Selling Quality Management Systems to the CEO

This is an article I wrote that was first published by the Chartered Quality Institute in Quality World, they have kindly said that I can share this with my own followers as well as providing a knowledge piece for their members. Sometimes when we are experts in our field we forget that others do not carry the same passion for the subject nor speak the same language.  One of the many challenges we face today is putting Quality into the heart of the company strategy, back in the board room where it belongs.  Remember the phrase ‘Get better or get beat’; it comes from the US in the late 80’s when they had to do a real push for Quality following the Japanese market success.  The media today still seems to only focus on the quality profession when a disaster happens.  As quality professionals we understand that ISO9001 is a holistic approach, and that it can give a competitive advantage, mitigate risks and support growth.  So how do we convince the CEO to play his or her part?

ISO9001:2015 is very clear now especially through the leadership clause 5 on how the new CEO role is defined with regard to the Quality Management System. It is the role of top management and ultimately the CEO to make sure that the the Quality Policy and objectives are aligned with the business strategy and take full responsibility for these. It must be an integral part of the the business way of life not a bolt on as we see all too often these days which saddens me. Even this week I sat in a Business Excellence Forum and a keynote speaker said ISO is the worst thing invented and it just makes you write down everything you do, now that is being imprinted on 700 delegates in the room. My vision is to turn the tables and be the person up there telling Entrepreneurs the truth about the principles behind ISO9001 and change the bad press. As CEO’s or business owners they must promote the principles behind the standard especially the process approach and risk based thinking; encouraging and supporting everyone to contribute in an effective quality management system. They must also make clear the consequences if the company and team do not conform to the systems they create.

The Management representative role is now not a requirement but that does not mean the role and responsibility has disappeared nor does it mean that the role transfers to the CEO or other top management. In fact most companies that I talk to will keep the Management Rep role going. It is a focus change that we are looking at in encouraging the senior management teams and CEO’s to take ultimate accountability and understand what they need to do relative to the Quality management system. I could briefly define a CEO role as this:-

Provide clarity on the vision and the values
Promote and engage people
Create other leaders within the company
Direct and support individuals in their roles
Take responsibility for performance and effectiveness.
Now place the Quality management system in each of these sentences and the role doesn’t change just an additional focus to pay attention to.

The CEO or business owner understands that they must work on the business not in it, sound familiar?  After all a business is a commercial profitable enterprise that works with or without that owner. We therefore need to put ourselves in the same mindset and language mode as the business owner when talking about ISO9001:2015. Our job as I see it is to focus on the detail and the risks, helping the business owner plan for success; we should be their right hand man (or woman).  Company growth is great news but only when built on a great company will it be long lived.  Every CEO or business owner will have different priorities for their company and the skill is understanding and helping them interpret the standard and how it supports these company goals.  When we think about the likes of Google and Amazon there are key elements that make them world class. Some essential elements relate to the Quality Management systems; the question is how sellable these systems are to the CEO? If the CEO is not passionate about why the company needs a Quality Management System how can he lead with that focus? We support the purpose – the “why” the business or company exists – and ensure that there is a clear line of sight between this and the front line. This allows the right culture to grow, with everyone feeling part of a community; and  knowing that they contribute to something much larger for a greater cause or experience.

Successful companies don’t ignore anything, they innovate and when it works they systemise it. Systems don’t have to restrict they don’t cause these companies to stand still; they just help make every improvement a habit.  There was a quote in Forbes from the Dijwans leaders (this was a company that had a good product related to mapping networks of web content but it epically failed as a start up missing the detail).

“A good product idea and a strong technical team are not a guarantee of a sustainable business. One should not ignore the business process and issues of a company because it is not their job. It can eventually deprive them from any future in that company”.

I could go into why they failed but the purpose of this quote was for you to understand the message we need to convey to top management, and it’s this.

An effective quality management system supports the vision & goals of the business and enables the owners to lead from a position of authority.

In turn, this enables the right culture, which inspires people to achieve more than they thought possible.

They need only to understand the detail well enough to lead, and it’s still our job as experts to interpret that detail into best business practice for them.

In order for us to influence the business owners, we must therefore strive to understand the business vision and goals well enough to connect them to the value of a good quality management system.

What’s your golden ticket for 2016?

What’s your golden ticket for 2016?

Well I hope it’s a Happy New Year for everyone I have certainly been focusing hard on my plans for this year how have you been doing? Just before Christmas I gave you some food for thought and tips on key elements to improve for success. Well after some interesting networking conversations to start off the year I feel I need to ask the question “Do you really know what ISO9001 is and the principles that drive it?”

