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1. ISO PRACTICE CERTIFICATION ©Edward B. Farkas 1 of 17 .
Abstract This article presents a Case Study of the process developed to obtain ISO 9001:2000 certification of a professional service. The article describes this from the initial definition of a Service Management Methodology to the design of an internal (project) audit program that extracts Best Practices and Lessons Learned. Anatomy of an ISO 9001:2000 Certification of a Professional Practice - Ten steps to get your Professional Service Organization ISO Certified. This is a case study of how, in the consulting industry, a professional services organization, specializing in project management, created, deployed and obtained ISO certification. The challenge was to develop a product realization methodology for a service provider and translate that into a group of related processes consistent with a quality management system. To get an idea as to how difficult this is bear in mind that, at a high level, project managers typically view their work as the management of discrete tasks and activities within a project plan. A ‘project’ is viewed as having specific beginning and end dates. Each project yields a different set of deliverables. The PM view contrasts strongly with the idea of repeatable processes. Each project is unique with its own set of assumptions, dependencies, risks and stakeholders. How do repeatable processes fit into a group whose ‘product’ is never duplicated? This article hopes to answer that very question. Professional service managers implement management solutions for their clients. The service is known as the Project Management Practice and is responsible for the development and management of a project plan. While no two project plans are alike they typically include a project charter, statement of work, organization breakdown structure, a risk identification and management document, a work breakdown structure, project schedule and a communications plan. Project managers are the external customer’s primary point of contact throughout the entire project life cycle. The life cycle ends when the customer accepts the deliverable. To manage an implementation the professional service manager coordinates the project plan with engineers, programmers, and customers. In some projects the manager coordinates activities with specialized subcontractors such as application providers and third party consulting firms. ©Edward B. Farkas 2 of 17 .
The Project Management Office (PMO) supports the professional service managers and technical consultants by providing a project management methodology, tool suite, quality program, process engineering and training. The PMO’s guiding principles for the ISO certification were simple. • The project management methodology should be based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). • The quality management system must be measurably responsive to customers. • The quality management system must be measurably responsive to the experience of the project and program managers in the field. • The project management methodology should be aligned with the company’s strategic objectives. • The stakeholders should be encouraged to achieve professional certification. • The project management methodology and associated quality management system should yield measurable operational efficiencies. Finally the ISO certification effort would be managed like any other project employing the same methodology, tools, processes and techniques. This will demonstrate that the Project Management Office ‘practices what it preaches’ and concurrently validates the very system seeking certification. Defining the project life cycle: Step One Definition of the project life cycle was the starting point. While this may sound easy it requires complex process mapping with all key stakeholders. We used standard Total Quality Management (TQM) techniques, beginning with a macro (entire project life cycle) map and drilling down into discrete phases. The process maps had swim lanes and a timeline to better identify who did what, and when. While mapping the process, as expected, gaps and white spaces became apparent. Knowing that we eventually would be seeking ISO 9001 certification special attention was paid to the process inputs and outputs. Additionally, internal and external measurement points were identified for future use. Translate the project life cycle into a formal methodology: Step Two Having identified the project phases in the macro process mapping workshops we had to drill down to the next level and determine the following. ©Edward B. Farkas 3 of 17 .
• What activities or milestones determine the beginning and end of each phase within the project life cycle. • What were the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders for each phase of the project life cycle effectively creating a roles & responsibilities matrix. • Which corporate policies or standards were in force and should be viewed as methodology constraints. • How would process gaps and white spaces identified earlier be addressed. The inputs above were translated into a methodology document, which defined how projects were managed in accordance with existing processes. The methodology document served as a baseline for the mapping of the ‘to be’ macro process. The output of the preferred process map was documented as the ‘official’ methodology. The ‘official’ methodology was an initial step in further refining the methodology, as we will see in the next step. Develop Standards to Provide Consistent Methodology: Step Three Having defined the project life cycle and the associated roles and responsibilities the next step was to foster consistency. We, therefore, had to figure out ‘how’ the work should be performed. We also needed to define the minimum standards that would provide quality as well as consistency. When developing the standards, called ‘Work Instructions’ we had to find the balance between the minimum amount of direction and over-standardization. The design criteria included the following elements. • The standards must be consistent with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). • The standards should create a model of empowerment. The professional service managers should have latitude and real decision-making authority. • The standards should facilitate the capturing of key performance indicators. • The standards should provide for roll-up management reports. • The standards should facilitate enterprise wide reporting and information sharing. • The standards should be designed to foster quality in a measurable way. • The standards should be developed so that the multiple ISO elements are addressed. • The standards should be designed so that it is possible to verify and analyze the results of conformance. ©Edward B. Farkas 4 of 17 .
