When Should You Hire a Quality Management System Consultant?

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Whether your company is in the manufacturing or service industry, if you were considering implementing a new accounting or software system, which was completely outside of your staff’s expertise, wouldn’t you consider contracting with someone considered an expert in that particular area?

The same principle applies when it comes to ISO, AS or IATF certification. Hiring a consultant to prepare your company for certification can be well worth the investment, whether you’re going through certification for the first time or transitioning to a new quality standard (for instance, changing from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015).

Often, business owners, and sometimes even quality managers, don’t have the time or adequate knowledge of the standard to do a gap analysis and prepare an action plan themselves. An experienced consultant has gone through the implementation process in a variety of industries, and will be able to quickly understand your company’s processes and how to most effectively recognize gaps in the requirements. Going with an experienced consultant who has a significant track record in planning, developing and implementing systems greatly increases the likelihood of a successful certification.

It’s certainly possible for a company to implement a system on its own. However, doing so can prove to be detrimental to other areas of the business as resources are often stretched too thin. The employees responsible for implementing the system could fall behind on other obligations, and these setbacks can quickly outweigh any money saved by not hiring a consultant from the start.

An often overlooked benefit to hiring a consultant is objectivity. An outside consultant can bring a fresh and unbiased perspective to your company and systems. You’ll often find that a consultant provides simple and sustainable solutions that may have been overlooked by your own team.

Additionally, by hiring a consultant you’ll ensure you’re putting the right person in charge of the project. Implementing ISO, AS or IATF standards requires a strong leader who can oversee a coordinated effort. Most consultants are natural leaders able to energize all parties involved and keep the project moving forward at a good pace. Depending on the complexity of your processes, a consultant can help you focus on only what is required for certification, often finishing the project in less time than it would take using your company’s own resources.

In seeking a consultant you’ll want to make sure they have the skills relevant to your organization and industry.  SimpleQuE  consultants have educational backgrounds and work experience that make them experts in their fields.  In addition, many are current or former 3rd party auditors and ready to serve in an advisory role or for implementation, project management, training or internal auditing. SimpleQuE can assist in first-time systems development for certification; upgrading certification to a new standard; simplifying a cumbersome quality system and documentation; defining processes and process mapping; documentation and systems implementation; internal audits and gap analysis for improving your quality or environmental management system.

No matter the size of your company or the industry, having ISO or other certification will distinguish you from the competition. Hiring a consultant can help you achieve certification with ease, after all, it’s what simpleQuE is known for – Simple Quality Excellence.

SimpleQuE has consultants throughout the Eastern U.S. that can guide you through the certification process in ISO 9001, ISO 14001, IATF 16949, and the AS9100 series of standards.

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WRWP Makes the Calculated Jump to ISO 9001:2015

WRWP, LLC (Western Reserve Wire Products) has been designing, building and distributing wire harnesses since 1987.  Through the years they have evaluated and implemented more efficient means of production with state of the art equipment and manufacturing plants in China to reduce time and costs for their customers, while maintaining a high standard of quality.

The engineers at WRWP often work with their customers’ engineers in the design phase of new products to produce the best possible fit and function for the wire harness that will be needed, thus reducing unnecessary changes down the road.  And with that approach, in 2015 WRWP searched for a consulting firm that was the best fit and function to review their quality management system and develop a customized implementation plan to achieve ISO 9001:2008.  They selected simpleQuE, and with consulting and training support, achieved their certification.

Due to that success, when it was time to transition to ISO 9001:2015, they again turned to the experts at simpleQuE who utilized a Fast Track approach and developed an action plan while utilizing a detailed gap checklist to identify where WRWP was already compliant and where gaps existed.  Over the next several months with the guidance of simpleQuE consultants, their quality team worked hard to close the gaps while maintaining their quality system and improving internal processes. That preparation resulted in zero findings and certification to the new standard by Smithers Quality Assessments.  Congratulations to the team at WRWP!

5 Steps To Manage Your Environmental Impact And Boost Growth

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Twenty years ago small businesses focused on one thing: how to make profits. Today, environmental impact is turning out to be just as important as meeting the bottom line. Here’s how to manage it for growth:

  • Incorporate planning – the very first place to start with addressing environmental impact and risks is to include them in strategic planning at every level. Because ISO 14001 is the cornerstone of environmental standards for a business, planning is essential. If the matter isn’t addressed to begin with from the top down, one of two things occur: 1) no one internally treats the matter as a priority, and 2) responses that do occur end up being ad hoc and disparate, which often incurs more costs than expected.
  • Anticipate that not everyone will be happy at first – getting environmentally focused is still a politically-charged approach. Education is probably the best response, even though it may require a bit more effort. At the end of the day, however, socially-conscious businesses sometimes have to stake out a claim. Choose wisely and then stay the course.
  • Embrace leadership – businesses that really break out and become the major players using ISO 14001 as their environmental management system are not necessarily the biggest in their industry. Smart businesses are out ahead looking for these leadership opportunities to craft their own path and market niche before anyone else.
  • Use size to an advantage – Being a small business comes with a lot of advantages in terms of flexibility and speed for adjusting to changes. Rather than a big bureaucracy involved in shutting down an assembly line, small business can test the waters far more rapidly and frequently with new ideas in environmental impact and that’s a huge competitive advantage when used effectively.
  • Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water – Every new change should have a thorough cost-benefit analysis. There are plenty of existing quality management procedures that align with ISO 14001, including ISO 9001 and IATF 16949.

