NEWSLETTER of The Northern Virginia Section (0511) American Society for Quality Control Volume 10 June 1994 Issue 6 ****** Auditors Unite! by Allen R. Bailey Now that the European Economic Community is a fact of life, the push for ISO 9000 certification is increasing. The European Community through recent EC parliamentary regulations is adopting the ISO 9000 audit as the shield that will ensure public health and safety. Public perception represents a key area of concern. For the process to work, the results of an audit must be accepted by the public. Auditors, like judges, must be above reproach. As accountants know, auditors must develop consistent auditing practices, and these are the missing elements in the present system. The business press speaks of widespread complaints about the performance and consistency of ISO 9000 auditors and consultants. Some say that auditors do not deliver what they promise. Others say that costs are too high. But prices is only an issue when customer does not receive what was expected to be delivered. So both disappointments come down to mismatches between what was promised and what was delivered. Inconsistent Audits While some complaints may be unwarranted, all must be taken seriously by those of us practicing the profession. I know of one company the passed the audit, but felt cheated because the auditors left the site early to keep another appointment. While his company became registered, the president did not feel that he received the full evaluation he paid for. At a meeting where another company was reporting on their registration experience after successfully passing an ISO 9001 audit, the company president made the comment that the auditors had waived the Design Control requirements, the difference between ISO 9001 and 9002 registration. If the company had wanted an ISO 9002 audit, wouldn't they have asked for it? In the discussion that followed; the president said, "to pass the audit, it is vary important to pick the right auditor." Indeed, it is. While these examples represent the extremes in auditing performance, these types of comments generate an unfavorable opinion of auditors and the auditing process. Unfortunately, bad reviews and unprofessional behavior have a great impact on the business community perception. On the Job Training? Auditing requires a unique blend of experience and training. The Lead Auditor training course focus is on interpreting the ISO 9000 standard, and deals only slightly with the auditing process. The technical skills come form training and experience, but the auditing skills are developed on the job. However, this can not be the best method for training auditors. Furthermore, the need for auditors is rapidly growing, and this will only make matters worse. Now is the time to start addressing these concerns and developing an action plan to address them. I would like to see auditors meet to discuss these issues and influence their own destinies. The meeting could be held in conjunction with a national conference so as to bring together a consortium of auditors who can share their thoughts on the proper management and conduct of audits. The meeting should deal with such variables as company size, multiple product standards, multiple sites, and the new ISO 9000 standards. Auditors could meet with their peers in small groups to discuss problems of common interest. From this meeting, an action plan could be held in conjunction with a national conference so as to bring together a consortium of auditors who can share their thoughts on the proper management and conduct of audits. The meeting should deal with such variables as company size, multiple product standards, multiple sites, and the new ISO 9000 standards. Auditors could meet with their peers in small groups to discuss problems of common interest. From this meeting, an action plan could be developed to address auditors' problems and concerns and possibly for the formation of a professional organization for quality auditors. A society for professional auditors? From such a meeting, a natural benefit may be perceived if auditors were to form a society. This society could provide a forum for the discussion of issues that are important to auditors such as training, scheduling, evaluation, and conformity assessments. The organization could also represent auditors' views to the International Organization for Standardization, and Department of Defense. As American manufacturing moves toward widespread adoption of the ISO 9000 standards and the accreditation of testing laboratories, it is important that quality auditing be perceived as a full-fledged profession. For auditing to reach its full potential and benefits, the client companies must be confident in our evaluations and judgments. An association of auditors may be the only way to guarantee this outcome. Allen R. Bailey is a consultant and trainer in quality control and product compliance for Compliance Quality International, in Lancaster, NY. He is registered with the International Register for Assessors of Quality Systems and Technical Advisory Service for Attorneys. ****** Winning The War on Waste: Changing the Way We Work William E. Conway, published by Conway Quality, Inc. (Trafalgar Square, Nashua, NH 03063), 1994,240 pp, $26.95 (list) A Book Review by Norman C. Frank, PE, CQE, CQA Conway has given us an "expert system" in a