Expand Your Definition of a Quality Management System to Include All Business Functions

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February 01, 2011

As organizations enter compliance with AS9100 C, there are many steps you can take to streamline the internal audit and certification process. These include defining your process so it encompasses all business areas; understanding the roles and responsibilities of your management team in the certification process; and viewing the internal auditing process as a business asset, not a function, and staffing it appropriately.

A clear and effective development plan for the life of your Quality Management System (QMS) ensures effective implementation, maintenance and continued growth of your QMS. Having a plan ahead of time versus inventing it as you go is much easier on all parties involved.

Don’t limit your definition of “internal processes” to manufacturing processes only. Think of them as business processes that make up the key matrix, performance and importance to your internal and external customers. This will help you make clear improvements to your business as a whole, not just your QMS. It also provides an opportunity for total commitment and belief by levels throughout the organization that the quality management system can provide value and not something less.

Pre-certification training before you enter a Stage 1 audit for ISO 9001/AS9100, for example, can be very helpful. All management personnel ought to undergo a comprehensive, fundamental training or consulting, such as a session by a third party, of the requirements and or possibly roles and responsibilities management has to adhere and improve a QMS. Consider identifying the QMS as a Business Management System instead and embed this term throughout your organization!

Here’s a story to illustrate the importance of preparedness for your QMS. While performing an ISO 9001 recertification audit that didn’t get off to a good start, the management team asked if “they could pick the sample to audit, or provide product and data from two to three years ago as the sample to review during the audit, because back then, we were much better.” While this was a creative request, it certainly didn’t follow protocol. Had they performed an internal audit prior to the certification audit, they could have identified the non-conformances and fixed the processes.  Several months later, this organization still has a suspended certification!

Related Tags:AS 9100, Quality Management