It is now more vital than ever to stay ahead of what is going on around us, so that our businesses remain in tact and stronger than ever. I strongly believe a 'quality system' is one way to do that. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need to go to all the trouble and cost of obtaining an accreditation certificate to ISO 9001; what it does mean is that you can use the ISO 9001 guidelines to setup your very own quality system.

If you are having problems in areas of staff performance, comebacks, customer satisfaction... a quality system can help you:

  • identify problem areas and rectify them quickly
  • track customer feedback
  • improve performance of staff
  • with continual improvement
  • develop or provide better quality products and services
  • force you to communicate more with your staff and customers
  • increase sales and profits
  • grow your business
  • define an appropriate supplier
  • protect your business
  • standardise processes and procedures
  • gain recognition from external bodies
  • with obtaining government projects (usually certification is needed here though, but not always)
  • define roles and responsibilities of management and employees- reduce overhead costs
  • and heaps more benefits

There is a catch though ...

A quality system WILL NOT work unless management are 100% behind the development and improvement process. This is because support is needed throughout the organisation to develop a good quality system that is accurate and useful. Management need to clearly communicate the importance of the quality system to the business and how not achieving quality can affect their jobs (ie. customer not happy, customer not buying). This is usually done with regular staff meetings (monthly) and through continual improvement, internal auditing, and the continual review and update of process and procedure documentation. Time consuming yes, but the benefit outways the time and setup costs.

A quality system setup does not have to be complicated. It can be created with a set of bullet point documents, a intranet site, videos that demonstrate processes, flow charts, image maps and heaps more creative ways. The idea is to put a system in place that demonstrates task responsibilities, processes, work instructions, and continual improvement - how your business would like to see it done.

Let me briefly explain...

Say your new employee needs to send out a group of letters to customers. You need to show her the process from creation through to distribution, but you don't need to show her how to type up the letter, label the envelope and put the stamp on. You just need to demonstrate the process for getting from the start to the finish. Like where the templates are located or particular formatting requirements, records management and naming conventions (where the correspondence is to be stored electronically, where copies or printouts are to be filed, mailout register and so on).

You may setup a quality system that has one main document, called a Quality Manual. That document describes your business, products, services, structure (incl teams and resp) and identifies linked procedures. These procedures are then defined in the best format for your business. If you are demonstrating the supplier management process, decide how it is best to describe that process. Research shows that most people following processes and procedures prefer bullet points or images (flowcharts). People don't read the document. Disappointing I know sometimes when you need to put in as much information as possible to ensure your staff know exactly how to follow a process. The answer to that is - train them - use the bullets or flowchart to reinforce their training, not a tool to teach them how to do it in the first place.

Not all processes will work like that, but you can see where I am coming from hopefully.

PS. Do You Guarantee The Quality Of Your Products/Services?

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