You may not need to go for ISO9001 accreditation but I feel everyone should at least familiarise themselves with the key principles of this successful management system. The standard has been used over and over and it works for improving businesses, so why ignore this golden ticket to your business improvement? Setting up a robust business process I feel is key to sustainable growth it is not restrictive to innovation; you become consistent, efficient and much more capable of delivering right first time. Without first defining your business system you face growing with out purpose, things grow organically. As you grow and more people become involved in doing similar work they each do it their own way, inconsistencies and duplication creep in. Your customer doesn’t just need that wow factor on one visit from one exceptional staff member; they need it every time in each interaction and all members of staff. Happy loyal customers mean repeat business and referrals which go straight to the bottom line. So what are these principles?

The ISO9001 standard was founded on 8 principles as follows:-

  1. Customer focused organisation – What are you going to do differently in 2016 to listen to your customers? Do you understand why your loyal customers are loyal? Have you asked the customers you lost what happened? Gain a better understanding of who all of your interested parties are and how they perceive you.
  2. Leadership – Do you lead by example and follow your system? If you do not follow the rules how can you expect your staff to. Do you have a story? Knowing the why behind your business enables you to engage people with your story. True followers of a leader want to be inspired and the art is to help them develop their own dreams for their lives both work and at home.
  3. Involvement of people – How are you going to build on your teams this year? Are your staff going to be talking about being part of something bigger and sharing a vision?
  4. Process Approach – Are you going to finally get around to improving the way you do things and questioning the norm? Is your business process clear and run itself?
  5. Systems approach to management –  Is your dream to have more time or to get that work life balance? If so systems allow your business to run without you, how are you at working on your business for 2016? Systems management is about understanding the holistic approach and seeing the interrelationships between the processes that can create harmony.
  6. Continuous Improvement – Do you encourage your people to question the norm, and suggest improvements? Do you ever thank and feedback the results for their effort? When you make changes for 2016 look at whole not individual problems. Use proven tools & techniques to analyse and assess the impact of the change before you role it out. Give yourself a greater chance of success and involve others on the journey.
  7. A factual approach to decision making – The more you measure and test your processes and system the better your decision making gets. Your changes are based on fact taking the guess work out of running the business.
  8. Mutually beneficial Supplier Relationships – How is your supply chain looking for 2016? Look at you communication channels are you giving the right information to allow things to happen smoothly? Take action to de-risk your supply chain where it has a direct impact on the quality of your service/product and your customer.

This may be a bit of a whirlwind tour but I hope that this has given you an insight into the thinking behind the standard. Think about how you can use these principles in 2016 to make a difference in your business world. For those of you that have the new ISO9001:2015 take time out to read the bit everyone skips over, ‘the introduction’, you will be amazed at the little gems of information that are contained here.

My challenge to you for 2016 is why not benchmark your company against ISO9001 and get a bespoke action plan? You can call me direct on 07745 482426.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success with your plans for 2016.

Business people celebration

 

 

 

Get Better or Get Beat

Get Better or Get Beat!

Quality, remember that word? It has so many definitions and meanings to each and every one of us. Quality has come a long way since the 80’s and the phrase Get better or get beat comes from the US in the late 80’s when they had to do a real push for Quality following the Japanese market success.

So my question is do you think that putting Quality as one of the key elements in the heart of your strategy can give you the competitive advantage you need? Isn’t that one thing we strive in order to survive, market superiority? This lead ahead has to be sustainable and affordable, we need to be efficient and consistent in what we deliver. S. C. Wheelwright identified six characteristics of a strong competitive advantage, so how do these fair with ISO9001:2015?

  1. Driven by customers wants and needs – You need to give your customers value that your competitors are not. The 2015 standard clause 5 is LEADERSHIP and under this category we look at customer focus. It is your responsibility to demonstrate leadership and commitment to ensure customer focus so that all requirements are determined, understood and met. This needs to be related to all interested parties which is why you need to ensure fully understand the context of your organisation. Know the risks and opportunities that can affect your product or service to make sure that you can maintain the focus on enhancing the customer experience.

  2. Makes a significant contribution to the success of the business – I think this is self explanatory but reports have shown that companies who truly embrace the principles of the ISO9001 standard reap the benefits. For a relatively low fee the standard provides a PROVEN METHODOLOGY, techniques and ideas that in turn increase customer confidence, help them operate more efficiently and meet your customer needs consistently.

