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Miriam Boudreaux

Standards

Don’t Let Resources Sit Idle

Downturns are great opportunities for standards registration

Published: Monday, January 25, 2016 - 16:37

Before 2015, many of us rode one of the largest waves of success in the history of the oil and gas industry. Everything was booming—companies, salaries, bonuses, cities, services, etc. Then 2015 came and crashed the party, leaving us all a bit uncertain.

Now, entering 2016, you may have some your best people sitting somewhat idle at times, so here’s a suggested New Year’s resolution: Become registered to an applicable management system standard. From my perspective, with more than 20 years of experience in the field, I can assure you that becoming registered is one of the most rewarding endeavors a company may take.

A pair of options

When it comes to standards, for those in the oil and gas industry in particular, two choices stand out. The first, ISO 9001, is a widely known quality management system standard for manufacturing and service companies. It has been around since 1987 and now accounts for more than 1.1 million certifications worldwide. The last revision of the standard, ISO 9001:2015, was just released this past September.

A more sector-specific choice is API Q1, the American Petroleum Institute’s quality management system standard for manufacturing companies. API QI’s current ninth edition represents a quantum leap from the eighth edition in terms of how much it can help an organization. API Q2, meanwhile, is the American Petroleum Institute’s quality management system standard for service companies. The first edition of API Q2 was released in 2011, but certification did not open until 2014. It is therefore a very young standard; however, it carries the most punch because it has taken the best of all previously available standards.

Although these are the most popular standards for those in oil and gas, others do exist covering the environment, sustainability, safety, and more.

A case study

Late in 2009, we got a call to help a machine shop register to ISO 9001. The company, which had been in business for 30 years, was operating in a 45,000-sq-ft facility and had just ridden the biggest waves at the time. Now in 2009, they were in a down cycle and had dropped from 60 employees to about 30—and there wasn’t much work on the horizon. Production shifts were reduced and overtime was low, therefore, the president thought it was an optimal time to become registered to ISO 9001. He was not entirely sold on the idea, but knew that ISO 9001 was a good thing for a company. He further knew that the big service companies they catered to would like it, and he knew his own salesman would like it as well.

The president of this company told me, “We just went through the best times in our company, and I know we will never see anything like this again.” I asked whether he thought that statement applied only to his company or to the entire market. He told me he was referring to the oil and gas industry overall. Of course, we know now that the wave we have been riding over the past five years (which began shortly after my meeting with the machine-shop president) has turned out to be even bigger. But more on that later.

Our company, which at that time was mainly myself working out of our home office, was set to help them. They already had some good documentation and a quality mindset, and because of the lack of business, pretty much everyone was available for interviews, training, and helping when they were needed. Upon completing all the required documentation, deploying training, conducting their internal audit and management review, we enlisted DNV as the registrar to perform the certification audit. After the summer of 2010, they received their certification and, despite the president still not being 100-percent convinced, they started reaping the benefits. What came next proved just how much ISO 9001 (or API Q1 or API Q2) can help companies manage change—including booming sales.

From 2011 onwards, as we all know, the oil and gas industry boomed to a point that the words that the president of that machine shop had told me—i.e., “We will never see anything like this again” were proven very, very wrong. Production and orders to manufacturers and service providers within the industry grew to all-time highs. Our client’s sales grew, and in 2014 they moved to a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility with more than 85,000 sq ft of manufacturing space.

The example above represents a true case study to show that when business is slow, the best idea may be to use idle resources to engage in a great endeavor, such as the one required to become registered to ISO 9001, API Q1, or API Q2. Although no one can say for certain that ISO 9001 alone helped our client grow, many of the large oil and gas service providers do value and request such certification, and the certification often becomes a deciding factor between them picking you or your competition. Salespeople are excited when their company becomes certified because it adds credibility to the company in front of their big clients.

Both ISO 9001 and API Q1 or Q2 require time to get your company’s processes tidied up and well aligned with the requirements of those standards, so using newfound time and resources can help you really implement a good quality management system. This is not just window dressing that doesn’t add value to your company, as may occur when everyone is busy. When you take the time to implement a sound quality management system where everyone participates in its creation and implementation, it will provide unparalleled efficiencies, not to mention tremendous marketing benefits that will put your company ahead of your competitors.

Of course these standards require a budget, so you must plan to invest money as well as time to train your employees on implementation. This will get them involved and cut down on the time needed for contractors or consultants. Well-trained employees will have the proper tools so they can do most of the work. But, make no mistake—if done right, the return on your investment will be equally proportionate to the effort you put in to comply with the standards. Furthermore, the satisfaction that your employees will feel will equal or surpass the satisfaction you experienced when your company made its first million.

Discuss

About The Author

Miriam Boudreaux’s picture

Miriam Boudreaux

Miriam Boudreaux is the CEO and founder of Mireaux Management Solutions, a technology and consulting firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. Mireaux’s products and services encompass international standards ISO and API consulting, training, auditing, document control and implementation of Web QMS software platform. Mireaux’s 6,500 square foot headquarters, located in the northwest area of Houston, houses their main offices as well as their state-of-the art training center. Mireaux itself is certified to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013. To get in touch with Miriam Boudreaux, please contact her at info@mireauxms.com.