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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Thornhill

Top 5 Challenges in Maintaining Management Systems

In this video you will learn about the top 5 challenges involved in maintaining a management system. If you keep watching the video right to the end, we have provided an insight into some strategies you can use to mitigate these challenges.

Challenge 1: Loss of Knowledge

Once the system has been implemented, and you're now maintaining that management system on a daily basis, an issue that we often see is a loss of knowledge.

If you have a site where the quality manager moves on, this could mean that at a site level, people have very limited idea about the quality management processes or where they're meant to inspect, check and test things.

Challenge 2: Differences in Operational Priorities

The second challenge can arise when you're trying to maintain a system but have multiple sites within one organisation, whereby these sites have different operational priorities.

Perhaps operational production managers are hired and fired based on production output. They might have something relating to compliance in their position description, but it's not always the top priority.

Trying to keep the momentum up at a site level when you've got different operational priorities is a major challenge.

Challenge 3: Inconsistencies in Processes

If you've had a management system for quite some time, you may notice that across your different sites, inconsistencies in processes may start to creep in.

For example you might have:

  • Critical processes

  • Recall processes in food safety

  • Document data backup processes

At different sites, these might start to take various approaches, which will lead to inconsistent approaches as an organisation.

The counterpoint to that is, we see situations where multiple processes for essentially the same thing build up.

For example, different sites may develop their own versions of corrective action processes due to an auditor pointing something out. All of a sudden, as an organisation you will have multiple procedures and processes for exactly the same thing - all about dealing with corrective action.

Challenge 4: Top Management Support

ISO really emphasizes and focuses on top management support. What we see during the implementation stage, when you're designing and developing a management system, the top management support is a lot better.

This is because:

  • Management are aware of the project

  • Management are being required to buy-in and resource the project

  • Management is active in reviewing how the project is progressing because they want to get certified

But after that point, there's challenges in maintaining that top management commitment, as you start to move into 2,3,4,5 years of having this management system.

When this happens, you will see that top management is not as involved as they should be on a day-to-day basis maybe due to other priorities taking over. Lack of top management support results in declines in compliance and customer focus, which can be detrimental.

Challenge 5: Lack of Resources for Compliance

This challenge is highly related to the previous one of lack of management support. If top management is not supporting the maintenance of your management system, you will find it very hard to get resources where they are needed.

We often see this problem arise with organisations that have got multiple sites. The compliance team might have a lot of tasks they've got to deliver coming out of regulations, customer requirements, or ISO standards. They will often have a lot of recurrent events to do on an annual basis. It's a big workload.

It can be a major challenge if top management doesn't understand the workload. They think it's just a quality officer maintaining the quality system, without really understanding the full breadth of work involved in maintaining that on an annual basis.

Bonus Tip:

Once you get into the phase of maintaining a system, you need to be upfront with top management on the challenges. Start to think about strategies from the start that will assist with this.

Let's take the example of loss of knowledge... Design and plan a system that has got inbuilt strategies to try and mitigate that risk in the maintenance phase. You don't want a system that falls over when one key person leaves.

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