The Great Debate

Abstract:Can the process approach to auditing be applied to both quality management systems (QMS) and environmental management systems (EMS)? The process approach for QMS was ushered in with the 2000 revision of ISO 9001 and further refined with the 2002 revision of the automotive QMS standard, ISO/TS 16949. The automotive approach is generally thought to be an improvement over previous audit methods, but it can’t be effectively applied to EMS audits without modification because of differences in language, standards, and the systems themselves. The significant benefits of using the process approach to EMS audits can be obtained by using the inputs and outputs terminology when …

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The Great Debate could be a very short debate.
Essentially the article points out that if an existing EMS was not defined from a process-based perspective then the company has the right to be audited in a non-process-based manner.
The real 'juice' in this arena is that if the same company wishes to gain the major advantages of the process-based approach then they should immediately re-define their EMS to match. Then all their auditing activity becomes value-added and not an onerous expense.
Furthermore, by taking advantage of their intentionally designed-in compatibility the EMS can then be fully integrated with ISO 9001 (or its industry-specialized derivatives) and OHSAS 18001 as well as other emerging standards that apply to their business. Using a leading-edge process-mapping approach in place of the octopus/turtle diagrams enables the simultaneous rapid deployment of all three standards in a little as 90 days. By engaging the actual users, subject matter experts, suppliers and customers of each process in defining each map, true ongoing ownership is established at the appropriate level and a positive cultural transformation is inevitable.
The validated hierarchy of process maps for the enterprise can then be used as the solid foundation from which to launch truly strategically-aligned process improvement strategies that systematically leverage such tools as value stream analysis and lean six-sigma. The unprecedented ROIs from this approach derive mainly from the rapid elimination of the large hidden Costs of Poor Quality (COPQ) currently being endured to support the existing approach.

--John Walker, 04-21-2008


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