How the DOD Cyber Security Program Impacts Contractors

How the DOD Cyber Security Program Impacts Contractors

Military contractors are usually poised at the cutting edge of DOD cybersecurity programs. Their contributions help the US maintain the most impressive standing army in the world. Because of their position, they have always needed to have top-notch cybersecurity.

Before now, the US Government hasn’t had to put guidelines in place to enforce robust cybersecurity. That changed in June 2020, with the Cyber Security Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). According to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)), the CMMC combined several security standards and industry best practices to reduce the risk of threats to contractor systems.

The implementation of this certification has changed the way contractors do business. In this article, we’ll look at the measures that the DOD has implemented to ensure governmental data safety when working with contractors. We’ll also delve into how contractors can figure out if they comply with current standards.

No Longer an Honor-Based System

In the past, contractors needed to sign a document that stated that they followed industry best-practices regarding their Cyber Security. Unfortunately, recent events have forced the government to reconsider its stance. In March 2019, NBC News reported that Iranian-backed hackers gained access to contractor systems, acquiring sensitive data on government-funded projects. Because of the potential fallout associated with sensitive information, the Pentagon decided to take action. The CMMC resulted from consultation, which was designed to ensure that contractors complied with the security standards the government has come to expect from its contractors.

The Cyber Security Obligations for Contractors

The DOD Cyber Security program focuses on one specific clause. The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) clause 252.204-70122, also known as the “7012 clause.” It has also been referred to as the Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting clause. It’s an addition that puts the onus for identifying sensitive information on the contractor. Additionally, the contractor is responsible for ensuring the data they’ve deemed as sensitive remains secure.

Contractors need to be aware of the information they will receive. Typically, the 7012 clause deals with “covered defense information” (CDI). CDIs include unclassified controlled technical data and any information inside the controlled classified information registry. If interaction with a CDI is contained within the contract, the company needs to verify that its practices meet the demands of the DOD Cyber Security program recommendations.

DOD Cyber Security Program Guidelines

Among the guidelines that the DOD suggests for contractors are:

  • Security Standards: At a minimum, contractors should implement the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-171 (“NIST SP 800-171”). This implementation includes putting together a system security plan and an action plan. Both of these plans must be approved by DOD personnel.
  • Rapid Incident Reporting: After an incident occurs, contractors have up to seventy-two (72) hours to submit a report. Reportable incidents have an expansive definition. All accounts must be made to the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) portal and require contractors to have a DOD-approved Medium Assurance Certificate. Because of how tiny the reporting window is, contractors should apply for this certificate in advance.
  • Cloud Computing Standards: The DOD Cyber Security program has its own recommendations for cloud-based solutions. If the business has its own in-house cloud solution, it must implement the NIST SP 800-171. For those using third-party cloud suppliers, the vendors must align with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (“FedRAMP”) Moderate baseline. Vendors must also comply with all obligations related to forensic analysis, media preservation, malicious software, and incident reporting, and damage assessment.

Relying On Your Business Practices

Contractors already have their own standards for operation regarding their cybersecurity departments. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a fallback position. Sync Resource has an understanding of the NIST cybersecurity framework that both the CMMC and the standard DOD cyber security program obligations require. If you’d like a third-party audit of your systems or just advice on how to improve them, give us a call. We’ll be glad to ensure that you’re fully compliant with the DOD Cyber Security standards.

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How ISO 9001 Can Improve Project Management?

How ISO 9001 Can Improve Project Management?

How ISO 9001 Can Improve Project Management?


There are a few sets of standards for project management that businesses need to meet in case of quality.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a set of international standards established to assist companies effectively document the quality system foundations to be instigated to carry out an adequate quality structure. They are not specific to any one industry or company among which ISO 9001 holds particular importance.

The standard directs the companies to a sustainable and quality oriented business plan that satisfies their customers’ demands. Their products and services need to meet their customers’ and clients’ requirements consistently. Along with that, it assists regular improvement in quality, keeping in mind the legislative and supervisory requirements.