book. He has documented his thinking processes and action programs for bringing continuous improvement into a company and keeping it there. With the book you can analyze situations and make decisions almost like Bill Conway would. This book answers the "how to" questions often asked by people who are trying to initiate quality improvement using the Deming philosophy. Step-by-step guides provide for educating your associates (including an appendix that provides detailed course schedule and content); choosing what to work on, and how; and analyzing work and eliminating wastes. The book is loaded with "how to" help, suggestions for projects, case studies of applications, and questions to ask. An actual case study to show how each approach has been used in real life follows many of the "how to" guidance sections. Each case study illustrates how the relentless pursuit of waste led to higher quality products at less cost (the "quality secret"). The book promotes the concept that action leads to achievement, which increases the motivation that encourages the next action. This concept helps "bootstrap" a company from no program to a full continuous improvement program in a relatively short time. Conway discusses approaches for addressing the four guiding principles of the continuous improvement process: 1) focus on finding, quantifying, and eliminating the waste, 2) move people into action in the right direction, 3) having determined the big wastes, go to work to change and improve the major processes that cause the waste and get rid of it, and 4) treat people as we would like to be treated. Conway covers "imagineering" in detail. Imagineering is the art of visualizing how things would be if everything were perfect, with no problems, no errors, no troubles of any kind. Conway provides a set of questions to lead imagineering thinking to help you through your first project. Case studies also provide step-by-step application of imagineering. Perhaps missing are examples of using commercial e-mail on the "electronic highway" for many operations and communications and orders. The four forms of waste - waste of materials, waste of capital, waste of time, and waste from lost sales or other opportunities - are the starting point for many of the discussions and case studies. Conway provides a step-by-step approach to finding the waste. One key chart shows "the way we work" by showing what percentage of a person's time is actually spent doing value-added and necessary work as opposed to unnecessary work and not working. Major management innovations (MMI) are covered in a separate chapter that provides cautions as well as a brief description of the steps to achieving an MMI. This book is must reading for managers and associates implementing a continuous improvement program and training people in the concepts and approaches that can be used to implement a continuous improvement program. The practical approaches and detailed guidance provide a solid basis for application in any industry. Mr. Frank has over 25 years experience in the field of quality, in the areas of nuclear quality assurance, research and development, and consulting. He is currently in Washington, D.C., with CER Corporation out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and can be reached at 202-488-5444. ****** Quality Council of Indiana Bill Wortman P.O. Box 1545 Terre Haute , IN 47808 Dear Quality Professional, Since ASQC Section Officers are changed often, I would like to reacquaint you with QCI's Certification and ISO Primers. We feel that our Certification Primers are the best concentrated resources available for the ASQC certification exams today. All Primers are updated to reflect the current bodies of knowledge. Currently over 60% of ASQC Sections are using at least one of our products. QCE has five Certification Primers the CQE, CQT, CMI, CRE and CQA. The first four have a Solution Text available to students needing additional assistance with the more difficult mathematical areas of study. The cost of these Primers to individuals is $60.00 U.S. each, Solutions Texts are $40.00 U.S. In bulk (5 or more) to ASQC Sections, the Primer price is $50.00. With Solutions inserted, the price is $70.00. Both of these options include U.S. shipping. The ISO Primer is an excellent resource for companies aspiring to be ISO registered. It contains a thorough implementation and documentation plan including general manual texts for ISO 9001 and 9002 in Wordperfect 5.1 or other format options. Both 5.25" and 3.5" disks are provided. The cost of this Primer to individuals is $100.00 U.S. For ASQC Sections using the Primer as a two-day seminar text, two options are available which may save student's money. With orders of 5 or more, the ISO Primer can be purchased with disks for $70.00 or w/o disks for $50.00. We work hard to satisfy ASQC Sections who use our materials and perpetually give the instructor any Primer content revisions free. We accept overages as returns and shipping of any quantity can be done immediately. If anyone from you section is attending the Annual Quality Congress please see us at booths 419, 421 and 423. Enclosed are informational brochures and an order form [not available in this electronic format]. Please advise if we can help. Regards, Bill L. Wortman ****** Interrelationship Diagraph _Purpose_ An _Interrelationship Diagraph_ is