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.
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.