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Client Testimonial – NIHP (Northern Integrative Health Practice)

September 29, 2014

logoI have recently finished a piece of work for the Northern Integrative Health Practice, (NIHP) based in Durham. Working with the Managing Director, Paula Esson, I helped to define and shape the key processes that deliver value to their clients, both private and NHS. This enabled the business to create better structure, implement best practice standards and develop improved systems, and finally close in on certification to ISO 9001.

Paula said:

We respect Alistair immensely. If you are considering certification to ISO9001, ADM Solutions are the only company I would invite through the door to ensure you hit all the targets and gain the clever insight into the breadth of achievement that can be accomplished with the right people alongside.’

For the full testimonial, click here.

ISO 9001: 2015 FAQ

August 6, 2014

I’m regularly asked about the forthcoming changes to ISO 9001, and so I will post answers to some of the more popular questions as they arise, here on my blog.

  1. When is the new version of ISO 9001 going to be published? – It is planned for publication in September 2015.
  2. Does my organisation need to re-certify as soon as it’s published? – No, all organisations will have 3 years to make the transition to from ISO 9001: 2008 to ISO 9001: 2015.
  3. Will it be difficult to implement ISO 9001: 2015? Generally, it shouldn’t be too difficult. It depends on the current ISO 9001: 2008 system and how it has been implemented (if it enables a ‘tick in a box’, then there will obviously be more work to do). Firstly, consider the context – how big is the company? What is it’s core business? How complex are it’s operations? What risks does it face? The new standard recognises that organisations (e.g. multi-nationals vs. small service businesses) have different needs and requirements.
  4. Should we scrap our current management system? No. I would recommend that organisations currently certified to ISO 9001: 2008 will meet many of the requirements of ISO 9001: 2015 and should keep these in place.

Do you have any questions regarding ISO 9001 2015? If so, feel free to get in touch and I will answer them for you.

5 Reasons to Review Your Business Standards

August 1, 2014
  1. The world in which we are doing business in is changing rapidly. There is always someone looking to do it better, faster, smarter. How are you keeping ahead of the competition?
  2. What is your USP? Your standards should drive the implementation of your USP.
  3. Your business is recognised by its standards. Your customers and other stakeholders talk about you. Make sure it’s a positive conversation.
  4. Internal standards and policies align your vision (and brand) with reality. They create the culture and performance of your business.
  5. Standards provide confidence in the abilities of your business. They open doors to new business, maintain current business, and allow you to lead a market.

Which standards matter to your business?

  • answering the phone within 5 rings?
  • meeting client deadlines?
  • winning business awards?
  • achieving certification (ISO 9001, Achilles, etc.)?
  • product standards and conformity?
  • company dress-code?

I’m working with different clients on each of these standards. They are all relevant to the success of the business and need to be:

  1. understood
  2. communicated
  3. implemented
  4. measured
  5. improved

How are standards contributing to your success? 

What are the standards that you will need to meet in the next 12 months?

My Guide to Business Process Management

July 2, 2014

Business Process Management (BPM) is a management methodology, used to define how an organisation will achieve efficient, effective and sustainable results.

The main difference between BPM and traditional management approaches is the adoption of Process Thinking and the development of an organisational culture that is Process Centric.

Process Thinking: All organisations have processes that represent the steps undertaken to deliver a service or manufacture a product. Often these processes are not well documented or even well understood; they just happen. Often organisations will have well documented and followed procedures. However these alone do not represent a well-managed, business process.

Process thinking seeks to:

  • Deliver value to Customers and Stakeholders as the key measures of process success
  • Manage processes as end-to-end activity streams that cross organisational functional boundaries
  • Align all processes with the organisation’s strategic directions

For most organisations it is easy to find stories about customers that have poor experiences or employees that can see obvious areas of dysfunction. Unfortunately, these occurrences are not rare, especially in large organisations where complexity often gets in the way of effective process. A culture of achieving process excellence is required to combat these issues.

