Q Manager
Doc. Mgmt.
Doc. Control



Forward-thinking companies are getting ahead with globally integrated, paperless documentation.

by Stanley H. Salot Jr., Anne Downey and Barry O'Brien

For many companies, quality is still not an integral part of their operations; it's added overhead. The quality registration and maintenance processes have become exercises in documenting and verifying what should or could be rather than what is. Instead of adding value by ensuring operational and business consistency and excellence, these processes only become high priority when an audit is imminent. This cycle is repeated for each subsequent surveillance audit without fail.

 Fortunately, however, software applications are paving the way for the remote and paperless assessment system (RPAS). Some forward-thinking companies are using them to successfully integrate and achieve multistandard compliance, corporate knowledge management and business improvement.


RPAS solutions are coming

 For all of the traveling auditors and wary quality management professionals, we now have documented evidence that RPASs work. There are compelling reasons for registrars and their clients worldwide to work together on this initiative. The following case study demonstrates the added value that's being achieved by companies implementing company-to-company communication (C2CC) software applications.

 Waterford Crystal presents an excellent example of an organization that's ready for RPAS because it has:

  A progressive management view of the benefits of integrating management systems and overcoming perceived obstacles to that integration

  A need to automate that integration using a C2CC software application that could:

  • Ensure audit trails that track the history of all documents and actions and enable remote auditing
  • Support multiple sites and mobile users in multiple countries
  • Reliably manage corporate knowledge by means of workflow from individuals to groups and teams
  • Provide powerful security and access control features
  • Integrate many kinds of unstructured information in mixed media (e.g., text documents, flowcharts, photographs, CAD drawings, attachments, embedded objects and spreadsheets)
  • Offer calendaring and scheduling management, with alarms set to trigger when target dates approach


 These vital characteristics address all of the elements required to provide evidence of compliance to internal company, national and international standards and policies.


Using C2CC to manage inter-enterprise compliance

 Inter-enterprise compliance management interactions involve suppliers, customers and auditors. Suppliers need to be able to apply to get on the corporation's approved vendor list. In the ongoing relationship, regular audits ensure compliance and, when things go wrong, the two parties need to interact on supplier corrective actions (SCARs). Customers need to be able to complain. The corporation has to be able to capture the complaint, solve the immediate problem and launch a chain of corrective actions to ensure continual improvement and customer retention. In some cases, the corporation may need to allow audits by its customers. Finally, auditors/regulators need to check processes, procedures and records. Consultants specializing in certification, legal compliance or business improvement need to be able to help the corporation by carrying out surveillance audits, updating corporations on local, regional or worldwide legislation and monitoring performance in business improvement programs.

 Performance reporting is often a compliance requirement, and these reports may need to be submitted to regulators or made public; public reporting is often a requirement of environmental compliance.

 Compliance management relates to "business support" or "integrated management systems," which supplement front-line operational transactions. The multiplier effect in compliance-management-related activity across many more areas of business, such as customer care or quality, means that organizations need C2CC software to manage that activity.

 Waterford Crystal chose QSET Ltd.'s QSET Groupware for its integrated compliance management system. This C2CC solution consists of eight modules that can be used as stand-alone tools for managing specific aspects of compliance or combined into an integrated toolset.


Remote auditing

 Automating the integration makes the auditor's task easier and keeps costs down. With the appropriate security, it's possible to perform the documentation part of the audit from a remote location. Remote auditing is particularly attractive to multinational or multisite companies, where a single individual is able to interpret standards and guidelines in a uniform way for all sites worldwide. For example, SITA (Sydney Network Operations) used QSET Groupware and recently had a successful audit performed at its Sydney, Australia, site from SITA's London office. The auditor commented on how good it was to see company objectives interpreted and acted upon right through the organization.


Waterford Crystal's experience

 In their initial steps, Waterford Crystal managers focused on customer care, ISO 9000 and ISO 14001, all interrelated because effective implementation requires good change management.

 Waterford Crystal has a worldwide reputation for the beauty of its crystalware, and has, in the past 10 years, extended the brand to include china, holiday heirlooms, linen, writing instruments and cutlery. The company's quality assurance department develops and communicates quality standards for home-sourced and outsourced products, auditing adherence to these standards and administering and developing ISO 9000- and ISO 14000-compliant systems in all areas. The customer service department's customer care group is responsible for processing consumer complaints and trade customers and ensuring that the company's policies, namely its "no-quibble" guarantee, are carried out.


