Friday, 24 July 2009

Investing in Standards During a Recession

Going back to the 80s I was one of the greatest critics of the BS5750 and the Quality Assurance process. I remember wading through huge documents and ticking thousands of boxes just to be able to demonstrate we had carried out everything in accordance with our procedure. The reason for my criticism was that I was not convinced that this delivered any real value to the business.

However, over a number of years the standards have been reviewed and have been changed to ISO 9001 which used the Demming plan, do, check, act model.

We spent a lot of time as a business reviewing ISO 9001 and decided to develop our own continuous improvement wheel based on plan, do, check, act. We used the 9001 standard as a base however. I remember in the past when we had a QA audit there was two weeks of frantic activity before the Auditor arrived to make sure that every box was ticked and every piece of paper was in the right place. Now we look forward to the auditor arriving and make no special arrangements for these particular days. We use the audit as opportunity for continuous improvement.

We have named out internal management system _scils (_space Continuous Improvement and Learning System) and have been able to integrate other standards within it without major change.

We have recently been accredited with ISO 14001 in relation to environmental standards. Far from believing that quality standards are a hindrance I have now moved my thinking to believe that such standards are imperative in time of recession. Particularly with ISO 14001 it has structured our thinking in relation to waste and risk. We now look at every aspect of the business and consider where waste is being produced and how we can minimise it. By measuring what we use in the first place we can monitor resource movements and percentages against others.

We are now aiming to include the ISO 18001 standard within our _scils model to ensure that our Health and Safety achieves the highest standards.

During a recession when process, waste and risk are very important I would recommend any business to invest in these standards to ensure that the organisation is run as efficiently and effectively as possible as I believe they add real value.

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