Written by Michael Caines
A critical issue that can haunt a business is maintaining the Quality aspects of their business processes. In order to maintain the Market Advantage that you worked hard to achieve, the company needs to keep the processes current and not permit complacency to set in; if that happens your advantage quickly erodes.
To help ensure you maintain quality as defined by your processes, there needs to be a tracking mechanism put in place to identify, track and resolve any issues that arise that have been a result of non-conformity to the established processes. This cannot be an action that is taken on an ad hoc basis but needs to be driven by a leadership focus on a regular monthly or at a minimum, quarterly basis. A critical part of this is to identify the root causes of the failures and what needs to be done to correct them and then monitored to ensure they do not recur.
While the above seems to be an onerous task, it is the best tool to ensure your processes and employees are meeting the standards set and expected by you and your customers. If you continue to monitor, track and resolve issues, you will be able to identify a number of actions that need to be taken:
- Are there processes that cannot be followed because technology is not capable?
- Do employees need to be trained or retrained?
- Do some employees need to find another employer to thrive in?
- Have customer expectations changed and processes not up to date to meet those changes?
- Are the processes current with changing technology capabilities?
- Are your suppliers not meeting their commitments thus affecting your processes and customers?
- Have there been internal changes made that are not reflected in the processes?
- Other contingencies
In many organizations the task of maintaining your quality standards is driven by a team (lead by a senior quality manager) who is intimately knowledgeable of and works in the various processes. This team can be tasked with retraining as necessary and equally important making changes to the documented procedures as required based on the root causes identified during regular reviews.