Hosting Company Auditing and Certification — Part 3-B of 3
Here is a final look at the legitimacy standards we have in place at Superb Internet, which we’re exploring for two reasons:
- To establish how we meet and exceed all of the major credibility markers common to the hosting industry; and,
- So you can have an educated sense of what these seemingly cryptic acronyms and numbers mean, which can help you vet organizations in various fields.
Our staff is certified for ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), which I covered in Part 1 of this series; ITIL confirms our expertise and commitment to continual improvement in IT consultation. Our business is audited via SSAE-16 (Statement on Standard for Attestation Engagements #16) as well, which was discussed in Part 2 and verifies our bookkeeping policies and processes.
“I’d never be audited by those SASE enthusiasts. Why should a stamped envelope ever address itself? It ain’t proper.”
Sir … I’m not talking about self-addressed stamp envelopes. Please calm down; we’re almost finished with the series. Part 3, which I subdivided into two pieces, is on the Quality Management System (QMS) described in our ISO 9001:2008 accreditation. This standard is developed by an international body of top industry professionals who together determine universal (cross-cultural) standards of operation for businesses. In the first article (3-A), I reviewed Sections 4 & 5 of the standard (the first two of five sections); this second piece will review Sections 6-8. (Work by Praxiom Research Group Limited was instrumental to understanding the standard.)
“Never subsection. Never. It ruins the venison – makes it gamey and unclean, like a checkerboard.”
Thank you for the advice. OK so we will take a look at each of these sections. Each of them pertains to a different set of requirements: Resource Requirements (Section 6), Realization Requirements (Section 7), and Remedial Requirements (Section 8).
ISO 9001:2008 – Section 6: “Resource Requirements”
Section 6 has to do with identification and provision of the resources needed by your business. Here is fuller detail of the requirements related to resources:
1. Identify & Provide – Figuring out what resources you need and how to provide them is given an overview in Section 6.1.
2. Worker Competence – Section 6.2 relates to the capabilities of anyone completing tasks within the organization, as follows:
- Make sure the workers have appropriate competence, the ability to deliver products effectively.
- Consider and remain aware of the needs your organization has regarding competence – this applies to any staff members, including both those who are directly and indirectly responsible for organizational duties.
- Train and otherwise prepare staff and resources to meet needs properly.
- Review and determine how well the training activities function.
- Compile and keep data and records related to your workers, proving their competencies.
“I prove my competencies by gutting a prairie dog, taking its still-beating heart, and –”
Listen, sir, no more organ removal references. Moving on …
3. Infrastructure Provision – Requirements on how to create a sustainable infrastructure are established in Section 6.3.
- In order to meet product requirements, you must do the following:
o Identify your infrastructure needs.
o Provide whatever resources are needed to create it.
o Maintain the infrastructure. Maintenance is achieved via periodic reviews and objective assessment of all its details.
4. Environment Suitability – 6.4 focuses on how the environment of the workspace interrelates with the quality of the system.
- A work environment must be defined and established that will result in the highest quality.
- Once defined and established, the work environment must be properly managed so that quality indicators can be consistently met.
“Just give me a badge and a gun. Then the rest of the work environment will take care of itself, consistently.”
Eh, that’s probably not a good idea.
ISO 9001:2008 – Section 7: “Realization Requirements”
This section has to do with bringing products into reality – how you go about transforming a product from scratch into fully realized form. These are the basic steps:
1. Planning Control – A large part of successful realization is in the planning. The planning stage is discussed in Section 7.1.
- First, planning must be developed into a process.
- The process must then be used to organize, step-by-step, how products will be realized.
- Outputs should be developed from the planning process that both reflect the organization and foster understanding of the realization roadmap.
- Not just the planning process but the realization processes themselves must be planned.
2. Customer Processes – Controlling processes that involve your customers is the focus of Section 7.2.
- Figure out what your product requirements are. Here’s how:
o Understand the needs your customers want you to meet.
o Identify what is required by your product itself and by its functionality.
o Determine what is needed per agencies outside your organization (eg, federal).
o Understand any additional needs your firm has.
- Specific to customer needs related to products, perform a review to go over these parameters:
o What are they? Assess and elaborate.
o Develop records related to them and conduct regular maintenance.
o Control for any modifications.
- Communication procedures with your customers should be understood, detailed, and put into action.
“My communication procedures involve a bullhorn, an aerosol can, and an acetylene torch.”
I hope this is unrelated to your town constable work. OK so more on realization …
3. Product Development – Section 7.3 has to do with establishing controls for the designing and developing of products.
- Plan how to design and develop as follows:
o Plan and control how you design and develop your products.
o Outputs from planning should be revised and modified regularly.