No matter what the size of the company, ISO 9001 can be used by any organization to enhance their performance, focusing on customers’ needs, providing motivation to improve, auditing quality, etc.

It can also be used by companies from any industry sector be it healthcare, energy, and resources, industrial manufacturing, etc.

A fundamental component of most industries’ corporate activity is undertaking project works. These are to solve problems, exploiting opportunities and many other reasons. To carry it all out an efficient team is required composed of different individuals holding different talents and set of skills.

From the setup to executing it till the end, the project is responsibly planned, and its objectives are prioritized appropriately, or else bad it can be vulnerable to bad decisions leading to failure to achieve desired goals.

Everything from instigation, preparation, accomplishing, monitoring and closing the work needs to be done in the specified time set for the goals.

ISO for QMS provides sophisticated concepts and procedures that are well thought out to arrange good run-through in project management. Using the disciplines of ISO 9001 allows project managers to expand the success rate of their projects and succeed in their business plans.

Project Management and ISO 9001 Goes Hand In Hand!

Yes, you heard it right!

Want to see when ISO 9001 and Project Management shake hands together then what can be achieved with their combined powers?

Through process management, ISO 9001 and Project management can be very integrated into each other also.

Let’s deep dive into real benefits of Project management and ISO 9001…

Create a Service Culture

The project methodology is not the only aspect ISO 9001 certification entails an organization to embrace; Customer satisfaction is just as essential and crucial.

If the customers are not happy with the product and services provided the whole objective of the business is a waste. This is why customer criticism is measured continuously. It is imperative that the service culture is adopted.

ISO 9001 can boost the rate of success of an organization if the project seeks to supply products and services to external or to bid for prestigious contracts, where quality is a priority.

Customers want products and services that they are buying to meet their demands and retain the quality consistently. A lot of organizations device a formal quality management structure to ensure that their customers and clients commend their products and services.

Customers’ confidence can be achieved by using an effective quality management system such as ISO 9001. The organization can gain their customers’ trust in the project once they are ensured that the company prioritizes the quality.

Encourage Employee Engagement

ISO 9001 can aid in drilling confidence in workforces if projects and schemes have a reputation of being afflicted by low staff morale in the past. It helps increase motivations and improve work.

The senior management is provided with a resourceful controlling process that allows areas of responsibility to be established through the company with the help of ISO 9001. An efficient administration process supports the employees, who can now enjoy a smoothly functioning process and clarity about their work and responsibilities.

Once the overall operational process synchronizes the way an organization commences its project management, it will improve the whole overall functioning process and more importantly, will enhance employee buy-in.

The company’s staff will be more motivated and confident once non-efficient methods are replaced with functional, fruit-bearing ones.

Once the staff realizes that the overall success of the projects is on their shoulders, they will take their job more seriously and enjoy greater job satisfaction.

To execute the project successfully every team member needs to be clear about their goals and what is expected from them.

Teamwork and coordination make achieving the desired results possible. It is essential that the entire team is clear about the project being undertaken. This way, the company can expect is employees to understand the importance of goal achieving and the objectives of the project.

Being on the same page will also encourage employee engagement and productivity without any confusion or slip-ups.

Enjoy a Strategic Advantage

ISO 9001 with a high success rate, encourages a globally agreed quality management system. The millions of companies and organizations can prove its successful execution in over 170 countries that put their trust in this quality management system and are certified to it.

This helps ensure that organizations can carry out the same concepts and arrangements in their contractual and working relationships with clients, partners and other stakeholders. This leaves no room for confusion and complications. This aids the developments of project-based companies globally and offers ISO 9001 certified corporations with a tactical lead.

When ISO 9001 certified companies work together, they have an advantage over those with different quality management process as they are already used to satisfying similar standards, making their coordination more productive and fruitful.

Enhance Project Management Efficiency

ISO-based project management is not only beneficial to organizations and businesses but also offers an exclusive pro to those authorities seeking to manage projects.

