Did you know that November is National Quality Month? Because quality is the foundation of our business, we wanted to celebrate this November by sharing some ‘quality’ stories! We sat down with Kreative SMEs to learn and discuss the ins and outs of establishing a quality management program.
Throughout this month we will be sharing captures of Q&As from both Kreative SMEs and some of our customers on our social media pages. These quality excerpts exemplify the importance of implementing quality controls into your business!
Read our conversation with Kreative SMEs below.
Question: Have you ever encountered an organization that was skeptical about pursuing a quality certification? How did you convince them?
Answer: I think a lot of them are because they never had to implement organizational change or follow processes, so that shift into the unknown can cause reservations. I really think Soda’s passion for the benefits and value is what people gravitate towards. AND the fact that a lot of our business is based on referrals gives our new customers confidence.
Question: What are the benefits of these quality certifications?
Answer: There are many benefits associated with each of the quality certifications we offer support services for. The main benefit is the alignment of business goals to operational performance. ISO standards provide benefits such as increased focus and customer satisfaction, common alignment of business objectives, proactive review of business strengths and opportunities, a culture of continual improvement, employee engagement, and international recognition for following the standard. On the other hand, CMMI can offer similar benefits such as an increase in productivity, customer satisfaction, reduction of rework, an improvement in quality through the implementation of lean practices, improvement of team collaboration and communication, and an overall increase in organizational agility.
Question: What are quality controls? What does it look like when an organization has zero quality controls going into an effort? How do you think it has affected their organization?
Answer: Quality controls are a set of procedures intended to ensure that a product or service adheres to a defined set of criteria to meet the requirements of the client/customer.
We often observe that having no quality controls causes a lot of inconsistency across our customer’s business areas and in turn adversely affects their projects. Certain business areas may have their own defined quality practices and others none. Because there is not a set of processes that teams are required to follow, everyone just works to get the work done, not considering that there are best practices that could be implemented to make operations more efficient. This can affect an organization’s overall productivity, employee morale, and cohesion
We find that organizations have a difficult time seeing the effects caused by a lack of quality controls from a big picture perspective. In their eyes, they are progressing and haven’t encountered any issues thus quality takes a back seat. It takes a consultancy organization like Kreative to come in and point out that they could be doing things differently. This can be challenging also since we disrupt and change the organizational culture, but it benefits the company in the long haul.
Question: What are some common struggles of organizations with improper quality controls?
Answer: There are MANY struggles or challenges organizations face going into an effort if they do not have proper quality controls in place. The list could go on and on, but I will list a few at a higher level.
Strategic Planning/Establishing Business goals – At the VERY least executives should do this on an annual basis. They need to know where they want to go to create effective action plans to get there.
Define Organizational Measurements – There should be measurable targets to align with the goals so organizations can determine whether they are on track; and pivot as needed.
Promoting Organizational Change – There must be a responsible stakeholder, or “champion”, who can facilitate and manage the changes to implement improvements.
Organizational Standards/Processes – Some organizations have no idea what standards and processes they should have in place based on their service offerings/culture. This is where a trained consultant like Kreative can be extremely beneficial.
Project Implementation – This can be a plethora of things, but at a high level the organization has a responsibility to ensure projects are adhering to the processes they established, and the projects have a responsibility to follow them to meet the requirements of the contract. We find that most projects deliver on their commitment; however, they do not always follow best practices since their organization hasn’t established any. This is where the inconsistency really comes into play when no standards are set.
Project Tailoring – Size, scope, and complexity will certainly play a role in not ALL projects having to adhere to certain standards, so they require some deviation to meet their customer requirements.
Question: What does it look like when an organization already has a good quality program in place going into a quality certification effort? How does this affect the level of effort for the project?
Answer: Organizations with solid quality programs have institutionalized standardization across their business areas. They have dedicated resources and leadership commitment. Commitment from management provides support to program operations resulting in a flow down of organizational standards to program operations. Operational efficiencies are a common result of consistent processes and leadership support.
For the project, the effort is more manageable when organizations already have a quality program in place. With each engagement, we have a common set of documentation that we request from our customers. When the tools/processes provided are continuously used and improved upon, it becomes second nature and part of the organization’s daily operations. Maintaining and continuously improving the program is just as important as having one established. We have found that post-engagement, some organizations go back to how they originally were operating and no longer use the tool/processes that were implemented so an organization with a dedicated quality program is optimal.
Question: Have you ever witnessed an organization thrive after finishing an effort for certification? For instance, have you noticed organizations marketing their certifications and using their new quality program efficiently, thus driving new and improved business?
Answer: Yes, we have a couple of customers who have gotten their certifications and as a result (marketing and bidding for work of course) have been able to not only acquire new business but brought us back to do periodic audits to ensure their programs are still operating efficiently. Also, a testament to our repeat customers, especially with the transition from 1.3 to 2.0 – they saw the value in implementing the change and wanted us to support their transition.
One of our customers has a quality team but still looks to us for guidance. Every time they win a new contract, that project is to go through all appropriate processes they have implemented for post-award and are held to the same standards of storing project data, collecting metrics, a cycle of audits, and lessons learned. Because they have taken this approach, we (as in Kreative) are very familiar with their expectation of how the projects should be using the processes and the associated records they should be producing as output. They have been able to maintain that cadence over the years, so it makes working with them smoother than others. The value of this approach to program operations is profound resulting in success for all stakeholders.
Question: What about a slightly different scenario… Do you typically witness organizations without a quality program go through the certification process with you and improve significantly?
Answer: For success, we always advocate for a resource to work with us. When setting up policies and standards, you need commitment and a quality “champion”. In the initial implementation, we leverage this resource for support. It is difficult to assert improvements at initial implementation. We can only make that determination when they come back. If they aren’t able to maintain, we offer our QaaS [Quality as a Service] support to our customers, where we maintain their quality program, which really helps prevent organizations from regressing or lapsing on their quality certifications.
Our SMEs know best! Over the past decade, we’ve maintained a 100% success rate, 70% repeat business, and 100% of our new business is from referrals! And not only do we support our clients for third-party external audits such as ISO and CMMI, but we are also CMMI level 3 rated and have ISO9001:2015 quality certifications. Process improvement and the desire to continuously improve are at our core. As you will see in our customer testimonial posts this month, we have a passion for quality practices and truly believe in their ability to transform organizations for the better!
At Kreative, we offer ISO certification support for 9001:2015, 20000-1:2018, and 27001:2013 standards. We also offer CMMI and appraisal support for the Development (CMMI DEV) and Services (CMMI SVC) models. We are the perfect quality partner! We work side-by-side with you to develop policies, processes, procedures, and responsibilities that prepare you for third-party external audits. Regardless of the size of your organization or the scope of your current quality program, Kreative can help. Request a free consultation here.