quality guide – what is quality management?

That is a question that we are often asked, and we have split the question down into smaller sections so that we can better explain the most commonly asked questions:

FAQ ‘s on Quality Management and ISO 9001

Is there a recognised standard for Quality Management?

The ISO 9000 suite addresses various aspects of quality management and contains the standards that will provide guidance and tools for organisations that want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer ‘s requirements, and that quality is consistently improved.

How does the ISO 9000 series work?

ISO 9001 can be used by any organisation, large or small, public or private, regardless of its business operations. It has been in existence since 1987 and has gone through significant change, indeed there used to be standards 9002 and 9003 but these have been dropped, and now there is one common standard ISO 9001:2015 which covers all aspects of quality management.

What are the benefits in using ISO 9001?

By implementing ISO 9001, it helps ensure that customers get consistent, good quality and value products and services, which results in many business benefits.

How do I implement the ISO 9001 Standard?

This standard is based on a number of quality management principles including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement. These principles are explained in more detail in the pdf Quality Management Principles

Do I need to get certified?

It is not a requirement that you get certified to ISO 9001, however, by adopting the principles of the standard, and using the criteria to define your quality management system, you can improve your business operations and satisfy your customers.

How long will it take?

Not as long as you think! Of course it depends on the state of your current documentation, however, we find that we can typically help to get business their certification within the space of 2 to 3 months.

How much will it cost?

Not as much as you think! The traditional method of producing lengthy documents are long gone, and now the costs can be tailored to suit most budgets, please contact me for further information and advice.

FAQ ‘s on Continuous Process Improvement

What is Continuous Process Improvement?

There are a lot of confusing terms and jargon out there that cover the topic of continuous process improvement, can you help by explaining where to start on the Continuous Improvement journey?

A continuous improvement process (abbreviated as CIP or CI), is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. Continuous improvement is not a destination but a journey towards excellence that covers every aspect of an organisations ‘ business operations.

What is a Continuous Improvement Plan?

We would start by creating a high level continuous improvement plan that outlines where you are today and where you would like to get to as an organisation.

Think about how your staff can help on this journey and jot down all of the main steps and activities that you have to undertake to reach the point where the customer is completely satisfied with the products or services that you deliver.

Consider how quickly you would like to get to your destination and decide your priorities on what business processes to tackle first, these are usually the ones that have the biggest impact on the customer and/or stakeholders.

With this plan in place you can then consider whether you are looking for small “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.

What techniques and systems are used?

Our CI Plan can help to explain some of the widely used terms like Process Mapping, Flowcharting, Lean, Kaizen and 5S?

What is Process Mapping?

Process Mapping is a very effective method of illustrating how you currently perform a business process by ‘walking ‘ the process using coloured stickers which allow you to look at the end to end process in its entirety. By mapping out the as-is journey, you are then able to identify areas for improvement and create a new to-be way of working. Process maps flow from left to right and depict the timescale from start to finish to complete the business process, this method is best utilised in a workshop type environment, with the help of an expert facilitator.

What is Flowcharting?

Flowcharting is the method used to document a procedure and it flows from top to bottom, lengthy flowcharts often run for a few pages, however, with help from an expert, you can create very powerful documents that help end users to follow clear guidelines on how to perform a certain task. The flowchart is created in conjunction with a text document and form the basis for an organisation ‘s operations or quality manual.

What is Lean?

Lean is a systematic method for minimising the waste in a process and includes re-work, mistakes, lost time, waiting time and inconsistency. Thinking from the customer ‘s viewpoint at all times, the aim is to create “value” in every step of the process and eliminate any non-value add activity. This method works very well with the process mapping technique as it allows each process step to be interrogated for its effectiveness.

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen (the translation of kai ( change ) zen ( good ) is improvement ) is a technique that achieves improvements based on many small changes rather than the radical changes that might arise from Research and Development or the lean project type approach. Typically, the improvement ideas come from the staff and hence are less likely to be radically different, and therefore easier to implement within the organisation.

What is 5S?

5S methodology is a method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. These have been translated as “Sort”, “Set in Order”, “Shine”, “Standardise” and “Sustain”. It is typically used within the manufacturing environment, however, it can also be effective in any workplace that is looking to improve its space and efficiency. More often than not the use of visual imagery works very well as it will capture the state of working environments and is a powerful way in which to instigate improvement activity within the organisation.

FAQ ‘s on Internal Audit

What is the difference between Internal and External Auditors?

There is often a lot of confusion over the two roles, however, internal auditors are appointed by the management and will examine issues related to company business practices and risks. They will work within an organisation and report to its audit committee and/or directors. They help to design the company ‘s organising systems, and help develop specific risk management policies. They also ensure that all policies implemented for risk management are operating effectively. The work of the internal auditor tends to be continuous, and based on the internal control systems of a business of any size. They add value to the organisation by providing objective advice and are a very important part of the organisation in terms of compliance, corporate governance and continuous improvement.

External auditors are appointed by stakeholders and will examine the financial records and issue an opinion regarding the financial statements of the company. They are completely independent of the organisation that they are auditing, and report to the company ‘s shareholders. They provide their experienced opinion on the truthfulness and accuracy of the company ‘s financial statements, and perform work on a test basis to monitor systems that are in place. Unlike the internal auditor, they are not engaged to offer opinion, assistance or guidance to the organisation in any manner.

What about their Objectives, are they the same?

The objectives for an external auditor are usually defined by statute, and they generally have free reign to examine and assess every aspect of the management system.

The objectives for the internal auditor are set by the organisations ‘ management team who are then able to pinpoint, and highlight, certain areas they want internal auditors to focus on.

Are there different types of internal audit?

Yes, there are various types of internal audit including operational audits which evaluate performance of a particular function, or department, to assess its efficiency and effectiveness. Furthermore, there are compliance audits which as the name suggests focus on whether products and/or services are being carried out in accordance with applicable standards. Any non-conformances are recorded and form part of a report that is presented to the management team.

There are also more specific functional type audits including financial audits, quality audits, follow up & investigative audits, IT audits and management audits.

Internal audits can focus on pretty much any area of the business operations, however, it is vitally important that the scope of the audit is agreed prior to any audits being carried out.

What about the frequency of the Internal and External Audits?

Internal audits are conducted at regular intervals throughout the year, whilst external auditors conduct a single annual audit.

What is the Role of the Internal Auditor – what do they actually do?

An Internal auditor helps an organisation accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.

Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value, and improve an organisation’s operations.

I’m thinking of embarking on a career in Internal Audit, where do I start?

There are qualifications that can be obtained via the Chartered institute of Internal Auditors, and they also provide codes of practice and professional ethics that must be adhered to. They will also provide details on how to obtain various International Standards relating to internal auditing.

It is also possible to obtain membership of certain auditing bodies based on your skills and experience in carrying out internal auditing activity, if interested please get in touch for further information.

I’m also often asked what skills are required to be an internal auditor and whether I am the right type of person to think about a career in Internal Audit?

We believe that your skills and personal attributes would need to be such that you are always seen to act with honesty and integrity, even in the most challenging of circumstances. The role requires great communication skills, and an ability to empathise with different types of organisation. One day you might be dealing with a large manufacturing facility, and the next you ‘re working with a small charitable organisation; therefore, you must have the ability to tailor your approach to suit the needs of the customer.

We would end by saying that internal auditing is a very rewarding role that increase your knowledge of how organisations work, it will also develop your communication and team building skills whilst always embracing continuous learning.