Welcome to az-documents.co.uk - home of the alphaZ Documents package

The alphaZ documents package is library of forms, policies, registers and checklists and various other business documents that have been designed and developed to help with the setup of effective management systems and to achieve ISO Certification.

The documents have been honed and adjusted through more than a decade of successful use within a wide range of organisations, where the documentation has helped hundreds of companies, across a range of sectors to pass thousands of audits by a variety of certification bodies.

The az-documents.co.uk website makes this tried and tested document resource library available to our subscribers along with comprehensive guidance and other useful documents allowing a complete DIY approach to setting up management systems. You can subscribe to az-documents for immediate access to everything – or simply pay per document to download.

alphaZ?

It’s called alphaZ for fairly obscure reasons, aZ because it is comprehensive; everything from A to Z is included, and alphaZ is a vague reference to Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha which is the galactic sector containing the planet Earth in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy. Don't panic.

Why bother?

The package was setup primarily to assist with the ISO certification process. Over many years of actively developing management systems, providing management consultancy and training and completing certification audits on behalf of the various certification bodies we came to a number of conclusions about the ISO certification process;

  1. Other document packages available are not very good
  2. Some ISO stuff is nonsense
  3. A lot of companies are paying too much to achieve and maintain ISO certification
  4. Overly elaborate / ISO-standard-based management systems deliver little or no benefit

We then set about developing a solution to these issues with the aim of creating a simple to use, low cost and jargon-free documentation package.

When writing and testing the documents we recruited the services of practitioners from each end of the spectrum; business focussed ISO consultants and puritanical ISO-clause-obsessed-zealots were engaged to provide their knowledge and interpretations and to ensure the package met everyone’s requirements.

alphaZ’s Formative years

alphaZ was formed and evolved from the process of trying to implement ISO management systems in a sensible way and to further clarify and explain why we came to the above conclusions here are some real world examples;

1. Other Document Packages are not very good

Whilst completing consultancy for ‘Company X’ who had purchased an expensive document package and needed assistance getting ready for an ISO certification audit it became clear the document package being used was more a hindrance than a help.

Having reviewed the implementation of the package it was clear there was no chance the company could pass a certification audit as the documentation simply didn’t reflect the reality of what the company was doing and if any of the procedures were audited in any detail they would invariably receive a number of non-conformances as they were full of incorrect statements.

The main issue was that the package used was overly-complicated and to implement properly would need a lot of additional time and effort followed by a large burden of ongoing maintenance to keep the systems up to date. The more fundamental issue was this additional time and effort would be a complete waste of time – once updated the management system would be unlikely to be of any benefit and would just be a burden, the package was essentially a self-serving administrative process that added a considerable overhead to company operations without any real benefit.

ISO Certification does not need hugely complicated and elaborate management systems to be prepared, the simpler the better, and some more expensive packages appear to justify the expense by providing very complicated systems which comprise a large number of interconnected documents and unnecessary time consuming procedures based on the ISO standards rather than being based on actual business processes.

These packages appear to have been written by academics or practitioners from within an ISO- jargon-bubble and are just not suited for use in the real world.

2. Some ISO stuff is nonsense

Whilst completing consultancy for 'Company Y’ who have been ISO certified for 10+ years with one of the largest and leading UKAS accredited certification companies it became clear that their management system had evolved completely separately from the actual company operations and existed solely for the purpose of ticking boxes in an ISO audit.

When reviewed the management system being used and which had passed a full certification audit was found to be 99% nonsense. The documentation described nothing of what the business actually did and was just made up of ISO-clause related jargon and ISO-clause references but was deemed to be 'ISO compliant'.

UKAS rules forbid auditors from directly providing guidance or consultancy and this can lead to the situation where although the auditor is not allowed to directly provide answers they will hint at what they want or provide documents covering the ISO requirements to assist the client to pass the audit.

ISO standards are open to interpretation and when several different auditors with different ideas about what they expect to see as evidence of compliance are involved over a number of years this can lead to nonsense management system evolving for the purpose of ISO-box-ticking. Some ISO auditors, particularly those who audit full-time, can become so ISO-clause obsessed that they may have lost sight of the fact that ISO certification is not the primary purpose of the business.

3. A lot of companies are paying too much to achieve and maintain ISO certification

Whilst completing an ISO Certification audit for 'Company F’ who had used the services of a consultant who had supplied 10+ days consultancy to set up the management system documentation it was noted that what was prepared was a mess and received several non-conformances. The consultant had clearly reused documentation prepared for another company in another sector as many of the supplied procedures didn’t reflect the operations of the company and had spent a lot of time 'preparing documents' such as forms and policies.

If the consultant had started the process with access to better documentation and templates the final documentation could have been better and much more could have been achieved in the time allocated.

Why pay for re-inventing the wheel? - a problems form is a problems form – this will not vary much from one organisation to another so why pretend that a new form needs to be designed?
Note: the alphaZ package includes several problems form templates and also a simple to use issues and problems register.

Some of the actions when setting up a management system are fairly constant regardless of the company - why pay for an expensive consultant to do basic things?

Some consultants are just not able to commit the time to developing the documentation they are using or they are specialised in certain standards and therefore do not understand the requirements of some of the other standards.

4. Overly elaborate / ISO-standard-based management systems deliver little or no benefit

ISO clause based packages are not very good. They are not good because they are based on ISO standards rather than the business operations and therefore are difficult for staff within the business to understand and follow.

If no one understands the management system and it is essentially just there for ISO compliance it is unlikely to be of much or any benefit to the business. These clause-based systems are used in some other document packages and also by some of the non-UKAS certification companies and would be unlikely to pass an audit with any credible certification company without major rewriting and huge amounts of time and effort.

alphaZ is here and we hope it can help make things better

This rambling first entry on the blog is intended to try and explain that we have tried to go about things in the right way. We have spent a long time and a lot of money developing management systems our clients have found to be useful and beneficial but which also pass ISO certification audits and we have received praise from many auditors for this approach.

ISO certification can be a very positive and useful process but there are real dangers of it becoming a nightmare if too much time and money is spent paying for and maintaining nonsense systems or if the ISO-fanatics are allowed to lead you up the ISO-nonsense path.

Using the alphaZ package can greatly reduce or eliminate consultancy costs or can be used in conjunction with consultancy to ensure you get best value from the process.

In short, we've got your documentation covered - so now you're free to worry about something more exciting.