used to identify and explore casual relationships between related concepts or ideas. It is particularly useful when the issue in question involves complex cause and effect relationships or complex means-to-objective relationships, or requires an understanding of the relationships between ideas or concepts, an understanding of logical or sequential relationship between ideas, input and consensus of a number of people, or the correct sequencing of activities, ideas, or objectives. _Benefits_ * It can be used to show the interconnectedness of ideas. * It is helpful in addressing causal relationships. * It can help a team begin to assess priorities. * It can be used to show how key causes relate to key effects. * It helps a team reach beyond preconceived causes. * It identifies both logical sequential connections between the central issue and the generated ideas. _Limitations_ * The assessment of causal relationships is subjective. It is only the assessment of one group of people at one point in time. * The diagram does not help formulate action. * The meaning of the diagram may be unclear. ****** Prioritization Using the Analytical Hierarchy Process One of the more powerful tools used during this project was the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), which is the work of Thomas L. Saaty. The process we used is described in _The Memory Jogger Plus+_, GOAL/QPC 1989, pp. 103-116. For a complete theoretical explanation of the Analytical Hierarchy Process refer to Saaty's book Decision Making for Leaders, University of Pittsburgh, 1988. The process is based on three basic principles: 1. Development of a hierarchy of the separate elements of a project. 2. Ranking of the relative importance using pairwise comparisons of each of the elements under study. (We accomplished this using matrix evaluations at each level.) 3. Logical consistency to ensure that elements are grouped logically and ranked consistently. Once the hierarchy has been developed, the elements at each level of the hierarchy are ranked against each other, resulting in each element of the model having a relative importance. Figure 4 in "Refining the QFD Matrix" [not available in this electronic format] is an example of two of the matrices we used to rank the relative importance of our needs. _Benefits_: * Unity: AHP provides a single, flexible model for a wide range of unstructured problems. * Process Repetition: AHP leads people to refine definitions and improve their judgment and understanding through repetition of the pairwise comparisons. * Judgment and Consensus: AHP synthesizes a representative outcome from diverse judgments. * Tradeoffs: AHP synthesizes a representative outcome from diverse judgments. * Synthesis: AHP leads to an overall estimate of the desirability of each alternative. * Consistency: AHP checks the logical consistency of judgements used. * Measurement: AHP provides a scale for measuring intangibles. * Hierarchic structuring: AHP reflects the natural tendency of the mind to sort information into different levels and to group like elements in each level. _Limitations_: * The process is only as good as the hierarchy developed. * Good operational definitions of the elements are critical to consistent judgments. * The pairwise comparison process is time-consuming with anything bigger than a simple hierarchy. ******************** EDITOR'S NOTE Northern Virginia Section 0511 American Society for Quality Control Policy on Newsletter Advertising Policy 93-1 Revision: none Date: 11-13-93 1.0 Scope This policy establishes guidelines and rates for advertising in the Section Newsletter. 2.0 Policy The section, as a service to its members, periodically publishes a newsletter. The primary purpose of the newsletter is to convey information to Section members. In addition, advertising for quality related product or services may be included in the newsletter. The newsletter editor shall have sole discretion as to what advertising may be accepted, based upon space available, tasteful presentation and relation to the field of Quality Assurance. In the case of published information, the Section may charge for publication of positions available. The Section will not charge members, but may charge non members for publication of notices of positions sought. 3.0 Definitions Advertising is any message, text, graphical representation or any combination there of which conveys information on products or services, the revenue from which would accrue to other than the Section treasury. 4.0 Procedure Newsletter advertising rates for one time publication are as follows: Full page (7x10) $100.00 Half page (3 Čx10) 60.00 Half page (7x4■) 50.00 Business Card (2x3ź) 20.00 Camera ready advertising copy must be received by the first of the month of publication. 