Non-conformances – do they provide business value?
ISO 9001 Quality Management provides direction to eliminating business non-conformances
This is an interesting question – does non-conformance tracking and by default a corrective and preventative action process provide business value? In my mind the answer is an unequivocal yes.
Let’s start with the definition of a “non-conformance.” Most dictionaries refer to this as “a failure to conform to accepted standards of behavior”. From an ISO Perspective the definition is “the non fulfilment of a requirement”
So if we take these two definitions and apply them in the business context, in simple terms we either have failure to conform to accepted business standards or the non-fulfilment of a business requirement. Business standards are typically policies and procedures defined in such a manner that they ensure the effective execution of the business objectives and operating model. The non fulfilment of a requirement would be the failure to deliver against for example a customer requirement, or possibly even legal or other requirements.
It is clear from the above that what is of vital importance in any business, particularly in the competitive and challenging trading environment we operate in today, that businesses find effective ways to ensure adherence (conformity) to both defined company policy and process as well as customer requirements. As businesses become more complex, trading in many countries and with variable regulations, customs, languages and customer requirements. The lack of process or policy conformity will result in a number of issues beginning to affect the business. Such as decrease in product or service quality, increase in customer complaints, increase in cost, increase in waste, decrease in efficiencies, loss of staff moral and job satisfaction, and possible loss of market share. In my view these give enough reason alone to implement an effective non-conformance tracking and monitoring process. In the ISO9001:2015 Quality Management Standard, Clause 10.2 Non-conformity and Corrective Action requires an organization to:
- React to the non-conformance by takin action to control and correct the non-conformance and deal with the consequences.
- Evaluate the need for action to eliminate the causes, in order that it does not recur or occur elsewhere.
- Implement actions needed
- Review the effectiveness of the corrective actions taken and
- Update the risks and opportunities where needed.
So looking as the ISO requirements, what is being advocated is that a proper non-conformance tracking system with effective corrective action plans be put in place. The value of these systems and processes are that, very quickly the business can identify areas of weakness, areas where business failure is occurring and where policy or process is ineffective. The effective tracking of these identified non-conformities allows for improvement, regaining effective control, cost improvement, increased customer satisfaction, improved efficiencies and performance improvements. These are true business value drivers and help keep any company at the top of its market, delivering customer value, shareholder value and business profitability.