All posts by Laura Smith

UN Report Examines Credibility of Management Systems Certification

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While market surveillance is a…

While market surveillance is a well-known concept in a regulatory context, a similar approach has been shown to be effective when applied to the voluntary certification of quality management systems, according to a recent report by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

In a series of articles, The Auditor Online will share highlights from the “Good Practices: Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems” report, which presents the case for accreditation bodies or stakeholders completing market surveillance visits to certified organizations to ensure the quality of their products or services.

According to the report, user feedback on the performance of ISO 9001-certified suppliers and the accredited certification process reveals ongoing debate around the effectiveness and credibility of accredited certification.

The debate centers on whether organizations are deriving tangible benefits through ISO 9001 certification, if the certification process is being performed effectively, and whether ISO 9001-certified suppliers can be relied upon to provide “consistent, conforming products and services” to customers.

Systematic feedback was gathered between 2009 and 2015 from purchases regarding their perceptions of ISO 9001-certified suppliers, and from ISO 9001-certified organizations about the implementation and certification process. Feedback was gathered through a survey and a market surveillance activity which involved one-day visits to certified organizations. These visits aimed to determine confidence levels related to various aspects of the organization’s quality management system and the overall level of confidence in the certification process.

To reflect their confidence level in organizations being examined, assessors assigned the following grades:

  • Grade One: “Little or no confidence.” Little or no evidence to support the implementation of this topic.
  • Grade Two: “Some evidence presented, but not at all convincing.” Some evidence was presented, but in the professional judgement of the assessor, there would probably be evidence to support a nonconformity if a detailed audit trail were to be followed in a full system audit.
  • Grade Three: “OK—No reason to doubt that this is being addressed correctly.” The “default” grade, where there is no evidence to suggest reasons for concern, based on the assessor’s experience and professional judgement.
  • Grade Four: “Clear evidence that this is being done, and meets the intent of the relevant standard.” Sufficient objective evidence provided a high degree of confidence that the organization meets requirements.
  • Grade Five: “We can be proud to use this organization as a benchmark for this topic.” To be reserved for truly excellent performance.

A key finding was that there were notable differences in the performance and level of confidence in organizations certified by different certification bodies and under accreditation from different accreditation bodies. Other findings included:

  • More than 95 percent of certified organizations surveyed considered the effective implementation and accredited certification of quality management systems to have been a “good” or “very good” investment.
  • Overall perception of the ISO 9001 standard and accredited certification was good, although the role of accreditation wasn’t well understood by purchases or certified organizations.
  • The purchasers surveyed were mainly satisfied with the performance of their ISO 9001-certified suppliers. In general, ISO 9001-certified suppliers performed “better” or “much better” than non-certified suppliers. However, poor responsiveness of certified organizations to customer complaints was one area of concern.

Overall, the performance of the certified organizations that were visited was good, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the accredited certification process. However, between six and eight percent of organizations returned unsatisfactory results, and one percent raised serious doubts about the validity of their certification—which calls into question the effectiveness of the certification process.

According to the report, market surveillance activities can be used in place of traditional accreditation methodologies such as office assessments and witnessed audits to investigate complaints or concerns.

Market surveillance can also uncover trends, strengths, and weaknesses in the implementation of quality management systems in particular regions or sectors—all of which is useful information for certification bodies to focus their attention on during surveillance and renewal audits.

To give the data context, the report describes independent third-party certification as a common method sought by organizations to demonstrate that they have met all the requirements of ISO 9001. The certification consists of a certificate of conformity and ongoing surveillance to ensure that the system is maintained in accordance with the standard.

To demonstrate competence to administer management system certification, a certification body may become accredited by an accreditation body. This accreditation is based on the requirements defined in ISO/IEC 17021-1 and is supplemented by other discipline-specific or sector-specific requirements in some cases.

Continue to read The Auditor Online in the coming weeks for more findings from the “Good Practices: Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems” report.

