AS9100 is the stringent aviation, space and defense standard for quality management systems. While highly beneficial once attained, the road to implementing AS9100 and achieving certification can be challenging if organizations are not thorough in their approach.
Companies frequently underestimate the commitment required. This leads to mistakes that result in non-conformities during the certification audit. In this article, we will explore the most common mistakes organizations make when first establishing an AS9100-compliant quality system. Learning from others’ errors can help you implement AS9100 the right way the first time.
Not Getting Employee Buy-In
One of the biggest mistakes made by companies new to AS9100 is not involving employees early and gaining their buy-in. Management announces they are adopting this new quality standard, expects everyone to follow new procedures, and thinks that is sufficient.
Without actively communicating to employees WHY the change is happening and WHAT the benefits will be, they will resist or ignore the new system. Employees won’t be motivated to incorporate new habits without understanding the reasons.
Make sure to provide extensive communication and training. Have employees across all levels and functions participate in implementation planning to cultivate engagement. When workers feel they contributed to the process, they will take ownership and be committed to making it succeed.
Inadequate Training of Employees
Insufficient training goes hand-in-hand with the issue of poor employee participation. Organizations make the error of providing a basic overview of AS9100 once and thinking that achieves comprehension. However, in-depth training on new processes, documentation, responsibilities, and quality policy is essential.
Employees need sufficient opportunity to digest new concepts and develop the necessary skills. Training should incorporate examples, stories, and group discussions, not just PowerPoint presentations. Schedule refreshers to reinforce knowledge. Simply handing employees a manual without meaningful training will undermine compliance.
Skipping Internal Audits
The external certification audit can feel intimidating. While some view internal audits as extra work, performing regular internal assessments of your AS9100 system is one of the best ways to prepare. Internal audits identify gaps proactively so you can improve. Auditing provides the opportunity to clarify ambiguities in procedures and get comfortable with the terminology in the standard. It also builds internal auditing expertise.
Without dress rehearsals, your team could be completely off-guard when the official registrar audit occurs. Do not skip the valuable exercise of periodically auditing yourself against the standard.
Ineffective Document Control
AS9100 mandates rigorous control of documents and records with proper reviews, versioning and approvals. Organizations frequently downplay the importance of document control and have unclear accountability or insufficient access controls.
During an audit, gaps in document control come glaringly to light. Get ahead of this issue by designating document controllers, establishing clear protocols and training employees on document handling. Following defined procedures and using document templates maintains integrity.
Not Updating Documentation
It is common for quality documentation to become outdated and no longer match actual business processes. When written procedures are not updated to reflect changes, the documentation is no longer a useful guide.
Clearly designate who has the authority to update documents, the allowable circumstances for changes, and required reviews. Require employees to immediately report process changes so documentation can be promptly revised. Out-of-date documentation is a red flag during audits.
Insufficient Resource Allocation
Implementing AS9100 is not possible with good intentions alone – it requires a commitment of resources like budget, staff time, and leadership attention. Organizations underestimate what is involved and spread the word amongst other full-time jobs.
The outcome is an ineffective system where no one is fully accountable. Secure allocation of money, employees, and leadership support vital for AS9100. Assign responsibility to those with sufficient time dedicated. Resource starvation dooms quality initiatives.
No Continual Improvement
After finally attaining certification, organizations can become complacent. But AS9100 demands ongoing improvement, not resting on laurels. After the initial push, companies relax instead of looking for incremental enhancements or addressing root causes.
Regular management reviews, data analysis, internal audits, and preventive actions must continue. Keep using PDCA to optimize processes. Complacency opens the door to non-conformities during future audits.
Avoid Common Pitfalls with Proper Preparation
Implementing any new quality system requires adjustments, but need not be painful if organizations avoid these common missteps. Take time to educate and involve employees, conduct internal audits, control your documentation rigorously, and devote sufficient resources.
Build a culture that embraces continual improvement even after the initial certification. With adequate preparation and commitment starting day one, your company can steer clear of pitfalls on the road to AS9100 compliance. Keep the end benefits for customers, businesses, and employees in mind. This will help you establish an effective AS9100 system poised to pass the certification audit.