5.0 Adoption Adopted at the regular meeting of the Board of Directors, Section 0511 on this date. RUSS CARSTENSEN Chair, Section 0511 Signed, 1993 Other notes: July 1, 1994 brings new officers to Section 0511 Board of Directors: Chairperson: Mary Ann Stasiak Vice Chairperson: Barbara Lembcke Arrangements & Programs: Russell Carstensen Education: Jim Wilson Health Care: David Simmons Newsletter Editor: Anthony Pastuszak Publicity: Harvey Shaw Please take a moment of you time at the next dinner meetings and welcome the new officers to the Section. Anyone desiring to assist any of the board members in their efforts to make Section 0511 the very best Section in the United States, look at the last page of the Newsletter and all the board members and their phone numbers are listed for you convenience. ******************** Dedicated Leadership by Michelle Meyer, Chairperson, Section 1107 We have looked at management commitment to continuous improvement, and managing in a declining market place. From these presentations it was clear that the management practices of the past are not good enough to carry our organizations into the future. The traditional management style, often referred to as Theory X or "Management by Fear", was derived from several negative assumptions about people. People were considered basically lazy, irresponsible, incapable of directing their own actions, indifferent to organizational needs and incapable of making decisions. Out of this management style grew organizations where piecework incentives were used to meet customer demands. Emphasis was placed on discipline to punish poor quality. Reliance on inspection personnel was used to detect defects. Debates on the factory floor centered on fixing blame and authority to shut machines down. Relationships between operators and inspectors were hostile and tense. Upper management criticized inspection and production for high scrap rates. Operators were mostly ignored as a resource for solving quality problems and process improvement. In today's marketplace if organizations want to survive and compete today's managers must learn to "Lead" not merely "Manage". The dictionary defines "Managing" as directing or controlling; exerting control over; making one submissive to one's discipline. "Leading" is defined as showing the way by going in advance; guiding in a direction. Upper management needs to create systems and environments for operators, engineers and middle managers to prevent the need for final inspection and high scrap rates. The organization needs to place emphasis on the "hows" and "whys" of quality improvement and rely on operator self-inspection and process control to prevent defects. Debates on the factory floor should center on interpretation of the standards and on fixing problems. People at all levels of the organization should be encouraged to participate in quality and process improvement. The management style needed in the future is not the same management style that spurred the industrial revolution and the systems of mass production. The ability to guide, coach and facilitate are far more important than the ability to control and dominate people and situations. With the cultural changes needed within our organizations, top managers must be able to see through the chaos to the future and pull, not push, the organization into a new culture and methods of doing business. ****** HeroZ!: Empower Yourself, Your Coworkers, Your Company William C. Byham, Ph.D and Jeff Cox published by Harmony Books (201 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022) 1994, 210 pp, $18 (list) A book review by Norman C. Frank, PE, CQE, CQA CER Corporation _HeroZ!_ is the story of Art, Mac, and Wendy, who work in medieval Lamron Castle making magic arrows for the knights to use in defending the citizens from fire-breathing dragons. Through the imaginative story the book shows the application of a set of principles, given in the form of "spells", that can be applied in many situations to ensure people communicate in a positive way to reach their goals. This book is easily read and easy to understand. The story format makes learning the principles of continuous improvement, empowerment, and teamwork fun. The errors Art, Mac, and Wendy make as they learn to use the principles show that it is OK to make errors as you work to learn. Step by step the authors walk you through the application of continuous improvement principles, from the setting of goals to the involvement of everyone in decisions. It shows that even if you don't have management's full acceptance, you can begin the process by setting goals for your own improvement. The strengths of the book are its imaginative approach to teaching the skills and approaches needed for empowerment, and its readability. Although somewhat simplistic, this same simplicity allows the principles to be taught without the complexity or confusion of other interactions. The book is a refreshing change from the dry presentations of many books. The authors make the process of empowerment understandable for everyone. It would be useful as a handout to everyone in the company as a supplemental text before, during, or after beginning a continuous improvement program. It is for everyone who wants to do better in their job and in their personal lives. Mr. Frank has over 25 years experience in the field of quality, in the areas of nuclear quality assurance, research and development, and consulting. He is currently in Washington, D.C., with CER Corporation out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and can be reached at (202)488-5444. ****** County's TQM effort pays off by Trif Alatzas Total quality management in part helped trim $10 million worth of spending from Monroe County's budget last year, County Executive Robert L. King told members of Rochester's American Society for Quality Control. "We actually brought the budget in at $10 million below what were very tight estimates," King said. "I