Corporate Quality Program

What's it about?

See also Mind Mapping and Business and Marketing Strategy Retreat.

In order to achieve corporate goals, it is not enough just to have a clear strategy for your company. You also need to communicate these goals clearly and concisely to all stakeholders and, more importantly, have procedures that clearly set out how to go about achieving your corporate goals.

This (consultancy) program usually follows on from the Strategy Retreat. I work with staff and managers to help review and/or develop a corporate Quality Manual, as well as with the key HR executives to develop induction and training programs and guides for new recruits and existing staff.

The most important principle to keep in mind about a Quality Manual is that it has to be clear and simple. Each operational procedure should be set out on a single page. Necessary forms and documents must always be to hand.

An extremely effective way is to create an intranet, outlining operating procedures in the form of flow charts and Mind Maps. Complex sub-procedures will simply expand into a separate page of its own.

Training guides need only follow the Corporate Quality Manual.

This in itself is relatively straight forward to do. I help to coordinate the process and ensure that the procedures are kept simple, yet practical. Also very important is to ensure that procedures are flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances, exceptional situations and customer demand. How the procedures are described is very important: focus on desired outcomes for each sub-stage, rather than on bureaucracy - and describe possible exceptions and contingencies.

Who benefits the most?

The corporation as a whole. It becomes simpler to get work done. People understand what they are doing and why. It then becomes easier (and cheaper) to train people. And it means that new recruits become productive much quicker than before.

What are the outcomes?

A Corporate Quality Manual with supporting documents (in the form of a diagrammatical and cross-reference intranet and training manuals).

Duration

This is difficult to say as it depends on the size and complexity of the organization. A comprehensive audit of the company is first required (reviewing the existing Quality Manual if there is one). We describe the operating procedures and systems of the company and discuss with the appropriate stakeholders whether they are clear and unambiguous and simple to follow. And whether they are relevant and, of so, how they can be improved. Also we discuss ways to make each operation flexible and adaptable.

A very rough guestimate is that it would require about 1-2 days per operational procedure of my time, plus a similar number of man-days from your own company.

Case Study. At Eurotunnel, I revised a 600-page Quality Manual (just for the IT department!). There were several copies of the manual, each slightly different from the other, and not one had ever been opened for several years.

The outcome was to boil the work done down to 14 key operations, and a total of around 150 sub-operations. Each operation was described as a flow chart, with complex operations described as a 'black box' that expanded into a separate flow chart. Supporting documents required (e.g. forms or form letters or check lists) were attached to each operation.

The entire process took a year (around 240 days) with one full-time assistant from the company, plus a further 60-odd man days from other staff members.

This is an example of a very comprehensive review in order to be certified for ISO 9001. Most companies will not need quite an extensive treatment for practical purposes - particularly if one were to apply the 80/20 Rule...