Quality Specialists
Quick Jump

 

 

Pigs That Mud Wrestle

Mud Wrestling With a Pig

A Pig in a Poke, 
or a Poke at a Pig

or

Pigs Are People, Too

 

This is one of the longest titles Iíve written, but as an ISO auditor, I must document, document, document.

I suppose youíve seen or heard one of the latest ISO jokes:  Arguing with an ISO 9000 auditor is like wrestling with a pig in mud ... Sooner or later you realize the pig enjoys it!  Being a devout pig myself, I love mud wrestling. (Of course, I think Iím a people too, therefore I wrestle in a kinder and gentler way.)

I know it is a pain to implement a new Quality System like ISO or to mess around with one already in place. To convince some management types to swallow all the ISO 9000 Management Responsibility pills can be a tremendous task, and sometimes very stressful on the poor old QA Manager. And then thereís Administration moaning about revising procedures, maintenance griping about having to document machine cleaning, and you know Production Pete is gonna throw a fit when heís told to report for ISO orientation.

And have you seen the new AS 9000 (aerospace version)? It is a seventy three page audit check list. Wait until you see us pigs wallow around with this one.

Out here in the muddy trenches I audit on a full time basis: ISO and AS 9000. I am auditor, let me oink: There is much mud slinging going on . . . it makes ISO sound like a "pig in a poke". But, maybe rightly so. Maybe a lot of the bum rap comes from some of us pigs wrestling you down into the mud until you label the coffee pot. I even heard about a pig that did a drive-by audit, a sin even worse than mud wrestling. (Pencil whipping an audit ... another pig saga.)

With all the ISO jokes out there, it is hard to convince some companies to make the leap, not to mention the commitment. And it does take commitment because as we all know ... change ainít easy. It is a very expensive time intensive endeavor and it takes lots of effort to convince people like Production Pete that the system is going to work. Especially, if you have implemented other policies that everyone bucked or didnít work too well. (Many people jump on the quality band wagon, but never play the music.)

So why bother when we know the ISO jokes and associated horror stories, pig induced or not? For those of you who hadnít noticed, ISO and its counterparts such as AS 9000 are becoming industry standards; old Military Standards and quality inspection systems are being tossed out. Like it or not, standardization is happening. At least once a month I run into a company that is being "forced" to comply by their customers or lose their business.

But, take heart, there truly is nothing in ISO or its counterparts that isnít good business, and since most of the requirements are rather generic, they can be molded to fit your business. Most of the companies I audit are producing good quality products and are hitting on most of the requirements. Often they do not have a documented Quality System, or have a system but are not documenting it properly.

There are essentially three kinds of Quality System Audits.. . first, second and third party. A first party audit generally refers to an internal company audit, and second party is often performed by your customer. The third is a very structured registration audit for certification to ISO . . . just the facts Ma'am. And by the way, at this point, there is no registration required for AS 9000. You can only claim to be compliant to AS if your registrar runs that audit in conjunction with your ISO registration. Then, your ISO certification can include the statement: AS 9000 compliant. (Which simply means you also meet the aerospace requirements surpassing ISO.)

I donít want to lecture you on the benefits of ISO, but consider this: I contract with several companies to accomplish second and third party audits. Company "X" sends me out to run AS 9000 audit check lists on suppliers which are not AS compliant, not ISO certified and in some cases donít even have a Quality System. I am directed to approach these second party audits as a "gap analysis", to let the supplier know where they are and where they need to be. As I understand it, Company "X" is getting its supplier base up to speed . . . and intends to drop those who are not up to speed by the turn of the century. Itís kind of like when you were told you had to have your shots to attend school, a real pain, but a real benefit. Or, when we were forced to become "computerized", kicking and screaming like it was another shot. But how could we possibly do our jobs now without our computers?

The rumor going around with us audit pig types is not only that ISO is here to stay, but also ... with tincture of time ... many of the imposed audits suppliers are undergoing now will go away. That is, if you can show ISO 9000 certification or AS 9000 compliance, if required. Thatís the whole point of standardization. Think of it, eliminating myriad's of duplicate audits could save our industries millions of dollars a year, lots of time and headaches and probably work many of us pigs out of a job!

If you take the ISO assignment . . . Iíll give you a couple of hints. You must be your own advocate and learn about ISO yourself. The pig pencil whipping an audit is no worse than a company pencil whipping a Quality System.

There are many innovative and simple ways to meet the intent of the standard. Such as a simple check list that reminds you of the things you need to do before accepting a contract. Review it, sign it, route it, and have integral departments do the same. (Remember the old KISS theory? Keep it Simple, Stupid.)

Donít write complicated manuals or procedures committing your company to do something you are not going to do or are not capable of doing. (Just the facts Ma'am.) However, pigs donít like canned food either, so do write the stuff to fit your unique business and do insist that a task is not completed until documented.

I have audited many systems over the years, and I canít speak for all auditors, but my opinion is that ISO and itís counterparts are valuable and workable documents. Itís a challenge for you to make your quality system comply to global requirements. For me, as auditor, itís a challenge to fairly apply the standard to your unique business. Itís not always easy for either of us, but who said anything worth doing is easy?

As a matter of record, I donít mind being associated with a pig, our law enforcement agencies have been for years. And I can rationalize from studying animal hierarchy that the pig is right up there in the top ten for intelligence, or was that the top twenty? Bottom line is ISO is not a pig in a poke. I may wrestle with you, but you can keep out of muddy waters with your Quality System if you demonstrate to me . . . you say what you do, do what you say, and "show me".

Guess you can call me a Missouri pig.

John P. Wickern

JoAda Wickern
Quality Specialists


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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