What lies below the waterline – Part 1?

So you have decided to go for a Government tender but you require a Quality Management System in place because of the high value of the contract or perceived high risk! You ponder for a bit and then decide “yep I’m going for this”, but what is involved? In this two part article I will take you through the perceptions and the hidden reality of implementing a Quality system. Part one will focus on the perception and what is required of management while part two will concentrate on the resources and timeframes to be considered.

The Perception

The initial perception is that surely it can’t be that difficult, I mean I know there may be some extra costs involved such as consultant fees, maybe wages for a dedicated Quality Manager, purchasing of the Standard, tools and software, auditing and finally the cost of the certificate itself. These are the visible costs!

Ok so now how much time should it take? One month, two, twelve! Surely enthusiasm and my expectation that everyone in the company will get behind us, we should be able to knock this over easily in less than six months. Let’s face it, we are only documenting the processes and all our staff are experienced in the operations of the business and they should be able to read the Standard and apply it to our business. This shouldn’t have too much of an impact on our workload, I mean we are all committed to success.

The Hidden Reality

Unfortunately the gap between the Perception and the Hidden Reality is huge and difficult to comprehend unless you have had the opportunity to experience the process of developing a Quality management System from within. Hopefully I can shed some thoughts on what you should expect as you take the path to quality.

Firstly management will need to decide who will be the best person to embrace Quality and be able to champion it across the organisation. He or she will need to be able to manage both Management and worker expectations and have the strength and authority to drive the implementation. This person should hold a reasonably senior position in the organisation and have a good understanding across all areas. Ideally this person will have a great rapport with both senior management and the shop floor employees.

When implementing a Quality System, the expectations of management may vary, dependant on the amount of output being generated by the business. Typically when the business is flat-out and all resources are on deck, there is a reluctance to commit to Quality implementation.

Further considerations could include experience levels. Has the Quality Manager or Management had experience in implementing a Quality system? Are they aware of the intangible obstacles such as staff cultural impacts or financial constraints placed on the organisation? Additionally, the workload associated with this activity can’t be understated. Can you afford to have key staff taken off-line for a number of hours a week over a long period, say 18 months?

And the BIG question, are you as the manager committed to implementing the Quality system because, without that commitment, the activity will always take second place to work and productivity expectations?

Read Part 2 in the next issue where we will look at resources and timeframes.

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Quality Management Australia's Integrated Management System does more then just help achieve certification, manage compliance and non-conformances, it gives you a tool to manage all aspects of the business.

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