Quality Management Systems needed

2009-April-02

The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards from time to time has raised the issue of the need for Quality Management Systems (QMS) for the production of goods and especially services as would apply to the economy of Antigua and Barbuda. Organisations in both the private and public sectors need quality management to develop efficient, effective and safe operations. One of the major deterrents to many who have considered implementing QMS is the cost of certification to a particular standard, and accreditation by an independent third-party.

David Beardsley writing for the May-June 2005 issue of the ISO Management Systems' Special Report states the following:

"Certification whether accredited or not, is a matter of choice for an organization". (Solange this statement does not make sense: certification cannot be accredited) The value of certification is not to be underestimated, but for some organizations the certification route may be neither necessary nor financially viable. For these organizations, the answer could simply be to take control of their own destiny and make the most of the benefits that the principles and implementation of ISO 9001:2000 can offer, but without the cost and constraints of third-party (independent) certification.

The public sector working environment is very different to the retail, manufacturing or service industries. …Despite this, ISO 9001:2000 can be readily applied to any organization, large or small, producing goods and/or providing services. What matters is how it is applied. "

The sentiment that is being expressed by Mr. Beardsley is one that has been promoted by the ABBS for years. In the absence of the finances to develop a certified Quality Management System, the important thing is to first have a Quality Management System that incorporates all the principles necessary for the delivery of top-quality products and services. A typical application in Antigua and Barbuda is that of the 'Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)' food safety/quality assurance system. Various persons in the food and beverage industry have been trained to employ the principles of HACCP even though formal certification has not been done. Either way the result would be safe food for the clientele and an efficient operation for the food and beverage handler.

Beardsley goes on to suggest that it would be challenging for organisations to set, maintain, and then improve standards. For this Beardsley prescribes "Inter-authority [management] auditing and review", a type of internal self-governance, that would provide checks and balances for consistent high quality production of goods and services. Two examples may be sited:

  1. A large company, where auditing teams from different departments are trained (eg. to carry out ISO 9000:2000 audits) and then released to audit each other's departments.
  2. Trained teams from various public sector ministries/departments auditing each other.

One main objective of such a system is that of cost savings since audits would be done for the benefit of the each department of the organisation without the external costs of the third party certification or accreditation body.

Finally, Beardsley recommends that, "We …invite independent qualified auditors to assess our system periodically to give us a health check and guidance. This is done free of charge on a reciprocal basis…". This concept presents an excellent case for inter-sectoral cooperation with an initial investment of training in auditing and implementation of Quality Management Systems, which are necessary for all types, shapes and sizes of businesses within the private or public sectors.

Quality Management Systems Standards help to form one pillar in the building of a national quality infrastructure, the others include testing, metrology, certification, and accreditation. The Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) is currently working on the development of the Regional Quality Infrastructure as a trade support facility for the CSME. The Barbados National Standards Institution is currently undertaking a project to modernize the Barbados National Standards System. In this regard a consultant is needed for the "Development of a National Quality Infrastructure (NQI)"

For more information on ISO Management System, the work of the Bureau of Standards/CROSQ or the BNSI Consultancy kindly contact the Manager Information Services, Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards, Corner Redcliffe Street & Corn Alley, P.O. Box 1550, St. John's, Antigua (W.I.) or Telephone 462-2424 or email: abbs@antigua.gov.ag

 

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  1. Standards Act
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