Maintaining Your QMS

Whether it is ISO 9001:2008, AS9100 or any of the ISO QMS’s It is very important to recognize that your QMS needs to be alive and constantly evolving. Continuous Improvement is one of the requirements, and “continuous improvement” not only refers to your company’s products and services but to the QMS itself. Because continuous improvement is incorporated in your QMS, all your company needs to do is to completely follow its QMS, and continuous improvement will be a natural consequence.

Here are some processes of the QMS that will help your company continuously improve:

  • Goals and Metrics – in other words: set goals on various levels and use metrics to measure their performance.
  • Customer Feedback – measure what customers think about your company and its products or services. Whatever method you choose this feedback will assist you in continuously improving product and services.
  • Internal Audits – periodically evaluate if your company still meets all QMS requirements: AQM can train your staff to do these Audits in-house, or our experts can do the Audits on your behalf.
  • Corrective Action – this involves systematically identifying underlying causes of existing problems and then correcting these causes.
  • Preventive Action – this involves systematically searching for potential problems and correcting their underlying causes before the problems occur.
  • Management Review – this involves management’s periodic review of key business indicators (KPI’s) and planning of improvement initiatives.

Useful tip

Keep all your employees involved in the QMS. Send periodic Tips and reminders via email to employees.

Revising the QMS documentation

Revising the quality manual and quality procedures should be a normal part of the ever-improving quality management system. These revisions can reach from small corrections to a total makeover of the entire QMS documentation If you find your company’s quality management system too bureaucratic and cumbersome, or if you find your employees feeling negative about your QMS, and if you need to spend excessive time preparing for each audit, then your QMS has plenty of opportunity for improvement and you should consider a complete makeover. AQM focuses on identifying only the necessary processes simplifying them and at the same time making sure they are user friendly and precise in meeting all the requirements of the standard.

Why do far too many quality management systems fail?

The reasons for these failures are almost always the same – and they can be easily avoided.

A common indicator that a company’s QMS is heading towards failure is employees complaining about it. These complaints are mostly about excessive bureaucracy, too much paperwork and extra work before audits, “interference with me doing my work”: At the same time, those employees feel that there are no benefits to the QMS. These problems are not the fault of your QMS – these problems result from the way the quality management system was implemented!

Number ONE and always the biggest one! Management Attitude and Purpose

If management desires to implement a QMS solely for marketing reasons or due to customer requirements, the resulting quality management system will often lack the all-important internal improvement component. It is possible to pretend (and fool even an experienced auditor) that you have an effective quality management system in place, but the costs due to bureaucracy and efficiency could be huge, a good well applied QMS should have exactly the opposite affect

Common Problem number two: QMS Implementation by in-experienced Consultants

If management decides to hire inexperienced consultants to write their quality manual, quality procedures and other documents; you could run into the problem of the consultant being unfamiliar with the business, the company and its culture. The resulting consequence will be a quality management system that does not fit the company and the consultant trying to justify his high fees by setting up an overly complicated and convoluted quality management system. American Quality Management prides itself in making every effort to get to know the company and its culture and to make sure your Management System fits your company and is stream lined for success.

If your consultant does not adjust to your particular company and sets up a “one-size-fits-all” QMS. This “standard” system will often be geared towards large corporations, and can be far too bureaucratic and labor intensive for small and medium size companies. AQM is aware of this problem and makes every effort to assure it does not happen. If your consultant is not flexible, instead of creatively molding the quality management system to fit the realities of your company an in experienced consultant will try to mold the entire company to fit their “one-size-fits-all” approach. AQM will not do this.

Common Problem number three: QMS Management Representative without Power

Executive management of some companies erroneously considers the quality management system to be a documentation task rather than the implementation of an improved and systematic management style. A consequence of this misconception is the appointment of a QMS Management Representative without the power to make real changes. In such a situation, it is very common to find an increasingly disenchanted QMS Management Representative who is desperately trying to improve the company while top management pays mere lip service to their quality management system.

Common Problem number four: Insufficient Resources

Unless a company’s overall performance is well above average, the implementation of a QMS usually requires significant resources: the QMS Management Representative needs to be trained, top management needs to learn about the concept of their QMS and its benefits, a quality manual, quality procedures and other QMS documentation needs to be written, work processes throughout the company need to be analyzed and streamlined, employees need to be trained, etc. It is crucial to the success of the QMS implementation that management allocates enough time, as well as financial resources (for example, for employee training, for templates for the QMS documentation, or for internal audits and auditor training, etc).

Common Problem number five: Lack of Improvement

It is a common misconception that a quality management system needs to be implemented, certified and that’s it “done”. In reality, the quality management system must constantly evolve as the company changes, as the market conditions change, as products change, as technologies improve and as the competition moves forward.

Common Problem number six: Making it Too Complicated

Your QMS does not need to be complicated! In fact, the easier to follow and the easier to understand the quality manual and other documentation, the better the QMS! There are countless possible causes for overly complicated and overly bureaucratic quality management systems, including the problems mentioned above, including inflexible auditors, including bad examples, including bad documentation templates, and including bad training.

Useful TIP:

Note how that the described problems are a direct consequence of management action and management attitude towards the QMS, rather than the often blamed employee resistance to it. Ensuring that top management buys into the benefits of a QMS and that top management remains actively involved in the QMS will dramatically improve any QMS.

A Final TIP:

Choose your registrar carefully! We recommend that you compare different registrars and pay particular attention towards auditor background (for example, some may consider former military auditors to be rigid and inflexible in their interpretation of the standard) and towards their attitude towards sharing ideas (in order to ensure objectivity, auditors are not allowed to consult; however, some registrars permit their auditors to share their experience which can be very useful)