A Standards-Registration Triple Header
Business Enterprise Mapping Inc.’s process-mapping system
In February 2008, Arizona’s Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department’s Conveyance Division (PCRWRDCD), which has 113 employees and serves a population of more than one million, became the first enterprise in the United States to receive three management system standard registrations simultaneously-- ISO 9001, which specifies requirements for a quality management system; ISO 14001, which addresses various aspects of environmental management; and OHSAS 18001, a health and safety standards certification. Business Enterprise Mapping Inc., a Scottsdale, Arizona, process improvement consulting company, collaborated with the public utility throughout 2007 in preparation for simultaneous management audits that were conducted by TÜV SÜD America Inc. during October and November 2007.
The results of a third-party audit were the catalyst for management commitment to improving quality. Leadership elected to establish a business management system that would incorporate registration to all three international management system standards as a tangible indication of that commitment.
Preparing for registration to a standard is extremely challenging and involves significant organizational change. Most organizations seeking multiple registrations pursue them consecutively; however, at PCRWRDCD, management recognized that even though two auditors for each standard would be needed, the registration requirements overlapped and there was a clear correlation between the three standards.
“We just decided it would be more efficient to prepare for all three at once,” says Edward Collette, an environmental and safety manager who served as leadership representative for this project.
The department contracted with BEM to help develop a business management system to achieve its objectives and plan for the certifications. The goals of this system were to regain public confidence, establish accountability and prepare for the challenges by defining roles and responsibilities, and building a system for process excellence and continuous improvement. “We wanted to become more like private sector businesses in our operations,” says John Warner, deputy director. “We felt process mapping would be the key to success. It offered the most value-added business change.”
In March 2007, BEM began the assignment to develop a business management system that would be compliant to the three international standards. “I was delighted at the enthusiasm and commitment among the employees,” recalls Don James, president of BEM. “They thoroughly embraced the concept of process mapping and process improvement.”
During the process-mapping sessions, employees worked in teams identifying more than 300 opportunities for improvement. By year’s end, the PCRWRDCD had recorded dramatic improvements across the board, resulting in 25 percent of opportunities being immediately resolved. BEM uses a methodology called red cloud identification, in which the consultant capturing the various processes identifies opportunities, or “red clouds,” that the client needs to address. These are later categorized and prioritized for resolution. In Pima’s case, the employees were able to provide, and mutually agree upon, immediate solutions to their red clouds.
Empowered as the instruments of change, employees quickly recognized the new system’s value and developed pride of ownership in their processes. Teamwork and morale improved, and management is now able to capture what employees are doing right and quickly act on suggestions.
As a result of its achievements, the Conveyance Division is receiving widespread recognition from the county, resulting in budget approvals and greater responsibility for improvement. The installation of new equipment, a reduction in downtime, and greater control over equipment return to service has lead to a decline in public complaints .
For the audit, the global certification organization, TÜV SÜD, assigned six independent auditors, two for each standard. The auditors reviewed quality manuals and the supporting procedures, toured and inspected the facility, observed ongoing operations, interviewed employees working at various levels, and evaluated quality records. Citing the example of a new entry-level employee who already had a remarkably clear understanding of his charter, the auditors were particularly impressed with how well quality procedures were integrated throughout the organization. “PCRWRDCD performed an extraordinary job to earn their certification because there was a 100-percent commitment from all employees to perform their best... from management on down,” says Manuel Rodriguez, TÜV SÜD lead auditor.
In February 2008, the department received word that it successfully achieved all three registrations.
“We serve more than a million citizens over a 370-square-mile service area,” says Warner. “One of our main objectives was to improve their opinion of our service. Registration and the process improvements we made go a long way toward doing that.” Business Enterprise Mapping Inc.’s process-mapping system
- The methodology has been continuously improved over the past 15 years, and is highly sustainable. Clients continue to use and maintain their mapped business system for years.
- BEM consultants can capture 75-80 percent of a process in just two hours in a first-pass mapping session. Subsequent sessions refine the processes.
- Employees who have no experience with processes receive training in process ownership and end up being proactive and effective process owners.