Complying with quality standards is no easy task, even with enough resources available to manage them. Unfortunately, today’s difficult business climate has not changed the tough quality standard requirements. These requirements take a significant amount of time and resources to manage.
The good news is that successfully managing an organization’s quality management system with scarce resources is possible when armed with the right tools. Following are 10 steps to help guide you in the quest achieving compliance to quality standards.
- Define the Real Requirements. For each business process define what is really needed (specific outputs and targets) to hit the objective of the process. Focus on what it will take to drive high customer satisfaction and build this into your process. This includes minimizing the number of steps required to get the targeted process successfully completed.
- Keep it Simple. Keep business processes as simple as possible. Critically evaluate your processes. Remove unnecessary meetings, consolidate approval steps, minimize the number of approvers – focus on what the process is trying to achieve.
- Document Everything. Document the business process and have stakeholders review and approve each step. This ensures expectations are set and that all are on the same page. It is easy to refer back to a written document as opposed to trying to remember what was verbally agreed upon.
- Check for Understanding. Ensure that each process is understood by all participants. This is the key to achieving quality results. If the process is documented, expectations are set, and all stakeholders have agreed upon its content, there is only this step left. This is where clear, detailed work instructions and training will be paramount to success.
- Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). Critically examine what each process is trying to achieve, the required inputs and the expected results. Document the drivers so as you examine the measures later you can determine how to affect change.
- Measure Results. Measure consistently the KPI’s for each business process. Understanding the results of a process in a timely manner allows for corrections to be made along. This ultimately results in process optimization.
- Assign Accountability. Hold process owners accountable through goals and periodic, consistent review of the KPI’s. The process owner will be much more motivated to ensure success if they are being evaluated and ultimately compensated based on the success of their work.
- Simplify then Automate. Automate the high volume, high complexity business processes with software and other appropriate tools. Complexity generally leads to errors. So, be sure to simplify before automating a process. The return on investment for this effort is usually high as workers will become more effective as they are able to focus on higher value-added activities.
- Leverage the Team. Spread work around by involving process owners and let those owners lead their individual processes. One of the ways to create leverage is to diversify, with people and automated tools, so not too much of any given process is dependent on few individuals. The more involved with less to do, results in easy adoption and overall acceptance quicker.
- Evaluate Improvement Opportunities. Develop a process to routinely evaluate applicable quality standards to look for changes and identify opportunities for improvement. Understanding and acting appropriately on trends allows organizations to stay at the forefront of innovation. Continuous improvement results in optimization of the organization.
In conclusion, an organization’s chance of achieving or surpassing their objectives is higher with a proper plan for software rollout. Beware of the pitfalls. These pitfalls are not new. Embracing lessons-learned from experienced team members or other organizations is critical to minimizing failures. Be honest about your resource needs, particularly team member availability. Regular monitoring of your objectives versus actual performance will ensure you get the most out of your investment.