Here I’m going to start a series to show how I tried to find an acceptable solution for documenting the Quality Management System. During this evolution I worked for several companies. Of course names of them cannot be mentioned here, so I’ll refer to them as my clients. I’ll also mention techniques, what I’ve seen in organizations, where I was invited to look around. All of them were software and / or hardware development firms; of course systems in other areas may require different approaches. Let me start…

Paper based

At my very first client, the Quality System was paper-based. It was around 180 pages. The Quality Manager distributed the Quality Manual after every revision. Changes were not too frequent, because every time thousands of pages needed to be printed on the only bubble jet printer of the company. I did not understand why they did so. All staff worked on computers. The most important processes were supported by excel macros. The company designed software, so all people were familiar with handling electronic content. The documented processes existed in electronic format, since the hardcopies were printed from Microsoft Word. Why was the Manual still on paper?

Then, as I spent a few time there I realized what the reason was. The most significant reason was that the management doesn’t really understood the idea behind the ISO 9000 / 14000 standard, they did not see the benefit of that. This was very common that time: there were no affordable management trainings available in Hungary. ISO 9000 was only a paper to put on the wall to be able to receive subsidy and orders from the government. Therefore most of the quality systems followed the standard, word-by-word, without any tailoring. And of course the processes were not followed, since they were really ineffective. When we talked about changing the documents to electronic form, the quality manager was reluctant; he insisted even talk about that, because – he said – the standard did not allow electronic form.

The paper-mill began its work just before the audit to counterfeit all the required documents, which have not been prepared during the year. Then the auditor arrived, received a coffee in a cup, and HUF 180k (EUR 650) in an envelope, and he left. This is the way how many Hungarian companies comply with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. Still, unfortunately.

Will be continued…