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Baldrige Foundation to Expand Awards Program

  The Baldrige Foundation is…

 

The Baldrige Foundation is expanding its leadership awards program with the establishment of the E. David Spong Lifetime Achievement Award.

The first recipient of the award is its namesake: Dr. E. David Spong.

“This new award recognizes an individual who has performed truly extraordinary service and created a lasting legacy which will inspire future generations of leaders” says Al Farber, Foundation president and CEO.

Dr. Spong has been a Baldrige practitioner and advocate throughout his career, and is a two-time recipient of the Baldrige National Quality Award. He led the Boeing Airlift and Tanker Programs to the 1998 award in manufacturing, and in 2003, he led Boeing’s Aerospace Support division to the Baldrige Award in the service sector.

“I am thrilled to lend my name to this award, but the Baldrige Enterprise is the real champion,” says Dr. Spong. “Baldrige recipients serve as role model organizations for everyone else to emulate. Through Baldrige, ‘best practice’ becomes documented, data driven, evidence-based examples of performance excellence. These examples reach every sector of the economy—manufacturing, small business, service, health care, education, the nonprofit sector and government, and beginning last year, cybersecurity. Baldrige is a recipe for first-class performance.”

“David’s career spans over five decades and encompasses many, varied leadership roles,” continues Faber. “At every step David has been a champion of the Baldrige Framework and the Baldrige Enterprise. The Baldrige Foundation is honored to present this award to him, and future leaders who embody his lifetime commitment to quality.”

 

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Auditor Profile: Inspired to Improve Food Safety

With more than 35 years…

With more than 35 years experience in the food industry in roles such as kitchenhand, caterer, and auditor, Marjorie Harvey is somewhat of a food safety expert. The Auditor speaks to Harvey to learn how she has channeled her passion for the food industry into a successful food safety auditing and consulting career.

Harvey began her career in the food industry peeling potatoes in a local pub and then as a trade cook. She later went on to own a catering business, manage food services in aged care, and teach hospitality.

After witnessing unsanitary food handling practices and seeing reports of food poisoning outbreaks in the media, Harvey was inspired to improve food safety through designing food safety programs. Her interest in auditing soon followed.

“Food sites had no food handling policies, monitoring records, or food safety systems,” Harvey said. “I enrolled in university so I could learn more about the Food Act and food safety standards to become an accredited trainer and auditor.”

Harvey’s university studies included learning about HACCP, ISO standards, food technology, and auditing. Here, she gained the necessary skills to become the first female third-party food safety auditor for the Department of Human Services in Victoria, Australia. Harvey then went on to establish Australian Food Hygiene Services—an accredited company offering consulting, training, and auditing for the hospitality industry.

Working predominantly in the health care sector, Harvey’s role as director involves auditing, training, writing food safety programs, and consulting.

Throughout her career, Harvey has designed and implemented more than 800 food safety programs for hospitals, aged care facilities, child care sites, and Meals on Wheels. She continues to offer her services to restaurants, hotels, cafés, community services, government bodies, and prisons.

Harvey reflects on highlights of her career as including assisting the industry in all aspects of food safety management and compliance.

“It has been a privilege to work in areas that are high risk and to have the opportunity to assist clients with gaining compliance, and offering an opportunity for continual improvement if they request.”

However the job has its challenges—particularly in regards to travel and the demands of report writing. Getting a start in the industry also isn’t easy.

“From the start it was very challenging as no one had experienced an audit,” Harvey said. “But as time goes by it has become less challenging as most understand the requirements expected from an audit.

“It is also challenging to keep up with new equipment, changed food processes, and current trends.”

Harvey believes a lack of mentoring opportunities and incentives for seasoned auditors to assist new auditors are key issues in the profession, and suggests the following solution:

“Attending relevant industry conferences and auditor forums to ensure they keep abreast with the current requirements.”

