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somras

June 15, 2009

Your Monday morning cuppa HFI buzz!

Quality matters

http://somras-hfi.blogspot.com/ project, almost wishing that they hide all the projects from ISO audits. This became a major concern.

It’s like the vaccination that stings a bit at first, but saves you from a terrible disease.

The entire quality management system has been revamped

ISO quality control is firmly entrenched in

after the change in guard. This was evident in the recent TUV

the system of HFI India, imposing critical

surveillance audit. HFI India’s certification got upgraded.

standards and work discipline across contributors and

Auditors were happy to see marked improvement in the entire

projects. We may heave the occasional sigh when

quality management system.

documenting a project, but we know that following this process is for the good of the company and the individual

The system is run efficiently and processes are being

alike.

followed. Checks are in place, internal audits happen regularly and the entire system is more organized. The main credit

Now, thanks to all the new activity on the ISO front,

goes to Vivek. He was the main person as the management

spearheaded by Vivek Manvi, HFI India has just got its

representative, quality manager, and also admin manager.

booster shot—the ISO 9001:2008 certification.

Archana, Nikitesh, Pooja and Mandar ably supported him in his endeavor as process heads—helped him rewrite the

As we move ahead with this upgraded certification, let’s see

respective processes based on the new ISO process

what a random bunch of HFIers have to say about ISO and

document and managed their departments' documentation

it’s relevance to our work.

accordingly.

Our questions:

Vivek conducted several awareness-increasing sessions

1. According to you, what was the general perception about

about ISO process. The staff is now able to look at the ISO

ISO initially?

process as something that helps them keep their work

2. What were the common hindrances?

organized than some documentation harassment that one has

3. Where do we stand today?

to suffer.

4. What are the important changes between then and now?

Nikitesh Joshi, MIS manager

5. To what and whom would you attribute these changes? 6. How do staff perceive ISO today?

From an MIS perspective, the good that ISO Mandar Bhedasgaonkar

has brought about is that we have processes

CE management lead

and policies with regards to our MIS. This helps me streamline the function of the MIS

It’s been a journey of continuous

business unit. For example, we keep a list of all our assets.

improvement as ISO advocates. We lost

Earlier, this was maintained through an excel sheet but

our way a bit last year. But fortunately

because we have to show continual improvement we moved

Vivek joined us then. The external

to an online and automated system. Similarly w.r.t. our

surveillance audit was due, time was short and there was a lot

helpdesk we were maintaining it through emails but have now

to do. Vivek worked hard to fix things, pulled in all his

moved to an online ticket based system. Because the new

experience and we managed to retain the certification.

ISO speaks about maintaining the effectiveness and efficiency of our process, we have reports

That was a wake-up call. Vivek's job was set for the next

being generated for how many calls came in and how many

year—revamp the quality management systems of all the

were resolved.

departments right from his home ground "quality" to admin, MIS, projects, HR, etc.

Pooja Soni, Asst manager, HR

The staff was aware of the quality policy and that we are ISO

The word “ISO” brings in an awareness

certified. However the technical staff would think of ISO as

among the staff about the procedure &

unnecessary and tedious documentation at the end of the

process we need to follow for the function


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June 15, 2009

we are involved in. But staff should bear in mind is that we

not just about deliverable quality. It is also about quality of

should not maintain the records because it’s required by “ISO”

implementation and processes followed. Here is a common

but should actively control the document and keep the records

scenario. When we receive feedback from a client that they

to streamline the function and improve the process

are not happy with proposed IA for their web site, ISO

continuously.

ensures that we have a clear process built in to deal with such situations. The solution is issue log that ensures that

Rishi Mathur, CEL

we capture such situations and act upon these in a timely manner.

When I joined HFI in 2004, ISO appeared as complex stuff which needed certain level of

Another situation: CEL is finalizing a deliverable. She has to

expertise. Then ISO facilitators' idea came up

send it to the PD and it’s late in the evening and the team

and I was appointed for my team. That

has left for the day. She needs something from the previous

helped in two ways -- more people became aware of the

day’s deliverable. She looks for the file on her laptop but

process and it also made it easy for the team members to

can’t find it. ISO ensures that such situations don’t arise by

keep projects on track for the audits, but still regular follow-

proposing a person independent process. The solution is the

ups were required.

ISO folder structure that we follow on all projects.

We then initiated to define a process to tame the CE

We needed to understand that. Once people started

sustained team projects under ISO net, and interim audits

following the process and realized how it helps them in day

were conducted at regular intervals for such projects. We also

to day scenarios, its importance sunk in. Like any other, ISO

got few people trained as internal auditors.

also brings in an organizational change. So it has its typical issues related to acceptance.

