Quality Management without the paper
Compliance with ISO 14001 :2004 may require you to put new processes and measures in place in order to minimise your impact on the environment.
When asked what ISO quality management systems mean, owners of SME businesses typically respond by saying either “a lot of bureaucracy” or “ISO is something that a company needs if it wants to work with the public sector”. This cynicism is usually based on the perception that quality management must inhibit effective management and that the organisation will sink under the weight of paperwork.
Early last year Equas MD, David Morgan, took the decision to tackle this perception by investing in technology. He explains “we knew that an effective quality management system had to be simple to use, capable of effective document management and, most importantly, be accessible by staff throughout the organisation - wherever they worked. We came up with the idea of a new product which we called "ISO Activ", but needed a trusted technology partner to deliver it.
Equas approached their own software suppliers with the idea. Technical Director of GreyRidge Software, Tom Hill, describes what Equas were looking for: “David wanted an easy-to-use way of delivering and editing processes and documents without the need for a paper manual. This need developed into a concept of editable 'wiki' pages, supported with embedded standard office documents and the potential for mapping processes in an intuitive way”.
The result is an innovative product that could well transform the image of ISO in the marketplace. Businesses simply sign-up for the system and, with security and hosting all taken care of and with access to a flexible template system and documentation library, they can start the process of implementing ISO quality and environmental management systems in minutes.
David is delighted: “We are committed to breaking down the idea that ISO is all about paperwork and is simply something you get because a customer has asked for it. The new ISO Activ system is a core part of this approach. We know that with it, people will start to see quality management as something that is genuinely useful and easy to do”. Sales Director of Equas, Mike Dowd, says “the best thing is that it is as easy to understand as a paper system yet it involves no paper and cuts down on bureaucracy. I am a technophobe and even I find it easy!”
After many months of design and development, the new software has now been launched and is already starting to prove popular. More than 15 businesses have started using the system with many more about to follow. David is particularly pleased that it is unexpectedly taking them beyond the SME marketplace and attracting interest from large corporations. For example, Equas are currently using Activ to implement an integrated quality management system for a company with manufacturing operations in six countries. In addition, Equas have just signed an agreement to franchise the new product in Canada and the US, and are in process of concluding a similar agreement with a German partner.
With almost everything been calculated on carbon emission scale, and the usage of papers in documentation for creating ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 management systems, the usage of paper can be significantly decreased by using softwares which help in maintaining all the data and also eases record keeping and updating.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
editor, writer. Interest include writing on Quality and Environment Management systems like ISO 9001 and ISO 14001