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e-Auditing: A Matter of Context

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by Shauna Wilson In my…

by Shauna Wilson

In my travels, I am learning from others that some third-party registrars are not accepting internal audits that are conducted virtually. This growing concern over auditing methods is the antithesis of modern work environments. Obviously, a virtual audit is conducted for a remote office, in which most of the time, teams are working together online to communicate and resolve issues. Shouldn’t the audit method replicate the actual working environment? In this article, I will examine e-auditing validation criteria, the use of the context of the organization, and conclude by reviewing other opportunities gained using e-auditing methods.

An e-audit is a systematic, independent, and documented process to obtain evidence through electronic means to determine the extent of conformity to the audit criteria.  The use of e-auditing is increasing because so much of the technology we use in our daily lives—connecting with friends on Skype, finding jobs through LinkedIn, or attending online classes—is done over the Internet. These activities become a gateway to enhancing and applying online communication techniques. The more familiar we become with technology, the less anxious we feel about its interactive uses.

Validating an e-audit relies on the technology used and the auditor’s skill to facilitate a virtual meeting while coordinating with the remote location to find nonconforming evidence. This coordination of events is not an easy task without technical grounding in information technology and facilitation skills. Realistically speaking, a fair amount of registration auditors are limited in this area due to their intense travel schedules. At best, they are passive listeners in “all hands” online meetings. This is not a reason to stop conducting internal audits virtually. Note that ISO 9001:2015 itself and its requirement to understand the context of the organization seems to be a tacit endorsement of the e-auditing process.

ISO 9001:2015 provides an illustration of how complex businesses have become to compete in a global market to offer affordable products. For example, products that contain batteries often make headlines. We can no longer carry a Samsung Note 7 on an airplane or fly with a motorized skateboard. Let’s examine a fictional scenario to apply the “context of the organization” requirement with e-auditing methods.

Battery ABC Co. is a research and development laboratory that designs and manufactures lithium batteries in a small but powerful format, enabling longer charges and lighter cell phones, tablets, and watches. Battery ABC Co. relies on external providers to manufacture its batteries.  Based on the following strengths-weaknesses-threats-opportunities (SWOT) analysis, what internal audit plan does the company’s management team need to mitigate both internal and external issues to meet the needs and requirements of all parties?

 

 

In this scenario, management should consider a hybrid audit model. This would incorporate multiple verification methods: onsite audits, e-audits, document information reviews, and product testing to understand the supply chain quality management system. An audit plan should include design and development, the release of product at remote locations, and external provider reviews to ensure manufacturing processes are managed appropriately. External provider reviews could include line yields and defect Pareto charts, process e-audits, and product testing by a third-party lab to ensure the battery meets product specifications and regulatory requirements.

A hybrid audit model approach is necessary for organizations of this nature to completely verify internal and external issues and that interested parties’ needs and requirements are met. The following chart shows an example of a hybrid audit management plan.

e-Auditing: A Matter of Context

e-auditing is an efficient and effective method for risk-based thinking, working with external providers to ensure process controls are in place, reviewing product-related issues real time, and enhancing understanding among all interested parties. Companies that invest in e-auditing allow remote locations to learn from one another. They gain a better understanding of remote processes and can leverage and standardize common processes across distant locations.  Rather than refuse e-auditing methods, training to use technology while facilitating an audit should be a priority of internal and external auditors.

 About the author

Shauna Wilson is president at Amazon Consulting Inc. She is a performance management consultant who designs efficient and effective quality systems. Wilson is an IRCA-certified auditor and leading expert in remote auditing. She holds a Master’s degree in performance management technologies/instructional design.  Wilson wrote InterneTeaming.com: Tools to Create High Performance Remote Teams and co-authored eAuditing Fundamentals: Virtual Communication and Remote Auditing and has been featured in Quality Progress and ASTD’s InfoLine.  Wilson is the education/social responsibility chair at ASQ’s Portland, Oregon Section 607 and currently serves as the U.S. TAG expert for PC/TAG 302 ISO 19011 auditing management systems.