The bigger picture of how ISO and quality can contribute to management in gauging overall company output in terms of

There were many challenges initially. The biggest and most

quality and consistency is something not clear at the ground

critical was mapping the ISO process to the SM (that time we

level or may be it has not given enough importance from that

had SM and not SWM) and documenting the process. ISO

perspective.

traditionally originated for tangible processes, like manufacturing and producing. Ours is a service industry and

Today the process is much neater and streamlined. We have

also quite unique in terms of activities and deliverables. The

very few documents to maintain and we are very much

ISO auditors are not familiar with our type of service.

organized in terms of regular internal audits, but still largely it’s not the part of projects lifecycle. I think in terms of process

It was also important to initiate all employees and bring them

we have improved but implementation at ground level

into the fold. This meant that we needed some good sample

(projects) is still more or less same. We need to work towards

projects that followed the process and use them as case

making the process well integrated part of the project lifecycle

studies. Hitesh and Abhijit pioneered this and demonstrated

itself.

great value of the process.

We have some good staff who can set the rule and more

Another challenge was to ensure that the process is followed

importantly follow it up, e.g., getting feedbacks. ISO now is

on a day-to-day basis and not at the end of the project. We

still considered as additional task, good to have.

also struggled a lot in finding a good quality manager, ironically.

Sachin Patil, Group lead Another hindrance was feedback from the clients and In the early days, most managers were

because we didn’t get that regularly, we couldn’t really

new to the ISO process and it took some

accurately measure the organizational KPIs.

time to get used to it. Senior staff did a lot of training and workshops to initiate the ISO thought process with the managers.

Then there were the dreaded Project Management Plan (PMP) and the Workbook. PMP was a mammoth 20 page document that the managers needed to maintain. Worse, it

Most of the time, because ISO is about quality, the perception

had to be modified every time schedule changed or a new

was that ISO will improve the quality of deliverables. ISO is

staff got added or new activities got added to the project. We


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June 15, 2009

did away with PMP, streamlined project Workbook, removed

projects and tends to forget the ISO factor. There are some

redundancy and confusing terminology.

people—generally the more experienced staff and who’ve received ISO training—who are very meticulous and have

In the past, each time an audit was scheduled, major

their project workbooks ready on time.

campaigning was required to keep projects “ISO ready.” The week before the audit would be very challenging and on ISO

Regular awareness programs—especially for all technical

day, the entire office would be tense.

employees of all levels, and internal audits can make things better. We have raised concerns about having internal

In last week’s audit, the biggest difference that I saw was that

training & awareness about ISO procedures, but somewhere

there was no need for such environment to be created. Not

along the line it disappeared.

because we cared less about ISO audit but because we had our house in good shape. We did all our internal audits

I do not have comparative data, but my feeling is that HFI is

regularly; the process is being followed on a continuous basis.

getter better. Moreover, the feedback from the latest external audit is that things are getting better, especially on the

All this was possible only because of Apala and Eric for

administrative part. Audits for technical consulting projects

providing the vision and challenge to take the big leap, Hitesh

have generally been good. For the latest external audit, the

and Abhijit for taking up the daunting task of writing processes

people who faced the audit were the more experienced

and applying them to projects and setting benchmarks for the

people of HFI. We had to nominate these people as their

rest to follow. Atul, Sachin and Hemal for streamlining the

projects were internally audited and they were better off at

documentation, Mandar for taking up as the owner of the

facing audits. But, this may not be the case tomorrow.

consultancy process, and in recent times. Vivek for taking

Anyone should be in a position to face audits and know the

over of the ISO responsibility. He has brought in much needed

ISO process in-out.

discipline into the process. We have streamlined the feedback process. He has also ensured that audits happen on time.

The top management has been listening to the concerns of the staff and has made the decisions that exist today. Both

Today most of us follow processes not even realizing that we

the staff and the top management have been working hard.

are actually following a process laid down by ISO—this is a

But there is always scope for bettering the ISO scenario in

BIG win for all of us. The common perception varies across

HFI.

levels. To managers, it provides tools to manage projects, while to the staff, it instills a sense of discipline. But it helps

Vivek Manvi, Quality manager

unify our style of functioning and ensures that we deliver high quality.

