Best Risk Management Practices For The Food Industry

Posted by Romeo Elias on Wed, May 09, 2018 @ 10:27 AM

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To ensure quality and safety, it’s critical for the food industry to manage and track non-conformances that can lead to product defects and disastrous mistakes.

Risk Management tools and practices were specifically developed to protect against these food safety dangers. By leveraging them, the food industry can protect itself from the risk of a lawsuit, accident, deliberate acts, and even acts of nature.

From supply chain to food health, the food industry cannot be entirely free from internal failure or external events that can threaten productivity and safety. However, having risk management practices in place puts you in a better position to protect yourself from the risks your business is exposed to every day.

If you want your food business to be profitable, you need to pay close attention to all the details; this includes everything from ingredients to equipment to your workforce; most importantly, it involves focusing on defining processes and policies. Here are some best practices in risk management:

Identify Responsible Parties

The key to managing risk is to identify all parties that are involved. It’s critical to understand who is accountable for food safety risk, quality, and compliance. 

When it comes to minimizing risks with manufacturing foods, everyone should recognize that it is a responsibility shared across all levels; this involves plant managers, quality, and food safety group, corporate supply chain, operations staff, QA personnel, and your maintenance crew.

Your QA personnel plays a significant role at all stages of production, making them critical to your overall risk management plan. Without diligence in documenting areas of high risk and communicating concerns to relevant stakeholders, risk cannot be mitigated.

Prepare Employees with Thorough and Continuous Training

Your employees handle day-to-day processes; therefore, risks start with your people. To lessen the possibility of devastating situations, your team should be properly trained in equipment handling, customer service, and safety procedures. Ensure they’re across on employee health codes that outline employee hygiene, inspections, regulated equipment, and even which cleaners are acceptable to use on facilities and surfaces.

While equipment may seem self-explanatory, it would surprise you how many times the wrong assumptions on how to operate equipment has led to disastrous accidents. To boost compliance, train employees how to properly handle all equipment. Thoroughly explain safety protocols that include proper handling, storage, and preparation of food items.

Leverage Technology 

Empower staff with food safety software that complements your overall risk management efforts. Visibility, communication, and compliance can all be improved by using the right solutions.

Communication is crucial. Without it, contamination risks may not be addressed immediately. Safety and quality are all put at risk when there is a breakdown in the exchange of information, leading to dangerous consequences.

With the right food safety and risk management software, you can establish a safety plan that meets FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance requirements and optimize operations by standardizing practices and eliminating duplication of documentation. You can increase productivity by automating manual processes that are repetitive and slow down productivity. And because you have access to historical data, you can analyze and predict trends and identify risks.

 

Tags: risks, food industry, Risk Management, regulatory, Regulations, business process

QMS + WORKFLOW

Posted by Romeo Elias on Sat, Feb 11, 2017 @ 01:43 PM

Workflow Modeling and Automation

A core feature of Business Process Management is Workflow Automation.  This feature enables companies to describe their business process in a block diagram view, definding the flows, the roles, the activities, and business rules.  And once defined, the Business Process Management (BPM) Platform can automate and execute this workflow, notifying users when they are required to complete a task, providing them the information they need in context to complete the work, reminding them if they are late and keeping them up to date on the overall process status.  Managers can oversee the process in real time and be notified of any delays, audit the history and decisions that were made and ensure that everyone is following the company standard.

An Example Document Workflow
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The diagram above represents a document control workflow indicating the path the document followed, colored in green, to completion.

Most of the core processes in Quality Management Systems require workflow.  Document control is an obvious process where there are mutliple people collaborating together on the authoring, reviewing and approving of a document.  Workflow Modeling capability enables you to model your company's document control process, specifying all the roles, steps, rules, approvals, and decisions.  They system will then execute the workflow everytime a new document is created or is selected to be updated.  

One of the key advantages of this capability, as can be seen above, is a realtime view on the status of each document: where is it, who has it, how long has someone been reviewing it, was it approved or rejected, an so on.  A detailed and complete audit trail provides all the historical information necessary to pass any inspection or audit and to meet compliance with all ISO and 21 CFR standards.

In addition, the workflow model is defined by the company to meet their unique process needs. If the process changes, the modeler allows the company to very quickly update the workflow model so that it reflects the new process.  No programming or speciall skill sets are required.  Just an understanding of the company process and simple drag and drop.

Workflow capability is a very powerful feature to have in your QMS system.  Not only will it help you enforce your own unique company process, it also ensures everyone is following the right process, with full auditable history and visibility.

Do you have a Workflow Modeling feature in your QMS? Sign up today for a demo to see the power of Workflow + QMS. 

