General Advice

Business advice on everything from fire safety regulations to basic copyright matters.

ISO 9001: Ensuring External Training is Effective

Employee/subcontractor training is one of the business processes that are defined in a quality management system that meets the international standard ISO 9001:2008. For any enterprise where external training of personnel is an issue a quality approach to recording outcomes has major benefits, because the cost of failure can be very high. Another benefit is that a quality management system that meets ISO 9001:2008 can be externally certified by a nationally accredited certification authority. This always impresses customers, because it decreases their risk in placing orders. In the UK, the national accreditation service is UKAS and their ‘tick’ logo appears on all certificates issued by UKAS-accredited bodies. Why not see what would be involved in setting up a quality management system to ... »

ISO 9001: Knowing What Has Been Sold to Your Client

If your business handles many orders from customers, you will need to have systems for storing the details and feeding the consequential instructions to your operations function as well as keeping accounts. Even if your business is relatively simple, such as running a pre-booked taxi service, you will need to be able to see full details of what has been ordered and the state of progress towards order fulfilment at any time, no matter which of your personnel takes the order and who is involved in fulfilling it. If the system for order taking and processing is a computer database, it is essential that everybody who could possibly need to interrogate it is able to do so and that it contains the complete up-to-date record. In even a slightly more complicated business, say, involving assembling... »

ISO 9001: Ensuring a New Employee Quickly Becomes Effective

If your business has a manual describing how the business functions, you could ask him to read it. However, it would have to be extremely comprehensive and would be difficult to keep up-to date, due to the constantly evolving nature of almost every enterprise. Furthermore, creating such a document purely to solve this one problem could never be economically justifiable. By contrast, setting up a quality management system would produce such documentation and, in addition, would:- Ensure every employee and subcontractor knows what his job is; Ensure every employee and subcontractor could look up how to do another’s job and what training he might need should the need arise; Provide a mechanism to control training of personnel to prevent skill shortages and provide career paths, thereby enhanc... »

ISO 9001: Keeping Client Complaints to a Minimum

Your Client tells you for the third time of reporting that the service you are providing is not working and there is no sign of resolution. On investigation you find there are some vague recollections of the Client reporting various incidents but no record can be found of what they were, when they were reported and what had been done to resolve them. In effect Client support is a shambles. It is therefore imperative that the risk of such failure is minimised by making sure your company has Client incident reporting and resolution totally under control. This can be achieved by ensuring that you have a Client Support process in place that dovetails into a quality management system such that:- The Client Support process is clearly documented. Personnel undertaking this process have a clear un... »

ISO 9001: Your Supplier Has Failed You

Your Client tells you in no uncertain terms to replace some equipment which your company had recently supplied because it was not what was ordered and was seeking compensation for business lost because of this failure to deliver the right equipment. You personally check the order, rapidly acquire the required equipment, chase around to the client location and install the right equipment. On investigation after satisfying yourself your Client’s needs have now been satisfied, you find that your supplier’s order handling is totally “hit and miss”. It is therefore imperative that the risk of such failure is minimised by making sure your supplier follows those aspects of your company order management process which relate to them or they implement an order management which is acceptable to you. ... »

ISO 9001: Using QMS to Keep Orders Flowing In

Your Sales orders have dried up and you find your sales person is off sick and nobody else knows the sales process which is held in sales person’s head. It is therefore imperative that the risk of such failure is minimised by documenting the sales process and ensuring other personnel can handle this process. This can be achieved by ensuring that you have a sales management process in place that dovetails into a quality management system such that:- The sales process is clearly documented. Personnel undertaking this process have a clear understanding of what is required. Clear records are maintained on communication with client in terms of proposals and orders The process is reviewed on a regular basis and inconsistencies corrected. Thus a low cost, high quality approach to sales is the ans... »

ISO 9001: Keeping Documentation In Order

You are very pleased that you have secured another order, arranged for your supplier to deliver the required equipment and you have scheduled the work, so that you can proceed to secure the next order. To your horror the next thing you hear about this order is that that you missed a delivery date and your client has gone ballistic. On investigation you find nobody in your company is aware of what was needed or what to do and by then order has been cancelled. Finally you find the schedule of work document at the bottom of your in tray rather than in the customer file so it was little wonder that nobody knew what to do. It is therefore imperative that the risk of such failure is minimised and this can be achieved by ensuring that you have an order management process in place that dovetails i... »

ISO 9001: Instilling Client Confidence with Quality Management

How many times do we come across SMEs wringing their hands at the loss of another order and saying “That order should have been ours” because they believed they knew what the client wanted and could deliver it on time and support it at a competitive price? Despite this belief, somehow they failed to get their message through to the prospective client. For a business to be successful, the risk of such failure must be minimised. To minimise this risk, demands that the Sales function:- Ensures that the client has advance warning as to what your company can do for them. Is sensitive to client needs so as to detect any changes as the client need takes shape. Maintains a clear record of what the client requires and is readily able to track changes as they arise. Produces a clear and concise prop... »

Working From Home

Working from home sounds like an attractive prospect – but have you thought through all the practical issues? This guide will give you information and advice about: Day-to-day issues of working from home Insurance Legal Issues Day-to-day issues of working from home Once you have decided you want to work from home, there are many practical issues to address. Striking a sensible balance between life and work. Avoid the temptation to work long hours just because you are always near your work. Set limits, as you would if you were in an office. Avoiding distractions. It’s important to separate work from home life, even if they both go on under the same roof. Make sure your family is aware when you are working, and dedicate a certain part of your house to work, so that you can concen... »

Importing Supplies Successfully

To import successfully, you need to follow through a carefully thought-out plan of development and action. This guide looks at the steps you need to take to help make your venture a success. Why import? How to source suppliers Avoiding the pitfalls Going ahead with an order Paperwork and legal considerations Transporting goods Why import? There are a number of benefits to be gained by opting for an overseas supplier. Lower priced goods: Lower labour costs or a different tax regime may mean one country’s prices for a particular product are significantly lower than those in the UK. Higher-quality finished products: Every country has its specialities and strengths. If you want the very best, it could be to your advantage to import from a particular country. Traditional skills and raw ma... »

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