June 15, 2009
Your Monday morning cuppa HFI buzz!
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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
We welcome HFI buzz / project-related articles / technology & design news / reviews / creative writings / any other fun stuff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send in your feedback, suggestions and comments too.