CAPAtrak Blog

Comments on Quality

Archive for November, 2009

Diane’s LinkedIn Answer about Environmental Reporting, Metrics and Data

Posted by Diane Kulisek on November 30, 2009

This question, which is actually a collection of questions, about “Environmental reporting – defining metrics, retrieving data from data warehouses or other data sources” was posted on LinkedIn by colleague Lauchlan Mackinnon, Ph.D., a specialist in the areas of creative thinking, innovation, value creation and change management.  The question(s) was (were) answered by Diane Kulisek and hers was selected as the ‘best’ answer byDr. Mackinnon. 

Here are the elements of the question:

  • What models are you using for environmental reporting to define the metrics to report against, retrieve the data, and report on it?
  • Which frameworks and approaches do you find most useful?
  • What is your strategy for defining the appropriate environmental reporting metrics?
    • Are these metrics mandated by reporting standards (and if so, how so?); or
    • do you have considerable freedom and flexibility in defining them in the way that best suits the company the reporting is being done for?
  • I would also appreciate any specific advice regarding to what extent you can retrieve the required data from existing data warehouses / data stores, or you need to define and collect new streams of data to report effectively.
  • Also, to what extent do you tie this reporting with other existing reporting (e.g. balanced scorecard) and to what extent do you treat environmental reporting as a seperate reporting task (e.g. a compliance obligation as seperate to busines operations management)? It would make sense to me to integrate the two, but I want to see what you think . . .Any references to specific approaches you use or standards and frameworks you find particularly useful will be appreciated.

Diane’s Answer(s):

Those are a lot of questions to ask at once and, were I sitting down to discuss this with you 1-to-1, I’d need a lot of clarification to feel as though I could really do the answers justice. That being said, I would like to tackle a few aspects of your questions to start with and recommend that you narrow the scope of your inquiry for further dialogue.

Firstly, on the matter of strategy definition, standards may be an important consideration, especially if a standard is contractually imposed or imposed via a regulatory agency. The standard series with which I am most familiar is strictly for physical environments: ISO 14000. You can obtain a copy of it and related standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  These documents are not cheap.

Some companies have begun adopting a “green” posture for public relations, as well. If this is the case, I recommend that an environmental “policy statement” be developed and that each element of that statement be broken into discrete components of the organization’s overall strategic plan. For each such element, key performance indicators will need to be defined that are either variably measurable or attainable as an attribute (go/no go, did/didn’t, etc.). Each such metric should then be flowed into each operating policy and/or procedure that can generate any part of it throughout the operation. The personnel doing the work can be trained in the use of dashboards to monitor their own contribution toward attaining the strategic objectives. Dashboard data would typically be rolled upward into the balanced scorecard at the organization-wide level.

If you are working in something other than a physical environment, per se (i.e. a software development environment, financial environment, etc.), you may want to manage things quite differently and, certainly, you should be able to link to automated streams of data to fill out real-time metrics compilers for much more complex, live, intranet-hosted reporting.

I saw a nice example of a streaming data financial dashboard on a website that compiles such examples recently. [Edit:  The example was on DashboardSpy.com, a great resource].   I believe I copied a link for it into a free presentation handout available through my company website under the “downloads and links” tab (www.capatrak.com).  The presentation is titled: “Quality Metrics, [Scorecards] and Dashboards“. My expertise is in quality management and regulatory affairs, so you might need to temper your expectations a bit with regard to applicability for environmental management and regulation. The same information should also be useful for the environmental management side of the world, however. If you don’t mind tailoring them for your use, there are also free downloadable, editable, Excel-based balanced scorecard and simple dashboard templates for you there. I’ve also got an example of a strategic plan and a very simple MS Word based editable template for a strategic plan there… but they are intended for quality endeavors and would be derived from an organization’s quality mission statement as opposed to an environmental policy. It shouldn’t be hard to make the necessary modifications for them to work with an environmental policy, however.

Posted in Blogroll, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology, Uncategorized, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quality-Related Answers on LinkedIn from Diane

Posted by Diane Kulisek on November 30, 2009

As I was updating some of my information on LinkedIn this morning, it occurred to me that I’ve shared much more information about quality there than on this blog.  While I want to keep the information I share here fresh, sometimes I’m a bit too busy with other urgent matters to compose a new message.  In cases like that, I think you might find some of the answers I’ve posted on LinkedIn of interest… especially those that have been rated highly by LinkedIn users.

Before I get into that, here are a few facts about my LinkedIn activities to help put things into perspective. 

I joined LinkedIn on April 30th, 2006.  Today, I have 365 first degree connections (people I personally know and who are connected directly to me through LinkedIn), 162,200+ second degree connections (people who know people connected to me), and 6,814,700+ third level connections (people who know people who are connected to me), for a total LinkedIn network of 6,977,300+ people.  My LinkedIn network has grown by 30,677 people in the past week.    

