ISO standards drive companies to document their processes. EVERY process.

When companies are striving to achieve ISO certification, It is too easy to paint yourself into a corner where you HAVE to violate a procedure. To avoid this, wise quality professionals give themselves a “Get Out Jail Card”.

In the heat of documenting your processes, don’t forget to consider the unthinkable.

The documentation process creates accountability and discipline. Care must be taken to not procedure oneself into a corner that can only be escaped by violating a procedure. A common mistake is not taking into account emergencies which can and will happen.

Smart companies create emergency procedures to allow verbal commands to solve the problem.

These procedures incorporate a formal documentation process, an approval process for the verbal command by a small team as well as a follow-up process to review the situation and modify the existing procedures as needed.

When these procedures, use a specific visual indicator — it should NOT be used under ANY other circumstance!

You MUST identify the part or parts are non-conforming and place them in a designated “no touch” area or shelf. Good examples of visual indicators include red tags, bright colored laminated paper clearly labeled “non-conforming do not move”. The paperwork for the item can also be placed in a red translucent sleeve. The idea is to deliberately isolate the item.
Office and non-manufacturing environments should use a similar method to identify and isolate the item from the normal mode of business.

Training team members in crisis management is especially important.

It is advantageous for the individuals approving the action plan to have immediate responsibility for that specific area such as an hourly employee, a member of the quality team and/or a member of the operations team. By not requiring specific individuals by title, the response to the crisis can be smoother and faster. This procedure has been shown to work especially well in 24-7 operations.

Give your team a way out. Write a procedure allowing verbal commands to work through a crisis.

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