Before starting the ISO journey–and before your consultant (if you hire one) arrives–there are eight tasks you can complete to give you a good head start.
If your company is like most. you're already staffed very lean, which means there isn't always extra time "to do ISO."
And, unfortunately, an ISO project is very easy to back-burner. That can cause the effort to drag out, cost more than necessaryĖor even, in extreme cases, fail.
Top management can prevent that by making it clear at the start &dash, to middle management, supervisors, and employees alike &dash, that ISO is not optional. Everyone must pull together, work to a strict time line, and meet deadlines.
There is no substitute for 100% unflagging top management support. Don't even start without it.
Top management should designate, as ISO project coordinator, a person who:
- Is a long-timer in the organization
- Has the respect of his/her peers
- Knows his/her way around the firm's processes
- Has a direct relationship with top management
The job of ISO coordinator is not for a company rookie. It requires a person who is organized, detail oriented, deadline driven, and absolutely committed to success.
In many organizations, people wear many hats, and job titles are not always used. In an ISO system, job titles become important in planning the processes, and in clearly designating responsibility and authority.
So put together a list of current employees along with standardized job titles.
- If certain people, because of multiple responsibilities, need two or more job titles, that's fine.
- In the production area, if you have one, you may have employees classified as "laborers" or "equipment operators" without getting more specific than that.
Because ISO standards require designation of responsibility and authority, put together an organization chart starting with the senior executive management and going down through management, supervisory, and leader levels.
- Use titles, not personal names (people change but job titles tend not to).
- The titles should be the same as what you used on the employee list.
If you have already prepared procedures or instructions for any of your processes (even informal ones), you should gather these for review, even if they haven't been looked at or used in some time.
- Developing your system with input from existing documents can save time.
- Don't forget documents such as job descriptions (if you have them–they are not required), maintenance checklists, and standard forms.
If customers reference the same specifications over and over:
- Gather these together for review
- Determine where they should be controlled / kept for reference.
Particularly for quality management (ISO 9001), you'll need a process for managing "critical" classes of vendors–vendors whose poor performance could hurt your ability to serve your consumers. Classic examples include vendors who provide:
- Calibration service
- Equipment maintenance
- Lab testing
- Material transportation
- Outsourced processing
- Raw material, components, etc.
- Temporary help
Assemble the names and contact information of the vendors in critical categories with whom you currently do business. You'll "grandfather" these vendors into your vendor management system at the appropriate time.
Even if you hire a consultant, you must have your own copy of the relevant ISO standard (9001, 14001, 18001) on hand. You can buy these for immediate download.