- Determine what the inputs are to manage design and development:
o This involves definition, maintenance, and review of inputs (ie, anything going into that aspect of the system).
- Also figure out what the outputs are (ie, what comes out of the system):
o You need to determine what these are ideally, create outputs actively, and monitor them.
o Make sure that your outputs achieve the needs of your inputs.
- Review your processes frequently, actively, and openly:
o Design and development should be studied and assessed from all possible angles.
o These reviews should all be recorded and kept in an organized system for continual improvement.
- Confirm your processes through a systematized verification procedure, which can give you a sense of whether this part of the QMS is working smoothly:
o Confirm that both design and development meet the specifications you’ve established for them through *verifications*.
o Keep records of these confirmation processes and results as well.
- Ensure the validity of this aspect of the QMS:
o An additional way to understand your design and development is by ensuring that it is valid – that it represents truth and makes sense.
o Keep records of these checks.
- Make sure that proper administration protocol governs all adaptations to the system:
o See where adaptations are taking place. Is anything changing within that system?
o Make notes of any changes that have taken place either purposely or accidentally.
o Review, verify, and validate as noted above. Through each of these processes, ensure that objectivity and the QMS itself are prioritized.
o Approve any adjustments or modifications; revise the QMS as applicable moving forward.
“I think the best way to modify is to stay absolutely silent and look to the left and right rapidly.”
Now you’re honoring the prairie dog. You are truly a complicated man.
4. Purchase Control – This section (7.4) deals with the control of organizational purchases, both on the process and on what you purchase itself:
- Make sure you have proper controls on both the suppliers and any incoming products:
o Develop a list of parameters that must be met by suppliers.
o Choose suppliers based on their ability to meet your needs.
o The products themselves should also be vetted and reviewed.
- Your needs should be properly delineated and communicated with any potential suppliers:
o Definition and description.
o Communicate these needs based off the documentation you’ve developed.
- Make sure you have reasonable processes for verifying any products your firm purchases:
o Develop and activate processes to verify and inspect the products, to ensure needs are being met.
5. Providing Controls – The way that you provide products and services is controlled by the standards of Section 7.5.
- All production and services should occur within defined controls.
- Validate and control any special process – one that contains outputs that cannot be determined or understood until production/delivery.
- Understand, define, and measure your products.
- Determine and ensure safety of any customer property your organization ever has within its possession.
- Make sure that products and pieces of products continue to meet needs set forth in the QMS, both while moving within the organization and during delivery.
“As with digestion: I track and record all robots that are passed to me by the grocery-industrial complex. Lots of data, all of it helpful.”
Good, that sounds helpful.
6. Measuring Equipment – Per 7.6, all equipment you use to track and measure data should be controlled:
- Figure out what you need in terms of measurement.
- Ensure equipment meets these needs.
- Keep equipment calibrated, and ensure your software meets all monitoring needs.
ISO 9001:2008 – Section 8: “Remedial Requirements”
Section 8 deals with improvement and correction of any problems throughout the Quality Management System and firm as a whole.
1. Measuring Processes – Section 8.1 defines, broadly speaking, the creation of ways to measure and monitor.
- General determination, planning, and the activation of processes to measure and monitor.
2. Measuring Categories – The next section (8.2) is specific to the measurement and monitoring of specific aspects, including the following:
- Customer satisfaction
- Internal auditing
- The processes of your QMS itself
- Characteristics of individual products.
“All I need in a product is that it’s bright blue and smells like road kill.”
I don’t even know if that product exists. Speaking of which, nonstandard products:
3. Nonstandard Products – Products that don’t fit the expectations of the rest of the system are determined and controlled via section 8.3 as follows:
- Creation, recording, and activation of products.
4. QMS Numbers – QMS data is recorded and assessed within 8.4:
- Determination of types of data
5. Standardized Improvements – The final section, 8.5, has to do with improving the system and making any necessary corrections:
- Basing analysis and improvement on how effective different aspects are.
- Changing anything that does not comply with the system.
- Recording all actions taken.
- Ensuring that irregular products don’t unnecessarily recur.
“I’m irregular ever since I chewed on that prairie dog.”
Dude, I don’t want to hear about it.
Summary & Conclusion
So that covers all our certifications, standards, and audits. Again, ISO standards come from an international body whose intent is to create worldwide ways of understanding the legitimacy and functionality of systems across the globe. Its establishment of how to create and maintain quality helps us understand how to build the fiber of superiority into Superb Internet, as well as how to maintain it. Parameters covered in this piece include the resources needed to achieve the ends of a Quality Management System (QMS), how to realize products most effectively, and how to perform improvements in the most quality-conscious ways.