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ISO9001:2015 has split out Competency and Awareness which were combined in the 2008 standard, I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing as you can't possibly have any Competency without Awareness (or Communication!) but for simplicity sake we'll take each of the new sections in turn so in this post let's talk about Competency and how ISO9001:2015 handles that in section 7.2 of the new standard.
The standard requires you to assess personnel competency in terms of the quality management system and may have a direct or indirect effect on product quality and conformity to requirements are competent to do so and of course around the quality system to be able to help it meet the quality objectives.
So lets pause for a second and agree what Competence actually means. In terms of ISO9001:2015 we can use the definition with the "ISO9000:2015 Fundamentals & Vocabulary" document which says it is the "Ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve the intended result". In other words, just giving someone training does not mean they are competent. Think about it a bit like driving, even after your initial driver training you are not really competent are you, you perhaps haven't driven in heavy rain or snow, what about handling a skid? You become more competent over time with practice and experience and it's the same here, training alone isn't enough. You need to test for understanding and then add practice and further testing over time.
SO in terms of your quality management system, for example, you do need to provide training to people who will be involved in the quality management system. It's best to do this as you go along with the implementation if you are starting from scratch, if you have an existing system and someone new joins then you need a training plan for them to get up to speed on your system. As you go through this training, small tests will create the proof that people have the understanding that will help build the competence in the system. Don't make them big heavy serious tests, keep it light & enjoyable – pop quizzes or lunchtime competitions with pizza are always good. Like any training you should look at where you believe the gaps are, so how do you do this? Well, the trusty old skills matrix is really hard to beat here. On one axis your matrix list all the skills that you will need to have to ensure your quality system delivers both in terms of the Quality Management System directly but also think about the skills required to deliver your products or services at the level your customers require. On the other axis you want all of your team, but here is a really helpful hint.. include the position in there as well. Over time the names will change but the positions probably won't so the matrix remains correct in terms of what skill are required per position at all times but as new people fill the roles it becomes easy to see the gaps.
From this, you can now have a gap analysis of your skills within the organisation and so where you need to carry out further training.
You should remember that people joining or existing in your organisation come with pre-existing skills from previous training, courses, and experience, these need to be incorporated into your skills matrix as well. It's not uncommon for this previous knowledge to be ignored which is a huge loss to the organisation and the individual.
Now you have the gap analysis you need to take the required steps to close your gaps. Here you have a number of valid options, you can train internally or externally for it, you can, of course, hire new people, or you can contract in that expertise where appropriate. Our Virtual Quality Management service would be a typical example of this step.
As part of ISO9001:2015 clause 7.2 for Competence clause you need to maintain appropriate documentation to demonstrate you have a basis for your claimed level of competence. This is typically where you need a really clear set of training records that are easily reviewed, tracked and updated. Paper systems can, of course, work but as you become a larger organisation it gets harder so having a proper management system is hugely beneficial. The HR module of the Mango QHSE system covers this section and has an e-Assessment module which would let you create internal training and exams which of course are tracked automatically back to your employee making the meeting this requirement simple.
The ISO9001:2015 Clause 7.2 for competence is all about ensuring you have the knowledge and skills at the correct level to be able to effectively run your quality management system and deliver your products and services to your clients. Creating a visual skills matrix is an effective way of doing this and allowing you to create the right training plans for the right areas where you are short of the required skills.
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