Home Resources Blog December 2019

The Importance of Quality

16 december 2019
Following on from the CQI Awards at the end of November it's time to recognise the importance of quality within our businesses and it's future direction.

The CQI, as a professional body and institution plays a leading role in advancing the practice of quality management. As change, uncertainty and complexity in global business increases, it becomes more important that our industry has a strong unifying voice bringing us all together to positively impact people’s lives.

This mission is supported by a network of bodies and organisations which makes up our quality infrastructure, of which NQA, as a certification body, is part of.

NQA has been working together with the CQI for many years. Operating globally for over 30, NQA is an approved IRCA training partner and certification body. Working with UKAS accreditation as well as other international accreditations to improve standards and company performance.

NQA works with the CQI to jointly promote best practices, organisational improvement and professional skills development. With a real focus on nurturing talent within our industry.

NQA ourselves have a core commitment towards talent and skills development, supporting new people into our industry – from graduates through to ex-service personnel.

We are aligned with the CQI in the common need for the quality and assurance sectors to address structural issues by investing in great people and attracting new talent. This is why in 2018 we sponsored and had the opportunity to judge their Emerging Talent category at the awards. We are also honoured to have been asked to be a part of the judge’s panel.

The International Quality Awards are an important platform in our industry, celebrating excellence and setting an aspirational goal for current and future professionals. The number, diversity and quality of the award submissions reflects positively on our industry and these awards

In many organisations the contribution of professionals working in quality, compliance and governance is often overlooked. The difficult, often gradual, pursuit of turning good into great, overcoming internal and external barriers, does not always grab the headlines. We see this day-in day-out.

The International Quality Awards shed light on these contributions and provides well-earned recognition, demonstrating that we have a vibrant, engaged and motivated industry looking to the future where 21st century challenges facing organisations are more interconnected but at the same time more diverse than we could have fully envisaged.

These International Quality Awards were held in the CQI’s centenary year. Whilst we spent time looking back and celebrating 100 years of achievement, we also need to look forward to the next 100 years. Where will we be then? What does society, business and our environment look like?

What we do know… is that the external environment is changing…. fast.

Consumers and supply chains expect more. People are not just satisfied with the product or service they experience at the point of consumption. People want be sure that current and future environmental damage was mitigated, that everyone involved was kept safe and treated fairly, that their information was secure, that their data rights and privacy were upheld, it goes on. Stakeholders are demanding that the triple bottom line is delivered, and it’s getting more complicated.

With this, there is an expectation that an organisation’s culture, people and systems should be able to identify risks, opportunities, take action and change; with agility. To keep ahead, organisations are developing business management systems rather than quality management systems. It sounds like a small difference but the impact is significant. These are systems developed with the ability to support an organisation holistically and strategically across issues and disciplines, aligned from top to bottom.

We have seen this shift being driven through the quality infrastructure, written within international standards – the most widely recognised and prevalent being ISO 9001. This has been further supported by the introduction of a common framework across management system standards – Annex SL. A driving force in moving this agenda forward.

But this was 4 years ago. If we were being honest with ourselves most organisations are only really at the start of their journey towards using ISO 9001 to its fullest intent.  It has been a challenge for organisations to conceptually move towards building systems that are built around risks, opportunities and outcomes; rather than in compliance of prescriptive requirements. It is our duty to now take these clients on a journey of maturity, coaching them to embrace the principles of behaviours of ISO 9004.

As a certification body, we see emerging trends in the types of organisations adopting management systems and the capabilities required to support them...

More and more companies are using systems as they start up, providing a solid foundation from which to grow. The perception that systems stifle innovation is being replaced by the understanding that strong systems provide the platform from which innovation can thrive. Providing stability and a framework for growth.

Quality professionals are sometimes referred to as a T shaped professional. We think this is a very suitable description, and not because of the amount of caffeine required every day. The quality professional has become taller and broader. Possessing a core set of transferrable skills which are used to influence at strategic level and across a broad set of disciplines. Taking the best practices developed within quality and applying them to the challenges of information security, sustainability and risk management to name but a few.

This repositions the quality professional as someone who supports an organisation to be able to manage risk and be a key facilitator of strategic delivery. Professionals supporting organisations and their systems have to adapt to the changing external landscape. 15 years ago the concept of an information security management system would have been foreign to most organisations, now it is one of the fastest growing management systems. From environmental, to business continuity; the majority of new companies seeking to achieve certification aim to do so across at least one standard.

This means personal development to expand soft and hard skills. Gaining expertise in new disciplines; energy management or data privacy being examples. But at the same time enhancing core skills in process and risk management. At the real heart of any effective system are key disciplines; plan do check act being an example.

The depth of capabilities, focus and discipline a quality professional brings to any organisation is of considerable value. Quality professionals build, maintain and improve the foundations from which long term organisational success is achieved.

Success is often not down to the resources or technology it possesses, it is dependent on its culture and its ability to act with agility and be able to change. A great quality professional is a leader, advocate and facilitator of quality culture and change.

Great certification is about working in partnership with an organisation. Transferring knowledge, expertise and helping the organisation to achieve its goals whilst ensuring those connected to it achieve theirs. Be that quality of product, managing local environmental impact or delivering social benefit to millions of people.

We set out to challenge companies to improve what they do, to look at things in ways they have not even considered. Certification isn’t something to be endured. It’s a platform from which a company can learn, improve and overcome its challenges. Working with a certification partner should be like adding a rocket booster to your business, not a parachute slowing you down.

If certification isn’t doing this, you have to demand more

Achieving this requires working with a certification partner that promotes a great culture, develops great people with great skills and is looking to the future.

We feel strongly that great certification relies on an engaged industry. We all need to work together to make sure certification delivers what the world needs and make it accountable to those that need it to perform the most.

NQA offers ISO 9001 Quality Management training, to find out more click here.