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ISO Celebrates 70 Years

2017 is ISO’s 70th anniversary!…

2017 is ISO’s 70th anniversary! The ISO story began in 1946 when delegates from 25 countries gathered in London to discuss the future of standardization. A year later, on 23 February 1947, ISO officially came into existence. In this post-war era, the founding members saw international standards as a key to the world’s reconstruction efforts.

Back in 1947, the purpose of the fledgling organization was to facilitate the coordination and unification of standards developed by its member bodies, all of which were national standardization entities in their respective countries. The founders decided that the organization would be open to every country wanting to collaborate with equal rights and equal duties.

These founding principles still hold true today and the ISO family has blossomed to include 163* members from almost every country in the world. Standardization has come a long way and ISO International Standards, which now cover almost all aspects of technology and business, will continue to ensure positive change in an evolving world.

The first steps

Following the creation of the organization, 67 groups of experts (called technical committees) were set up in specific technical fields such as screw threads, marine technology, food, textiles, paints and laboratory equipment with a mandate to develop International Standards. This led to the birth, in 1951, of the first ISO standard (called “Recommendations” at the time) –ISO/R 1:1951, Standard reference temperature for industrial length measurements. Since then, the ISO portfolio has expanded to include over 22 000 standards supporting all the important technological, environmental and social changes that have taken place in the world.

“For 70 years, ISO has made standards that have shaped our history and accompanied the world’s greatest innovations. From the standardization of materials, components and equipment for the aerospace or automotive industry to the measurement of environmental pollutants, from establishing a management system to ensure food safety in the supply chain to creating guidelines for human-robot interaction, the need for international standardization has always evolved with the needs of industry and society,” says ISO President Dr. Zhang Xiaogang.

Expanding the community

ISO has worked hard over the years to broaden its circle of stakeholders, bringing different audiences to standardization, such as consumers or developing countries. The 1950s saw a number of new ISO member bodies join the organization from the developing world. To respond to these members’ needs, ISO set up in 1961 the ISO Committee for developing country matters (ISO/DEVCO), which helps them get the most out of standards development work. Today, three-quarters of ISO’s members are from developing countries.

Helping to improve the satisfaction and safety of consumers is another vital role of standards. Integrating their views in standards development is therefore essential because these real-life perspectives help ensure that issues such as safety and quality are adequately addressed. The importance of consumer leverage was endorsed by the creation, in 1978, of a Council Committee on Consumer Policy, now officially known as the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO), to promote and encourage consumer interests in standards.

Effective and wide-reaching stakeholder engagement is essential in maintaining the relevance of International Standards. To ensure a strong relationship between standards and innovation, ISO has built collaborative ties with a network of global and regional organizations, including a partnership with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and has forged links with over 700 international organizations working in fields related to standardization. Furthermore, the contribution of large and small businesses, regulatory authorities and governments throughout the world is fundamental to the proper functioning of ISO.

Challenges for the future

“For the past 70 years, ISO has developed standards that drive industrial progress, promote global commerce and improve health, safety and the environment. But this is just the beginning,” says Dr. Zhang.

“Looking to the future, it is clear that our world faces many challenges that cut across national borders. Climate change, water scarcity, cyber security and large-scale migration are just some of the issues we face today that require integrated, international action.”

Many of these challenges have been included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations as part of their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Launched in 2015, the SDGs set ambitious targets for the next 15 years and will help concentrate international action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

“The ISO community has many standards that can help organizations and companies address this agenda,” says Dr. Zhang. “We are ready to provide efficient tools to help the different communities worldwide face up to these challenges and shape a better world.”

The future of standardization is promising.

This article has been republished in full with permission from ISO.

