This is a case on ISO 9001:2015 in a medium-sized building supplier. We interview the quality manager to find out how it runs in practice.
Gottfred Petersen A/S is a Danish company with four main business areas; They are the supplier of materials in the areas of construction, protection, plastics and sanitary materials. The company was founded in 1960 and most of its 40 employees are co-located in Funen, Denmark. This case is based on an interview with Peter Nørgreen who is the company’s Quality Manager.
Peter Nørgreen sees the constant changes in laws and regulations as one of the challenges facing the building industry. This applies to everything from production to packaging. So how does the company handle this?
At the moment ISO 9001:2008 is being used as an overall guideline to how processes and activities are executed in the company. The organisational chart makes it clear who does what and who the employee refers to, Peter says. ISO 9001:2008 describes the processes, procedures and instructions for everybody to use and use as a guideline for work. The input on how to apply it in daily work comes from personal networks and through experience gained along the way.
But is this easier said than done? I asked Peter Nørgreen if he, in his role of Quality Manager, ever struggles with getting all these good intentions to work in practice so that quality management isn’t just a certificate on the wall. To this, he replied:
“Well, yes to some extent, but as Quality Manager, I put a great effort into introducing new employees to our system. We have a guideline on how to do this, just as we also ask about ISO when we audit internally, especially the descriptions of different processes in the company, but also operational goals, quality policies, and so on. Quarterly meetings are held to communicate new goals and changes. We also have a group of employees that handle complaints.”
All employees use business intelligence from Targit as a daily tool. This way all employees have access to basically all data in real-time. Furthermore, it allows a push of information via email, tablets, iPhones so that relevant data is being pushed to the right employee. Peter Nørgreen explains it this way;
“Let’s say you want to know if a district or a customer differs in revenue with more than 3% if this happens the information is then sent to the right person who can proactively take action on this… As we work with data in real-time, it is possible to connect to all information in the company, furthermore, it makes sense to pre-define your cubes of data to be able to monitor and react to deviations/trends.”
Peter explains how everybody is informed of a change by receiving an email with a notification and a brief explanation of the changes. This information is also available in the index of the company management system for everybody to see. This way everybody can view the changes on the intranet or in the shared directory.
“Each procedure, document and instruction have an owner that has to provide information within his or her field. When audited these are the typical procedures and processes that will be controlled – are they used the right way? are they still creating a form of value? etc.” – Peter Nørgreen
At Gottfred Petersen A/S all procedures, processes, instructions, policies, rules and standards are revised at least once a year to ensure that they are able to react proactively when, as Peter puts it, “the winds of change hit us.” Maintenance is done by Peter himself in Word:
The company has brought tools to help them but most work with developing, controlling and revising processes is done in-house. In the beginning, consultants were brought in, to ensure that the company met the specific requirements listed in the ISO 9001 standard.
“You might say that the ISO 9001 based quality manual is the construction that keeps the building together.”
Gottfred Petersen A/S has chosen to keep the quality manual electronic and available via an index for all employees. The manual links to all processes and documents in a shared drive. This way it often only requires revision in one document when something has to change.
Peter Nørgreen says that at first, you should focus on the fundamental idea of the company and from that figure where the company has its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In other words, start by doing a SWOT analysis to gain knowledge about your company’s starting point.
Also, he finds it important to evaluate the organisational structure to decide whether it is the right one. Are the right authorities placed with the right roles so that decisions can be made at the right time, at the right place and at the right cost? Also, a way of following up on successes and deviations is key.
Another piece of advice is to start with the necessary paragraphs in the ISO 9001:2015 standard. This way you will build up a clean process-oriented management system, with a focus on the essential business areas.
When working with quality management, be careful not to over-inform and create redundant data, but instead try to form a system with brief and precise statements. Use an ISO 9001:2015 software where you can create references and links to version-based documents;
This makes it a whole lot easier when editing and revising the efficiency of the system so that you do not have to go through the entire handbook every time something must be revised or added.”
As an experienced Quality Manager Peter Nørgreen recommends using a consultant in the start-up phase. It is a lot less time-consuming when you have help to make sense of the ISO 9001:2015 standard and finding the right ISO 9001:2015 software to maintain your documents. Minimising risks and getting help to define the language, goals, processes, is just a part of this. When the structure is in place, then the Quality Manager can collect the knowledge needed.
…e.g. by getting a Lead Auditor education and hereby be ready for changes in a constantly changing version and document controlled process. Remember: Always keep it simple.
“Trust is good but control is necessary.”
These are the words from Peter from Gottfred Petersen A/S. If you’re interested in the perspective from more top management on ISO 9001:2015 check out this article.
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