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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Just want to greet you all

ISO 9001:2000 Visit Plan

Fresh from a long day meeting! Wheu!

It was the final meeting before we schedule our first internal audit. Run down all the requirements.. papers, papers, papers.... and papers... oh I forget... documents also (still papers!).

Anyway, today I just want to share to you the Visit Plan we had during the process. Who will visit? Sorry, I forgot to clear some things here. Ok, We hired (let's name them) ABC Company to help us with our initiative to have our office procedures based on ISO standards. They will visit us based on a plan until our first audit comes.

So here's the visit plan.

1st VISIT - Gap Analysis
1. Selection of Management Representative
2. Control Documents Procedures (Master list of Documents)
3. Control of Records Procedures
4. Procedure for Purchase
5. List of Approved Suppliers
6. Supplier Evaluation Form
7. List of Machines
8. List of Tools
9. List of Quality Control Equipments
10. Quality Policy
11. Organizational Chart
12. List of Employee
13. Salary Sheet
14. Training Reocrd
15. Training Need Assessment
16. Identification Machines, Tools, Halls, Areas, etc.
17. All other Formats

1. Review all the work of Last visit
2. Procedure for Human Resources
3. Procedure for Management Commitment
4. Procedure for Internal Quality Audit
5. Procedure for Non-conforming Products
6. Procedure for Control of Monitoring & Measuring Devices
7. Job Description

1. Stock Register Store (Store must clean and prepapred Stock Register)
2. Stock Report (see client Record)
3. Production Job Card / Report
4. Marketing QT System
5. Verification of old visit work
6. Give Quality Manual
7. Procedure for Corrective & Preventive Action
8. Give Training to Worker about Quality Policy and ISO 9001 Introduction
9. Verifying all the work related to 1st visit.

1. Incoming Inspection Report
2. IN-process Inspection Report
3. Final Inspection Report
4. Verify all working which is done by MR
5. File labeling, supplier evaluation, list of machine, list of tools, etc
6. Display of Quality Policy and Organizational Chart
7. Training provided to Top Management / Other Managers
8. Confirm First Audit Schedule

Today, we just finished the 4th visit.... but not item 8!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Emails: Continuing The Trouble

The following article is written by Mark C.S. Bassingthwaighte, Risk Manager for APLS RRG. This is related to our previous post regarding emails .

Thanks Mark for allowing us to post your article.


Mark C.S. Bassingthwaighte
Risk Manager
Attorneys Liability Prevention Society,
A Mutual Risk Retention Group

Email can certainly be a great time saver. One no longer needs to run to the post office for stamps nor wait several days for snail mail to complete the delivery. Documents and messages can be exchanged instantaneously at the click of a button and for some situations a response is only moments away. Are there any downsides to this great time saver for the law office? In short, yes. Here are a few of the significant ones.

Can an attorney/client relationship be unintentionally created via email? The answer isn’t as clear as one would hope. Consider this. An individual is browsing the Internet looking for an email address of an attorney, any attorney. Once found, this individual submits a legal question. Is this individual manifesting and intent to create an attorney/client relationship? If the attorney responds, has the attorney manifested a similar intent and does the attorney know or could she reasonably foresee that the advice would be relied upon? Does it make a difference if the email address was obtained from a site such as Martindale Hubble’s or was found at the firm’s web page where a banner reads “free online consultation?”

There are far too many variables that can be thrown into this scenario and no developed case law that would allow for a clear answer here. The best advice is to proceed with caution when unsolicited emails arrive at an attorney’s desk. The delete button is effective, but more and more this may not always make the most business sense. The prominent placement of disclaimers on a web site and/or using a firm email address in advertising and having all incoming emails screened by a non-attorney addresses this concern to some degree.