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PDCA of Audit Evidence

by Cathy Fisher The process…

by Cathy Fisher

The process approach to auditing incorporates Dr. Edwards Deming’s well-known Plan Do Check Act cycle in defining audit scope and criteria. This structure also guides the gathering of evidence to support process-based auditing. The four types of audit evidence that support the process approach include:

  • Plan = Adequacy
  • Do = Conformance
  • Check = Effectiveness
  • Act = Improvement

Let’s consider the ISO 9001:2015 requirement for organizational knowledge: “The organization determines and maintains the knowledge necessary for the operation of its processes.” There are many ways for an organization to accomplish this requirement. For example, the leadership team of one organization may decide to implement a process for capturing lessons learned. This system-level decision encourages the development of a process within the organization to “determine and maintain” this information. The leadership team also decides that the chief information officer will be responsible for this process. From an auditing perspective, this is now a quality management system (QMS) process to audit.

The planning part of the audit evidence for this process may be gathered through interviewing the process owner (in this case, the CIO), and/or reviewing QMS documentation that describes this process. When we’re auditing the planning process, we’re looking for adequacy in its definition. We want to know the answers to such questions as, “What is this process?” “What is the desired output of this process?” and “Who is responsible for this process?”

Audit evidence that demonstrates adequacy for this example may include the following:

Type of Evidence Evidence for Lessons Learned
Recognized name of this process in the organization Organizational lessons learned, process identified in QMS map
Assignment of process ownership (either understood or designated through QMS roles and responsibilities) CIO, interview with leadership team, QMS process ownership matrix
Definition of the output of this process and its criteria/requirements, as well as how that output will be evaluated Searchable database containing lessons learned. Required fields for entry:  QMS process, date added, internal expert.
Identification of triggers or inputs that activate this process QMS processes generating lessons learned, including: investigations of customer complaints, product/service issues, corrective and/or preventive actions, process improvements, project reviews, management reviews, etc.
Description of steps involved in transforming the process inputs into the expected output Explanation of lessons learned process by CIO, procedure or training aid describing use of lessons learned database
Determination of resources needed to accomplish this process Tangible evidence such as computer database program, database administrator, input file mask, or computer server

 

Depending on the nature and complexity of the process being audited, there may be additional evidence that reflects the adequacy of the process.

Next, considering the “Do” in the PDCA process relates to audit evidence that demonstrates conformance. It’s easy to simply look at the execution of the process being audited as reflected in procedures and/or documentation or as described by the process owner. However, this stage of the process begins with the communication of the process and its requirements to those involved. This communication may be included in the “Plan” stage too.

When we think of auditing, conformance is what we typically mean:  Is the plan or process being followed?  Are we doing what we said we would do? The audit evidence of conformance can typically be found in three forms:

  • Tangible evidence: Procedures, records, computer programs
  • Observations: Auditor observing process execution
  • Admissions: Statements of fact by those performing the process. This may include explanation of the process by someone performing it or verification of interacting process as an audit trail.

Audit evidence of conformance also leads to recognition of supporting process audit trails; specifically processes that provide required resources, e.g., training/competency development of those executing the process, maintenance of equipment used in the process, control and identification of materials, availability and currency of process instructions, and control of work environment factors.  Auditing of these supporting processes is an essential part of applying the process approach.

Evidence of conformance for the lessons learned process may include:

Type of Evidence Evidence for Lessons Learned
Communication of plan Tangible: Procedure or training aid for entering lessons learned into database.
Understanding of plan Tangible: Training/briefing record of attendance.

Observation: Demonstration of lessons learned correctly entered into database.

Implementation of plan Observation: Process owners entering lessons learned into database.

Tangible: Contents of database Admission: Reference to database administrator for entry review and posting.

Supporting process audit trails Availability, access to, and back-up of computer database, document revision control of procedure, training of database administrator.

Simply confirming conformance to the plan isn’t sufficient in auditing from the process approach perspective. Evaluating the effectiveness of the plan is also essential in ISO 9001:2015, in which results are emphasized.  There are several prerequisites for auditing the “check” stage of the of process approach:

  • Criteria describing the expected/desired output from the process is clearly defined and can be evaluated (measurable either quantitatively or qualitatively).
  • Output from the process is being evaluated and compared to this criteria.

