| 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?
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
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 Use of outdated manuals and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.