Original Date: 04/26/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : ISO-9001 Implementation
In 1995, the NASA Administrator mandated that all NASA centers become registered to ISO-9001. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) began working on this objective in May 1996 and completed it by February 1998. Aside from the directive, MSFC viewed ISO-9001 registration as an opportunity to improve self discipline and internal communications; facilitate better communication among all NASA centers; and attain better alignment with support contractors.
The key to successful implementation was fostering effective communications at every level and through every stage of the process. MSFC’s quest began with commitment from top management and personal involvement by the Center’s Director. ISO was viewed as a management system, not just a quality system. Everyone was involved in the implementation process, which soon became an inherent way of performing MSFC’s day-to-day business. The Center established an effective implementation organization and set up teams. An electronic, web-based document control system was also created with an electronic review and approval process, making instant access/retrieval a reality and improving the currency of policies and procedures. Frequent internal audits were conducted to build accountability and drive the baselining process. MSFC put in place a single corrective action system for the entire Center, where previously ten had been. A capable and trusted outside consultant provided guidance and assistance throughout the implementation and certification processes. General awareness training was conducted as soon as possible in the early stages for 100% of the Center’s personnel. This helped minimize any misinformation or misunderstanding. Process specific training was also conducted to address procedure changes and new ISO processes. Continuous communication was applied in multiple media modes (e.g., memos, websites, newsletters, e- mail, posters, organizational representatives).
By far, the single, most effective communication tool at MSFC is its ISO-9000 website (http://iso9000.msfc.nasa.gov:9001/index.html). This site provides a single source for generic and specific information about MSFC’s ISO-9000 issues, and is also an excellent reference for other NASA centers or anyone wishing to obtain data on the implementation process. MSFC’s ISO-9000 website provides general information on every possible aspect of ISO-9000 plus every detail of MSFC’s experience (e.g., historical publications, presentations, clarifications, audit notes, findings). This site is extremely valuable for anyone contemplating or undergoing ISO certification.
The ISO-9001 preparation and certification processes provided MSFC with many lasting benefits. The most important is improved communications. The Procurement Department experienced a 65% reduction in procedures, and other departments have had similar reductions. The Center now has greater rigor in project planning and configuration control planning. Contractor accountability and control has also greatly improved. The ISO process prompted scrutiny and formal mapping of internal processes by organizations, often for the first time. Redundant functions and documents were eliminated, and more discipline was achieved in the control of records, documents, and procedures. Others can benefit from the lessons and experience of MSFC by exploring its ISO-9000 website.
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