Written by: B. Purushothama
Written by: B. Purushothama
ISO 9000 Quality Management systems have emerged out as one of the most popular Quality Management Systems. The standards which were adopted from BS 5750 in 1987 underwent amendments in 1994 and 2000, and now again in 2008.
By considering the advantages of getting consistency in the supplies and smooth working, the organizations who were familiar with BS 5750/ISO 9000 started insisting their suppliers for getting accredited to ISO 9000. The government agencies also started insisting on ISO 9000 certificate from their suppliers before submitting tenders for various supplies of products and services. This insistence compelled number of organizations to align their activities inline with the requirements of QMS, and the number of companies with ISO 9001 certification is increasing alarmingly.
ISO 9001 guidelines give basic requirements for a good Quality Management System, which are practical and simple. In the initial stages, people were considering the certification of ISO 9000 as a great achievement, but now due to innumerable number of certificate holders, it is no more considered as an achievement. It is the basic or fundamental requirement for any organization to survive. If one is not following a QMS, he is likely to collapse shortly.
With over one million ISO 9000 certified companies world over, the significance of the certificate is getting lost. Almost everyone is ISO certified. The customers are again finding it difficult in identifying good suppliers those are matured in understanding the requirements, who could proactively respond and have Quality Management Systems, implemented effectively company wide and following religiously. There is no method of assessing the effectiveness of implementation, although some companies have developed their own systems to measure their performance. There is a need for scientific/logical measurement of the maturity of Quality Management Implementation in an organization.
BSI has recently started Benchmarking system in QMS. The companies are assessed considering the 8 Quality Management Principles adopted in ISO 9001:2000. For each principle 5 criteria are verified, and the companies are fitted in one of the five levels, viz No level, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
In BSI method there are 5 x 8 = 40 questions, and each question has maximum of 50 marks. Total marks are 2000. The companies scoring 20% and below shall not get any rank. The Bronze status is given for companies getting 21% to 40% marks, Silver for 41% to 60 marks, Gold for 61% to 80% marks and Platinum for 81% to 100%. The members can have an access to find out the highest ranking in each category. BSI gives reports for each principle separately and also indicates Threat, Risk, Business impact and area for improvement. Any company, whether ISO 9000 certified or not, can participate in this Benchmarking assessment. Once a company is assessed and graded, a certificate is issued, which is valid for 2 years. There shall be one assessment every year.
Any company, if it wants to improve, should first know the level in which they are. It might not be feasible for all to go for a benchmarking survey, as one need to wait for one year after getting assessment to understand the changes in status if any. And also the external auditors might not get complete exposure to the depth systems have gone. As the purpose is to assess self and plan for improvement, we need to device a method, which is simple and can be handled by Internal Quality Auditors. The assessment should be done after each Internal Quality Audit so that the effects of efforts made can be understood.
One needs to carefully understand the requirements of the Quality Management System and extent to which it can be implemented. The various levels between a starting level company and the best company may be identified and marks may be allotted. By this it shall be possible to understand the level at which we are working and the area needed to be improved. It is possible to track the performance in Quality Management Systems in numerical terms.
An attempt is made herewith to allocate marks for various levels of implementation. The internal auditors, who are matured enough and trained in assessment for maturity, can allot the marks independently followed by a consensus method. By this the company can assess the level of implementation of QMS and work out the plans to make it more effective.
The companies, who are still not matured enough to have self assessment, can understand the expectations of a good QMS system by reading the guidelines for assessment. The concepts which have been given higher marks are the ones to be benchmarked.
In the Guidelines prepared, the maturity is assessed by 100 different angles, referred as elements of implementation of QMS. In each element, 5 possible levels are identified and marks are allotted for them. One need to verify in which level the company is there against each element of QMS. The maximum marks are 5 for each element and minimum is 1. Zero mark is not considered as we have taken a company for assessment which already has implemented QMS and is certified.
A company can therefore have maximum of 500 marks and minimum of 100. If the company scores 100 marks, it is considered as base level or Level 1. Company scoring between 102 to 200 is Level 2, 201 to 300 is Level 3, 301 to 400 is level 4 and 401 to 500 shall be level 5. The chances of a company falling in level 1 is very remote, as they cannot score just 1 in all the 100 elements, but could score more than 1 in number of elements.
As the concepts in QMS change depending on the developments of new concepts, the guidelines prepared also will change. However, by the logics adopted here, we can measure the effectiveness of implementation of any Quality Management System.
About the Author:
The author is a learned Consultant for QMS and Textiles.