A process centric culture seeks to:

  • Assign accountability to Process Owners who are responsible for achieving results for their end-to-end process, regardless of the organisational structure that is undertaking the work of the process.
  • Create a transparent view of the organisation’s processes and performance measures, ensuring that all activities undertaken are aligned to the organisation’s processes and all performance reporting is traceable back to the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) of Business Processes.
  • Adopt a Process Management Framework that details the processes that the organisation will follow to manage and improve all of it’s business processes.

That’s all well and good, but the question I’m asked most of all is, ‘what are the real business benefits of process management’? Well, the key benefits, in my opinion, are:

  • Focus. All levels of an organisation are focused on activities that deliver the right results for customers and stakeholders.
  • Clarification. Defining how work is done, when, and by whom, provides opportunities to question ‘why?’ and generate major business improvement initiatives.
  • Efficiency. The visibility of business processes allows concentration on inefficiencies as well as the opportunity to “re-use” common activities across the organisation.
  • Sustainability. Business processes can be continually improved to adapt to changing organisation environments and continue to deliver results.
  • Measurable. All processes can be measured end-to-end and compared to expected results.

For more information, visit my website.

Annex SL in Brief – Standardising Management System Standards

June 3, 2014

Many organisations seek to implement and certify multiple management system standards. This has led to the need to easily combine or integrate them in an effective and efficient manner. To date subtle and not so subtle differences in requirements and terminology across Management system standards have made such integration difficult.

However, have no fear – Annex SL is now here! With the objective of delivering consistent and compatible management system standards Annex SL will attempt to make this process easier.

The major clause numbers and titles of all management system standards will be identical. They are:


1. Scope

2. Normative references

3. Terms and definitions

4. Context of the organisation

5. Leadership

6. Planning

7. Support

8. Operation

9. Performance evaluation

10. Improvement.

The Introduction, Scope and Normative references will have content that are specific to each discipline and each standard can have its own bibliography.

Annex SL describes the framework for a generic management system, so when you see the framework in actual standards, there will be the addition of discipline-specific requirements to make a fully functional management system standard.

In future all new management system standards will have the same overall ‘look and feel’. Current management system standards will migrate during their next revision which should be completed within the next few years. ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 are currently undergoing this transition.

Looking Ahead to June

June 2, 2014
update image

June is upon us already, and it’s going to be super-busy; here’s what’s in store:

  • A new client based in the lovely market town of Beverley, seeking certification to ISO 9001 in order to build upon it’s successes in the public sector. This niche company will be a client for the next 6 months.
  • Progressing 2 current ISO 9001 projects – these will continue for another 3 months.
  • Continuing my work with Oakland Consulting on internal systems and processes
  • A final session with my client in Manchester, completing their new ISO 9001 management system

I have 2 new potential client meetings in June.

  1. The first company operates in the IT industry. Our meeting is to discuss how ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 can be used to monitor and improve performance, as well as contribute to business development.
  2. My second prospect meeting is in Leeds with a growing healthcare organisation, who have a requirement to identify, improve and standardise processes across the numerous sites in the locality. This will help the company to implement best practice throughout the business, understand why some sites produce higher performance levels than others, and to improve internal training.

Finally, I have received several requests for information on ISO 27001 over the past couple of months. ISO 27001 is the information security management standard. It provides a framework to effectively secure confidential data and minimise the likelihood of it being accessed illegally, without permission, or becoming lost. As more events are unearthed in the media and press regarding the (poor) security of information, I think ISO 27001 certification is going to become increasingly important for organisations dealing with large volumes of data. I have already had 1 company inform me that they have had a major client instruct them to install the standard or face losing their business. Management systems standards exist to provide confidence in the abilities of your company, and I think this example demonstrates that perfectly.

Wishing you a productive and enjoyable June.