Evidence of effectiveness for the lessons learned process may include:

Type of Evidence Evidence for Lessons Learned
Criteria defined for evaluating effectiveness can be quantitative or qualitative in nature, objective, or based on perceptions. Number of lessons learned recorded, frequency of applying lessons learned to other processes, familiarity with database.
Process implemented for performing evaluation of process effectiveness, how often data is gathered, collected, and reviewed, and by whom. Number of lessons learned entered in database, which functions are entering them.
Results gathered and evaluated against process output criteria: checklists, check sheets, automatic data collection, trend charts, and surveys. Monthly activity report generated from database, database user satisfaction survey.

The effectiveness of any process is in the results. However, knowing how those results were achieved is also important for improvement.

The “act” phase of the process approach to auditing focuses on improvement.  From an auditing perspective, there are some prerequisites associated with auditing a process for improvement:

  • Threshold for action is established. This can include addressing acute issues of process ineffectiveness (a specific output nonconformity, such as a nonconforming product in a manufacturing process), or when a different output or output criteria is needed based on changes in customer or internal requirement.
  • Prioritization of processes for improvement as limited resources don’t allow for every process to be improved simultaneously.
  • Information about the process before and after actions taken for improvement is documented.

Quite a bit of evidence may exist for auditing an improvement process, including:

Type of Evidence Evidence for Lessons Learned
Recognition of improvement potential, action threshold, decision criteria Is the number of recorded lessons learned less than three per month?
Prioritizing processes for improvement, importance of process output, effect on organization of current process performance Lessons learned from all customer complaints investigated to be identified and included in database.
Process baseline, current process definition, current performance information available Ninety percent of lessons learned entered in quality department database.
Process applied for managing improvement, corrective action, kaizen. Focus workshop involving key process owners to identify and input recent lessons learned from all areas of the organization.
Results from improvement are compared with baseline performance measurements. Three months after workshop, all departments consistently entering an average of five lessons learned in database per month.
Management of change from improvement, update of documentation, possible retraining Examples and definition of lessons learned added to training aid and database instructions.

Keep in mind that when auditing improvement, not all stages of the improvement process may necessarily be complete at the time of the audit. This could initiate a follow up point for future audits. Additionally, not every improvement effort leads to a positive result. This isn’t a nonconformity, but rather an opportunity to look beyond the process being improved to also consider the process and/or methods being used for managing improvements.

To achieve a true process-based audit, questions should be generated during audit planning to evaluate a process’ adequacy, conformance, effectiveness, and improvement. Evidence must be gathered to support each of these evaluators in using the process approach to audit any QMS process.

About the author

Cathy Fisher is founder and president of Quistem LLC, which provides online and onsite management systems implementation, update, and assessment services for manufacturers and other industry sectors. Cathy has more than 30 years of respected auditing expertise, having led internal audit programs at many manufacturing organizations during her career. Cathy also has extensive experience conducting management systems registration audits, as well as establishing supplier evaluation and development programs.

She has held numerous auditor certifications including ASQ CQA, RAB-Certified Quality Systems Auditor, and ISO/TS 16949 IATF-recognized auditor. She has conducted internal and external audits that total more than 1,000 audit days and trained hundreds of management systems professionals as auditors. Cathy is passionate about the value auditing can bring to organizations and enjoys mentoring the next generation of technical professionals to develop their auditor excellence.

 

 

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Federal Government Encourages Internal Standards Conformance

Noting that conformance to international…

Noting that conformance to international standards has dramatically improved thousands of private-sector organizations, the federal government has issued a notice encouraging voluntary standards conformance in the public sector.

OMB Circular A-119, “Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities” was issued in January 2016. The notice reinforces the importance of government use of voluntary standards and the existing private-sector infrastructure for conformity assessment.

OMB Circular A-119 recognizes the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995 as a prime example of how public-private partnerships work to meet and exceed public policy goals. Like OMB Circular A-119, the NTTAA directs U.S. federal government agencies to use private-sector voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment solutions whenever feasible instead of developing government-unique standards or regulations. The NTTAA also requires government agencies to participate in the standards-development process in keeping with the agencies’ missions and budget priorities.