can't tell you yet, because the analysis isn't done, that that was exclusively the result of TQM. But I guarantee that in large part, TQM has had a very favorable impact on our spending." The county's final 1993 budget numbers are expected sometime next month. But even with the $10 million in savings, King estimates the 1993 budget will end up with a $6 million deficit, less than 1 percent of the county's total budget. King, in meeting with society Tuesday, attributed the deficit to a variety of factors, including rising Medicaid costs, underperforming sales tax and costs at the Mill Seat Landfill. The deficit was not addressed in the 1994 budget; King plans to include it 1995 numbers. King made his remarks at a seminar at the 50th annual Rochester Section of the American Society for Quality Control Conference, held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. King has promised to institute total quality management county-wide. Among other things, it puts decision-making into the hands of lower department workers and is supposed to improve productivity and customer service. He said the count's TQM efforts have helped officials to delay the need to build a new jail, improve area parks, strengthen the Department of Social Services fraud unit and better manage the refurbished Greater Rochester International Airport. "I think he's doing well, but I think there needs to be cooperation with the city more," said Mukhles Rahman, who owns a quality engineering consultant company in Penfield, and listened to King's remarks. "But I think TQM can help bridge the two rather than be antagonistic. ****** The three C's can improve job satisfaction I have come to the sad conclusion that there is a great deal of job dissatisfaction in our area, particularly in retail establishment and our schools. My conclusion is drawn from visiting department stores, fast- food restaurants, clothing stores, car dealerships and specialty shops. In store after store, the employees talk openly about their pay, their supervisors, their work schedules, vacations and time off. I admit my conclusion is more intuitive than scientific, but this kind of talk tells me these folks don't like their jobs. Unfortunately, I can supplement these retail experiences with listening to teachers during the summer express their dread that school is about to start. Then about this time of year I hear so may of them pleading for classes to end. Isn't there anyone out there who likes his or her job like I do? I sometimes can't wait for Monday. No, it isn't because I want to get away from my slave-driving wife. It is because I find deep satisfaction in what I do. Now, someone is probably thinking there is a huge difference in the potential for satisfaction when comparing a retail clerk's position with that of an attorney. I agree, but that doesn't answer the comparison of the teacher and the attorney. It also begs the question, Does this mean that simply because the two jobs don't compare we can't improve the retail job to create greater satisfaction? Fortunately, I'm not alone in believing that job satisfaction can be improved. I had the pleasure of hearing Alfie Kohn at the American Society of Quality Control meeting Saturday night. Mr. Kohn is the author of "Punished by Rewards," Houghton Mifflin, 1993. His thesis is that rewards like pay incentive plans, suggestion awards and even feigned praise are disincentives to improving job performance and satisfaction. I'll leave a greater explanation to your reading of his book. Kohn does suggest that there are three C's to improving employee productivity and those three C's involve changing the way the employee is treated. Mr. Kohn sees incentive approaches as manipulative "You get this if you do that." The better approach involves these C's: _Collaboration_ Employees want and need to work together, not competitively. Most workers can do a better job working together rather than on their own. For one thing, working together creates a sense of belonging, of being an integral part of something. It creates, in a small sense, a feeling of community. There is something in the human spirit that longs for community. Employers should capitalize on that desire and fashion jobs that foster collaboration and reject competition. _Content_ Employers need to fashion jobs that are meaningful, which matter, provide enjoyment, create satisfaction, recognize contribution and make a difference. Is that possible in a fast-food restaurant? I think so, if management is willing to restructure the job so that there is the potential for some of these things to happen. For example, most of us like to learn a new skill to experience something new. There are very few jobs which can't be structured to do these two things offer new skills and experiences. _Choice_ I believe I would learn to hate a job which prevented me from having any say as to how I did my job. I would feel controlled and powerless. There would be no chance to be creative or innovative. Boy, that would be dull. But you see that is why so many employees like those I've described don't find their work satisfying. Employees who have a chance to make decisions about their work tend to be more satisfied with their jobs. However, "choice" must be real. You can't have work teams and self-directed work units in name only. They truly must be given a real choice. It is