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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Document Control

I have used Microsoft Office is its various forms for many years and have found it to be very useful for documents, spreadsheets etc, and recently upgraded to the latest version 2010.   I expected it to do all the things that the older versions did and was pleasantly surprised to see that Digital Rights Management, although in the 2007 version, now works well.

Let me explain what DRM (Digital Rights Management) does for me:

  • It allows me to control who can read, write and change documents I have produced;
  • It allows me to stop my document being printed by someone else;
  • It allows me to stop my documents being copied or 'cut and pasted';
  • It allows me to encrypt a document or to require a password to open the piece.
These are very useful in ISO9001 (Quality Management Systems)  for document control and also in ISO27001 ( Information Security Management) to ensure restricted circulation documents remain restricted.

I particularly like the one page overview of properties which shows details of the author, date created, changes and last modified dates. These are all requirements for a good document control or document configuration management systems used in the Management Standards, including the Aerospace and automotive standards.

The other elements include the revised PowerPoint, Publisher, One Note, Infopath, Visio, Project and others.

In short, I like the newest of the Microsoft Office packages.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

What is an Internal Audit?

I am often asked this question and I always use the shorthand answer "A check to see that you do what you say".  This sounds simple, and so it is, if carried out correctly.

The first requirement is that the person(s) carrying out the audit actually know what they are doing.  The various standards specify that  persons carrying out audits must have received training are competent to do so.  This normally requires attendance at a recognised course of training which is based on the quality/environmental standard ISO19011:2002.   Our own course fills this requirement and is normally held twice a year in Spring and Autumn.

The routine of the audit starts with notification to your organisation that an audit is to be carried out and on what date.  It makes good sense to give at least a months notice to ensure the people you need to audit are available.

The first part of the audit is to carry out a document review to see if the quality/environmental manual exists and covers the requirements of the standards.  Once this is successful you can then concentrate on the company processes.

The audit proper starts with an opening meeting where you can prepare the organisation for the audit and explain how this is going to proceed.  It is an essential part of the audit and sets the scene for the work.

An audit checklist helps to keep the auditor on track and prevents things being missed.

The audit of the organisation processes looks at the process and compares it with the actual work being carried out.  They should be the same.  Look for evidence that this is so.

Any non-conformities should be recorded and any actions proposed by the auditee.

Non-conformities  are classified as Major or Minor; Major nonconformity is one where  a whole part or a significant part of a process is missing or not being followed. Minor nonconformities occur where someone has slipped up or something which is usually compliant has been missed.

Once the process audit has been completed a closing meeting is held to discuss the findings of the audit.

And finally an audit report is produced.

Sound straight forward, but I am constantly amazed at the standard of auditing, particularly by untrained auditors, who usually have no idea that the effort they have expended has little or no value.

Answer:  Train the auditor and get the auditor to carry out frequent audits to hone their skills.
........................................Simples (as the advert says).

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