Compliance Conversations: Commitment to Requirements and Continual Improvement

Posted by Craig Thornton

This is part of a series of compliance conversations about how you best manage your QHSE management systems and their associated processes.

In this video QHSE Consultants from around the world discuss why there is a commitment to satisfy applicable requirements and continual improvement.

Check out the video here:

 

Video Transcription

Michael, Momentum Safety and Ergonomics, Australia

Applicable requirements, I think, is a way of just capturing all the things that you should be doing and it’s probably going to refer to legislation that you need to be compliant with, and also standards that you need to be adhering to, either the ISO standards or it could be other technical standards as well.

These are the applicable requirements, and the ISO 9001 and other ISO standards, talk about these in general terms, so that they can capture all of those different items.

When it comes to continual improvement, that's how we know we are improving and number one, maintaining our standard to those applicable requirements.

Most companies I've worked with have the goal at least of going beyond minimum standards, and that's where continuous improvement can help as well.

Of course, these things aren't about complying with a standard. The standard helps us to improve and have that continuous improvement process within the company so that our products and services that we administer and deliver are at the best standard that they can be at.

 

Ben, Total Management & Training, Australia

There should always be a commitment to those satisfying requirements and continual improvement because it's basically a business improvement area.

At all times, you want your business to improve and become better at what it does. This both ensures you’re in the game and ahead of the competition.

It also ensures that when something unexpected happens - such as in the last 12 to 18 months, where we've had COVID-19 outbreaks - it allows you to rapidly respond because you're used to improving and changing your business at all times, and making sure that you're satisfying requirements.

Similarly, we've had recently, requirements to track and keep the numbers on who is in the business and who attends, that's a change that needed to be implemented by multiple businesses all at once.

So, having a process that you can use to implement that is really important.

 

Nicholas, SRM, South Africa

Remember, at the end of the day that your business exists to meet your own requirements and those of your customers and suppliers. So all of these interested parties, including yourself.

Remember that your business is not going to succeed at all, if you don't consider your customer requirements, your own business requirements, your shareholders, and those other interested parties.

Your quality management system is regularly composed of all of those internal and external requirements. You're going to need to satisfy them if your business is going to be effective.

If we're talking about continual improvement as well, you need to remember that continual improvement is part of the eight quality principles.

The intention behind continual improvement, that is, if you adopt a structured formalised approach to quality management, such as ISO 9001:2015; if it is effectively implemented or established, implemented and maintained, then continual improvement has to be an outcome.

If you're continually reviewing and improving your processes, then you should be improving the outcome of your quality management system.

 

John, Many Caps, New Zealand

First of all, from a continuous improvement point of view, you want to continually improve your system. It's asking you, as a business, to agree to sign up and do that.

If you're not continually improving your system, it's going to stagnate and in fact it’s going to go backward, so, it's asking you to make sure you're going to keep improving.

The other part of it is in terms of the applicable requirements. If you're not following them, the thing is, you’re going to break the law for a start.

You are also not going to meet what the customer requirements are, because some of the customer requirements are going to be based on their requirements to follow their standards and their requirements.

 

Andrew, IRM Systems, Australia

That's the whole intent of the quality standard.

It is about ensuring, through the delivery of our service and products we’re understanding the customer and other requirements associated with our product or service. That’s not a bad way of putting it back into plain English for your line managers and operational staff or even senior management.

The term ‘quality’ is often a bit confused for people.

‘What does it mean?’

‘Does it really relate to what we're doing?’

Well, yes, it does, it relates to your customers and your products or services.

Given that’s the whole intent of the quality standard, there’s no surprise, that that is something we've got to reflect and commit to, in your policy.

Continual improvement, that's been an ongoing element of any management system standard; that we must seek to, not just meet our customers’ requirements, but continually improve our ability to do that.

So again, it's no surprise, it's a requirement to make some kind of commitment about that in your policy.

 

Sean, Kaizen, New Zealand

When we talk about the different disciplines of the management systems, which is quality, health and safety, information security, and environmental; there are also regulatory requirements, and the wording that says ‘other applicable requirements’ is customer requirements.

You can't necessarily provide a good quality product or information security or safety if you're not meeting your regulatory requirements if you're not fulfilling your obligations.

Essentially, meeting your compliance requirement is the bare minimum, below that and you're breaking the law. Hence the reason the standard has specifically put that as a requirement, that your policies need to state that as a bare minimum you do meet your regulatory requirements and all other requirements that do apply to your business.

 

Takeaways
  1. You need to follow applicable requirements otherwise you will be breaking the law!
  2. Applicable requirements capture all the things you SHOULD be doing
  3. Clause 5.1.1 and 6.3 - Legal and Other Requirements
  4. Building a Continuous Improvement Program with Toyota Kata - Webinar recording
  5. How to create a culture of Continuous Improvement when you have no money - Many Caps Consulting

Tags: Quality Management, Management System, ISO, Compliance, Risk Management, Customer Satisfaction, QMS, integrated qhse manual, ISO45001, Continuous improvement