pretty evident to me when I walk into a business as to whether the employees like their work or not. Those who do find satisfaction in their jobs typically have managers who follow the three C's of collaboration, content and choice. Shelburne Ferguson Jr. is a businessman, attorney and management consultant in Kingsport. ****** THE MYTH AND MISDIRECTION OF EMPLOYEE EMPOWERMENT by Les Landes Employee empowerment is a misguided notion that's mostly a myth in many organizations. The typical scenario goes something like this: The boss announces that the company is going to launch a "total quality management" program, and workers are encouraged to "take initiatives" on their own "since they know more about their own jobs than anyone else." In order to make sure that people have a clear understanding of what the company is up to and what their role is going to be in bringing about total quality, everyone attends a day long course to learn about the principles of continuous improvement and employee empowerment. Shortly after the course, an employee charges out to look for ways to exercise his newfound power. He makes an "executive decision" to pitch $2 million worth of old inventory. The boss finds out about it and blows a fuse. "Are you crazy?" he screams. "When we said you were empowered to take initiative, we didn't mean you could do something like *that*, for crying out loud! Where's your common sense? Next time, ask before you do something stupid." That's not an exaggeration. It happened at a Pennsylvania company, and similar scenarios are unfolding throughout corporate America. A study conducted in 1990 by the Gallup organization for American Society for Quality Control asked working people a number of questions about empowerment-related issues. When asked if employees had been encouraged by management to get involved in decision making, 66 percent of respondents said yes. When asked if in fact, they were authorized to make the kinds of decisions management was talking about, the number plummeted to 14 percent. When empowerment runs into trouble, companies respond in various ways. Sometimes they simply decide it isn't working and put an end to it. Employees are angry, but not very surprised. They've heard management profess commitment to changes before; it never lasts long. Less often, management concludes it hasn't gone far enough in letting people do their own thing; maybe this empowerment stuff will work if we *really* give everyone free reign. The usual result: chaos and even more frustration. One basic problem with empowerment goes right to the roof of the word "power". Some organizations have found that "empowered" people start wielding authority with the same kind of disregard for cooperation and teamwork that the empowerment movement is intended to eradicate. The reason is fairly evident. Employees often think of empowerment in terms of *self*-empowerment. They lose sight of the fact that teamwork and cooperation depend on each element in the system working in concert with every other element. If organizations manage to get beyond the trap of individual self-empowerment, another problem often sets in: *team* empowerment. This type of insular thinking is at work when tight- knit, self-directed teams compete with other self-directed teams. Rather than forming a network of strategically linked teams, each team focuses on its own self-interest. Once again, they lose touch with the company's overall goals and become inner-directed. Workers usually aren't prepared to exercise the kind of leadership and initiative that "empowerment" implies. Even if it *were* possible to generate empowerment from training, which is highly debatable, the few hours of instruction that people typically receive aren't nearly enough to provide the knowledge and confidence needed to reverse a lifetime of compliance in the workplace. When employees actually do exercise some power and make mistakes, the negative reaction from management undermines the very processes that the company is trying to employ. Ultimately, management must take responsibility for maintaining control in the organization■for ensuring symmetry in the execution of the master plan. I'm not suggesting that managers simply impose controls. Controls should be designed jointly my management and employees. But someone must make the final decision about what kind of system will prevail. Someone must ensure that those controls are operating as designed and in a way that is consistent with the interests of individual employees, departments, and the overall business plan. That's the roll of management. And when that role is abdicated in the name of empowerment, managers and employees alike feel adrift in a sea of uncertainty. In the end, they often return to the familiar patterns of the past, not because anyone was insincere, but because management lost sight of its appropriate role and responsibilities in a misguided effort to "share power." People need to be *equipped*, not empowered. They need to be equipped with knowledge, skills, tools, and a master plan. They need a clear set of options■developed jointly by managers and employees■that define the parameters of the decisions they can make. They way, everybody knows what kinds of initiatives may■and may not be exercises in the name of empowerment. Les Landes is a principal of Landes Communications in