Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ISO 9000 Helps Staate Firms Compete in Global Market

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ISO 9000 Helps Staate Firms Compete in Global Market

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Quality.

It is the thing that creates loyalty in customers and pride in employees. It distinguishes between competitors in the same field. Every business strives for it.

But how does a prospective buyer judge quality for products yet to be produced by a company it has never worked with? And what if the buyer and seller operate across cultural and political lines? Does "quality" mean the same thing in Asia as it does in Europe or North America?

These are the type of questions that gave rise to the ISO 9000, an international quality standard which provides assurance that specific minimum quality systems are in place at a given site.

Karla Marshall, industrial coordinator on the ISO 9000 for the Moore-Norman Area Vocational-Technical Center, discussed the standard Wednesday at a workshop on quality attended by businesses interested in government contracting.

"We're trying to get Oklahoma businesses competing in a global market as well as in the national market," she said.

Her workshop on quality issues businesses should consider was one of several Wednesday at the Government Contracting Opportunities Fair. The fair continues today at the Radisson Inn at Int. Hwy. 40 and S. Meridian Ave.

"You cannot inspect quality in," Marshall told those attending the workshop. Problems must be resolved before the product is produced.

"Every entity is involved in quality. Management cannot, it cannot, take quality and give it to a department. It cannot be delegated. Management has got to be involved."

Involvement by top management is a requirement of quality system standards such as the ISO 9000 or the MIL-Q-9858A, which is required for contracts with the Department of Defense.

"Management has got to be involved. If management isn't, it is just lip service."

The quality policy a company adopts must be both measurable and auditable. "If it is not measurable, it is just a quality statement."

Documentation is a key and can be used to "prove to a customer that you have quality in place and working." But it should be concise enough to be useable.

"If it is a procedure that people are not using, you might as well not have it."

The quality manual, which she called the "owner's manual" for the business, should contain minimum standards that the company actually practices rather than elaborate plans that it cannot deliver.

"First, ask your people that are doing the job how they do it. Document that and do it consistently, then build on that."

A quality system must also be able to survive a change in personnel. Marshall told of a company that had a good reputation until the shipping and packaging clerk left after 20 years. The expertise went with the employee, and quality plunged.

"A quality system must be able to survive through employee changes. If the system still functions, the company still maintains quality."

Oklahoma has 16 sites certified on the ISO 9000 standard, which means that they have been audited by an independent third party for adherence to the standard. Marshall said she has worked with 77 Oklahoma sites to help them get in compliance or become certified. …

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