Critical issues

 Waterford Crystal executives wanted an IT platform to support compliance management in the supply chain. Having doubled its business in three years, extended its portfolio into the luxury gift business, outsourced up to 40 percent of its products and made the move to third-party warehousing and distribution, the company was experiencing enormous pressure to further improve its IT support systems. Also in particular need of improvement was its customer care strategy, which managers developed with six areas of focus in mind:

  ISO 9001 had been achieved but needed to be maintained.

  The company was determined to achieve both more effective document control for its ISO 14001 registration process and integration of its quality systems in New Jersey and Waterford, Ireland.

  Due to an increase in both outsourced crystal and brand extension, there was increased focus on supplier development, customer care and establishing the organizational structure required to support the needs of a changing portfolio of products.

  The company also needed standard methods for processing customer care issues and giving feedback to sales and marketing teams throughout the organization.

  Waterford Crystal's customer care organization needed an online global system for consumer fault analysis, trade fault analysis, information gathering, corrective action processing, feedback to complaint originators, consistent policies and reporting, and all documentation.

  For ISO 14001 compliance, the company needed an electronic system and certification (a legal requirement for an Integrated Pollution Control License) to avoid the high maintenance costs experienced with ISO 9001 compliance efforts. The company also needed to convert its existing ISO 9001 documentation to a new multistandard system.


The solution

 QSET Groupware offered three major advantages. The first was modular implementation. As a complete quality package, the software required only one modification: The comprehensive Customer Care module's product code capture facility was modified to encompass some of Waterford Crystal's practices. Second, QSET Groupware had a global infrastructure; Waterford Crystal already had a Lotus Notes-based solution to manage its projects between the Waterford and New Jersey sites. QSET Groupware/Lotus Notes offered Web page integration for Internet and intranet usage. Finally, QSET Groupware's user-friendly interface eliminated any significant concerns about retraining.



 Key components of the successful implementation were the pre-installation planning and training and the definition and support of the user group's needs in the U.S. operation, which is responsible for about 70 percent of Waterford Crystal's sales revenue. The software was installed in New Jersey by replication from the Irish site. Waterford-site staff traveled to the U.S. office to provide Lotus Notes and QSET Groupware training. The software was implemented in the U.S. site's customer care department after two days' general training of six customer service employees, and a third day of training for two of the six, who would act as "power users" in the United States. A follow-up visit to review the U.S. operation of the system also took place.



 Waterford Crystal's results have been impressive. ISO 14001 certification was achieved in February 1999, and Waterford is now connected to its outsourced logistics company Banta Global Turnkey, of Texas, and to its sister company, Stuart Crystal (U.K.). The customer services department is well-placed to support the growth of the business, with a clearer picture of customer complaints and corrective actions for dealing with them. Additionally, QSET Groupware customer care is being deployed to the rest of world markets, and integrated with the New Products Development System--"Project Phoenix"--to produce one channel of communication on quality issues. When appropriate, corrective action requests (CARs) are raised and tracked through the system until they are completed. Equally important, the Waterford staff's U.S. colleagues can monitor the progress and results of the CARs. The Process Improvement Team, Customer Complaint Working Group and the Materials Review Board also continually monitor fault analysis outputs, and their reports form the basis for the monthly quality review meeting, chaired by the CEO. Additional application modules have been applied (for example, the plant maintenance department uses the Calibration module), and the IT department stores its nonquality related documents (procedures, controlled documents) in the software.

 The benefits of the system include the avoidance of additional long-term overhead to support the control of ISO 14001 compliance and the development of the growth of the business. In administrative costs alone, this saved approximately $50,000-$70,000 per year.


About the authors

Stanley H. Salot Jr. is president and CEO of Business & Quality Management Systems Inc. (BQMS), a consulting firm that works with customers to examine their business and quality systems in preparation for ISO registration. BQMS partners with customers to bring a wealth of business and quality experience and best practices knowledge to assist customers in their quest for operational and management excellence. Contact Salot by e-mail at ssalot@qualitydigest.com .

Anne Downey, an attorney, is co-founder and senior vice president of legal and regulatory affairs at QSET. QSET focuses on software for integration of compliance management and business improvement at multisite, multinational companies worldwide. E-mail her at adowney@qualitydigest.com .

Barry O'Brien joined Waterford Crystal in 1970 as a production engineer.He has held many positions within the company, including general manager of manufacturing, and at present is general manager of strategic products and quality assurance.

Today's Specials

Menu Level Above 

[Contents] [News] [WebLinks] [Columnists]

This Menu LeveL 

[Q Manager] [Enterprisewide] [Calibration] [Doc. Mgmt.] [Doc. Control]

Menu  Level Below 


Copyright 2000 QCI International. All rights reserved.
Quality Digest can be reached by phone at (530) 893-4095. E-mail:
Click Here