Tags: Workflow, QMS, Document Control, BPM, BPMS, Quality Management Software, Quality Management System, Workflow Managment, business process, Compliance

3 Strategies That will Reduce the Fear of Workflow Automation

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 @ 11:43 AM

In my previous post, “Workflow Automation Can Be Scary!”, I outlined how workflow automation can be scary to many employees, as it creates uncertainty, introduces transparency and takes away control.  In this post, I will explain three well established strategies that will help address each of these concerns. 

1. Listening is key to managing the fear of uncertainty

Management has to invest the time to listen to everyone’s concerns.  Often times, the concerned employees just want to be heard, understood and feel like their concerns were taken seriously.  This can also provide key information that will be helpful in the design and implementation of the process.  It may be that adding a certain report or business rule is all it takes to alleviate some of the concerns, and it may also improve the workflow process when automated.  In addition, by listening, management can uncover and address some of the hidden concerns which may be less about the automation itself, and more about the reasons for it, i.e. will they lose their jobs. It is amazing how many problems can be avoided by simply listening.

2. Communicating the benefits is key to addressing the concerns around transparency

Transparency can stir fears in employees that they are distrusted and will be monitored by management after the automation.  It’s very important to address this by highlighting the many major benefits that transparency and visibility  provide to all employees in the process, not just to the organization. Some of these major benefits include: 

Saving time: Rather than employees spending their time chasing people and paper forms or searching through emails to get status information, a well implemented workflow automation project will provide key dashboards and reports that let everyone know the status of each process.

Providing peace of mind: A typical workflow system will send alerts and reminders to each person when their part is due.  This streamlines the workflow and increases peace of mind when running these processes.  The employee is no longer concerned that they may have forgotten to complete a task as the workflow platform keeps them alerted throughout.

Reducing frustration: Often times, the processes that are being automated are causing a lot of frustrations to many people.  Automation will improve their work life quality, and eliminate wasted time and rework due to mistakes.

Increasing productivity:  The goal for automation is to free up employees’ time to focus on higher value work rather than shuffling paper or manual processes that don’t add value.  They are able to be more innovative and produce more with less manual effort.

By communicating often and clearly the benefits of transparency and visibility from workflow automation, fear and distrust can be turned into anticipation and excitement.

3. Turn process owners into change agents to address fears around loss of control

Process owners can provide a lot of critical insight into the culture, uniqueness of the processes and skillset of the employees who will need to change.  Their resistance to change can be reduced greatly by listening to them, valuing their input and experience, and leaning on them early on in the implementation and even in the platform selection process.  They can provide valuable information that can influence the selection of the workflow solution as well as the design and architecture of the implementation.  By involving the process owners in the design process, their fear and uncertainty turns to pride and security, as they become the thought leaders, owners of the new automated process and designers of the system.  They will then turn into champions and change agents in the organization, helping with training and adoption of the system.

In conclusion, cultural resistance is one of the biggest obstacles to a successful workflow automation project.  Organizations who address this obstacle early on and directly with the strategies listed in this article will improve greatly their chances of project success. A well implemented and adopted workflow automation project will quickly become a success story given all the benefits and time savings it provides for everyone.  Within a few weeks of launch, most people will find it hard to imagine, or even remember, that they were running the process any other way.

If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: Workflow and Business Process Management, workflow automation, business automation, Workflow, Hosted Workflow, change, Manual process, BPM, BPM Suite, business process, Business Process Management, Workflow Process Management, BPMS, IT change

IT organizations disruption accelerating

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, May 14, 2013 @ 11:17 AM

I recently read a blog post by Jim Stikeleather, the IT Conversation We Should Be Having, on research conducted over the past 2 years by The Harvard Business Review, The Economist, CEB (formerly known as the Corporate Executive Board), Intel, and TNS Global on how the role of the CIO and the IT department is changing.

Quoting directly from the blog post, "a simple summary of the work suggests that CEOs believe that CIOs are not in sync with the new issues CEOs are facing, CIOs do not understand where the business needs to go, and CIOs do not have a strategy, in terms of opportunities to be pursued or challenges to be addressed in support of the business."

Some of the key findings from their research is startling:

  • Almost half of CEOs feel IT should be a commodity service purchased as needed
  • Almost half of CEOs rate their CIOs negatively in terms of understanding the business and understanding how to apply IT in new ways to the business
  • 57% of the executives expect their IT function to change significantly over the next three years, and 12% predict a "complete overhaul" of IT
  • Only a quarter of executives felt their CIO was performing above his or her peers

Although we have been noticing a gradual change in the relationship between IT and the business and how organizations are viewing technology purchases, I am surprised with how fast this change is becoming the norm and the expectation. 

It's going to be an interesting few years to watch how this paradigm shifts and also how it impacts vendors as they adapt their value propositions and relationships.

 

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Tags: business process, Enterprise, disrupt, change, research, IT change