  3. Matches the organisation’s unique resources with opportunities in the environment – No two companies are exactly alike they have different people, vision and culture. Cause 4 of the new standard covers understanding the CONTEXT of the organisation, so you will need to determine all external & internal issues that are relevant to your purpose and strategy. Purpose is a great word and under ISO9001:2015 you need to be more RISK BASED in your thinking, so what is it that affects your ability to achieve results & fulfill your purpose? Think about your SWOT & PEST analysis opportunities as well as threats, this is what defines your strategy, policies and objectives. With this clear line sight and visibility throughout the organisation your actions and resources will be directly in line with your strategies.

  4. Durable & Lasting, difficult for competitors to copy – Nothing stays unique for long you need to be able to develop and embrace innovation to stay ahead of the game. Clause 10 of the new standard is now IMPROVEMENT stating that you need to select opportunities for improvement, then implement any that meet and enhance existing customer satisfaction and future needs / expectations. Add to this the expanded section on DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT in Clause 8.3 and Clause 6 PLANNING the actions to address threats and opportunities; then you have a formula to capture and develop improvement ideas. Of course customers don’t always know their future needs until they are created, which is why we must innovate!

  5. Provides a basis for further improvement – quite often ideas act as a catalyst and can provide a stream of improvements which can be rolled out step by step. It is important to remember this for changes to your Quality management system. Clause 6.3 PLANNING OF CHANGES reminds us of the emphasis we need to place on ensuring we know the impact of these changes, and carrying things out in a controlled manner.

  6. Provides direction and motivation to the entire organisation – I love this last one as I believe it reflects the new requirements regarding fully understanding the context of your company, then demonstrating LEADERSHIP & COMMITMENT in your strategy. When you embrace ISO9001 and involve everyone it is a team effort. It’s about defining your expectations and boundaries but giving your employees responsibility, trust them to do the job you brought them in to do. This is a favourite of mine and why so many business owners need systems, to have the confidence to let go of the day to day in the business and start working on their business. Employees will do amazing things if given the opportunity and encouragement, so use systems to define your expectations and help them understand where they fit into the bigger picture.

My feelings regarding the ISO9001:2015 standard I hope are clear – I am a convert, but my advice is to ensure you consider three things in order to give you that sought after competitive advantage:

  1. Put it into the right environment – CULTURE IS CRITICAL

  2. Share and involve people on your journey- UNDERSTAND CONTEXT AND LINK IT TO YOUR WHY, YOUR STRATEGY RIGHT DOWN TO HOW YOUR EMPLOYEES CONTRIBUTE TO IT.

  3. Be disciplined and think process – EMBRACE THE PROCESS APPROACH, PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND ADDRESS RISK SO YOU FULLY UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF CHANGES.

Ok so that is a lot put into three points but people like to look at a small number of things as a summary! I hope this has encouraged you to look into Quality Management Systems as a route to giving your company a competitive advantage to your business. I am happy to discuss any of these points or explore stages of improvement that can be rolled out.

LEAVE A COMMENT, MESSAGE ME OR EMAIL afumpson@white-tiger.co.uk

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The ISO9001:2015 Revision – Your understanding starts here!

The changes are being labelled as significant and having a big impact on companies existing quality management system but I say don’t panic.

Overview

The intention of ISO9001 remains the same; to demonstrate a company’s ability to consistently provide goods and services that meet customer and legal requirements & enhance customer satisfaction. This is done by installing and maintaining an effective system with processes that embrace continuous improvement. The standard has a greater focus on the process approach and introduces us to addressing risk in our business for planning. I have listed what I consider some of the biggest issues but please bear in mind these conditions I see as essentials to every successful business. My thoughts are that you will probably be doing them already, if not why not? What you may need help with is knowing how to easily demonstrate evidence of this to an auditor.

Understanding Leadership roles

The standard emphasises the role of high level management in the creation, execution and support of the company’s quality management system. The role is clearly defined in terms of customer expectation and the quality management systes. You may always delegate but you are ultimately accountable for the effectiveness of the system.

What does this mean for you?

Your top management need to be actively promoting the awareness of the process approach and Quality Management System. They need to ensure that policies are understood, followed and your objectives are met. They should be engaging, directing & supporting staff that have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the system and promoting improvement and innovation.

This also includes their commitment to understanding and meeting customer needs. Management should understand the risks which affect the company’s ability to deliver a consistent service and focus on enhancing the customer experience.

RESULT = Competent people managers, who believe in the system and understand their customers.