Twenty-five standards covering activities within each phase of the life cycle were developed. The Project Management Office (PMO) in concert with the organization’s management team developed the associated Work Instructions. The methodology standards were subsequently posted on the PMO Intranet Site thus making them available to project managers throughout the United States. The standards we developed are listed below. Work Instruction Standard Name 1 Project Documentation 2 Risk Management 3 Project Schedules 4 Quality Assurance Reviews 5 Escalation 6 Project Tracking 7 Communications 8 Infrastructure Support 9 Customer Acceptance 10 Transferring Accounts or Projects 11 Customer Satisfaction Surveys 12 Document Control Process 13 ISO Document Review Process 14 Post Project Reviews 15 Scope Change Management 16 Pre-Sales Process 17 Preventative and Corrective Actions 18 Tools Development and Review Procedure 19 Training Procedure 20 Program Resource Management 21 Master Records Procedure 22 Management Review Meetings Procedure 23 Project and Program Progress Reporting 24 Engagement Criteria Policy 25 Practice Opportunities Standards such as the Quality Assurance Reviews and Post Project Reviews had the additional benefit of extracting Best Practices and Lessons Learned both of which were posted on the PMO Intranet site. ©Edward B. Farkas 5 of 17 .
Drilling down a bit we can see in the table below the ‘why’ behind the standards. Standard Name Standard Objective(s) Project Documentation Provide for accessible project documentation, with a consistent directory structure. Risk Management Identify risk issues during the project-planning phase and determine how they will be managed. Project Schedules Standardize use of minimum milestones for roll up reporting. Nationwide use of application. Consistent ‘look & feel’ for all customers. Quality Assurance Reviews Observe results of standards and tools. Verify standard conformance. Extract best practices and lessons learned. Escalation Empower project managers and standardize escalation chain and process. Project Tracking To facilitate capturing, on an enterprise level, business metrics. Communications Define the managers role as ‘Primary Point of Contact’ Infrastructure Support Internal corporate process. Acceptance Testing Validate that all promised deliverables are provided to the customer in good working order and secure customer validation. Transferring Accounts or Projects Process to foster continuity between staff regardless of job function. Customer Satisfaction Surveys To measure the effectiveness of the project management methodology and secure input for improvements Document Control Process To comply with basic ISO element. ISO Document Review Process To provide management buy-in of policies and procedures. Basic ISO element. Post Project Reviews To determine what is working and what requires improvement. Scope Change Management To standardize change management in a way that addresses customer expectations, cost and schedule. Pre-Sales Process Internal corporate procedure. Initial point when the project manager evaluates scope documents. Preventative and Corrective Actions Create a mechanism to address observations gleaned during the project reviews and audits. Tools Development and Review Procedure Develop a process that allows for staff input when developing new tools. Training Procedure Schedule staff is training prior to promulgating a new standard, process, policy or tool. Program Resource Management Provide guidelines that empower the project managers when securing and managing matrix resources. Master Records Procedure Basic ISO element. Management Review Meetings Procedure Create a mechanism that continually evaluates the system effectiveness. Project and Program Progress Reporting To foster consistency and ‘look and feel’ when reporting project progress to the customer. Engagement Criteria Policy Determines which projects will be accepted. Practice Opportunities Internal company policy. The professional service managers were used to time compressed implementations and were initially resistant to standardization. Managers said that “Process will slow me down”, “I need the flexibility to just get the project done”. It was only after the project managers experienced reductions in their individual level of effort, as a result of the standards, that the resistance began ©Edward B. Farkas 6 of 17 .
