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Confirmation that workers have read and will follow procedures

Discussion in 'ISO 9001:2015 - Quality Management Systems' started by Anna Wagstaffe, Apr 24, 2019.

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  1. Anna Wagstaffe

    Anna Wagstaffe Member

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    I currently have a fairly rudimentary process where I email out uncontrolled copies of new and amended procedures to relevant staff . I then ask them to confirm that they have read and will follow these procedures by means of the voting buttons in Microsoft Outlook and I keep the response reports as evidence.

    My boss is concerned that people are just voting yes without actually reading the procedures and has asked me for a way of being more sure that these are being read. I suggested getting people together for a short briefing, but am told that this is too inconvenient for busy teams.

    All the procedures are audited as a matter of course so there is some confidence via that process.

    Does anyone have any ideas on this as I am struggling. Thanks
     
  2. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Your boss is correct, and very astute! I see zero benefit in getting people to do this, Anna. People will not participate unless they helped to create the documentation. Rely on the audits - that's all you need.
     
  3. Anna Wagstaffe

    Anna Wagstaffe Member

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    Thanks Andy, the trouble is, he is wanting to go the other way. He has talked about some software that will not allow you to confirm you have read a document until you have had it open for x amount of time. My guess is that busy people will just leave the file open while they do something else and it will be as big a waste of time, and expensive.

    Does anyone know of any evidence that this might work?
     
  4. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    It's not required any place I'm aware of (standards, that is). I see nothing but issues, since - for the most part - the vast majority of folks aren't in the least bit involved in using procedural documents unless a) there's involvement in creating them b) a demonstration by (upper) management of the need to follow a documented process and c) an awareness why it's important to follow the process and how to handle when things don't go to plan. Simply signing off and wanting that seems to me to be a symptom of an underlying (cultural) issue which the software won't make any better.
     
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  5. John C. Abnet

    John C. Abnet Well-Known Member

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    Good day @Anna Wagstaffe ;
    I agree that the "'sign if you will follow" approach can seem somewhat paternal to the teams and may not only get voted "yes" simply because they are asked to, but may even foster a culture of "spite" where these top down requirements may be ignored simply because...

    Although it is time consuming and takes a real commitment from top management, at one of the organizations I was employed we implemented an employee inclusion/education process called "key points" (the name was a play on words...any name would work).

    What we did was …
    * appoint a small multidiscipline task force.
    * monthly, (Month "A") select an existing procedure or work instruction (based on poor performance, or confusion, or importance, etc..etc…)
    * We would then (through the course of 2 days) bring the entire plant population in to review and ask questions/get input. NO questions were to be answered during the sessions.
    * The task force would then review the questions/recommendations and determine the correct answer and whether or not to act on any of the recommendations.
    * the next month, (Month "B") we would bring the population back through and let them know the results.
    * We would then start the two month cycle over the next month with a different procedure/work instruction.

    Takes time and commitment, but for frequently used/critical tasks (change point control, control of nonconforming product, whatever matters to your organization), it is a way to help make these vibrant.

    Hope this helps.
    Be well.
     
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  6. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    I think we're making this way more complicated than it needs to be. It's called a job description where expectations are clearly laid out. Documents may come and go, but the overarching expectation is "Thou shalt follow the documentation relevant to your role and responsibilities." If your employees - who are responsible adults - are saying 'yes' without actually reading the document, shame on them. They are opening themselves up to "dismissal with cause" if found to be a contributing factor to an event by not following the documented procedure.

    That said, an organization does need to take some steps to ensure they have developed an effective process for capturing training of employees. In my opinion, your current one works but is top-heavy with manual-ness. In a previous job, our document control software allowed us to:

    • Assign impacted roles/positions to documented procedures
    • Assign requirements upon revisions (e.g., no training need, e-training, formal training)
    • Follow-up on outstanding training with process owners (e.g., "No response" to e-training requirements, incomplete formal training)

    From there, audits and review of results (i.e., achievement of targets to process measures) gave us some sense of assurance that processes were being followed as directed. If results were not achieved or audits discovered a lack of conformance to documented process, it was up to the root cause analysis to determine if it was a training-related issue.
     
  7. BradM

    BradM Moderator Staff Member

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    The only way I know of to truly measure if somebody read and understood something is by testing them by either asking questions and grading the results; or through demonstrated proficiency.

    Otherwise, I think your system is just fine for what it is: demonstrating that people acknowledged they read and understood something.

    If the boss is that concerned, I would suggest paying somebody to write, validate and administer test questions. And.. have a process for what to do if somebody doesn't pass the test.
    Or, establish some kind of on the job assessment. Caution on this one... people are odd; and behavior and performance might be unduly affected due to observation..

    My suggestion: keep doing what you're doing, and invest more time in process monitoring and improvements.
     
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  8. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    I think what you have is fine. I assume you have adequate procedure writing/change process where people are included and this is just a follow up of the amended written document. If they are just voting yes, then that's on them. The proof is in the audits and process monitoring. I am sure you have better things to worry about. Tell your boss "it will cost millions." :) Good luck.
     
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  9. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    I have seen the voting button feature in Outlook used to great benefit because (as it was shown to me) there is a feature in it to produce a report showing those votes, by whom and their date/time stamp.

    Golfman25 is right: you cannot do more. People need to be responsible, and accountable if they do not actually read the procedures. Keep in mind though, that not everyone will remember what they read the first time through. You can't control that either. We can only do so much.
     
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  10. Anna Wagstaffe

    Anna Wagstaffe Member

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    Many thanks for your responses, its great to get your thoughts on a subject validated, as well as new ideas to add to the mix.
     

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