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The following are excerpts from Quality Digest's web portal InsideQuality ( Be sure to visit InsideQuality and participate in one of our many forums.

Improving performance evaluations

I work for a QS-9000-registered manufacturing company with about 200 union employees. A recent in-house survey about improving our continuous-improvement process revealed that 91 percent of our employees are dissatisfied with our current performance-evaluation system. We've tried numerous types of evaluation systems in the past several years, but none of them really seem to work. Any ideas?
--Perplexed in Peoria

Why not consider a profit-sharing plan or a bonus tied to key measurables related to your organization's success in meeting objectives? "Such a plan should be as 'transparent' as possible if you hope to gain the employee confidence that you are now lacking," says Radley M. Smith, director of automotive operations for KPMG Assessment Services. "Stress the benefits of teamwork. Remember, when the organization succeeds, everyone benefits."


An alternative to QS-9000

I am the new quality manager for my company, which is ISO 9001:1994-certified. My boss is pressuring me to get our company QS-9000-registered ASAP. I've done some research on software packages, but they aren't in the budget. I feel like I haven't accomplished anything, and all eyes are upon me to get this finished right away. Help!
--Confused in Cleveland

You might want to consider skipping QS-9000 registration altogether, advises Jim Mroz, editor of the "Informed Outlook" newsletter. Instead, investigate ISO/TS 16949:1999, ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 9004:2000. All of the major automotive OEMs accept ISO/TS 16949 as equivalent to QS-9000. "The DaimlerChrysler/Ford/

General Motors Supplier Quality Requirements Task Force has made clear that it has no plans to revise QS-9000 to align with ISO 9001:2000," reports Mroz. "The French, German and Italian automotive industries--with their own national quality management system requirements based on ISO 9001/4:1994--also have no plans to update their QMS requirements to ISO 9001:2000. Instead, the four national groupings are working with the Japanese and others to revise ISO/TS 16949:1999 to align with ISO 9001:2000 and are going to follow the same transition period for ISO/

TS 16949:2002, which is expected to be published by the second quarter of 2002." If all the major customers in the auto industry are only revising one set of QMS requirements, doesn't it make sense to use that set and prepare for the next edition?

 It's likely that you already have procedures in place beyond what ISO 9001:

1994 requires that meet many of the requirements of QS-9000 and ISO/TS 16949. "The first thing you need to do is find out how out-of-conformance your operations are with ISO/TS 16949 and ISO 9001:2000," says Mroz.

 Because your organization is already registered to ISO 9001:1994, have your internal auditors study ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/TS 16949 and then conduct an internal audit involving gap analysis rather than writing up nonconformances, he suggests. Once you have taken this difficult but important step, you may find that your company isn't that far from conforming to ISO/TS 16949 and ISO 9001:2000.


Gage R&R made easy

I need some advice on how I might go about correlating two different gages. We are getting gage readings that are different from our customers'. I have done a gage R & R study on both of the gages, and the Tp ratios are acceptable. Do I use "golden unit(s)" or production parts for the correlation study? What pitfalls should I avoid when doing such a study?
--Muddled in Madison

Have you tried creating a simple scatter plot? Select a representative sample of parts and have them checked by your supplier, suggests Tom Pyzdek, president of the International Quality Federation. "Simply put your gage readings on the X axis and your supplier's on the Y axis," he explains. "You'd hope for a very tight linear relationship. Look for outliers, too much scatter, no correlation and so on."


Starting from scratch

I was recently appointed quality manager at a start-up company. My main responsibility is to prepare the company for ISO 9001:2000 registration. Any suggestions for starting our registration process?
--Helpless in Harrisburg

Congratulations on your new position. This is a difficult question to answer without knowing the particulars of your company. Begin by asking why your company is pursuing ISO 9001 registration, suggests Jeanne Ketola, co-author of ISO 9000:2000 In a Nutshell. The registration process should not be viewed as merely an exercise to gain a certificate, but as an opportunity to establish a structure for your processes that will result in a high-quality product or service.

 New companies don't have the experience or history to determine what works and what doesn't. "You need to be aware that whatever you define for a process may end up needing modification several times due to growth," cautions Ketola. "Also, most new companies need to apply all of their resources (money and time) toward building the business. Many new companies have surprise costs. Make sure your owners are committed to supplying you with adequate resources to actually get your certification."

 Ketola advises new companies to plan out their ISO 9001 registration approach over a longer time frame. "I wouldn't call it 'ISO 9001' but rather 'business development,'" she says. "You certainly could look at Section 7 requirements, Section 6 requirements relating to training, and Section 8 requirements relating to monitoring product and control of nonconforming product. Management should look at the quality policy and objectives, for starters."


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