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Understanding ISO 9001:2015

Clause 7.1.2 People  

The next sub-clause 7.1.2 under resources requires the organization to determine and provide the persons (capacity – see definition under 7.2.1) necessary for the effective implementation of its QMS and for the operation and control of its processes. 

As indicated in the previous clause 7.1.1, human resources constitute a key component of the overall resources needed to run an organization. We could define it as the employees (labor) that staff and operate an organization’s business. They provide value to the organization through their collective competencies, knowledge, skills, creativity and innovativeness. Many view human resources as the most important resource in an organization. 

As part of its strategic planning, organizations must track & evaluate economic and market conditions to determine its annual sales forecasts. This in turn will help it determine demand for labor requirements for its QMS & business processes. 

From the supply side, being able to correctly gauge labor availability is crucial. Labor surplus or shortage can occur if the workforce (employee headcount) does not match up with current organizational infrastructure and QMS requirements to meet its sales forecast. Periods of low & high unemployment can also lead to labor shortage or surplus.  

Part of an HR department’s responsibility is to ensure the availability, competency, performance & well-being of the work force in line with the organizations strategic goals & objectives.  

Human resources strategies must address imbalances in labor supply and demand. When faced with additional labor needs, organizations may encourage overtime work, hire temporary employees, outsource, engage in new retraining programs or find other ways to improve productivity. To reduce an expected labor surplus, they may downsize, implement a hiring freeze, reduce pay or hours, or increase output. 

The effective supply of labor goes beyond having able bodies. It also requires having the requisite skills to produce and deliver the organization’s products and services to customers. When skills are not available internally, they must be sought externally. Here, options are limited by the relative cost of acquiring external skills. When new labor is expensive and skilled workers are in high demand, companies may consider alternatives to hiring. The incremental cost of hiring and training new employees must be offset by the profitability of incremental sales growth. 

Another important determinant of human resource planning is ‘skills mix’ – the range and combination of competencies & skill sets (capability) needed to perform tasks or combination of tasks at the managerial, supervisory and operations level. Another approach to skills mix would be to determine personnel needs at the functional level – sales, engineering, purchasing, production, etc. Most organizations use some combination of the two in determining its labor needs. 

There are many factors that may be considered in determining skills mix. These include: 

·      Staff shortages 

·      Ineffective use of current skills 

·      Budgetary constraints/Value for money 

·      Quality issues 

·      New technologies, equipment & processes 

·      New products & services 

·      Labor union requirements 

·      Employment legislation 

·      Professional certifications 

·      Labor/staff stability & turnover 

·      Employee workloads 

·      Employee demographics 

Depending on its size and structure, an organization may use a variety of techniques to plan its labor needs and skills mix, ranging from statistical, mathematical or qualitative methods. Top management may carry out such planning working with its process owners and perhaps engaging an HR consultant.  

This article is an extract from my eCourse “Understanding ISO 9001:2015”. The rest of the article discusses in detail the specific actions your organization must take to address the requirements of clause 7.1.2.

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Understanding ISO 9001:2008