So your business card says Quality Manager or Head of Quality. But if you (or your team ) are the owners of the Quality Manual and ensures that you get your ISO9000 certificate on the wall each year, then you are an “unnecessary overhead”. It’s not that you are not working hard. I’m sure you are, but you are not contributing to the long term success of the company.

To really achieve long term, sustainable success, companies now recognise that they need get alignment of every employees’ activities with corporate strategy. That means that everyone, no matter what level or department, understands what their job is, how it fits into the big picture, how well they are performing, and therefore how they contribute to the success of the company.

This is operational excellence with compliance (ISO) as a by-product… not the primary aim.

So how do you change from being a liability (cost) to being an asset (value)? It is certainly not just by changing your title to “Chief of Process Improvement”. A different approach is required, where the QM changes from being the “owner of the Quality Manual” to being the “facilitator of process improvement”, with a focus on getting adoption of business practices by the employees rather than worrying about the next audit.

The first, and major challenge, is getting top level support for an end-to-end process focused approach. Whilst this was tough 2-3 years ago, the high-profile Sarbanes-Oxley court cases are now making “process” and “compliance” terms which the Board are open to hearing. They still don’t know what to do about it.. which is your opportunity.

Present a convincing and proven way of achieve their goals and you have transformed yourself from the unknown person in a small dusty office to being a key to the delivery of the corporate strategy.

So is this a nice theoretical idea or proven in practice? Absolutely proven.

By proven I don’t mean once or twice, but in 100’s of well-known corporations such as Toyota, Nestle, HSBC, Novartis and UK Government. Interestingly the most heavily regulated industries are those which are embracing the changes most quickly – banking & pharmaceutical. But we’re seeing companies in every industry embracing this new way of delivering the company’s Operational Manual over the intranet. Their drive may not be regulation, but may be outsourcing or implementing a new software application.

So in 4 jargon-filled sentences, what is the approach?

  • Map the end-to-end processes of the business in live workshops – top-down and hierarchically.
  • Link process steps to supporting documents, applications and related performance metrics.
  • Brand it and deliver this information through the intranet to the entire company, allow collaboration to suggest change and provide a transparent and auditable sign-off workflow process.
  • Provide a personalized view of information for a role or employee which encourages them to access this as the “Single Source of Truth”.

Brand it. Sell it internally. Make sure people use it…