Project management teams do not always entirely involve workforces and employees. A lot of them can be generated or accumulated under an agreement and contain the contribution of specialists from numerous topographical and expert areas.

To pull together project management teams in this way there needs to be temporary collaboration and alliance between groups.  With the help of ISO 9001 QMS, the management process is globally agreed upon, putting the companies on the same page and familiar with the execution methods.

If team members recognize and use those processes, they can enjoy greater success, efficacy, and flexibility working together.

Get the ISO 9001 Certification Cheat Sheet.

Amazing 8 Principles of Total Quality Management (TQM)

Amazing 8 Principles of Total Quality Management (TQM)

What Is TQM?

Total Quality Management, most commonly abbreviated as TQM is another branch of continuous improvement approach. TQM indicates 100% employees’ engagement to achieve 100% customers’ satisfaction leading to customer retention and long term success through continuous improvement in the process, products and the services. The philosophy of TQM possess a lethal combination of quality and management tools which is in another words a guarantee to any business success.

Role of TQM in Manufacturing

“Total Quality Management is managerial philosophy that incorporates all the functions of the organization i.e. Marketing, Sales, Finance, Health and Safety, Supply Chain, Production and Quality and aims to narrow the funnel to meet customers’ requirements and expectations.”

Happy Users of TQM

There are many multinational giants who are getting numerous benefits from TQM implementation in their workplaces. Among them few are listed below:

  • Ford Motor Company
  • Phillips Semi-conductor
  • SGL Carbon
  • Motorola
  • Toyota Motor Company

Eight Key Principles of TQM

Following are the eight key principles of TQM that are widely used in TQM implementation in manufacturing firms.

Management and Top Leadership Commitment

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Act

Employee Engagement

  • Training Need Analysis
  • Training
  • Suggestions and Feedback
  • Measurement and Recognition
  • Star teams

Evidence Based Decision Making

  • SPC (statistical process control)
  • The 7 statistical tools
  • TOPS (Ford 8D – team-oriented problem solving)

Continuous Improvement

  • Systematic measurement and focus on CONQ
  • Excellence teams
  • Cross-functional process management
  • Attain, maintain, improve standards

Customer Focus

  • Supplier partnership
  • Service relationship with internal customers
  • Never compromise quality
  • Customer driven standards

Ways to Embrace Continuous Improvement via TQM

Total Quality Management is one of the branches of continuous improvement starting from top leadership strategic planning all the way trickling down to parameters setting on machines on shop floor level. However, the focus of TQM approach narrows down to Supply and Demand generation, optimization of operational limits, building competency levels of people especially of shop floor people. TQM believes that zero percent waste generation and zero percent defects are achievable whereas we only need to drill down the ways how to prevent such defects that can cause harmful effects on our product’s quality.

Below is brief explanation of TQM mechanism of defects prevention:

  • Apply a Poka-Yoke solution which is also called mistake proofing.
  • If defects prevention seems near to impossible, early detection should be ensured to avoid defects in the final product.
  • If still mistakes reoccur after applying the above two methods, stop the production process until the diagnosis of the fault to prevent more defects in the products.

Resources to Become TQM Champion

Total Quality Management implementation is a step wise approach which is more fruitful if followed sequence wise as stated below:

  • Commitment towards Delivering Unmatched Quality

All employees must make commitment towards delivering high quality products and services at all costs.

  • Quality Improvement Culture

A culture of continuous quality improvement should be embedded in the organization by changing mindsets of the employees via trainings, refreshers leading to minimization in the competency gaps.

  • Make Continuous Improvement A Measurable KPI

Continuous improvement cycle should be embedded in not only production processes but in company’s policies, procedures and activities. In fact, continuous improvement can be made as a KPI which should be reviewed periodically.

  • Teamwork

Co-operation among employees should be flourished among inter-departments by assigning team projects and by recognizing teams on upper level.