After more than two decades, the NTTAA remains the cornerstone for promoting the use of voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment processes for federal-level regulation and procurement. OMB Circular A-119 confirms that public- and private-sector cooperation is crucial to developing and using standards that serve national needs and support innovation and competitiveness.

The federal government has saved millions of dollars by using consensus standards in procurement and to mitigate conflict and regulatory overlap. Government, consumers, industry, and voluntary standards developers should continue to rely on the public-private partnership model in seeking consensus-based solutions to national priorities as a matter of public policy, according to the notice.

Thousands of federal agency representatives participate in private sector-led standards development process and are instrumental in ensuring agency compliance with the NTTAA and OMB Circular A-119. This government participation ensures that government users understand the intent and content of specific standards and conformity assessment activities.

Standards and conformity assessment are keys to a sound economy and they help facilitate global commerce. The U.S. approach is market-driven and private sector-led. This differs from the top-down approach favored by many other countries. The U.S. system is based on globally accepted principles for standards development, including transparency, openness, impartiality, effectiveness, relevance, consensus, and due process.

The continued strength of the U.S. standardization and conformity assessment system depends on ongoing cooperation between government and industry, and the key to a successful partnership is active participation, which requires support and resources from government policy makers at all levels.

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ANSI Seeks Comments on New ISO Field of Consumer Vulnerability

Interested in consumer vulnerability? ANSI…

Interested in consumer vulnerability? ANSI wants to hear from you.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has circulated a proposal for a new field of activity for a new ISO standard to be titled “Guideline for inclusive service—identifying and responding to consumers in vulnerable situations.” As the U.S. member body to ISO, ANSI is seeking interested stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal by April 7.

The proposal, submitted by ISO’s Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) and BSI, explains that the new ISO standard would provide guidance on how to identify consumers in vulnerable situations and how to develop, implement, and maintain policies and procedures for organizations to handle them.

Consumer vulnerability is any circumstance that puts consumers at greater risk when choosing or using products or services. A variety of factors contribute to consumer vulnerability—which might be long or short term, temporary, permanent, or sporadic—including debt, unemployment, old age, mental health issues, and physical impairments.

An international standard would help organizations minimize consumer risk by:

  • Raising awareness and understanding of consumer vulnerability.
  • Giving guidance on how to identify consumers in vulnerable circumstances.
  • Establishing processes and procedures that will help organizations respond to consumers in vulnerable situations.

All interested stakeholders are invited to review the proposal, which includes a listing of relevant documents at the international, regional, and national levels, and stakeholder categories that may benefit from by the proposal. View it on ANSI’s website.

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Planning and Consistency: The Keys to Success

By Dijana Green The beginning…

By Dijana Green

The beginning of any year is a busy time for most of us. As auditors, our workload is always high and balancing personal and business workloads isn’t always easy, it is most important.

One of my key learnings while managing 44 bakeries a few years ago was that the key to success is planning and consistency. I found that planning my time, meetings, audits, time to make and return phone calls, respond to emails, doing all the transactional tasks, allocating time, and even rolling strategic requirements, etc., made the heavy workload manageable. Without making time every morning and late afternoon to plan ahead not much was achieved.

Planning is the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal. It involves creating and maintaining a plan, including psychological aspects that require conceptual skills.

Planning is a traditional method for managing a workload, but I can vouch that it pays off. Being a mother of three kids, running a business, and maintaining personal needs regardless of how busy I am—making the time to plan my day, week, month, and even the year ahead—produces results and keeps me on track.

Consistency is conformity in the application of something. Humans are creatures of habit and we generally prefer to operate like clockwork. We like to eat at the same time, wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, and start and finish work at the same time every day.

Our bodies operate more effectively if we stick to a routine. We need routine for our bodies to understand when to shut down for the day and when our livers needs to start detoxifying.

