Minimizing Or Reducing Nonconformances
Reducing nonconformances in an organization is fairly easy to do, although it is impossible to eliminate them completely. It is however always better to prevent issues rather than reacting to them. With this in mind, we’ll look at 7 steps in this article that you can use to minimize the number of non-conformances that could potentially push your company into a downward spiral.
1. Reduce Nonconformances by Knowing the Specifications
Your first priority should be to fully know and understand the standards the organization should adhere to. It is important that you know the specifications and standards for the products and/or processes that should be followed. These will often include reference materials and guidelines that define an outline or will help you create an outline you can follow.
This will ensure that everything operates within acceptable ranges. Everyone that deals directly with a project, manufacturing, construction, or general operations must be well versed in what is required and must at all times be kept updated and aware of the processes involved. This will go a long way towards reducing nonconformances in your organization.
2. Conduct Internal Audits to Minimize Nonconformances
Internal audits will allow you to stress-test your quality system at regular, scheduled intervals. The audits can also be divided into focused smaller audits that evaluate different parts of a process. This will allow for areas with recent nonconformance findings to be inspected with higher priority.
Data from previous findings and reports can be used to determine which products or systems must be tested first. Internal audits can often reduce nonconformances by assisting in finding potential minor and major non-conformances before they actually manifest in the future.
Such audits are therefore not only good for verifying that quality systems are in place but also to encourage proactive methodologies to eliminate problems rather than relying on reactive ones.
Companies may also use 3rd party auditors to check their processes to verify that quality standards are up to standard and compliant with industry standards. This is especially relevant in the case of ISO-9001 certification.
3. Review And Discuss Nonconformances with Appropriate Employees
Review and discuss product, project or operational aspects with more quality control staff and assign these individuals to as many key resource procurement, development, and operational areas as possible. This will lead directly to non-conformance being detected, reported, and solved faster. The more areas they are tied into closely, the more robust the checks on the quality system will be, while reducing nonconformances would also increase the company’s efficacy in product development and processes.
A common feature of functional organizations is that they always have excellent management and communication throughout its entire hierarchy. Reviewing, communicating, and sifting through process chains with employees involved at every level can result in better analysis of problems and help in implementing more robust counter measures.
Staff in the closest proximity to non-conformance areas will often identify flaws before they turn to a significant problem at later levels, thereby reducing nonconformances substantially. These people should always be alert and updated.
It also helps to identify which chain of employees might require updated work practices, training, and knowledge.
4. Regular Management Reviews Helps in Reducing Nonconformances
Regular management reviews can also assist in updating quality systems via implementing new or updating existing company processes, policies, objectives, and standards. New processes implemented by top management can replace deficient or defunct processes that might not be ideal for an organization, leading an increase in efficiency and productivity.
Management can also update priorities and policies to focus on crucial areas that have been found to be more susceptible to nonconformances. With enough suitable reports and data to utilize, management reviews may also provide improved risk management and assessment resulting in quality decisions that will be beneficial to the company in the long term.
5. Customer Feedback
Any customer feedback, whether negative or positive, will be beneficial in helping to improve a company’s services or products. It is after all the customers the company wants to satisfy. Obtaining their input can assist in indicate features in demand and market trends, and this will allow you to grow the product to their liking. It will also be useful to identify any shortcomings or defects that are caused by underlying nonconformances.
Identifying points of failure in products can help in identifying deficiencies in the processes that form part of its manufacture and development. This can in tern lead to corrective actions being implemented in the process chain. This type of feedback can be recorded and used to improve processes and product features, improving product development continually while reducing nonconformances.
6. Formal Document Control and QMS Processes
A formal quality management system (QMS) promotes efficiency, standardizes processes, and monitors and regulates practices continuously. A quality management system is effective when it upholds different process specs and furnishes fluent internal communication. A QMS that is ISO-9001 certified is recognized as valuing those things.
An effective QMS has a competent document control process embedded within it that records, updates, distributes, and organizes data regularly. Although this may not appear to help minimize non-conformances, it translates indirectly into the NCR register and reports being recorded, managed, and updated properly. This keeps the flow of information running smoothly. A document control process that is automated would also dramatically reduce human mistakes and errors. An organization that updates continually is one that is competent and makes fewer mistakes.
7. Encourage And Inform Employees to Reduce Nonconformances
Ensure that employees understand that they won’t be blamed if they report non-conformances and customer complaints, but this will ultimately help in reducing nonconformances. Reporting non-conformances should never affect Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for employees adversely. Encourage personnel to report problems and issues rather than passing the issues onto others or covering them up. As mentions in section 11 of ISO 9001, a non-conformance that is not dealt with is one that is defined as skipped. The more deviations and errors that get reported, the bigger the scope for improvement becomes, and this will ultimately lead to fewer non-conformances in the future.
Learn more about how a Non-Conformance Report can help your business.