What was the ISO scene in HFI when you came on board? Suneet Suthan, CEL

Two days after I joined HFI, I received an email that we were supposed to have the

When I joined HFI Mumbai in 2006, I

ISO surveillance audit for that year i.e.,

knew that HFI India was ISO certified,

2008 on that very day. Needless to say, I panicked and

but was not aware of the nitty-gritty ISO

approached Hitesh and after our discussion with Apala, we

process details. The perception that I

requested TUV to push back the audit by around one month.

had was that the Project Manager / CEL was primarily involved in maintaining the project workbook

After I got over this initial shock, I looked at the existing state

and knows in and out of the ISO process and formalities.

of our Quality Management System (QMS) - GRIM. There had been no internal audits conducted in the past one year.

Sometime in 2007, we all were introduced to the new project

There were no records of management reviews and no

workbook, which was a lot simpler than the older version.

customer feedback was obtained for projects.

As far as my understanding, people are aware of ISO but not

What was your immediate gameplan?

to a great extent. People, especially the younger generations

The first item on the agenda was to get to know the system,

at HFI, become aware of ISO and its importance when the

and who handled what. I was supported greatly by Hitesh,

external audit is scheduled. People are not too serious about

Abhijeet and Hemal. Next, I tried to get my hands on all the

ISO, but they cannot be blamed. Everybody gets busy on

ISO-related data from the past one year or so. The aim was


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June 15, 2009

to salvage and compile whatever we had and make it ready

I went through the ISO 9001:2008 internal auditor training in

for the audit in a span of one month.

Feb 2009 and started the process of modifying our processes to meet the requirements of the new standard.

All of us - Hitesh, Sarit, Apala & I - agreed on one thing. Let us not try to fabricate data out of nothing. Lets salvage what we

How your work has paid off?

can and face the audit.

Of course! HFI is now ISO 9001:2008 certified. Not only did we have no non-conformities in this year’s surveillance audit,

I then tried to compile a list of projects which we had

but we were also upgraded. This means that our QMS

completed in the past one year across the three locations. We

conforms to the requirements of this revised standard. It is a

conducted internal audits for a few of them. Next step was to

very sweet feeling :-)

look at the processes for the other functions. The support functions were in a better shape as compared to projects. I

There has been a remarkable change in staff’s attitude too.

studied the processes and recommended a few changes to

Earlier, there was a huge inertia, and people did it just

the data and records to ensure we complied with the

because they had to or because the management wanted

standard. This way, we could manage to resurrect the QMS to

them to. Now, people are beginning to believe in quality, and

a recognizable level. At last we could say that we were ready

the best part is they have begun to participate in the process.

to face the audit. What more can be taken to improve ISO understanding? We faced the audit, and as expected, were given a non-

Most importantly, people should keep doing activities as per

conformity for not obtaining customer feedback, which is a key

process. Agreed that it becomes painful sometimes to

requirement for the ISO standard.

document the activities using the correct formats, etc., but at

What were your main challenges?

And this is contagious – if one person sticks to the process, it

The most important challenge was getting over the inertia of

forces others to follow the process too. This in itself spreads

people. Once we got over this, people were cooperative and

the awareness throughout the company.

the end of the day, the benefits are there for everyone to see.

helped me get things rolling. Another major challenge was to restart the process of customer feedback. We designed a new

A message to all.

feedback form and kick started the process and aimed to keep

Always follow a process approach for your work. Document all

the momentum going.

the activities you do. This way you will never go wrong, and your work will become much more standardized, and easy to

What were the high points?

follow and replicate. After all, if you believe you do a great job

In the last year's audit, we were lucky to get only a single non-

– why not standardize it and have others follow the same

conformity, while we could have easily gotten a couple more.

method?

This gave us some breathing space to start working towards the future.

Moving ahead…? We have achieved a good base by getting ISO 9001:2008

Another high was the support of the management and the

certified. We can aim for certification in areas like information

staff without which I could not have fixed things on my own.

security, customer satisfaction among others. I want to see all

Things started getting back into place - we conducted internal

offices of HFI – not just India - to be ISO certified. This gives

audits, conducted our mgmt review meets, obtained and

out a very strong message – What a client sees in the US, is

analyzed customer feedback for projects.

exactly the same they will find in the UK, India, China & Singapore. The aim is not just to satisfy the customer’s needs

The ISO standard went through a revision in November 2008.

but to delight them. 

The new version - ISO 9001:2008 was launched and we had the option of upgrading to this in our next surveillance audit in 2009. Of course, we could also do it in 2010, but I believed we could do it in this year itself. I knew I was taking a risk, but went ahead nevertheless.

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Somras 2009-06-15