Understanding the context of your company

When looking at the context of the organisation, this directly relates to your business strategy and position in society. It is done to ensure that you fully understand the risks internal and external that are relevant to the company’s strategic direction and ability to achieve the outcome set by your Quality Management System.

What does this mean for you?

In brief you need to understand the vision / bigger picture with an awareness of all of the interested parties, e.g. shareholders, government, customers, supplier chain etc.. Think about your relationships with these people, their perceptions and values. Look at your policies and priorities and know what changes and trends will impact your business, for example, economic and natural environment, technology, competitors. Everything addressed in defining the context of the company is then used to determine the scope of the standard = the boundaries of the applicability of the Quality management system.

Result = A thorough and relevant business plan that addresses SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and threats). This vision (plan) needs to drive the reason for existence and in turn define the processes and objectives of the Quality Management System.

Planning

When planning for your Quality management system you need to ensure that all we have discussed so far is used to determine the risks and opportunities that are to be addressed, you can then be reassured that your system will be designed to achieve its desired outcomes. You will be preventing or reducing undesired effects, firefighting and unpredictable cost. Be consistent and relevant to your core values and vision and make sure your actions are SMART (Specific, Measurable, assignable, relevant & time bound).

What does this mean for you?

Your business plan is not just a paperwork exercise you have to take action on your findings. You must prioritise and plan your actions and integrate them into your quality management system. Any changes have to take place in a systematic manner, ensuring you identify risks and document evidence.

Result = Addressing your current and anticipated  future needs can lead to the identification of improvement and innovation opportunities. Better for you, your staff, your customers and your bottom line. Documenting progress means you can easily identify factors that have affected changes in performance.

Knowledge & Competence

There is a greater emphasis on the competency of staff, particularly those having a direct impact on the effectiveness of your quality management system.

What does the change mean for you?

You need to be aware and maintain the knowledge and training necessary to assure your processes are effective, efficient and meet customer expectations. This needs to be assessed and recorded for evidence. This also I feel links to the awareness and communication requirements as management determine the need for internal and external communications relevant to the Quality Management System. Staff carrying out operations need to know and understand the objectives, know what they contribute and the implications of not conforming.

Result = You will be addressing the changing needs of the company and interested parties, as a result you will be aware of your current knowledge and skill base. This way you will be able to determine whether you need to acquire more and take action appropriately

Operations and Processes

You should be familiar with the process approach if not please message me and I will provide further info on defining processes. You must review the requirements related to goods and services prior to commitment to provide them – Contract review; this must be recorded. Processes must be clearly defined in terms of input, output, resources and controls. Changes to your processes must be controlled and reviewed to mitigate any adverse effects. For example when a change occurs, only when all actions arising from development have been completed and there is no adverse impact on the ability to meet customer and all regulatory needs can the change be put into production. Anything you outsource must also be controlled and the new revision of the standard goes into much clearer requirements for this.

What does this mean for you?

You must plan and develop your processes with clear criteria (input/output) and control. Implement and control your processes to ensure that you meet objectives and customer needs. Included in the objectives should be the actions you have highlighted that are required to mitigate risks, everything should be interrelated. You need appropriate evidence that provides confidence that these actions have been carried out as planned.

Result = Your processes are designed, maintained and controlled well to ensure your customer’s needs (internal or external) are met. Your ability to achieve, maintain and demonstrate your objectives becomes easier and more predictable along with predictable costs.

Performance evaluation and Improvement

The standard says that you must monitor, analyse and evaluate your performance. Determine what needs to be monitored, ensuring that you include any external providers as well and look at what the performance indicators are of the quality management system itself. The standard requires that you improve on the suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of your Quality Management System; it must also be audited and reported to management / management review.

There is no longer reference to continuous in the draft (this has been removed due to Annex SL terms), the term preventative action has also been removed as it is are covered by the assessment of  risk.

What does this mean for you?

Due to the approach of this new standard make sure you consider the risks and opportunities that your core business plan identifies. Define, establish and monitor your core processes and performance indicators, ensuring you act on your findings and report them back at management reviews. Continually assess via audits and KPI (key performance indicators) the adequacy and effectiveness of your Quality Management System to identify improvements. Ensure actions are appropriate to any nonconformity found and document actions taken for evidence.

Result = Changes / improvements in your system can come from many sources, internal suggestions, audits, analysis of data, changes in the context of the company, changes in the risks and new opportunities. When you evaluate these things for improvement you will always be moving forward. Just remember to prioritise these needs, engage your people and most importantly take action.