Connected, integrated, intentional.
In a recent webinar, Rhonda Banks, the Quality Manager for ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board, discussed how this national accreditation body is leveraging processes with Qualtrax to promote conformance. The web-based event was well attended and the positive feedback we’ve received in follow up has been huge. If you’d like to take a listen and learn directly from this industry thought-leader we encourage you to watch the entire webinar.
For those a little short on time or eager to “get to the point” we will gladly share some of the threshold concepts that Rhonda shared. Although, let’s be clear, watching the webinar and seeing her demo her workflow processes within Qualtrax just can’t be beat!
In terms of setting the stage for discussion, Rhonda was quick to point out that although we within compliance may serve different industries or create different types of products, we all have fundamental guiding principles within our quality management systems under the purview of ISO/IEC that are similar or the same. For example, everyone has to address confidentiality, appeals, and impartiality. This resonates with us as our product is amenable to organizations across a variety of industries.
Of note, was Rhonda’s emphasis on the value of process. One poignant moment was when she stated, “There has been a shift to process-based requirements. Where we used to see requirements for a procedure we will often now see a requirement for a documented process.” This is something she discussed as a shift that transcends any one particular ISO standard. While Rhonda acknowledged, “The word procedure does imply something documented” she discussed that it is often interpreted as a need for a controlled document. However, she also pointed out, “It is important to realize that document and documented are not necessarily the same and a document is just one way to achieve documentation.”
The bottom line: process is mission critical to promoting conformance.
When considering the use of process automation and compliance software, Rhonda brought up excellent points to consider. Fundamentally, process should be documented so people aren’t expected to remember the proper steps in the middle of a situation. Additionally, you may have a process in place, and it may be an excellent process, but if there are not mechanisms in place to promote consistent use of the process you will find yourself in a “root cause analysis” situation time and time again. Things then get even more complicated when you need to make a change in your process and it is not properly documented or used, as this can result in a mismatch of practices and lack of conformance to standards.
Reflecting on ANAB’s use of process Rhonda stated, “At ANAB we find that the workflow portion (of the) Qualtrax product is useful to us as a tool in helping us to define and control our processes and to ensure that we have all the records in place to demonstrate conformance.” Rhonda also spoke of the value of having processes and documentation in a centralized location. This not only ensures best practices but also supports the emphasis on process over disparate documentation. Rhonda continued, “We also find that it helps to reduce our reliance on those controlled documents to govern our processes and ensure our conformance.”
When you think of your Management System as a set of processes it becomes apparent that many of those process are interrelated. Therefore, it is important within a Quality Management Software system that workflows can be related to one another as well. Rhonda discussed the value in having the ability for one process to trigger another, while also transfering the data. The system makes links between processes part of the very framework of the system.
Rhonda walked the audience through ANAB’s complaint process to provide a real life use-case for how workflows can promote conformance. One very specific example from within her demonstration related to the standard expectation that persons leaving a complaint can indicate they want to remain anonymous and if they do request confidentiality, ANAB is required to comply. Having the field visible throughout the workflow, and visible to all staff members with a role in completing the workflow, is a step towards ensuring compliance with that requirement. It promotes conformance.
Other points of emphasis from Rhonda’s demonstration included showing how once the complaint is logged other automated processes can be launched immediately, directly from the complaint instance. This is the workflow trigger functionality that helps keep related information and processes within Qualtrax connected. It also makes for a more streamlined process, thereby reducing duplicate data entry and frustrations.
We delight in the opportunity to learn from our customers and gain a better understanding of how our product is positively impacting those who work within compliance each and every day. It is our sincere hope that Rhonda’s remarks and demonstration help you within your own organization.
If our team and product can help you as you strive to promote conformance within your organization or company please don’t hesitate to reach out!