  • Prioritize Your Customers

Going beyond customers’ expectations is what should be an utmost goal for everyone working in the organization.

  • Fool Proof Controls

Effective controls must be installed with data recording and analyzing on non-stop basis.

Challenges and Benefits Associated With TQM

  • Lower Cost of Production

Since TQM major focuses on defects elimination by fixing the root cause or reduction of the probability of the defect which ultimately results in waste reduction leading to less production cost. Having low production costs will definitely sky rocket profits making you stronger in the relevant marketplace among your competitors.

  • Disruption in Production

Before implementing Total Quality Management in full gear, it is necessary to form the mindset of your employees towards the philosophy of TQM, its working principles, and its key benefits which will require numerous training hours. The designed training module for TQM must include Problem solving tools and techniques, SWOT analysis, Basics of Six Sigma, Pareto analysis, and brainstorming via Ideas clustering methods. As the training hours increase, machine productivity hours will decrease because workers will spend more time in-classroom training. Once the training gets completed, elimination of defects and waste reduction can be seen after the passage of time.

  • Resistance From Employees

It has been observed that implementation of any new production methodology by higher management face great opposition from shop level people for the reason being an additional duty to be done. It is suggested not to throw half-cooked stuff to shop floor. It is important to raise the morale of employees by sharing success stories and by introducing awards and recognition systems on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

  • 100% Employee Engagement

Empowering shop floor workers will not only increase productivity but will also ensure unbeatable results. Recognize team players among shop floor workers and make them an inspiration for the rest of their teams. Employee empowerment will increase employee engagement to ultimate levels.

  • Customer-Based TQM Vision

Total Quality Management is all about winning customers’ confidence and trust by going beyond customers’ expectations. Deriving a customer focus strategy by collecting data from customers’ feedbacks or various complaints launched by customers helps you to focus on ways of achieving customers’ satisfaction.

  • Strengthened Planning and Process Management

After collecting data from customer’s feedback, plan management strategies in such a way that the chance of customers’ complaints can be eliminated or at least reduced. Having a good plan in your hands will definitely move up to the great accomplishment of production targets within prescribed timelines.

  • Process Improvement By Virtue of TQM

TQM stresses the fact that no market continues to operate the same. Demand and market supply evolves with time and so the customers’ requirements too. Improving cost to lower production costs will assist in lower labor costs are few secrets to become competitive in the world.

challenges and benefits associated with TQM

How to Maintain your ISO Certification

How to Maintain your ISO Certification

Getting ISO Certification is not a problem but maintaining it is not an easy task and requires both the time and money investment with a proper channel and team. To keep the company in compliance with ISO standards and implementation of the standards in true sense is mind scratching task and cannot be done without the commitment of top management and involvement of the workers. Ostensibly after obtaining or getting the certification it is thought that main part of the job is done. In fact the real job starts after it and that is to maintain and implement it.

Most of the companies follow the standards just to get ISO certification and after that stop working according to the defined standard operating procedures (SOP’s). Standards must be followed in any way to achieve the long term benefits of the standards. Most of the companies do not know what to do before the (Surveillance, internal or external) audits? There is no need of any extra preparation before the audit if the defined standards are followed all the way. Following are steps that are important for maintaining the ISO Standards:

  • Defining Standard Operating Procedures(SOP’s):

In this phase, firstly the operating procedures are defined and procedures are the activities that are workers performing and a little modification is done in ISO certification, the working methods to improve performance and satisfaction of both the workers and customers. Most of the time, the activities, that are being performed, conforms the  ISO standards but some new activities are also introduced. New activities will help to implement and to work effectively with standards.

  • Training:

After setting the ISO standards the next task is to train the workers and management staff. This training is related to: how to perform new activities?  Best thing about the ISO standard is that it provides a basic framework on how to identify the needs and plan the training along with the requirements of ISO standards to measure the effectiveness of ISO certification training. Measuring of the effectiveness can be done with the help of Key Performance Indicators(KPI’s) and will give information regarding that how much the people are competent.

