ISO 9001 Quality Management System is a catalyst for business success. The adoption of ISO 9001 quality management system standard as a strategic management tool should ordinarily deliver an improved organization with improvement in key result areas of the organization.
The whole organization including its services, products, processes, customers, efficiency, effectiveness, staff responsiveness, relationships management, cost orientation, perception, value etc should be impacted positively.
When an organization in any sector anywhere on the globe obtains an ISO 9001 certification from an accredited certification body, it authenticates its holistic approach to business management and the implementation of best practices in management of customers, and all other stakeholders including the associated business risks.
However, it is important therefore that certified firms and drivers of ISO management systems such as ISO 9001 quality management system should track performance of the organization pre and after certification and seek best ways to improve overall business performance continuously and use the certification as basis of initiating sound improvement initiatives.
The underlisted philosophies and tips will help Quality Management System Coordinators, Top Management and Owners of ISO 9001 Certified Companies to continuously improve the organization performance over time:
Philosophy 101: Whatever is worth doing is worth evaluating.
Sustaining a culture of excellence and improvement of quality management system performance require continued implementation of system of measurements of processes, customers, employees, management commitment, suppliers, compliance with regulatory requirements, risks, changes etc with clearly defined owners within the organization structure for tracking, reporting and reviews. Three key methods listed below are critical to gauging quality management system performance of an organization and will provide reasonable information that should be used to create initiatives:
- Monitoring – what get monitored gets measured and what get measured gets managed. The ideal for quality organization is to monitor processes efficiency, customers perception, staff performance, product quality and performance, service quality, supplier performance, compliance rating etc
- Auditing – periodic audits will help the organization track internal control efficiency, assimilation of policies, internal efficiency and culture adoption across the organization. Managing an audit programme professionally is essential. The quality of the executors of the audit programmes should be considered. Training and retraining of internal auditors should be included as part of plans to energize the quality management system. Besides, ISO auditors are motivated to do more and help in identifying improvement opportunities within the organization
- Review — Review process should be owned by all and at all levels. Organizations are better off when they standardise review process and ensure quality times are spent at all levels. Reviews should have well cut out agenda on processes, operations, customer (internal; and external), input suppliers, change management, improvement ideas etc
To ensure all employees deliver value, ISO 9001 quality management system performance should be part of employees assigned KPIs. It is needful to state that key organization’s goals that should be monitored, reviewed and improved on from time to time are:
- Markets Expansion
- Cost Containment
- Customer Retention
- Customer Acquisition
Quality Management System Coordinators should ensure that all objectives on key result areas are timely tracked, reported and reviewed. Furthermore, plans to achieve these objectives should be regularly updated, reviewed for adequacy, and implemented.
Philosophy 102: The starting point for improvement is to recognize the needs
Improvement is one of the core requirements that an organization must fulfil to obtain ISO 9001 certification. Organizations are required to state its commitment to improvement and intentionally express this as permanent objective. Organizations will need to build a culture of continual improvement and reward individuals who contribute marginally to improvement. Several methods can be engaged to source improvement ideas from employees and other stakeholders. Some of such methods include correction, corrective action, innovation, breakthrough change, and re-organization. It is expected that improvement objectives would be set annually, roles assigned as appropriate while efforts are made to achieve overall business objectives. Given, a process for managing improvement must exist. Top Management, Management and QMS Coordinators must promote improvement in the organization.
In addition, organizations can energize their quality management system by embracing the tips below:
- Knowledge enhancement and acquisition – It is often said that knowledge is the key ingredient of quality. Employees need to constantly update knowledge on processes, services, products, new technologies, competition, best practices etc as relevant to their operations and business. Knowledge. It is imperative that investment must be made in this space especially in a competitive market
- Management of Change -Change is constant to life and businesses. Customers’ requirements are never constant, they change with time and trends in different societies. Organizations will need to manage change management process with keen interest and periodically review new risks changes bring to it. Areas where new risk may be anticipated will include new hires, new processes, new relationship, acquisition, new licences, new services and products, new locations, new legislatures etc
- Communication and Awareness – Evaluate always the effectiveness of communication tools and practices within the organization. Seek new ways of enhancing the quality of communication. Review leading and lagging indicators for fresh insight and gain ideas to improving communication and degree of awareness of your employees of quality policy, objectives and other practices established to deliver customer experience typical of a first-class organization
- Reward & Celebrate: Establish process for rewarding top achievers and contributors of initiatives that deeply impact customer experience and profitability. Celebrate successes. Have strategies for engaging and sharing good news and achievements. Disposition to reward system and consistency in implementing rewards system will promote internal efficiency, ownership and good workmanship
Finally, adopt and implement quality improvement tools such as 5S, Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen, Eight Waste, Problem Solving Techniques etc. PDCA concept and project management methodologies will also be helpful. Energize your quality management system and maximize the value of certification to your organization.
Managers lead change. Get cracking!!!
Senior Member, America Society for Quality