Assessing strategic and process risks

As part of the requirements for ISO9001 2015, Section 6 is entitled Planning and Section 6.1 is entitled “Actions to address risks and opportunities”.

There are two areas of risk; firstly strategic risks and secondly process risks. Companies have to identify the different types of risks that fall into these categories and assess both the likelyhood that an identified risk will happen and the impact of the risk. One effective way of doing this is to rate the likely occurrence and the impact on a scale of 1to10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high. For each of the risks i suggest that the 2 numbers are multiplied together and for those with the highest results the company should have in place an action plan including timescale to reduce the likelyhood and/or impact of the risk.. These risk assessments should be documented together agreed action plans

a regular review of progress on these action plans plus ongoing review of all the risks identified should be carried out and In addition a review of whether any new strategic and process risks have been identified…

Dealing with Customer Complaints

It is not only important that companies handle customer complaints professionally but they identify the root cause(s) of complaints and that taking action to eliminate the cause(s) does reduce the adverse costs of complaints to the business and improves customer satisfaction and trust.

In ISO9001 2015 section 10.2 there are clearly described procedures for dealing with customer complaints. these involve ;1)recording individual details for every complaint; 2) reacting to and investigating the complaint; 3) identifying the root cause(s) of the complaint;4) taking action to eliminate the root cause(s) and checking that no other products or services are also affected and 5) notifying the customer that the problem has been dealt with and suitable recompense has been given to the customer.

When I first start working with customers to get them ready for ISO9001 2015 certification it is not unusual for me to get an initial response of ” we don’t have customer complaints” or alternatively to find that the customer has no formal method for recording and investigating complaints. They either see customer complaints as a black mark against the business or more often they don’t see the benefits to the business of the time spent dealing with and resolving complaints.. The classic response to a complaint is to offer a replacement product or service.

One client I work with was recording complaints in a log book but had not made any attempt to either categorise the complaints or investigate them. As the complaints were typically 300-400 a month which was leading to an extra 25% load for remakes on production the client didn’t feel able to allocate non-productive resources to resolving the complaints. Following my involvement the client was able to identify and categorise the complaints. This enabled the client to identify 3 main categories of complaint. These were 1) incorrect product supplied; 2) transport damage and 3) incorrect quantities supplied. Each of these areas of complaint were then dealt with. For 1) extra training of the sales admin staff resulted in a dramatic reduction in this type of complaint. for 2) the poorest transport company was identified and a new transport company approved for delivering their products. In addition the packaging of the products most frequently damaged in transit was substantially upgraded and for 3) batches of product were photographed and details of the traceability information filed with photographs. This type of complaint is now no longer a serious problem. in the last 5 years total business turnover is up by 150% and typically the number of monthly complaints has fallen by 90%.

The pressure on production control to reschedule items which needed to replace the complaint products has significantly reduced and the cost savings resulting from the right quantity of product being delivered to customers undamaged at the agreed time have had a marked improvement on the companies profit margins. The benefits of identifying the root cause(s) of complaints and being able to tell the customer that these have been dealt with to close out complaints has resulted in far higher levels of customer satisfaction and trust.

an area where it is unusual for complaints as such to be recognised is web design and software development. In these businesses customers will ask the supplier to modify existing features or provide additional features. For these types of businesses it is very important that detailed records of requests and modifications made are retained.

The benefits to a business of putting in place the processes and systems to meet the requirements of ISO9001 2015 are substantial and once companies have achieved certification to the standard they realise the cost savings far outweigh the initial and ongoing costs of certification. How companies handle complaints is just one section of the standard. overall customer focus, employee knowledge and competence, leadership and planning are some of the other areas covered by the standard

Understanding ISO9001 and ISO14001

these 2 management standards are international recognised standards which are designated EuroNorm standards in Europe. Because they are international standards there have been no changes resulting from the completion of Brexit. The current versions of these Standards were launched in 2015.

ISO9001 2015 is a Quality and Business management standards which is used to check that companies have processes in place which ensure the company is in control in a range of different areas of the business. Whist it is designed to assure customers that the supplier has in place control processes that ensure the correct product/service is supplied at the agreed time it also covers a number of other aspects of the business including; risks to and opportunities for the business as well as quality and business improvement targets.

ISO14001 2015 differs from ISO9001 principally as regards the processes and actions the business has in place to reduce its impact on the environment, Hence for those areas where it has significant impacts it has to have set targets for reducing these impacts which are measurable, meaningful and can be achieved. In order to do this it must have formulated and implemented a plan towork towards and monitor progress on these targets.

Any company with targets to grow the business will see considerable benefits for the business when they achieve certification to these 2 ISO Standards

Climate Change; how companies can help

The evidence that the changes in climate are having a detrimental impact on the natural world is becoming increasingly clear so how can companies reduce their environmental impact?