Just as our bodies need routine, so do our brains to function optimally. The brain is a complex organ, with an estimated 100 billion neurons passing signals to each other via as many as 1,000 trillion synaptic connections. It continuously receives and analyses sensory information, responding by controlling all bodily actions and functions. It is also the center of higher-order thinking, learning, and memory and gives us the power to think, plan, speak, imagine, dream, reason, and experience emotions.

Consistency is essential—nothing is achieved without it.

Five key ways you can maintain consistency:

  • Operate with checklists, to-do lists, and objectives in mind.
  • Remind yourself frequently of your desires and passions.
  • Hold onto your beliefs and trust yourself.
  • Don’t give up and always finish what you started.
  • Maintain your health and well-being. Identify what your body needs to operate at optimal health and work toward achieving consistency with everything you do.

Keep these key points in mind and focus on the points that ring true for you. Keep focused and disciplined to allow consistency to flow in your life and in all that you do.

Until next time, I will leave you with wise words from Anthony Robbins—one of my favorite business motivators: “For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.”

About the author

Dijana Green is a food technologist and has been working in the food industry for 28 years. Green spent 11 years working for George Weston Foods and 11 years at Goodman Fielder. When working for Goodman Fielder, she managed 44 bakeries in Australia.

Green has a long and rich career achieving impressive quality assurance improvements in the food industry. As national quality assurance manager at Goodman Fielder, Green was responsible for reducing customer complaints by 22 percent, reducing class one complaints by 50 percent, reducing food safety audit costs by 32 percent, building supplier relationships, managing quality and food safety new product development requirements, and developing initiatives to build brand strength.

In 2009, Green left her corporate role to consult and in the last four years has developed a business which operates in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Fiji, servicing close to 200 clients.

Green is a mother of three and when not working loves to spend quality time having fun with her children, being outdoors, reading, cooking, exercising, and helping others.

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Enhancing Traceability with a New ISO Project Committee

How do you know that…

How do you know that your bottle of champagne is the real McCoy? That your boots were really made in Italy or that your milk is indeed pasteurized? Traceability—known as chain of custody—is important for ensuring the authenticity, and therefore the quality and safety, of virtually every product imaginable. A new ISO committee has just been formed to make it easier.

From raw materials such as cotton to the T-shirt in your favorite shop, knowledge and tracking of the specific product characteristics (e.g., origin, sustainability traits and/or manufacturing process) is increasingly important and demanded by consumers. Traceability, and hence transparency, provides reassurance and a better understanding of production characteristics in order to reduce risks to health, safety, and quality. In many cases, it is even a legal requirement. A reliable chain-of-custody (CoC) management system is therefore important for certification and quality assurance schemes.

The world is awash with CoC systems and programs, all with their own semantics, presentation, and industry focus, and include CoCs for food safety, sustainable agriculture or compliance in manufacturing. But the sheer number of such systems adds unnecessary layers of administration, thereby increasing costs and pushing smaller companies out of international markets. It is with this in mind that a new ISO project committee—ISO/PC 308, Chain of custody—was established, making traceability simpler for all supply chain actors by using a uniform ISO language globally.

Chair of ISO/PC 308 Rob Busink said: “The proliferation of traceability systems and definitions is causing unnecessary confusion, complexity and costs for players in different supply chains. The proposed generic chain-of-custody standard will define supply chain models and the respective traceability levels and specific requirements related to administration, conversion rates and physical handling activities, thus simplifying market access by using a uniform language and criteria throughout the supply chain.

“It is hoped that existing and new certification schemes will be able to refer to the ISO standard for the terminology regarding chain-of-custody requirements, thus simplifying the conformity assessment for those various product certifications and reducing unnecessary duplication or misunderstanding.”

The committee has already attracted support for the development of the standard from organizations across many sectors, such as food, consumer goods, energy and construction, as well as certification schemes and government.

This article has been republished in full with permission from ISO.

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