Get competitive advantage for your business by using the capability of quality management systems to store and make available your company’s knowledge and expertise.
If you see a Quality Management System as merely a pile of documents, you have missed a fundamental understanding of its purpose.
Using a Quality System to hold Corporate, Departmental and Workplace Knowledge. To get the most value from a business quality system, such as an ISO 9001 Quality Management System, you ought to intentionally make use of its capability to hold and distribute corporate knowledge, wise experience and hard won learning.
Your quality system should hold the best practices to apply, contain all your corporate knowledge, and be used to transfer correct information and right advice. Build your quality management system to provide all the right answers and behaviours you want your people and management to use.
Keyword: Precision maintenance, maintenance control charts
A quality system is fundamentally a database of the right knowledge, skills and practices you want your people to use to make a quality product and run your company brilliantly.
The real purpose of a quality management system (QMS) is often lost to its users. When companies build their business quality system they tend to miss the realisation that they are actually building a business information management system. In the business quality system is the information that their people will use to run the business. It therefore makes good sense to ensure that your business quality management system contains all the right knowledge and advice you want your people and Suppliers to know and use.
Your quality management system should be used to lock the Wheel-of-Progress safely in-place in the way shown in the image below. It is the ideal place to put your corporate learning and operational knowledge so that everyone can use it. The QMS chocks the Corporation and prevents back-sliding into poor practices. As the corporate knowledge grows and the Wheel-of-Progress moves forward, the QMS is updated and thus turns your business-wide learning into real competitive advantage.
Learning organisations intentionally experiment with their business processes to drive continuous improvement. They set-up controlled trials to test new ideas that let them fine tune the performance of their operational processes. Once they discover and prove an improvement they lock it into their business forevermore by including it into the process documents, procedures and training used in their business. In this way the QMS is wisely used to capture best practice knowledge and make sure it is used throughout the company.
If it is not Written, it is not Real—Heed Zahra’s Warning
Zahra is a smart manager. Her company was in trouble from too many breakdowns of new equipment. Powerful customers were complaining about the frequent supply disruptions. She investigated the causes of new equipment failures and found out what had happened.
Ten years earlier, before she joined the company, the business had a procurement policy that included acceptance inspections of the Supplier’s products. The equipment Supplier also had their own quality system checks and inspections and the original manufacturer equipment that they supplied caused few problems. Zahra’s company questioned the need for duplicated internal inspections when the Supplier’s QMS delivered products that met the Company’s quality standards. The internal quality checks were stopped to reduce costs.
Now ten years on Zahra’s business was in trouble because the Supplier’s products were of poor quality. Over the years the Supplier’s quality management system had degraded and the robustness of their manufacturing practices and inspections had dropped. Zahra could have re-introduced her Company’s old internal quality checks, but instead she did something smarter.
Zahra went to the procurement specifications and added specific quality criteria and quality inspections that were necessary to ensure her Company got quality products from their Supplier. She then wrote the equipment quality requirements into the engineering specifications used throughout the business. The Company was now better protected because the quality standards were written into the purchasing and engineering documents—the right quality would be designed into the products and not inspected into the products.
To test and confirm the Supplier’s quality was up to standard, Zahra introduced commissioning inspection checklists as independent proof that the Supplier had fulfilled their supply contract before paying for the equipment. She had fixed the equipment problems in a brilliant way with her quality management system.
By writing the last ten years of corporate learning into the QMS the business would forevermore use that knowledge and experience to its benefit. Zahra had lastingly changed the business for the better by wisely using the power of her QMS.
Put Corporate Learning in the Corporate Training
It is not enough to only record corporate learning; it must also get into your corporate training.
A quality management system is not only meant to be a repository of documented policies, agreed procedures and specific work instructions. Your QMS should have your complete training system and all training courses within it. That includes training videos, training presentations and your teaching and assessment processes. You do that so that every time your Company learns something through its corrective and preventive action processes, that learning is forced to be added into your training programs, and thereby passed-on to your people as the new practice to follow.
Your quality management system is the perfect knowledge capture and knowledge management system. It is designed for you to use as a vehicle to continuously improve your company by continually learning how to improve its practises and then transferring that knowledge throughout your business.
My best regards to you,
Lifetime Reliability Solutions