My Answers from LinkedIn (Second of an Occasional Series)

As noted in the first post of this series, I am posting answers to procedure and training-related questions posted on the LinkedIn groups I participate in. As appropriate, I will expand on answers here (read, I thought of additional things to say).

Is there a criteria that must be met to be able to know when a PPM is needed? How do we measure the success of PPMs?

After clarifying that the acronym PPM meant “Policy and Procedure Manual,” here was my answer:

Policies and Procedures Manuals are needed in any situation where policies and procedures are necessary to maximize performance and minimize loss. ISO-9001 Quality Management System standard requires that certified organizations have a “Quality Manual.” This presumably means a manual that contains documents that support the
organization’s quality operations.

ISO, however is sketchy as regards what belongs in the manual. The current revision of ISO-9001 only contains requirements for six written procedures: control of documents, control of records, corrective actions, preventive actions, internal audits and control of
non-conforming product. The organization is free to determine what additional
policies and procedures they believe will facilitate quality control. ISO requires that processes that impact quality be controlled, but not necessarily by specific documentation.

Where does that leave us? Policies and procedures should be developed by any
organization in cases where 1) some regulation or statute requires them (EEOC policies, for example), 2) where the establishment of policies is necessary to clarify responsibilities and expectations on worker behavior, and 3) where the development and deployment of procedures increases the likelihood of process success and waste/cost avoidance.

To your second question above, measuring the success of policies and procedures involves a review of activities, annually or more frequently, to determine the quality performance of the organization and to determine the degree to which policy and procedure implementation aided quality (improvement), hindered quality (improvement) or had no effect. This is the ISO concept of quality review (ISO clause 5.6 I believe). Measurement criteria can include prevention of defects, scrap rate changes,  improved productivity, customer satisfaction, and any other metric that leads to bottom-line success. Out of a quality review comes quality planning, in which actions to improve quality are developed (which may include policies and procedures). At the end of each review cycle, results are compared with improvement efforts to measure effectiveness.

Note on procedures and policies: even though only six written procedures are required by ISO, any time you put a procedure in place, you are now bound to follow it as written. You cannot claim during an audit that a procedure is optional because it’s not one of the “required six.” If you determine a procedure is necessary, it is presumed the procedure
describes the best way to perform the process, and doing it “according to procedure” is required (a self-imposed requirement, but a requirement nonetheless).

This answer prompted a second question from the original poster, regarding the criteria for Quality Reviews. My response:

The ISO clause on quality reviews does specify the elements that must be included in
the review (5.6.2). These include the results of audits, customer feedback (which can be both internal and external, depending on who consumes your product), process conformance information, preventive and corrective action status, and the actions developed in previous quality reviews (if any). This is a partial list from the standard.

If you have any questions you’d like me to tackle in the blog, you can write me directly, rather than waiting for someone on LinkedIn to ask. Leave a comment here or write me directly at mrprocedure@gmail.com.

Thanks and keep writing!

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About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
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