Solutions HSE & Quality Management

Certification to approved standards in the areas of health, safety, environment and quality has become big business. Typical standards include ISO, EFQM, VCA, TQM, and ARBO. Certification is often required by suppliers, customers or government organisations. It can also serve as a stamp of approbation for a company in its market. The certification process requires a documented management system and procedures. It is this requirement which often proves to be the Achilles heel of the certification process. So what are the challenges?

Creating procedures
Procedures are needed to document the way your company works in any given area. The first challenge is to formulate each procedure in writing. This means appointing and managing an editor or team of editors to write these. You also need to decide who will approve the procedures, once they are written. Corrections and remarks have to be incorporated into the original document within a given time frame. Finally there is the process of final approval and distribution.

Distributing procedure manuals
Once the procedures have been finalised, they have to be made available to everyone concerned. In the case of ISO manuals, this means everyone in the organisation. The challenge here is that only the most recently approved version can be used. Older versions need to be disposed of. Updates have to be distributed in a timely fashion and at reasonable cost. Subsets of the complete manual may have to be distributed to people with specific functions. In short, procedure manuals need to be distributed electronically. Paper won’t cut it.

Maintaining manuals
The next challenge is to keep the procedure manual up to date. Your organisation’s activities are constantly changing and your procedures manual needs to reflect this. Certain procedures may need to be changed at different times. These will need to be approved and corrected all over again. This means that you will come across the need for version management, both for individual procedures and for the manual as a whole. Finally you will have to create new procedure subsets for re-distribution to different people and departments.

Controlling the process
Once your procedure manuals have been produced and distributed, it is critical to maintain strict control over their use and application. Having been distributed, manuals can start living a life of their own. It is of utmost importance to ensure watertight version control to ensure that the entire organisation remains up to date. Use of outdated manuals and procedures can undermine the entire certification process.

Overcoming the challenges
HSE and Quality Managers are more occupied with the administration of procedures than with focussing on the business of applying the standard itself. This means they may not be maximising their added value to the organisation. Using a paper-based system or a document management system designed for something else will just exacerbate the problem. Using a purpose-built application like WEBISO will change your Achilles heel into a winning streak. It provides a simple, intuitive solution which will turn your administrative challenges into a streamlined support system.

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