ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized standard used to set the requirements for establishing, implementing, and maintaining a Quality Management System. As well as setting requirements for documented information and processes, ISO is about a commitment to continual improvement and customer satisfaction. This supports our mission statement of “Understanding that the company’s ultimate value lies in our workforce, we will prove the structured training and mentorship necessary to create a working culture which supports both the personal and professional success of each employee, helping them to reach their goals both in and outside of work”.
To implement a successful QMS through ISO, you must go beyond simply applying each clause and embrace the seven principles of Quality Management. Read on to learn about what these principles mean to UITP:
- Customer Focus- We strive to not only meet our customers’ requirements but to exceed their expectations. Everything we do here at UITP is to continually improve all relations with our buyers. We enjoy close working relationships with our buyers, which allows for constant communication and feedback through our annual customer surveys and our customer comment logs. We keep the line open so that the customer knows we are accessible and willing to listen to anything they feel they should communicate. We also have an open-door policy, where our buyers feel comfortable and welcome to stop by and visit us in person.
- Leadership- Leaders at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction and create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the quality objectives of the organization. All managers here are well-versed in their roles and understand why they are an important part of driving the QMS. We recognize that good practices and good habits start with management, and it is our duty to lead by example and implement the QMS in an effective way.
- Engagement of People- It is essential that every team member is competent, empowered, and engaged in delivering value. We determine employee engagement by whether employees are actively involved in advancing our organization’s goals. Engagement levels are influenced by things like confidence to fulfill job requirements, trust, recognition of hard work, and open communication throughout the organization. Employees know that the company is invested in their success, which encourages their involvement in contributing to the company’s success. Having support not just as an employee but a human being allows people to care not just about the product they are handling, but the company as a whole and the future they want to be a part of. We use team building exercises to remind them that it isn’t about being here for 8 hours disconnected, but about being together as a team, meeting due dates and resolving problems. We encourage people to voice their ideas, especially about process improvement. Who better than the people that work directly with these processes? This is usually done during Toolbox Talks which allows everyone in the organization to get together and communicate needs and scope of the future, and to have their time to address the team as a whole. We also hold annual self-evaluations for people to take the time to reflect on their parts of the larger picture and allows us to better understand what they are thinking and how they view the organization.
- Process Approach- Consistent and predictable results are achieved more effectively and efficiently when activities are understood and managed as interrelated processes that function as a coherent system. We find that including our employees in the conversation through our training program and educating them about why our processes are setup a certain way, and allows them to take ownership of their role in our QMS. This includes having them understand how their actions impact not just the QMS but our operation as a whole.
- Improvement- Successful organizations have a continuing focus on improvement. We are always thinking about the future and ways to improve every process and product we have. We encourage our employees to pursue professional development opportunities through training, classes, and workshops. Where applicable, we provide staff with the resources required to obtain specialty certifications. Over the course of the past year, our team has earned the SHRM Certified Professional designation, and passed Foundations and Lead ISO Auditing courses. They have also participated in Women’s Leadership and Aerospace Quality Conferences. Our engineering department participates in several industry events throughout the year, which they use to stay up to date on the latest technology and standards in aerospace and manufacturing. These events have been particularly helpful in finding new pieces of equipment to make our processes more efficient.
- Evidence-Based Decision Making- Decisions based on the analysis and evaluation of data and information are more likely to produce desired results. We use the E2 shop system for reporting and analyzing production process and flow, which gives us definitive data to make decisions (not guesses) on inventory, sales, loss and profit margin, scheduling, etc. We also use Management Review Meetings to evaluate the effectiveness of the QMS, assess our risks and opportunities, and identify areas for improvement. In our fast-paced environment, these meetings are a valuable opportunity for our management team to be in the same room, at the same time to receive important updates and discuss revisions to the QMS.
- Relationship Management- For sustained success, organizations manage their relationships with other interested parties, and this ties back to Principle #1 of Customer Focus. Other ways we manage our external relationships such as with supplier and legal requirements, are to address them in our List of Interested Parties, so we can guarantee we fulfill all obligations, not just those of our customers.
These principles have helped guide UITP through this time of growth and excitement. We firmly believe that with a solid system in place that is focused on quality, growth and continuous improvement, we can meet and exceed our customers’ expectations. This would not have been possible without having embraced the ISO 9001 standards.