During our facilitation of the creation and installation of the new systems to meet the ISO requirements, we include specific training to ensure the purpose of the ISO systems and the benefits they provide are known to all. Additionally, there is one key fact: that the more closely followed the ISO standard is, the faster and stronger the results accrue to the organisation and its staff.
A.) All Staff should be trained on the following ISO Awareness topics:
- What is an ISO system?
- How does it affect existing practices?
- What new practices will be introduced?
- Who is responsible for what?
- Why is this being introduced?
Different levels of responsibility will require different levels of training. If training is aimed at the key controllers of the ISO systems that will require:
- At least one Director/ Senior Manager
- The related Quality Manager (if such a role exists) or other relevant discipline dependant on the ISO standard being applied for
- Data entry staff
- Internal Auditors
- Management Review attendees if not already covered above
These people will be the ones “walking the walk” so it is important that they are trained to do so. Beyond this background training there are some specific areas that will require additional emphasis:
B.) Internal Audit training – the purpose of the internal audit, as far as the ISO standards are concerned, is to ensure that there is an internal control on whether staff is undertaking the processes as they are described in the ISO systems. It should be clear, however, that just because someone is not doing what the systems say, does not mean that they are incorrect. It may be that the staff member has found a better way of doing things – in which case the result of the audit finding should be to change the systems to match what the staff member was doing.
The key point about internal audits is that they are a perfect opportunity to catch people doing things right – and thereby provide an excellent rewards structure.
Audits are one of the focal areas that drive feedback. This feedback is considered during the Management Review that then consolidates the findings in either altered approaches and systems, or into new aims and goals. This drives the progress of the organisation so that each year it is better than the previous one.
Audit training carried out by our consultants involves some teaching on what an audit is, why they are carried out and the process for undertaking them. But it quickly moves on to observing the consultant carry out a real audit (thereby reducing the number of audits that remain to be carried out for the year). This is then followed up by the staff member undertaking an audit themselves (also reducing the audit load for the year) but under observation of the consultant training them. There are two learning points here – the first is clearly to know and understand what the audit involves and results in. The second, and more important point is to help generate the correct thinking behind the questions in an audit. Many people use checklists. While these should ensure coverage if correctly drawn up, they are inflexible and lead to a mind-‐set that does not look wider and does not match what is observable with what should be seen if it is not actually on the checklist. Thus the key point is how to think as an auditor to dig out those areas of vital difference that exist in every situation.
C.) The other area of specific training relates to the Management Review.
This is carried out at least annually and is the opportunity to bring together a high level team to look at how the organisation is described as being run and match that vision with feedback from Internal Audit reports (how it is actually being run), from Customer feedback (how customers want to see it being run) and Staff feedback (how staff want to see it being run). Against this the Management Review team have to overlay the organisational goals for the forthcoming period (how the organisation is intended to be run in the future), in order to generate the new version of the systems (ie what is proposed to ensure that everyone is as happy as is possible given the likely conflicts of interest on the way).
This is not an easy task, but when Board members realise that this is the way to ensure that the goals they have set for the future will be met (because the systems describe what is needed to make those changes happen), they tend to be a great deal more interested in participating and taking the ISO systems seriously.
Furthermore, this is an opportunity to complement those staff members giving feedback (positive or negative) and the internal auditors for the work they have done -‐ as well as identify others worthy of praise and reward for the work done in the year. This gives the whole system a positive vibe, which is vital to get and keep everyone on board.