what’s important makes life better for everybody.

Yeah. I mean, you’re managing people, and if they know their job, probably some of it happens on its own if you will.

And it can also lead to better efficiency and employee retention. And a byproduct also reduced cost due to errors and waste.

So you’re putting things in order. You’re getting better efficiency, you are retaining employees because they know what they’re supposed to do. They have some tie into the company and that’s all going to make management pretty happy. As I said before, it might make your job a little bit easier. Are there any other things that may help management when a QMS is in place?

Well, if you choose to get certified, there’s that international recognition of your certification, which hopefully leads to more customers or contracts or, you know, increased points for a government contracted process. Improving customer satisfaction should also be a benefit. I mean, your customers should notice that you’re certified. If they don’t see a difference, then I’d be doing some reflection there.

I would too. I mean, you mentioned earlier here about, you know, getting contracts. I know a lot of people may be here, listening to this podcast because one of their customers said, you know what, we’re going to need you to be certified in ISO 9001 if you want to keep your contract with us.

It’s very common in certain industries. Aerospace and automotive. They slow down those requirements to their suppliers for certification.

Well, that would make sense. I mean, you want strict requirements because, you know, you’re building something that’s going to carry people, maybe even carry other products. Any other points on management benefits may be something you’ve experienced.

As we talked about at the beginning, the reduced risk is certainly a big benefit internally, even though things like ensuring your documents are controlled so that everybody’s using the correct version.

Mm-hmm. That would be important.

Yeah. So imagine having a drawing that got revised. But folks in manufacturing are using the old one and producing a few hundred of the wrong parts.

It happens a lot.

That’s just nothing but waste, isn’t it? And the chances of the person who made the part being blamed is probably going to be high, even if it’s not their fault, because, well, they’re the one that did it.

So definitely a process issue at play there.

Yeah. But the real issue is they didn’t even know there was a change. Was your process to get them information on changes that need to be made? It does sound like quality management systems have a lot of benefits for the entire company, whether it’s employee management, and also give you a way to reel things in that you just haven’t been paying attention to.

And that control chaos you talked about maybe making it a little less chaotic and more controlled. That might be a good way to look at it, and this has just really been great. Suz, I appreciate you talking to us today about, you know, the beginnings of the Quality Management System. What goes into there? Do you have any stories or any other potential business benefits?

I think about the first time I got a plant certified, we had 400 people there in Bloomsburg and it was pretty early in the process to get certified. And I do believe our entire organization came together. You had grown men crying the day that we got certified.

So it was something to see and it did bring people together and look at their processes and be on the same page.

Wow. That’s amazing that someone would get emotional about a Quality Management System. But I think that is telling how it can affect people when something may be a little bit dysfunctional, and then that gets fixed and they have buy-in and they do care. We all know that some employees and people are out there who are just there for the paycheck.

But so many people come in to work and they want to do a good job.

So now if you’re enabling them and the people feel buy-in because people are paying attention to what I’m doing, making sure I have what I need. I mean, that’s incredible. Is there anything else you’d like to share regarding Quality Management Systems?

I think the real thing is to just get started. This is easy to put off. It’s kind of like when you’re trying to decide whether to have kids or not. And, you know, there’s always a reason to put it off. There’s never a good time if you want to just have kids. So just do it. You just do it.

If you have any inclination that you want to put these principles in place, just get started.

We’re going to be talking about in the future how to do that. And for some of it, I’m going to give you a little hint, just pay attention to what you’re already doing and see how that manages to come out and maybe document it. All these little hints.