If the decision of the firm is to answer unsolicited questions, the challenge becomes limiting the exposure to a negligent advice claim. Giving advice in a vacuum is never wise and the limited information provided in emails makes this a mistake that can occur far too easily. With a phone call, the attorney has the ability to ask questions and there is much more control over what information is provided. If the decision is to answer legal questions from web site directed traffic, consider waiting 24 hours before responding. Take the time to consider if additional information is needed, to decide what qualifications should be included and to think through the answer. Advice given on the fly can too easily miss the mark.

The larger a firm becomes the greater the possibility that there is an attorney who fails to utilize the technology and thus never checks for email. If questions for the site are encouraged, every attorney must routinely review their incoming email. The possibility of a statute getting blown while an individual waits for a response to her submitted question, particularly in the absence of a thorough disclaimer on the site, could be a real problem.

If questions are going to be encouraged on a site and a fee collected however, a disclaimer will likely be completely ineffective, as attorney actions are inconsistent with a disclaimer that states an attorney-client relationship cannot be formed. One solution would be to require that before a question is submitted, the client must agree to the terms of a click-through agreement that clearly sets forth the terms of the limited engagement and definitively limits the scope of representation to a question and response or at least documents that the disclaimer has been read. A click-through agreement typically is used to specify the terms and conditions that apply to the purchase of a product or service from the web site. The buyer will explicitly assent to the terms by clicking on an “I agree” button after having the opportunity to review the terms. Be aware that these agreements may not be enforceable if the terms are too overbearing or harsh.

Conflicts of Interest are a related concern. When questions come into the firm the individual often details the facts of their specific situation. When these emails come directly to the attorney, regardless of the creation of an attorney-client relationship, should this information be tracked in a conflict database? I can easily foresee clients trying to conflict a competent opposing attorney out of the case simply by asking general questions about the specific case via email with opposing counsel hoping to force a withdrawal. Is this far fetched? Many law firm web sites fail to ask for name and address of the individuals submitting the email. How would the firm ever be able to prevent this from happening? Add to this the real possibility of questions coming into the firm from jurisdictions in which no attorney is licensed to practice. In this situation the response from the attorney may be viewed as the unauthorized practice of law, particularly when the advice given was completely inappropriate for that jurisdiction and a claim is presented.

In light of these possibilities alone, the web site should have language present at the attorney email hyperlink/s specifically stating that no email will be reviewed or responded to unless the individual has submitted their name and address. A state-of-the-art conflicts check requires that the firm only obtain the names of all parties involved in the matter and the type of matter at issue at first contact and nothing else. Contacts from the Internet need not alter this approach. The reality is, however, that many firms do not conduct the conflicts check at this level and do routinely allow for the presentation by the individual of their legal concern. Given this reality these contacts must be tracked in the database regardless of the creation of an attorney-client relationship, meaning declinations as well. Just as one party to a divorce has been known to try to taint every firm in a given area via phone contact, the Internet can be similarly used.

The Internet really hasn’t created any new malpractice exposures, simply a need for different solutions to the new ways in which these exposures can arise. This discussion will be continued in part two and will address such issues as misdirected communications, confidentiality and professionalism as they apply to email. Stay tuned.

ISO Certification: 9001 and 14001

I am currently working on our ISO Certification: both 9001 & 14001. Too much work to be done. That's why most of the time I prefer to take a sleep than blogging!

Anyway, for those who are not much familiar with ISO Certification, let me give you some idea:

International Organization for Standardization (ISO???? It should be IOS!!!) is a non-governmental organization founded in 1947 in an attempt to standardize commercial products and services. With its well-respected process, it gained popularity and was able to influence policy makers and legislators in most countries and companies participating in international trade, as well as in local market with high regards to quality.

ISO offers specific standards on most services and products known to us. Good thing with this standardization is that what is good practice in this side of the world can also be found in a another place where ISO standards are being implemented.