to diminish. As the percentage of projects completed ahead of schedule increased the comments began to dramatically change “This PMO stuff is helpful”, “I can’t believe that I would ever ask for more standards but…” and “This service management handbook is now my key reference!” A good example of how the PMBOK© aligned with our methodology is in the Pre- Sales phase of the project life cycle. The PM knowledge body cautions the project manager to understand the scope of work and identify risks. The macro process for this became the Pre-Sales process in Work Instruction 16 (WI-16) and the micro process for risk identification and management was defined in WI-2. Both Work Instructions reference tools that help the project manager’s evaluation of the project scope and its risks. Another example of this alignment is that the PMBOK© contains literally volumes of work that discusses schedule development. One method is known as the Critical Path Method. WI-3 describes the macro process for developing a schedule and references a group of tools that are inputs into that macro process. One input for WI-3, for example is the output from WI-2: Risks are identified, quantified and tasks needed to mitigate the risk become part of the project schedule. Develop Tools to Support Standards: Step Four The PMO defined the methodology based on the preferred macro process representing the project life cycle. The gaps identified earlier were assessed and managed at this stage. Developing standards that were consistent with a project management empowered roles and responsibilities matrix followed. Mechanisms for internal and external feedback loops were put into place. We were at the stage where drill downs were needed to the activity level and tools that had the following objectives. • Tools should be designed so that the work performed is synchronized with the standards defining the methodology. • Tools should be intuitive and user friendly. • Ideally tools should be developed leveraging the PMO Intranet site thus facilitating web enablement. • Tools, whenever possible, should have automated features such as eMail triggers. • Tools should have a ‘professional look and feel’ so they can be used without modification with customers. • Tools should have, when appropriate, mechanisms for roll-up reporting. • Tools should facilitate documentation and follow up of issues identified in the project plan. ©Edward B. Farkas 7 of 17 .
The Project Management Office proceeded to create, with input from management and staff, approximately seventy-five tools and templates. The tools cover key activities within each phase of the project life cycle. The tools that were developed, many web based, covered the spectrum from RFP Templates to Post Project Surveys. The tool suite facilitated scope analysis, risk management, issue monitoring, planning, scheduling, progress reporting, acceptance testing and the list goes on. The maturity and sheer number of tools prompted positive comments from the ISO Auditor that conducted the registration audits in cities around the country. Staff input was critical to this effort. To promote participation from program and project managers, in all the sales regions within the United States, the PMO created a Tools Review Committee (TRC). The TRC would review, test and comment on tools prior to full field deployment. Provide Standards & Tools Training: Step Five From a Quality Management System (QMS) perspective, within an ISO 9000 series context, confirming that staff are qualified and trained is essential. This element starts with a clear definition of the organization’s structure, clarity around roles, responsibilities and job descriptions. Within the QMS the following elements were addressed. • Creation of a Training & Certification Database. ® • Management Interview Guides. • Staff Competency Assessment Tools. • Documented job descriptions. • New Hire Checklist. • Introductory, Intermediate and Advance Training Paths. • Training seminars scheduled to coincide with project reviews across the country. • A policy, with mechanisms, to confirm that prior to the issuance of a new standard, policy, procedure or tool staff has been properly trained. The Project Management Office training included the project management methodology, tools, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), corporate procedures and policies and the company’s technology products and services. ©Edward B. Farkas 8 of 17 .
Basic PMBOK® training was outsourced to PMI® Registered Education Providers, as there was no investment return in developing material already produced by others. A Training Schedule for the year was published and copies of the training material were made available on the PMO Intranet site. Promulgation, Document & Version Control of Standards & Tools: Step Six The Program Management Office was charged with confirming that staff be fully aware and trained on the project management methodology, standards, tools, processes and policies. As ISO 9001 certification was intended, ISO and Quality Management System training was included. Project Management Office staff developed training material to cover the following areas. • What ISO is • What a Quality Management System is • What the organization’s quality policy is • What the organization’s business objectives are • How our project management methodology synchronize with elements within the ISO standard The training program was developed to confirm that all the offices in the United States were included. Additionally the training intentionally overlapped scheduled project reviews and planned ‘mock ISO’ registration audits. Through the Tools Review Committee we had a way to secure staff input. We supplemented the Tools Review Committee with a Management Review Committee that would capture input and analysis from the management team. Finally an ISO Focus Group was created, which had both management and staff representation. The latter group was designed to provide a holistic perspective of the project management methodology and how well it integrated with the Quality Management System. ©Edward B. Farkas 9 of 17 .