Members of my nearly 7 million person network are from all over the world but are largely located in New York, San Francisco, India and Los Angeles, each with 5% of my total LinkedIn network membership, and Chicago, with 3% (for a collective total of 23%).  That means that roughly 200,000 to 350,000 people in each of 4 major U.S. cities and in India are accessible through my network… and can interact with me… via LinkedIn Answers.  India, Los Angeles and London are my fastest growing LinkedIn network regions.

Many of my direct LinkedIn connections are in quality-related professions, however, there is no ‘quality’ profession category to identify oneself with on LinkedIn (and, yes, I’ve mentioned this to LinkedIn‘s management team), so 38% of the industry-categorized members of my LinkedIn community currently fall into the following fields: 

  • 14% Information Technology and Services;
  • 07% Staffing & Recruiting (no surprise there, eh?);
  • 06% Management Consulting (a.k.a. ‘previously employed’, also not a surprise);
  • 06% Computer Software (a.k.a. Information Technology and Services – the sequel); and
  • 05% Human Resources (a.k.a. ‘Staffing & Recruiting’ – part deux).
  •  

    I change my LinkedIn industry category declaration to suit my circumstances or my mood.  I’ve used ‘management consulting’, ‘medical device manufacturing’, ‘process industries’, ‘electrical and electronics’, ‘government relations’ and, currently, ‘public safety’.  They’re all true, of course, or were at the time I used them.

    I’ve also changed my title, to suit my mood.  Currently, I bill myself as: “Organizational Excellence and Quality Assurance Leader”.  I used to be a “Senior Quality Professional” until I read that “Senior” means “Old” on a resume.  Then I was just a “Quality Professional”, until somebody mentioned (rightly) that all professionals are (or should be) quality professionals.  Then I was a “Quality Assurance Professional”, until another person pointed out that, since Lean and Six Sigma has been around, people don’t hire actual “Quality Assurance Professionals”, anymore.  So, I compromised with kind of a play off of the American Society for Quality’s Certification Designation for a Quality Assurance Manager:  “Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence” and changed the word “Manager” to “Leader” (mostly to try to stop people from sending me first level management job leads — which don’t seem to work very well for me).  I’m now calling myself an “Organizational Excellence and Quality Assurance Leader”.  I think I need to drop “Assurance” and change it to “Improvement”.  The word “Assurance” is apparently still somewhat politically incorrect, in the current job market.  I’ll do that today.

    Anyway, continuing on… according to LinkedIn… I’ve posted 175 answers, as of today.  Unfortunately, not all of those who ask questions on LinkedIn rate the answers they receive (which is really just a form of thanks for those of us who took the time to answer), but for those of my posted answers that were rated, 70 were considered ‘good’ or ‘best’, with 32 falling into the ‘good’ rating and 38 into the ‘best’ answer rating.  23 of the ‘best’ answers I’ve posted are in relation to the topic: “Quality Management and Standards”, but there are many other answer categories that I’ve provided ‘best’ answers for.  Following is the LinkedIn breakout of my ‘best’ answers by topic: 

    • Quality Management and Standards (23 best answers)
    • Organizational Development (2 best answers)
    • Manufacturing (2 best answers)
    • Project Management (2 best answers)
    • Supply Chain Management (2 best answers)
    • Certification and Licenses (1 best answer)
    • Mentoring (1 best answer)
    • Event Marketing and Promotions (1 best answer)
    • Personnel Policies (1 best answer)
    • Business Analytics (1 best answer)
    • Corporate Governance (1 best answer)
    • Labor Relations (1 best answer)
    • Inventory Management (1 best answer)
    • Career Management (1 best answer)
    • Professional Organizations (1 best answer)
    • Ethics (1 best answer)
    • Starting Up (1 best answer)
    • E-Commerce (1 best answer)
    • Computers and Software (1 best answer)
    • Using LinkedIn (1 best answer)

    What this means for you is simply this: out of my nearly 7,000,000 member LinkedIn Network, I am, by far and away, the top rated ‘expert’ on “Quality Management and Standards”.  I must be doing something right.  I don’t like to describe myself (or anybody else) as an ‘expert’, but LinkedIn does that based upon the highest number of ‘best answer’ ratings. 

    Here is how being an ‘expert’ looks on the Answers page (at the bottom) for this topic: 

    In case you’re thinking the apparently huge ‘best’ answers lead I seem to have over fellow professionals, like close runner up, Anshuman Tiwari, does not take into account the expertise of my 2nd degree or 3rd degree LinkedIn contacts, take a look at this:

    Yeah, Shaun (2nd degree connection) and Scott (3rd degree connection), ‘expert’ front runners, are snapping at my heels (NOT). 

