For current and future clients of Oxebridge worried about interruptions in implementation or consulting services, we’ve got plans in place to cover every contingency during the coronavirus pandemic. I’m not quite sure why this event has caused as much trouble for other providers, since we’re supposed to be in a profession that plans for such things. Whatever their reasons, Oxebridge has you covered, at least.

For training clients, we are quickly moving to reschedule any on-site events and in-house training to replace them with online presentations, through MS Teams, GoToMeeting, etc. We’ve had this capability for years, of course, and this requires no special effort on our part. At the same time, we are offering contract modifications to clients which will reduce the costs of such activities, given that clients will no longer have to pay for expenses, travel, etc.

For ISO 9001 and AS9100 implementation clients, the temporary transition is a bit trickier, but entirely doable.

Our Phase 1 activities — where we conduct interviews in order to develop QMS documentation — will simply be transitioned to online, remote conferencing. Much of Phase 1 is spent in a conference room, anyway, so there’s little change here.

Phase 2 and 3 activities — comprising general consulting and internal auditing respectively — are a bit more difficult to do remotely, but we’ve had plans in place for this contingency for over a decade. General consulting can be done through a combination of remote conferencing and the implementation of “what to look for training” so that the client’s eyes are our eyes. If necessary, we can use remote video to see what we need to at the client’s site.

The same goes for internal auditing. Our training modules have always had a section on remote auditing, but this was toggled off for normal use. We can now simply toggle this section on, and provide training for the client’s auditors on (again) “what to look for” using photo evidence and examples we gathered over the years.

It won’t the exactly the same, of course. For example, trying to have others find what I would personally find during internal audits is a gamble. There is a risk that newly trained internal auditors won’t catch everything prior to their certification audit. But we’re working to close the gaps here, through a more robust Q&A with internal auditors to ask them, “did you see this?” and “did you see that?”

I’m really trying to not have people wander their plants with cameras or cell phones while we watch in real time, but that’s always a possibility. Just a clunky one.

The point here is that we have planned for this sort of thing, and have already triggered the necessary changes. As companies lock their sites down to prevent guests — including consultants and auditors — we can continue to keep companies on track with their ISO 9001 and AS9100 projects regardless.

The process may just look a little different, that’s all.

About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.