NOVA Offers Quality Advice at Supply Chain Management Summit

The MATLET Group tackled the ramifications of ISO Certification during a pair of seminars at the sixth annual Supply Chain Management Summit on August 22. The event was co-hosted by Banneker Industries – like MATLET a Minority Business Enterprise - and Bryant University at its campus in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Jeff Hewes, Quality Manager for St. Louis-based NOVA Marketing Services, a division of The MATLET Group, was the perfect choice to discuss ISO at the two breakout sessions; he represents the third generation of quality management expertise in his family. A 20-year industry professional and Lean Six Sigma expert with Black Belt Certification, Mr. Hewes led NOVA’s efforts for ISO 9001 Quality Management System and ISO 2008 certification. He currently is handling the company’s efforts to attain ISO 27001 Information Security Management System certification scheduled for this December.

The first topic was “What’s the Big Deal with ISO: An Intro to ISO Registration and Preparing to be Certified.” Hewes addressed why it is important for companies to obtain ISO certification and outlined the various steps necessary to become registered. He also discussed how managers can prepare for registration and the importance of having management committed to earning certification, including the establishment of a Quality policy and review sessions to ensure the full benefits of ISO certification.

“There are many reasons why companies should be ISO certified. It starts with being able to meet customer requirements and includes having the ability to improve the consistency of your operations, among other things,” reflected Hewes, who was joined for the discussion by Randall Pittman, Consultant Relations Manager for National Quality Assurance.

“One of the most important recommendations I made to the audience was for the designated consultant or management representative overseeing ISO registration to keep it short and sweet. I’ve seen some companies go overboard with 20 pages or more, but our Quality manual is six. It’s a tool for sales but it’s short because everything you list will be audited. We focus only on the high points so it is lean and mean.”

After a 10-minute break, Hewes moved onto “Now That We’re ISO Certified, What’s Next”? Identifying other certifications that can be pursued depending on the type of business, industry or markets involved, he turned his attention on how to bind the management review to key performance indicators. Recommending the review to be performed on a monthly basis to maintain focus, Mr. Hewes followed with examples of required inputs and outputs and promoted how the use of corrective and preventative actions could drive customer satisfaction.

“ISO certification involves process steps. I recommended the best way to plan for an audit is to develop checklists. This allows time to adequately prepare and review questions before conducting the audit, then helps with the report and follow-up on any corrective actions necessary. Overall, it comes back to having a lean and mean solution since it is an expensive proposition to be ISO certified.”

During a Q-and-A session, Hewes discussed the importance of keeping people engaged in the ISO process. He offered an example on how to provide employees with an opportunity to have a stake in the improvements that are achieved through ISO standards.

“At NOVA, we keep visual management boards posted around the building in places where people gather and there is a dashboard that all of the teams and our president, Kathy Abbett, can refer to. When process changes are needed, they can discuss it with her directly, giving them the opportunity to share ideas with the company’s highest authority.”

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