Changing the Culture of Quality while Transitioning to ISO 9001:2015, Within 3-Months

John Scheftic, Quality Manager Hydrotech, Stow, OH, USA

Keywords: Culture of Quality, Culture of Quality, Solving 2-Quality Management Systems

Industry: Manufacturing

Level: Intermediate


Developing an ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System is difficult especially when everyone has acquired a hatred toward quality. This is the situation I faced last March of 2016 when I began working with a new company. I had just emailed our ASQ-810’s section newsletter and received a reply, from a member of our section, stating that they needed a quality manager as soon as possible and asked if I knew someone who would be willing to work 30-hours a week, in a consulting capacity. Pondering the excitement, for a new opportunity, to help another company improve their QMS, I replied saying that I was interested and we scheduled to meet the following day, at his office to discuss the position. I was told that they had been without a quality manager for several months and had very bad experiences with the last quality manager. Over the past several years, everyone developed a hatred for quality, based on their bad experiences and lack of understanding what a Quality Management System represents and how it functions within an organization. Additionally, their ISO 9001:2008 certification would expire at the end of August. Needless to say, but many quality professionals would run away at this point, however, I viewed it as a great challenge and knew that I could not only improve the QMS, but also the attitude towards quality. During our meeting, I expressed my easy down-to-earth approach towards business management, which is quality. I was instructed to just get them re-certified to the 2008 standard, although I knew that we would transition to the new standard right away. I accepted the opportunity and the invitation to meet with the company president along with other managers the following week, in their main office located north of Cincinnati, Ohio. We met the following week and once again I planted the seeds of improving the attitude towards quality. They were excited about my unique, stress-free, easy approach to quality and glad to have me on board. My start date was the following Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Process of Developing a Lean ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS) I began by studying the current lengthy QMS documentation which consisted of a 40-page quality manual listing each step, in its numerical order. Additionally, there were the numerous procedures, forms, and records all to meet every corresponding reference, in the standard. The quality manual was not easy to read, just a “regurgitation” of the standard, as one auditor termed the style. This is what I expected, so I was not surprised. However with a red pen in hand, I began to read it for the 2nd time. Three-fourths through, I gave up and decided what I already knew and what I had planned to do, before my first interview; rewrite the QMS and calibration tracking capabilities. A few weeks later I expressed my desire and intention to transition the new standard. This provided 2-months’ time to make the change and get everyone excited about quality. They said that if I could pull this off that would be a huge success. A little history: Beginning with the initial QS9000, I developed a Lean Quality Management System, while employed with the PPG Glass Technical Center. The entire QMS and Calibration Management System took 7-weeks to complete and passed with zero findings. Calibration records were gathered and entered into an Excel spreadsheet with the ability to track due dates and link calibration certificates. An Access program, linked to the spreadsheet, provided a user-friendly portal. I have used this approach several times to help companies achieve ISO 9001 certification. Changing the Culture of Quality – Making Quality Easy & Fun A positive attitude towards quality begins with understanding the purpose for having a QMS or as I prefer a Business Quality Management System or BQMS. Applying Quality to Improve Quality The Root Cause of the poor attitude towards quality originated with the quality manager. The previous quality managers demanded that each department develops objectives, procedures, forms and any necessary documents. I sent out a short half-page Quality Newsletter to everyone in the company stating that we were going to make quality “Easy & Fun”. Many replies said that those were 2-words they would never use to describe quality. The first thing I did was to take the burden from them. I would manage the QMS, with their input and minor help. An example is that they were forced to develop Department Objectives. This resulted in once a year, each department manager scrambling to fill-in the blanks a week or two before the main audit. This is not how a quality system is managed. I sent out an email requesting each department manager eliminate and delete all department objectives. Needless to say, I received many “thank you responses.” Two Quality Systems Each department manager and I met to review their documentation, records, and create a process map. During these interviews, I realized that there were 2-quality systems; one that the quality manager showed the ISO 9001 auditor and the other was what each department used, which were located in separate computer files. I was told that we never use the quality documents, forms, records, or procedures; those are just for the auditor. How they ever received certification is a wonder. I immediately contacted our ISO registrar and reported my finding and the changes I was making. I told them that this most likely was not intentional. It was thoroughly planned, according to the standard, but did not reflect exactly what was used daily. The fake QMS was abandoned and I began using each department’s documents. We passed the audits at each location with 2-minors at one location and zero at the other. Say What You Do & Do What You Say – this became our motto.