Enabling Positive Change
Copyright © Qualisoft 2021
At Mantena AS they took giant steps in going over to a process-oriented management system.
It took them half a year to create and implement a new system using QualiWare, and it almost revolutionised comprehension, security, availability and the ability to come up with input for all employees, subsidiaries and customers in accordance with the company's steering documents.
We have much to learn from Torild M. Amundsen's capacity for innovation and decision-making. As quality and technical manager with a good understanding of many of the processes, she set about clearing out and changing old ways of doing things and made an effective start on a new, uniform system. With her personal commitment and enthusiasm – and together with her equally committed, innovative and process-conscious colleagues – the reorganisation and implementation throughout an entire organisation has picked up speed. In fact, it's on rails.
Mantena AS is a subsidiary of NSB AS (the Norwegian State Railways), with 880 employees and 7 locations in Norway. The company maintains rail rolling stock, and it has subsidiaries in both Norway and Sweden, such as Mitrans AS, CargoNet AS and Tunnelbanan in Stockholm. Torild Marie Amundsen herself talks about the starting point and the gains achieved:
For several years we were using a different tool for charting processes – we set up process teams and drew up charts. Alongside this we had a management system which described how work should proceed, including with the process. There was no link between the management system and the processes, and we had IT-related problems updating. We were constantly having to ask ourselves: is this right? What about now? There was not enough progress with two different systems.
QualiWare allowed us to see possibilities for our system becoming 100% process-oriented, with the objective of a one-to-one correspondence between controlling documents and processes. In QualiWare, the controlling documents are not Word documents, but integrated in the database, and the tool's functions are used to keep them updated. When changes are made in one place, they are also automatically updated elsewhere. QualiWare is a living system to which far more people than just quality personnel are able to relate.
We had to adapt. The visual presentation of QualiWare is different, which makes it far easier for the individual to understand what is required. This represented a considerable gain. Procedures over seven pages were reduced down to one workflow described in simple terms. By doing so we have eliminated a vast amount of unnecessary text, and now focus on keeping things simple.
The management system now meets all Mantena's needs; security, regulatory requirements and regulations, processes and controlling documents are all integrated. Revision management means that it is easy to retain both old and new versions, while also making it easy to introduce changes.
We managed to get it up and running in just six months, although we did have to re-write most of the processes. It was demanding, but it was more about daring to take the decision to make changes. Once we made a start, we also saw the opportunities for using QualiWare's improvement and deviation system. This simplifies the process of following up cases and makes everything far more accessible. We have not started to use the review model yet, but that will happen in the course of the coming month.
The gain for us is that we now have an efficient system with really good functionality. If you can search on the Internet, you can also use this system. With so many employees, we want everyone to be familiar with both procedures and requirements. Security is critical in so much of what we do, that it is important that people are familiar with the applicable requirements.
Standard procedures have to be so formal. There's a lot of repetition and duplication of text. Updating procedures in Word format and harmonising them with processes is demanding work. QualiWare allows users to search for words and definitions, while being assured at all times that they are using the latest version.
I'm really positive about this system we have put in place using QualiWare. It is simpler and allows for better follow-up. We did wonder whether everyone would be able to search for the procedures once they are all on a process chart. We solved this by also establishing alternative access routes via menu points and lists.
There are of course some restrictions, but I don't think there are too many. You can bring up whatever you like, depending on the individual company's needs. We just hit on some of the standard solutions.
Allocation of influence and responsibility: The system facilitates access and comprehension, and it keeps this updated for us. Anyone can suggest an improvement, so it will be easier for us to update this. There are a lot of people helping us, whereas previously hardly anyone came to us with error reports. This is where the genius lies, because most people find it a challenge to keep controlling documents updated at all times. And then there is the matter of people knowing about this and using it. The employees think it is more fun, and report that searching and navigating in the system is more like a game. It's easier to get to know something that is visual, rather than having to read through seven pages of Word files.
We tested it at the beginning, when we demonstrated the workflows to various people. All of them thought it was better than the old system. It is easier to read, and to understand and see the full picture. It is easier to see your own area of responsibility, and to follow up on what has been done. QualiWare has given us a more educative reference tool. This is important, because not everyone is able to remember how things should always be. We are really happy with this, and we have also had positive feedback from our customers. They are really impressed.
Another advantage is that the deviation and improvement system is coherent, and input can be logged anywhere. Of course what we want is for everyone talk about things, so that we can do something with that. The system then has to be so good that anyone logging in can also see what is happening with their case. In the old system, a lot of follow-up was required.
Relevance and a process-oriented approach. Process work is a part of our management system here at Mantena. Work on processes involves quite a lot of people. Every single process team has an overall picture of which control documents are applicable to that team. I cannot see that a process is good without the link to the controlling documents. Running a company that does not have this link is complicated.
The work of transitioning to a process-oriented management system is demanding. You have to put together a team that is able to think in terms of both process and controlling documents. The process owner has to be sufficiently involved in the work of setting up workflows and process charts in order to be able to come up with a proposal. We set out all our proposals, and gave all the process teams two months in which to go through them and check that everything was right. It is better to come up with a proposal that others can take a position on, rather than try to draft the proposals in groups that are too large. In this way the process teams were able to work efficiently and come up with their input.
The basis for a living tool. The feedback from the process teams was very positive, and there were just some marginal adjustments and proposed changes. It goes without saying that it is good to be very familiar with the processes in advance. In order to lead this work, it is also important to have the authority to simplify and be able to make decisions at top levels within the company. As a representative of the company's managing director, I am able to make decisions, which makes my work easier. Those who delegate the process work to their IT department will probably have a little more work getting everything integrated.
Process orientation is a way of thinking that you develop over time. While we certainly made a number of leading decisions and made a quick start, now everyone can get involved as much as they like, so we are getting it sorted. There is a huge amount of good input coming in. QualiWare is a living tool which has to be developed over time.
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