St. Louis, MO. ****** Qualifying for Management Standards TAKE ON THE WORLD by David Wallace When the Total Quality Management bandwagon passed through town, starting a few years ago, some common-sense managers said their idea of TQM was just to keep the customer satisfied. Others, who embraced TQM, pointed to quantifiable savings and business increases thanks to its improvements. But how high-quality is your quality program? Doubters continue to rail against the quality movement, but its believers are now seeking a pedigree for their efforts. The quality movement spawned a sequel as companies wonder how good their quality programs were. In 1987, the International Organization for Standardization set down general standards for quality management systems. To qualify, companies undergo a review of manufacturing, distribution and customer-service programs. Product design to actual production-line inspection and other elements are all considered. ISO 9000 and 9004 are the information guidelines. ISO 9001 is the broadest scope of total quality system, encompassing design, implementation, production, installation, testing and service. ISO 9002 covers most, but not all, those topics emphasizing production, installation, testing and service. By the end of 1993, 74 countries recognized the ISO 9000 standard and more than 2,000 U.S. companies had been certified. More than 30,000 European firms have ISO 9000 approval, and companies are finding it an edge over their competitors. Some companies require their suppliers to have ISO certification, or give preference to firms with it. ISO certification can help even if companies aren't doing a substantial amount of international business, said Donna Shamblin, director of quality at United Electric Supply Co. Inc. in Wilmington. Although the firm has had a quality program since 1988, it sought the ISO recognition for its headquarters office to reinforce continuous improvement, she said. United supplies electrical materials to regional customers, but that includes multinational corporations like DuPont Co. and Scott Paper Co. "We haven't won an order because we're ISO certified but we hope to," she said. "We weren't forced into it, we're trying to stay ahead of the game. Now, we're researching the cost of quality and we're moving toward certifying all seven of our facilities. Each facility is registered individually and the registrar comes back for surveillance audits every six months. It's a never-ending process." Dubious quality watchers have seen companies create and implement a quality program, then create a potentially lucrative business spreading the gospel to other firms. Xerox, after winning the Malcolm Baldridge Award, and Allen-Bradley Co. offered to share their quality management systems. Smaller firms and independent consultants have popped up all over promising empowerment, higher quality and other benefits. So the rule "caveat emptor" applies not only to the quality instructor, but to the company certifying ISO 9000 compliance. Not all registrations are created equal. Although there are standards, it is still very much a customer-oriented decision. If you customer-oriented decision. If your customer recognizes the efficiency or quality of TQM without ISO 9000, that may be enough. Companies may want to consult the American Society for Quality Control to find an ISO consultant. _The society_ created an affiliate that accredits companies doing ISO registration audits. To date, 15 companies have made the list, which is available by fax-back service at (800) 248-1946. Be aware that not all registrars of ISO are recognized worldwide. Learn who recognized your evaluator's seal of approval. The RvC in Netherlands or NAACB in Great Britain are two agencies that review accreditation in Europe. Dave Carroll, product manager at Plitek Inc., recalled hearing that ISO certification was as essential as a passport for doing business in Europe. The 85-employee firm in Des Plaines, Ill., makes the plastic working parts of computer disks and videotapes. Sales had more than doubled in four years and firm was growing internationally, he said. "Two years ago the buzz was 'Don't even think of selling anything in Europe unless you're ISO registered,'" he said. "I'm certain that it influences a decision. But there was an illusion that you'd be locked out without it." So the company developed a quality plan and chose to be reviewed by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Plitek announced its certification in October 1993 and each year the company's policies and compliance will be re-examined. Although the designation hasn't made or broken a sale, it may give the company an advantage, he said. It's not just a badge you wear or a door-opener. It does that, but more importantly, it says a lot about the operation," he said. "You can guarantee communication, quality...anything that's critical to you customer. Most of us feel like we can't operate without it. We're not doing it just to put a plaque up on the wall for a plant tour." The company's mission statement is "to meet or exceed customer expectations" ■ a variation on the theme of "Keep the customer satisfied." ***** Northern Virginia Section 0511 would like to express it's appreciation to ADI Technology Corporation of Arlington, Virginia for contribution time, effort, and resources in printing our Section's Newsletter. Thank Q!