SimpleQuE offers customized consulting solutions for all sizes of Aerospace, Automotive, Laboratory, Manufacturing and Service organizations. When it comes to environmental impact and responsibility, ISO 14001 certification makes good business sense for businesses small and large, across all industries.

The Quality Connection

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As a consulting company, simpleQuE specializes in quality and environmental management systems and we are frequently asked what services we provide and how we are different from a certification body. This article explains the objectives, roles and responsibilities of the organization, consulting company and certification body to provide a better understanding of the connection between all three.

Organization (Manufacturing or Service Company)

Seeks to achieve one or more of the following objectives:

  • Implement and develop a new quality (QMS) and/or environmental management system (EMS)
  • Upgrade certification or expand to a new standard
  • Improve and/or simplify an existing QMS or EMS registration
  • Obtain certification

Consulting Company (simpleQuE)

Assists organizations with implementation, improvement or transition by:

  • Providing customized consulting, training and internal auditing services and solutions
  • Assessing existing processes through a gap analysis and developing an action plan
  • Offering internal and supplier audits
  • Training for internal auditors and management including implementation and full standard reviews

Helps organization partner with Certification Body:

  • Assuring a common language for auditing and interpretation of the standard so it corresponds with the expectations of the Certification Body and requirements of the standard

Certification Body (Registrar)

Issues certifications: Provides organizations a resource for management system certification by evaluating policies and procedures to verify implementation and effectiveness against the specific requirements of the standard.  Assessment consists of a series of audits:

  • Document review (sometimes combined with Stage 1)
  • Initial certification audit – Stage 1
    • Confirm that organization is ready (or not) for a full Certification Audit. Typically 30-60 days prior to the Stage 2 Certification Audit.
    • Verifies required documentation exists, certain requirements have been met such as a full internal audit completed, a management review completed, and risks considered.
    • Verifies processes have been established and is appropriate for the scope of certification, and that appropriate monitoring and measuring of processes are in place with appropriate objectives.
    • Plans the Certification Audit based on information and data gathered
  • Certification audit – Stage 2
    • A full QMS or EMS audit. Confirms that the management system fully conforms to the requirements of the standard.
    • Certification is issued upon successful completion of Stage 2 assessment and closure of any findings.
  • Surveillance audit
    • Certification is maintained through a series of annual surveillance audits (sometimes semi-annual). Every third year a full recertification audit is performed and a new certificate issued.

In summary, good communication between all partners is important to ensure all requirements and objectives are met in a simple straightforward way to comply with the standard. At simpleQuE we partner with the client and Certification Body to make quality excellence “simple”.

News Update from the International Automotive Task Force (IATF)

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In October 2016 IATF 16949:2016 will be published by IATF and it will replace the current ISO/TS 16949, defining the requirements of a quality management system for organizations in the automotive industry. It will be aligned with ISO 9001:2015 and its structure and requirements. IATF 16949:2016 will be implemented as a supplement to, and in conjunction with, ISO 9001:2015.  www.iatfglobaloversight.org

IATF has also released a new transition strategy document for automotive suppliers and certification bodies to help with the transition.  It includes information about timing and transition audit requirements. After October 1, 2017 no audits (initial, surveillance, recertification or transfer) will be conducted to ISO/TS 16949:2009. IATF Transition Strategy ISO/TS 16949 › IATF 16949

It is also important to note that IATF/IAOB will recognize TS certified companies that have upgraded to ISO 9001:2015 prior to IATF 16949 and allow reduced audit days when the company does eventually upgrade to the new IATF 16949 standard.  Companies should coordinate with their registrar to determine the optimal audit approach and cost benefit.  (Separate audits may be not be cost effective, but it will depend on each company’s situation.)

SimpleQuE consultants and instructors are ready to assist companies now with implementation, transitioning and training for ISO 9001:2015 and TS 16949:2009.  Consulting and training for IATF 16949 will be available after its release in October.  Contact simpleQuE

So what exactly is “ISO?”

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Have you ever heard the old business saying “You can’t manage what you can’t measure?” ISO standards are the answer to the problem of measurement.

The International Organization for Standardization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, publishes over 19,500 international standards that cover everything from quality management to sustainability to codes used to convey international currency types. Continue reading “So what exactly is “ISO?””