    And, by the way, I only post one or two LinkedIn Answers per week… so I don’t spend a lot of time doing this.  I find providing answers on LinkedIn challenges me and keeps my mind tuned into the latest developments in my chosen profession, so I do it for my ongoing personal and professional development as much as for others.  It takes me about an hour (usually) to research and prepare one ‘best’ answer.   That is not a huge investment for my return on it.

    So… the point of this shameless bragging about my LinkedIn activities and answers is this:  maybe I’ve posted some answers that would be worthwhile for you to read.

    I recognize that finding past answers I’ve posted to support your more urgent needs or interests might be like looking for a needle in a haystack via LinkedIn, especially if you don’t have a LinkedIn account (although Google is doing better at providing this information, now).  Nonetheless, I’m going to start posting some of the better answers I’ve provided here, too.  I do provide plenty of links to the LinkedIn website here, so let’s figure this might inspire some of my blog readers to open a new LinkedIn account (or better use the one they have), shall we?  It’s a win-win-win. 

    Anyway, my future LinkedIn Answer Blog posts here will be titled in a manner that best represents the original question asked.  The entire content of the question will appear in the body of the post. 

    If you have any questions for me about LinkedIn, I’ll be happy to do my best to answer them for you.  Better yet… join LinkedIn and ask me there!

    Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    ISO 9001 Management Review Agenda Template

    Posted by Diane Kulisek on November 8, 2009

    Management Review Agenda Template

    Click Image to Download

    This editable MS Word template addresses the agenda ‘inputs’ required by ISO 9001 and can be downloaded immediately.  No request form needs to be filled out.  Just click HERE or on the image of the template.

    One of the basic requirements of ISO 9001:2008 is that a Formal (documented) Top Management Review of the Quality Management System be held at planned intervals (reference: Section 5.6 of the standard).  It is typical for third party assessors to require a planned interval of: ‘at least once per year’.  

    There are specific ‘review inputs’ (topics and accompanying data) that must be addressed during the review in order to comply with the standard… and there are specific ‘review outputs’ (outcomes, including actions) that must be achieved. 

    For a list of all records required by ISO 9001:2008, visit the ISO website and take a look at the table at the bottom of ISO/TC 176/SC 2/N525R2, “Introduction and support package: Guidance on the documentation requirements of ISO 9001:2008”  titled: “Annex B: Records Required by ISO 9001:2008”.

    While the agenda for the Management Review is clearly prescribed within the ISO 9001 Standard, the formats for the supporting documentation, or effectiveness thereof, are not.  One company I worked with had identified exactly the same critical resource need to support quality outcomes for over five consecutive years … and had not made any effective progress in addressing that need.  Every year, the inadequacy of the Corrective Action System was noted in the minutes of the Management Review.  Every year, the third party assessor had also cited a ‘minor’ finding against the Corrective Action System.  Still, five years in a row, not a single improvement had been made to the Corrective Action System.  This did not prevent the company from maintaining ISO 9001 certification, however, because the minimum requirements of the standard were met.

    It may be tempting to pay lip service to a requirement for continual improvement just long enough to pass a third party assessment, but the damage caused by the dishonesty or insincerity of top managers can potentially cause far more damage to an organization than the cost, if any, of diligent, steady, practical, incremental, improvements over time. 

    The difficulty of allocating precious few resources to a system that does not seem too badly ‘broken’, especially in a tough economy, is understandable.  In my opinion, however, the cost is not always the issue.  Although pie-in-the-sky promises are often well-intended, the real challenge can be not to bite off more than the organization can chew, so to speak.  Overly ambitious plans for improvement fail as surely as dishonest ones.  Limiting planned improvement efforts to what is practical, instead of what might be possible or what is wished for, can still provide steady improvements that support positive change over time. 

    I recommend a conservative approach to addressing resource needs that arise in Management Reviews.  Many organizations hold monthly or quarterly operations reviews.  Why not address the requirements of the ISO 9001 Management Review in meetings that occur more naturally and routinely for your organization?  Make a conscious team effort to manage required Quality Management System resource allocations and actions as part of the normal way you do business.

    Whatever the frequency of your Management Reviews might be, the template provided will empower you to assure each required agenda item and outcome is addressed in compliance with the ISO 9001 standard. 

    If this particular Management Review Agenda Template doesn’t seem to work well for your specific needs, try using Google to do a search for others.  I got 537 MS Word document hits when I entered this search string:  “iso 9001 management review agenda template filetype:doc

    As always, if you need a particular template, metric, form or advice on any other quality-related matter, feel free to contact me.  I’ll be happy to do what I can to help.

    Posted in Tools and Methods, Science and Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »