Case Study – ISO 9001, ISO 14001 & Lean – RoMan Manufacturing

Outcome:    RoMan Manufacturing uses Pinnacle’s Lean QMS® and Lean EMS® to develop an integrated quality and environmental management system, achieve ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification, and support Lean Manufacturing transformation.

Industry:     Automotive, Telecommunication, Electronics, Manufacturing


  • Improve and simplify the existing ISO 9001 quality management systems.
  • Make the quality management system value-added for running the business.
  • Integrate with and support Lean Manufacturing transformation
  • Develop a practical Environmental Management System and achieve ISO 14001 certification.



  • A management system that is more easily navigable than the previous text-based system.
  • Increased personnel involvement in relating the process to every part of the business.
  • A seamless, rapid integration of Lean EMS® (ISO 14001) with the visual Lean QMS® resulting with a single integrated management system.

“For many employees, having to consult a three page single spaced document for every procedure was drudgery. The visual system makes everything easy to relate to. We actually started getting input from people.”

Kendall Ymker, Management Representative

Lean QMS® and Lean EMS® Make Everyone Part of the Quality Process

RoMan Manufacturing is a leading manufacturer of transformers, power supplies, switches, and inverters. Their multiple departments occupy 3 buildings in Southwest Grand Rapids, Michigan. RoMan began to explore making a commitment to a formal quality management program when one of their automotive customers put a group of its suppliers on a timeline for QS 9000 T&E. After discovering that the customer’s QS 9000 T&E requirement didn’t apply to their operation, RoMan began to pursue ISO 9001 certification and contacted outside consulting firms to assist them.

Early in the process they reviewed the Pinnacle Lean QMS® and agreed that there were aspects of the Lean QMS® that would simplify their certification and possibly be more appealing to present to the employees. However, they began normal preparation for their registration audit and development of a text based system. As the process continued and the quality manual grew in content, the certification activity began to feel like a management-only team exercise. There was no lack of process material available but according to Kendall Ymker, Management Representative, it seemed like just that…”material, that didn’t have a feel linking it to the business.” It wasn’t that there was negative feedback regarding the ISO 9001 certification process, the personnel just weren’t in tune with what was taking place in the ISO 9001 implementation process.

About 5 months into the process after a successful registration audit, RoMan decided to convert to Pinnacle Enterprise Group’s visual Lean QMS®. The conversion took about 5 more months, but the results were more than worth the effort, according to Operations Manager Greg Garthe. “The text-based books and manuals were good, but no one really took the time to use them. It was difficult to look things up on the computer. The visual based system was much easier to follow. People can actually see what’s happening.”

With the conversion to Pinnacle Lean QMS®, the RoMan quality manual went from 100 pages of single spaced text, to a three page graphical overview, called the Lean QMS® Map. The Lean QMS® Map is then linked to 20 pages of process maps that describe every core and support process. “It was like going from the dark ages to the enlightenment,” stated Greg Garthe. “The visual system is very powerful.”

With the visual system created by the Lean QMS®, the ISO 9001 certification initiative was no longer a management team only exercise. The team began to receive input from a wide variety of personnel. “People actually stopped just sitting around the table and became involved,” said Kendall Ymker.

Not only did everyone begin sharing ideas for the certification process, but the system became an important tool for running the business. Even though there was no longer a customer requirement driving the need for certification, the leadership team and personnel alike felt the Lean QMS® truly represented the operation, and at the same time became the operation. RoMan uses it to run the business because it’s both the easiest way and the best way. “We live it, it’s what we do,” states Garthe.

For RoMan, beginning with the Lean QMS® also provided an important economy of scale for their Environmental Management System. They were able to pick any core process and develop its environmental aspects easily and visually. Using Pinnacle Enterprise Group’s Lean EMS®, RoMan was able to complete their ISO 14001 certification in less than 4 months, thanks to the system and culture which evolved during the ISO 9001 implementation process.

When asked whether using the Pinnacle system is cost effective, Ymker says, “It’s not even a question mark….just get it done!” Both the company leadership and personnel agree that it is easy to see the value.

10 Responses to “Case Study – ISO 9001, ISO 14001 & Lean – RoMan Manufacturing”

  1. Buddy Godbout says:

    From my experiences with this systematic approach all clients that use this system make a rapid transition from an additional chore for the quality organization to a way of life for the entire organization. It has been a positive experience in all instances.

    It has an additional benefit of making the auditing of the system much easier and more effective.

  2. Kirill says:

    Hi Buddy,

    Thank you for your comments. As an experienced ISO 9001 Lean Auditor (and TL 9000), your independent perspective is invaluable.

    On a personal note, I am gratified that you see this result at other ISO 9001 certified clients and are willing to share your experience. Thank you.

    I look forward to reading more of your input.


  3. Chris Carson says:

    Very informative. It’s nice to see a case study that actually provides tangible information and the concepts that they came from. Too often case studies are just a very high level re-hashing of a concept that gives a little exposition, but provides very little real information.

    In short it’s nice to see something besides a “we’re great”, “you’re great”, and “our system is great” piece, and actually gives examples and results that support why something is great.

  4. Kirill says:

    Thanks, Chris. I am really glad you found the case study helpful.

    RoMan really did a great job with their ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification. They really used ISO certification as a platform for their business management system and lean manufacturing.

    I will be publishing more case studies soon. I hope you will provide your feedback on them too. Your thoughts and insight are always valuable and appreciated.


  5. Glenn Tanzman says:

    Visual systems encourage use and as the world has discovered, very powerful.

    The beauty of the Lean QMS and Lean EMS is that they are intuitive as well as visual. If it is easy to understand and easy to reference, then people will us it and operating results will improve

  6. Kirill says:

    Thank for the thoughtful feedback, Glenn.

    When I developed the Lean QMS and Lean EMS methodology, my main objective was to make ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification a platform for a value-added business operating system that would seamlessly support the application of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma tools and methods.


  7. Mike Harris says:

    Great case study. I think I can envision how a visual QMS can support lean, but it would be helpful to read more about this.

  8. Kirill says:

    Welcome back to the blog, Mike.

    I will not speak of RoMan Manufacturing, but here is my take on the subject. The Lean QMS and Lean EMS method for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification results in a visual detailing of a the company’s core and support processes, including their interaction and key metrics. The immediate effect, from the standpoint of lean manufacturing tools, is that you have mapped all the processes of the organization and provided the means for “value-add/non-value-add” analysis at the current state operational level.

    From this point, current state value stream mapping can directly reference the already defined and understood core & support processes. Bottlenecks, constraints, delays, inefficient flow, etc., can then be drilled down to specific processes. The result is that your kaizan bursts are truly rational. They are not based on a flawed understanding and visualization of the business operating system. In the words of Greg Garthe, RoMan’s Operations Manager, you will avoid “kamikaze kaizens.”

    As I have eluded to in some of my previous articles and comment, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 implementation using the Lean QMS and Lean EMS approach lays the foundation and structural framework for efficient, effective, and, more importantly, sustainable improvement.

    I hope helps, Mike. Please comment again and I will be glad to give more color.


  9. cable box says:

    Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

  10. Kirill says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Cable Box, and welcome to the blog.

    I am glad that the highlight of ISO 9001, ISO 1400, and Lean Manufacturing in the case study is helpful to you. Good luck on you preseantation next week. Feel free to contact me if you need more material or ammunition for your presenation.


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