  • Control of Documents:

Whether an organization is certified or is starting, the key is to let the processes that are used to meet its goals determine documentation of ISO certification requirements. The ISO standards has many instances where it calls for the specific evidence of conformity. Documents are the evidence of conformity to requirements of ISO certification. Therefore, documentation file of ISO certification must be according to the objectives and must be updated. A complete control system must be established so that documents are identifiable and retrievable when needed in ISO standards. Arrangements for Proper storage and protection must be made.

  • Switching from ‘Plan’ to ‘Do’ phase and Follow up:

Procedures development is easier than the implementation in ISO certification. Ensuring the implementation takes more time than writing them. This is the phase of real importance in which the written ISO standards are implemented on floor. A complete follow up system is established which shows and indicates ISO certification whether the things are aligned with the said statements or not and what type of actions are required to improve them.

  • Monitoring and measuring:

Monitoring and measuring system help to collect data required for analysis and evaluation in ISO certification. Through this statistics are generated which are then used to convince and to show the results of the implemented standards. A proper analysis of the data will help to make decisions based on the facts rather than assumptions.

  • Checks and Acts:

Evidence based decision making will definitely lead to continual improvement of the system. During the decision-making process some checks and acts are set. These checks and acts will help to eliminate the poor practice to rush to improve standards just before the annual compliance check. Because just working on the standards before the annual checks, is a quick fix method and will not come with benefits of implementing standards. These checks and acts are also documented and are used in management review meetings to check the effectiveness of the standards implemented.

  • Management Review Meetings:

A structured review meeting that is arranged periodically to discuss the functioning of management standards and to take actions to correct or prevent it when necessary. Management review meetings are conducted to ensure that all the activities are in accordance with the standards. Activities are reviewed at all possible level and all the staff is given awareness related to any update and any change in trend. Revision and verification are done and actions are taken either to improve them or to eliminate the disturbing activity. In other words, corrective or preventive actions are taken to maintain the standards and to get the related benefits. It is not mandatory to document the management reviews procedure but it will help in conducting the next meetings. Revision of previous minutes of meetings and actions taken to counter problems will help to measure the effectiveness of the meetings. Management review meetings can be conducted after a specific period of time when management feels comfortable. It may be conducted once in a year or more frequently.  Frequently conducted review meetings will result in better results.

  • Internal Audits:

With all the activities mentioned above, a complete and thorough internal audit is necessary. It will provide additional information not only about the level of compliance but will also help to identify the potential failure areas and also provides the suggestions to correct/remove them. This will give a real scenario to fairly judge the condition of the system. Together with other information gathered along the way, top management will be able to conduct a more comprehensive and value-added management review and will make evidence based decisions that will lead to continual improvement of the system.

  • External Audits:

An external audit (system audit) conducted on a management system is a documented process performed to verify, by examination and evaluation of objective evidence, that applicable elements of the system are appropriate and effective and have been developed, documented, and implemented in accordance and in conjunction with specified requirements. This audit is performed by an audit organization independent of the customer-supplier relationship. Audits are done to verify compliance, conformance, or performance.

Having all the above elements covered means having a complete compliance with the management standards. All these elements are the first place where the auditors will be looking, so having this covered will prepare for a better and stress free audit.

If you need help with Ongoing Maiantaince or Internal Audits feel free to contact us, Sync Resource is a premium ISO consulting Serivce provider.

Inshoring Manufacturing Jobs

Inshoring Manufacturing Jobs

GE, Caterpillar, Ford are all working to make in jobs shoring happen. Why? Is the most obvious question we have. After a decade of product manufacturing off shoring, it has become a reality that cheaper is not always better. The industry leaders have acknowledged that quality is most integral to their product existence. This coupled with long lead times, lower quality, supplier and customer complaints, midnight communications, long global trips, jobs, communication differences are enough criteria to justify the cause. (more…)