Internal Audit Program to Measure Effectiveness: Step Seven An internal audit program to foster standards conformance is typically part of an ISO 9000 series Quality Management System. The program developed was designed with the following objectives. • Evaluate projects in real time to determine the effectiveness of the methodology. • Observe tool use in action to identify areas for improvement. • Validate the accuracy of the key performance indicators rolled up from individual projects and programs. • Conformance with the standards within the Quality Management System. • Proactively gauge the health of active projects. • Observe the presence of performance trends that may point to root cause issues in how the work was being performed nationwide. • In some case the project review became a de facto coaching or training session. • Develop an objective, verifiable, audit protocol and check list. To maintain audit objectivity the PMO Internal Auditors selected had substantial experience managing projects and, additionally, were trained to obtain ISO Lead Auditor certification. With time the PMO found that the project management community was, in fact, in conformance with the standards. Better yet, the program and project managers, though initially resistant to the effort, were personally experiencing the value of the system and turned into corporate advocates. Preventative & Corrective Actions to Improve Effectiveness: Step Eight The PMO quickly realized that the sheer number of feedback loops required the development of a formal process that would output preventative and corrective actions. Feedback, observations and findings may be generated from, and directed to multiple sources. This may be graphically represented. ©Edward B. Farkas 10 of 17 .
High Level Process Map INPUTS OUTPUTS OUTPUTS Tools QAR cSat Survey Review Schedule Comm. Individual ISO Focus Registrar Fol. Up Group Internal Audit Cust. Output Manager Mgmt. Complaint Notif. Review No Yes Employee PMO Feedback Notice QAR Audit Form Form completed Tools Review Comm. Acronyms ISO Focus cSat: Customer Satisfaction Survey Group P/C: Preventative & Corrective QAR: Quality Assurance Review-of a project QMS: Quality Management System QAR- internal audit program P/C Mgmt. Action Reviews Log Mgmt. Feedback Close Out QMS PMO Feedback, observations, suggestions and findings were tracked in a database. The database was structured to facilitate data analysis and trending. For example we could track issues by specific standard. Staff & Management Review: Step Nine: An ISO management team was created. The team included top management from geographic regions throughout the United States. The team included Regional Directors, the Director of the PMO, the Program Manager for Quality who served as our ISO Management Representative and the senior Director of the entire department. The management team was convened, on a regular basis, to assess the proposed standards, project management methodology, analysis of the key performance indicators and the results of the preventative and corrective actions process. In some cases proposed complex tools were brought to the management team as well. The latter was based on the estimated level of effort required for use. If the level of effort was ‘significant’ the tool, in addition to the Tools Review Committee, would be brought to the attention of the management team. ©Edward B. Farkas 11 of 17 .
The ISO certification project team created an ISO Focus Group composed of line staff from all the geographic regions in the United States. The Focus Group became a critical feedback mechanism receiving input from the field. The process was designed so that prior to Management Review Committee meetings, staff feedback was solicited from either the ISO Focus Group or the Tools Review Committee. In this way the PMO would be aware of staff concerns and issues prior to management intervention. The entire Project Management Office prepared for these sessions to assure that staff issues for the following functions were included. • Training and Professional Development • Project Management Methodology Definition and Improvement • Process and Tools Development • Business Analysis and Metrics • PMO Intranet (internal project management web site) • Quality Assurance The meetings were documented, and resulting action items were reported on at each subsequent meeting. Quality Manual: Quality Management System: Step Ten The PMO has a web site that project and program managers all over the United States access. The web site contained version controlled copies of the standards upon which the project management methodology was based. Tools, ‘Best Practices’ and ‘Lessons Learned’ were posted as well. The site also included enterprise wide mechanisms for project and time tracking and recording. The PMO still needed to document how the specific elements of the methodology and management system correlated to the ISO elements required for certification. This resulted in the creation of a Quality Manual. The Quality Manual began by defining the project management organization, its quality policy and objectives, and methodically correlated virtually every standard, process and tool to specific ISO elements. Additionally the Quality Manual explained the relationship between ISO elements and methodology standards. ©Edward B. Farkas 12 of 17 .
