Creating a QMS at a Distance
Can an ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System be developed in real-time with a consultant over the internet? Of course, it can. But like any other use of software and technology, we need to understand both the strengths and weakness of the tools were considering.
Using readily available online meeting tools as part of an organization’s efforts to achieve ISO 9001:2015 compliance, companies can greatly reduce on-site consulting time and cost, through the use of web-based "virtual workspace" to increase productivity, as well as reduce both time and money spent on travel. Since most consulting assistance, and related outcomes, are organized around scheduled meetings, moving these activities online is just having the same meeting in an alternate format.
It should be noted however, that online “virtual” or “remote” activities have inherent limitations, particularly being, they can only address those areas and activities that can be viewed online on a computer screen; other activities may likely require a more “hands-on” approach, which can usually only be satisfied by time spent on-site. To completely address all ISO 9001:2015 requirements, the ideal approach is combination of both virtual (off-site) and physical (on-site) consulting services.
Using Remote Technology
With today’s technology, it is possible to collaborate with anyone, anywhere, using almost any web browser. In many cases, only an app or website login is required. This approach does not require any specialized software, so it can be scaled easily, at low or no cost, with limited technical expertise.
As of this writing, some of the best online platforms for virtual meetings are shown below. I am sure there’s others, but these are the ones we use regularly, with the best results:
All the services noted above include user authentication and encryption, as well as some having multilayer security, in order to ensure that your information is always secure. We have however, found that organizations have widely varying levels of IT policy and controls implemented, so it is always best to consult and/or confirm with your IT department prior to stating which type of application is preferred and/or allowed.
Remote Auditing Techniques
It is also possible, using the same technology as above, to audit these systems either partially or completely. The overall approach used, and its adequacy, will depend on the organization, the scope of its management system, and the products and services that are being provided.
In certain cases, such as professional services, a remote audit may be enough to cover all areas. In other cases, such as in the manufacturing of products, remote auditing may be incorporated as a part of the organization’s overall audit program, but planning should still consider a physical assessment of activities as necessary to ensure not only the system has been implemented correctly, but also to ensure that appropriate physical controls have been implemented and are being maintained. In this later case, remote auditing techniques would be adequate for a portion of the audit, but not its entirety.
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