by Gordon Sellers

ISO 9000 Training Software That Works

Stepping stones

James Harrington's ISO 9000 Step by Step Implementation allows small, medium or large companies to attain ISO 9000 registration in a much shorter time frame and at a lower cost than with traditional methods. The product literally steps the user through the process and provides support with audio and visual examples, supporting text with Harrington's explanation, the actual ISO 9000 standards description and an extensive help system.

Once the software is installed, the main menu provides five choices: Quality Planning, Quality Diagnostic, On-line Manuals, Quality Registration and Status. If you need assistance, select "Overview" for a description of each section prior to using the product. We found the Help system very useful throughout this product.

The Quality Planning section outlines the 10 steps in the ISO 9000 implementation process, which include forming the ISO 9000 team, determining responsibilities and documenting the organization's quality system to attain registration. In the Planning section, the product makes certain assumptions (which can be customized) that help speed the process of getting started.

Department names can be added or removed, with responsibility being customized by the project coordinator. The user can identify and give unique passwords to the project coordinator, management representative and departmental representatives. These passwords are used to control access and authorization throughout the product. Planning results can be printed as reports so that each department representative can use them as a guide to their responsibilities in the overall project.

The Quality Diagnostic section consists of diagnostics and prescriptions. The diagnostics consist of 20 modules that verify your organization's compliance to ISO 9000 standards through a series of questions. At any time, the user can request an example, an explanation from Harrington or view the indexed ISO 9000 description. The examples are based on real-life case studies and presented through audio and visual images. They are particularly helpful.

Once all the diagnostic work is complete, the product analyzes the answers and then "prescribes" where the quality system needs improving. The prescription section also helps you create the organization's quality manual. It provides a manual template to speed up the building process. Additionally, you may use editable forms to assist in documenting undefined procedures and work instructions. Once registration is complete, ISO 9000 Step by Step can be used to continually update the quality manual.

The Quality Registration section defines the registration process, discusses costs and provides a list of registrars that can be selected by country and state or province. The last section, Status, provides the users with ongoing status reports, including graphical charts that show percent complete. These reports can be selected, viewed and printed by individual team member or for the entire project.

One of the program's unique features is the user's ability to communicate with a consultant through the Internet via an on-line forum. This allows for more tailored assistance to specific registration problems. We would have liked to see some planning support that provided specific details on how much time, effort and cost an organization should expect to spend on an ISO 9000 registration project.

Overall, this is an excellent implementation tool or, as they say, "performance support system" for guiding you through ISO 9000 registration. Documenting procedures to assure quality standards appears to be a daunting task to most organizations, but James Harrington's ISO 9000 Step by Step Implementation makes the process easy to tackle.

James Harrington's ISO 9000 Step by Step Implementation by SYSTEMCORP is a CD-ROM-based product designed to help business users prepare for ISO 9000 registration much faster and at an affordable cost. The product is available for a single user or can be installed on a local-area network. It covers all aspects of an ISO 9000 implementation project, including planning, diagnostic review of the quality system, building an on-line quality manual, registration and ongoing project status.

Minimum system requirements: 486 IBM-compatible PC; 33-MHz or faster processor; 8 MB RAM; 25 MB hard-disk space; 256-color display; CD-ROM drive; mouse; Windows 3.1 or higher; Windows-compatible sound card.

Price: $995

6969 Trans-Canada Highway, Suite 225
Montreal, PQ H4T 1V8 Canada
Telephone: (514) 339-1067
Fax: (514) 339-9776
www: http://www.systemcorp.com
e-mail: sys@systemcorp.com

Clever informer

Reality Interactive's ISO 9000 Registration Series is both practical and versatile. The five individual CD titles guide an organization through the entire ISO 9000 registration process. Title I, "The Executive Guide to ISO 9000," can be used as a high-level introduction to what registration is and how the organization benefits from it. Title II, "Understanding the ISO 9000 Process," lays the groundwork and plans for the project. Titles III and IV, "Preparing for Registration" and "The Registration Process," help the project team with implementation details. Finally, Title V, "Internal Auditing," trains employees to conduct internal audits.

The ISO 9000 Registration Series uses creative ways to convey information and keep the user involved. In the Executive Guide, users may select from a list of questions or from the company "map," which subtly educates the user on departmental responsibilities for different aspects of ISO 9000 registration. Another effective technique uses real people to answer common questions.

Each CD title provides supporting manuals and documentation that can be printed. "Understanding the ISO 9000 Process" includes a leader's guide-an excellent tool to help project leaders understand and instruct team members on ISO 9000 registration. "Preparing for Registration" provides the process management leader's guide.

A methodology developed by Process Management International is used for the 12-step ISO 9000 registration project. Also included is a draft plan in template form. This template can be customized for the organization's unique requirements, such as budgets or schedules. The process management leader's guide also provides a checklist to guide the project leader through all the registration steps.

"The Registration Process" illustrates how to write procedures for the organization's quality manual to meet ISO 9000 standards. How to prepare for the audit and what to expect during the audit is also described in detail. "Internal Auditing" describes the auditing process as well as how to become an effective auditor.

The multimedia nature of this product assists the user in reinforcing new concepts and material by providing opportunities for on-line question-and-answer sessions. Although this product is a good example of how to do multimedia training tools right, there were instances when we would have liked to run a seminar from beginning to end without the necessity of prompting the software to move along to the next presentation.

Overall, the series demonstrates high-quality production and is a good tool for employees to use at their own pace. Its interactive nature makes learning about ISO 9000 registration easy. The user is never at a loss to find out who is responsible or where to find reference materials; credits are available throughout the series. The only drawback is its relatively high cost. However, the cost can be justified if compared with more expensive methods such as consultant-driven training.

ISO 9000 Registration Series by Reality Interactive Inc. is a training product delivered on five individual CD-ROMs. The product is designed to help organizations introduce their executives and employees to ISO 9000 registration. Structured as seminars, the series includes the following topics: an executive guide, understanding the process, preparing for registration, the registration process and internal auditing.

Minimum system requirements: Multimedia PC or compatible system; 486 DX 33-MHz or faster processor; 8 MB RAM; 6 MB hard-disk space; double-speed CD-ROM drive; MPC-2 compliant sound board; 256-color VGA display; mouse and printer supported by Windows; Windows 3.1 or higher.

Price: $5,495 for the series or separately from $129 to $1,995

Contact: Reality Interactive Inc.
11200 West 78th St., Suite 300
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Telephone: (612) 996-6777
or (800) 675-7789
Fax: (612) 996-6799