This is a case on ISO 9001:2015 software for small businesses. It’s the first in a series of cases that are based on conversations with quality managers in SMEs. With this series, we want to give examples of the many ways in which companies work with management systems, software and processes.
Gottfred Petersen A/S in short…
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 on Funen, Denmark. This case is based on an interview with Peter Nørgreen who is the company’s Quality Manager.
ISO 9001:2015 on a daily basis
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 the 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:
How is quality management done in practice?
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;
How do you share processes and documents?
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.
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.
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’s advice about ISO 9001:2015 software and when to start the certification process
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;
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.
Some last words of advice from Peter
- Pictures and flow diagrams say more than a thousand words.
- Instructions should be very precise and brief or else they will not be read as they ought to be.
- Use storytelling, it makes the transition a lot easier when everybody has an understanding of how a quality management system can be a part of making the daily work fun and easy and create a more professional outcome internal as well as external.
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.