Firstly their use of natural resources such as raw materials, energy and water.. In the case of raw materials companies need to focus on getting things right first time which will reduce scrap levels. They should consider whether any scrap materials and/or products can be reused in production or sold as a lower quality product, Energy use can be more efficient by making use of waste heat as a low grade heating source; also reducing heat loss from buildings by improving wall and roof insulation as well as upgrading glazing of windows and doors. Water usage can be reduced by provision of storage tanks for filtering and recycling waste water. this can also include collection and storage of rainwater.

Secondly Packaging waste. the emphasis should be to switch to biodegradable or recyclable plastics to replace plastic packaging currently sent to landfill. Here it is vital that this recyclable plastic is clearly identified by type of plastic to enable recycling companies to sort the plastics for reuse. For other types of packaging such as cardboard it is important that the box size and type of cardboard used provides sufficient protection for the product but also does not result in a lot of wasted space in the box.

Visits to customers need to be planned to minimise fuel usage and wherever possible using onlinre meetings to supplement the customer visits. Redundant IT equipment can very often be refurbished/repaired for use in less critical applications in other businesses or put to supprting school education

Climate Change impact reduction

How will businesses demonstrate their commitment to reducing their impact on climate change?

By going for certification to ISO14001 Companies will be able to show to their customers that they are setting targets for reducing their impact in the environmental areas where the company is having the most significant detrimental impact on the environment.

Not only will the company be able to reassure their customers that they are committed to reducing their impact on the environment but they can also highlight their commitment on the business web site and also as part of their digital marketing strategy.

keeping the lights on and charging EVs

This last week has seen very little sunshine and the absence of any significant windy conditions. Therefore very little green electricity will have been generated.

Imagine, when all the fuel fired power stations have been closed down and similar weather conditions occur , what sources of power will be available to keep the lights on and industrial equipment running..Either we will need massive energy storage facilities or nuclear power generation will have to be massively increased, Harnessing wave and tidal power does not appear to be any nearer to being a commercial reality than it was a decade ago.

How will sufficient power be made available to charge all the electric vehicles overnight when very little green energy is being generated. This is a major hurdle that needs to be overcome before petrol and diesel powered vehicles are phased out completely by 2030

The benefits for companies who achieve ISO9001

Almost all my 30+ clients for whom I provided assistance to achieving ISO9001 Certification have recognised the benefits of having the management systems in place. These include;-

1) being much better at establishing the correct customer rquirements for products or services

2) more effective planning for manufacturing the specified product or providing the required service

3) reducing the supply of incorrect or unsuitable goods from suppliers by only using suppliers who have been assessed and approved as a suitable supplier before placing orders with them

4) reducing the cost of in process scrap and rejected products and hence much improved on time delivery performance.

5) fewer customer complaints and, by identifying the root causes of the complaints, a reduction in similar complaints being reported again.

All these benefits help businesses to improve their bottom line and also gain the trust of their customers that the products/services will be delivered on time and as specified on the order.

Why use on line networking

I network with 3 different on line networking groups based in different locations in England. This is of considerable benefit to me as it enables me to join groups who previously I would not have been able to join except by a vey long car journey. Hence this has enabled me to sell my business expertise to a much wider audience who now know about me and the type of customer I would like to work with.

5 months of online networking has resulted in several referrals that I would never have had contact with in the days of face to face meetings. I would strongly reccommend to anyone considering joining an online networking group to give it a go. it doesn’t cost a lot and you don’t have to travel to attend the meetings.

Why a company should go for ISO14001 certification

Achieving ISO14001 certification demonstrates a company’s commitment to working to reduce its impact on the environment.

To achieve this certification the company has to set improvement targets for those areas of the environment which it has the most impact on. Examples of this can be 1)waste and reject reduction; 2)more efficient use of natural resources including raw materials and energy. 3) reduced and more environmentally friendly packaging and 4) using more local suppliers.

As companies are starting to build their businesses back up to full output most of their customers will see certification to ISO14001 as evidence of their commitment to helping improve their impact on the environment.

The costs of certification to a business are almost always offset by the cost savings achieved in the first 12 months by the actions taken resulting from the outcome of the environmental impact assessment.

the reasons why companies go for ISO9001 certification

There is usually a point when a business is expanding where the owner and senior management start to realise the need to actively seek certification to the International Quality Management Standard ISO9001.

This could be that they are expanding their sales to include public sector customers where they are required to complete a pre qualification questionnaire (PQQ) before they can achieve approved supplier status with the customer. In these cases the possession of a UKAS approved ISO9001 certificate is a valuable asset. Where the company is actually completing a tender application for a contract then it is most unlikely the tender will be considered unless the application is supported by a copy of the ISO9001 certificate.

A second reason is that one or more the company’s customers has asked to visit the site to carry out a full audit of their management systems. In most cases customers will not do a site visit if the supplier has ISO9001 certification.

A third reason is where the supplier is in a very competitive market and needs to demonstrate a way in which they can be relied on to supply the product or service required by the customer. In this situation the possession of ISO9001 certification will be a USP.if none of his competitors are certified to the Standard.

There can be other added benefits such as reduced business insurance premiums