ISO 9001 – 2015 Update

May 28, 2014

9001imageYou may be aware that the most commonly used management system standard, ISO 9001, is currently being updated. If not, you need to know that big changes are ahead. The new version of the standard is due to be published September 2015. Although that seems a long way off, now is the time to start planning for the changes and the work involved in maintaining your certification.

Why is ISO 9001 changing?

  • ‘Quality’ has evolved since the 2008 version. Quality isn’t about ‘widgets’ and ‘quality control’ anymore. It’s about aligning controls, processes, people and other resource to meeting the needs of our customers. It’s now strategic. And it’s in the boardroom.
  • Management system standards have evolved. The use of standards to manage how organisations meet specific objectives is growing. And now the format of such standards has changed – they are now aligned to something called Annex SL, which comprises 10 sections which all management system standards will follow. ISO 9001 is playing catch up.
  • ISO itself requires management system standards to be periodically reviewed and updated. ISO 9001 is actually overdue for its revision.

So what can we expect in 2015?

Last week I attended a CQI meeting that focused on ISO 9001 and the proposed changes. On viewing a copy of the latest proposed revision, it’s clear that the standard is hugely different. Probably about 50% of the 2008 version has changed. Not only does it read differently, it looks different as well. It follows the 10 section format as per Annex SL, consisting of:

1. Scope
2. Normative references
3. Terms and definitions
4. Context of the organisation
5. Leadership
6. Planning
7. Support
8. Operation
9. Performance evaluation
10. Improvement.

Over time, Annex SL (a standard for writing management system standards) will make it easier to navigate, understand and integrate management system standards.

Other significant changes include:

1. The Process Approach is now embedded in requirements

Clause 4.4 specifies requirements ‘considered essential to the adoption of the process approach’. Mostly, these consist of requirements that were already in 9001, but which have now been brought together. But the explicit requirement for an organisation to understand and control its processes is progression in my eyes.

2. Risk management is in, preventive action out

Risk management is a requirement. Preventive action has been removed – which I think a good thing as it was so confusing to many.  It’s considered to be replaced by planning, risk management and the having of a management system in the first place.

3. Context of the Organisation

Another BIG change: a whole new clause 4 requiring the organisation to consider itself and its context, and to determine the scope of its quality management system.

This clause is probably going to cause a lot of head-scratching and confusion, but it’s going to reduce the number of organisations trying to get a ‘quick-win’ or a ‘tick in the box’. So again, it’s a good thing in my opinion.

4. Documented information’ replaces both procedures and records – nil mandatory procedures

One of the most controversial changes, and one where further changes are likely before publication.

I can imagine a collective drawing of horrified breaths by the certifiers across the world as they try to imagine auditing to this Standard, where not a single mandatory procedure is specified. I think it’s attempting to get away from the culture of big thick hard-copy manuals etc and recognising that – especially in this electronic age – there are many ways of delivering and recording information. It may not stay exactly as is.

Also, there is NO requirement for a Quality Manual!

5. Terminology changes

The term ‘product’ has been replaced with ‘goods and services’.This is to make it more generic and applicable to service fields, and remove the inherent manufacturing bias. A very good idea methinks (although many manufacturers disagree already). Continual’ has been dropped from the phrase ‘continual improvement’ in favour of just ‘improvement’.

I will blog more about the changes to ISO 9001 as the update progresses, but I think you will now see that this is a significant change and one that will have a huge impact on many organisations. So much so, that ISO are considering a 3 year period to update existing ISO 9001 systems to the 2015 standard.

Now is the time to plan though, not in 12 months’ time. consider:

  • learning about the new standard yourself, now
  • communicating the changes internally and involving others
  • whether you need to re-design your entire system, or keep the same format

Lastly, there is no requirement for a ‘management representative’ in the 2015 version. It implies that the management system is owned by top management. Gulp! Take note – MD’s, CEO’s, Owners – you will be responsible for the management system, and therefore you will need to show evidence that you manage it, drive it, and improve it.

Any questions? Drop me an email or call me.

Finally, what will you do to begin the transition to ISO 9001: 2015?



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