For our reference here, we are only talking about just two certification that they offer:

ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Systems - Requirements
ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standards

But just like any other organization or group, ISO received a lot of criticisms. One most outstanding known issue is that ISO is just documents and not much about the essence of it. They said that during the process of getting a certification, a company is much more concern in completing the requirements and documentation rather than the procedure that these documentation are what for.

I will give you my experiences during this process until we get these certification. I will share to you what I think about this certification and the process involved and whatever learnings that I will gain here. That's why I'm starting another category in this blog: ISO 9001 & 14001...MY WAY!!!

For the meantime... need to resst....zzzzzzz.....

Reading recommendation:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Emails: The Trouble of Having Official Submittals

Few years ago, I attended a symposium about latest trend on electronic documentation. All presenters were well prepared with their scripts and slide presentations and most of the audience were excited to hear their subject of interest. Even though how much been prepared, when the open forum started, everything went on a surprise as everyone were eager to raise a question.

With all the questions and debate had been started, there was one subject that will never forget: it was about Emails. Here are samples of questions raised:

How can we make a submittal through email as official?
Can someone's email be used as evidence for judicial court procedure?
Is electronic signature for emails enough to make it as official letter?
Will they accept my yahoomail?

so on and so forth...

I was a document controller before of a major construction project. It was so crucial to identify all official submissions being made. A simple information might lead into an additional job costing a million bucks. Proper channeling and archiving should be made. All submittals including request for information and approval should follow a certain procedure together with appropriate forms. Emails without necessary forms are not allowed.

Most of us are aware how email technology improved our daily lives. With this technology, all postal services need to review their business plans, if not to diversify. Email enabled us to transfer files and documents in seconds... anytime, anywhere (as long as you have access with technology).

However, there is still an issue that most of the companies asked with regards to email: How OFFICIAL email is? There were several factors why this issue still a concern and worries us a lot. Malicious programs like trojans, worms, and other known virus that penetrates our email systems. Phishing is also a concern.

"In the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication"
- Wikipedia

How you ever been received an email which looks so authentic because it talks much about you. All information are true and seems like he knows everything going on you at the moment. You where about to follow the instruction until you realized that the one who sent you the email was Bill Gates. Unless you are really a friend of Mr. Gates, this is definitely a fraud.

And what if this someone used your boss name and send you an email instructing you to do something, how can you identify if it is real when all standard formats where been used?

This is something to consider: in all undertaking that you or your company should be entering to, there should be a clear policy on how to make official correspondence and how to treat email as a medium of transferring files and information.

If you have the privilege to do a system in document controlling, create a policy on how to control, manage, archive, and record emails. Although there are many softwares out there that can help you, having an understanding of a clear policy will make your day easier. A policy such as: how to give a SUBJECT, identifying ATTACHMENTS on your email, and when to start another subject.

If not, oh boy what a mess!
those replies... from here and there... every minute... every second...
they were talking on Submission A then later on another irrelevant topic.... but the SUBJECT LINE still reads

So if I were you I will act now!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Office Tip # 4: Doing More Than Paid For

I know that this sounds familiar or somehow related to other quotes you already heard.

It is one of the Law of Success which Napoleon Hill mentioned in his book, THE LAW OF SUCCESS. Most of the popular quotes about exceeding expectation comes from this brilliant idea of Napoleon Hill whose works were been published during the Great Depression of 1930's.

"By rendering more service than that for which you are paid, you will be turning the spotlight of favorable attention upon yourself, and it will not be long before you will be sought with impressive offers for your services, and there will be a continuous market for those services."

More often, our creativity and motivation at work were being deprived by our own thinking. Our output are being limited only on the amount we are being paid for. This usually comes after knowing the salary of a co-employee and comparing to your own pay. Now, the compensation becomes the measurement of our output.

In this Office Tip, we are called to do more than what our companies expect from us. Do things that are greater than the average employees can do. But it should be done in a very careful and kind manner to avoid conflicts. All extra effort are for the benefits of all.

In times like this global financial crisis, we need to do extra effort for the company... in order to survive.