The Certification Process The Project Management Office began with developing a formal Project Charter and secured executive sponsorship. The Project Charter was the starting point for the development of a Work Breakdown Structure. Risk issues and how they would be managed – associated tasks were included in the project schedule- were identified. Project Team Member roles were defined. A schedule was developed. The ISO team met each week using the schedule (Actual versus Baseline) as a de facto agenda. The milestones required for certification by an ISO Registrar were as follows. • Review of Quality Manual (QM) and Quality Management System documents. • Incorporation of QM review comments. • Re-submission of QM and QMS documentation. • ISO Awareness & System Training. • Mock ISO Audits. • ISO Assessment Audit by Registrar. • Management of comments generated during the Assessment Audit. • ISO Registration Audit. • Management of non-conformities observed during ISO Registration Audit. • Furnish evidence that Registration Audit findings have been addressed. • Registrar’s Auditor submits certification recommendation, with associated checklists and documentation to Registrar’s internal review committee. • Registrar determines that ISO Certification is warranted. What made this interesting was that the Quality Management System was based on the project management methodology requiring the project team to explain and demonstrate how the project management methodology was, in fact, consistent with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) as stated in the quality system documentation. Further the PMO had to demonstrate and furnish evidence of the correlations between the methodology and the associated ISO elements. The scope of our ISO9001: 2000 certification was “Project and Program Management of the delivery and acceptance of the company’s products and services to customers.” To secure ISO certification we had to demonstrate that our methodology was not only aligned with the PMBOK® but also had to furnish evidence that we developed repeatable processes that were used to deliver one of a kind deliverables. The PMO was able to bridge the apparent conflict between the ©Edward B. Farkas 13 of 17 .
performance of unique tasks and activities with a repeatable process driven methodology. The secret to our success resided in the understanding that the ‘activities’ performed by the project manager were actually undocumented processes. Escalating an issue within internal management is a good example. The ‘activity’ of escalating an issue could be documented as a process. In this case the process was synchronized to mesh with corporate policies for an escalation. The PMO was gratified by the unexpected positive observations the process yielded. The integration of the PMBOK® with ISO was virtually seamless. The good will generated by the internal and external marketing served to position the Project Management Office as an internal change agent focused on customer satisfaction. Author Biography & Byline Edward B. Farkas has worked as a Program and Project Manager since 1987 in both the public and private sectors. During his career he has managed over five billion dollars of aviation, construction and IT projects in the United States, China, England, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Colombia. Mr. Farkas in addition to his project management certification is a certified ISO Lead Auditor. 1. Author contact information: Edward B. Farkas Managing Director Project Management Practice ETR Technology Center 180 Oser Avenue Hauppauge, NY 11788 (631) 952-1300 email@example.com ©Edward B. Farkas 14 of 17 .
Overview Illustration 1 The Ten Steps For ISO Certification. We begin with the building blocks on the bottom, left to right, and incrementally add the additional building blocks until we have developed the Quality Manual. Quality Manual: Quality Management System Preventative & Staff & Corrective Actions to Management Improve Review Effectiveness Provide Promulgation, Internal Audit Standards & Document & Version Program to Tools Control of Standards & Measure Training Tools Effectiveness Define Macro Translate Develop Standards Develop Process: Life Cycle to Ensure Tools to Project Life into Consistent Support Cycle Methodology Methodology Standards ©Edward B. Farkas 15 of 17 .
Overview Illustration 2 A holistic view of the Quality Management System. The elements shown below are all inputs to the quality system. gra ctive Tools & Standards PM M &Q Pro Corre m ua lity Act tive & yM t Me en ion e eth tric em ta s& ov o od v en Ind Key pr ollo ica Im Pre tor Perfo es s g An y y r oc aly man tem sis ce Pr Sys ol Tools ontr Revie nt C w Co me mmitte e Genuity’s Docu Quality Management Natio ys tis faction Surve System na l Train Customer Sa ing Pro gram Cu sto l me nua r& y Ma Pr alit oje M Qu ct am n ng L ife gr m m cy ISO Focus Group ro nt cle . tP R Re di vie Au e w al Co rn om te In m itt e ee ©Edward B. Farkas 16 of 17 .
Outputs: Outputs: Inputs: • Comprehensive Genuity Project Project • Methodology Standards • Define Project Life Cycle Management Handbook • Tools & Templates to Support • Develop Methodology • Methodology Standards Standards • Develop Standards to Help • Documented Version Control • Nat’l Training Program on Tools, Provide Consistent Methodology Process Methodology, & Standards PM Genuity’s PPM Quality Tools & Methodology Processes Management System Continuous Improvement Monitor Measure Staff & Mgmnt • Internal Audit Reviews Program • ISO Focus Group • Customer Satis- • Tools Review faction Surveys Committee • Key Performance • Mgmnt Review Indicators Committee Improve • Preventative & Corrective Actions • Customer Satis- faction Survey Results Analysis • KPI Analysis Process Illustration 3 A Systems View of the Inputs and Outputs ©Edward B. Farkas 17 of 17 .