QUALITY ASSURANCE FOR A HEALTHY FOUNDATION By Laura Ezzidio Graske, PhD. “Leaders Understand That Activity Is Not Necessarily Accomplishment” Acts 6: 1 - 7
The responsibility for developing company policies and procedures varies somewhat based on the size and structure of an organization. Policies and procedures typically stem from the company vision and objectives, which are usually formed in strategic management meetings at the top level of the organization.
Policies and procedures, or guidelines devised to plan long-term goals, are created to measure consistency in business. Well-written policies and procedures address not only whether the business complies with state and federal guidelines, but also discusses how to operate the business, focusing on managing risk and improving how business is conducted. In particular, policies and procedures standardize certain operations for conformity plus clarify communication with employees.
Focus In the planning for documentation, decide on the focus. Avoid creating policies and procedures for each step in a department, such as how to answer the phone. Instead, work in phases and select those departments and their processes most significant to the company, such as how to keep track of client inventory. Check that the processes you document have procedures considered to be well-established. Prioritize each process according to its significance and continue with each department until you have reached the end of this phase.
Contents Successful documentation should include a standard text at the top that states the purpose and scope of the process, identification of responsible departments and definitions for key terms. Also necessary are measurements that grade outcomes and processes, plus any references to other documents or applicable laws and regulations. Also, include forms relevant to the processes outlined, such as inventory forms, client information forms or other documents.
Avoiding Errors Avoid errors in documenting policies and procedures by adhering to the seven Cs: context, consistency, completeness, control, compliance, correctness, and clarity, according to Work.com Guide to Writing Policies and Procedures. Context, or what is contained in the document, should clearly describe what the processes are and how to carry them out. Consistencyhelps create a standard way of writing the policy and procedures. In terms of completeness, the policies and procedures should logically explain the processes without information gaps.
Control means that you should list measurements that ascertain a process is being performed effectively. Compliance issues, or guidelines according to state and federal rules, should pertain to the relevant rules for which they were written. Finally, documents should be grammatically correct and concise.
Improvement You can save money and improve productivity by creating policies and procedures for continual improvement. Outdated documentation hinders your ability to address problem areas. Routinely compare documentation to current processes and update the documentation according to dynamic change.
Company policies and procedures establish the rules of conduct within an organization, outlining the responsibilities of both employees and employers. • Company policies and procedures are in place to protect the rights of workers as well as the business interests of employers. • Depending on the needs of the organization, various policies and procedures establish rules regarding • employee conduct, • attendance, • dress code, • privacy and • other areas related to the terms and conditions of employment.
Employee Conduct An employee conduct policy establishes the duties and responsibilities each employee must adhere to as a condition of employment. Conduct policies are in place as a guideline for appropriate employee behavior, and they outline things such as proper dress code, workplace safety procedures, harassment policies and policies regarding computer and Internet usage. Such policies also outline the procedures employers may utilize to discipline inappropriate behavior, including warnings or employee termination.
Equal Opportunity Equal opportunity laws are rules that promote fair treatment in the workplace. Most organizations implement equal opportunity policies -- anti-discrimination and affirmative action policies, for example -- to encourage unprejudiced behavior within the workplace. These policies discourage inappropriate behavior from employees, supervisors and independent contractors in regard to the race, gender, sexual orientation or religious and cultural beliefs of another person within the organization.
Attendance and Time Off Attendance policies set rules and guidelines surrounding employee adherence to work schedules. Attendance policies define how employees may schedule time off or notify superiors of an absence or late arrival. This policy also sets forth the consequences for failing to adhere to a schedule. For example, employers may allow only a certain number of absences within a specified time frame. The attendance policy discusses the disciplinary action employees face if they miss more days than the company allows.
Substance Abuse Many companies have substance abuse policies that prohibit the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco products during work hours, on company property or during company functions. Substance abuse policies also discuss the testing procedures for suspected drug and alcohol abuse.
How to Build a Quality Assurance Program Quality assurance programs have one major focus, assuring that an organization is adhering to standards. The QA program is continuous and systematically evaluates the adequacy and appropriateness of your company's products and services. Through development of standards with measurable goals, documenting policies and procedures, staff training and review of data associated with standards, the quality assurance program acts as a system of "checks and balances" for your organization.
Step 1. Create standards for your business and criteria for the standards. Use federal and state regulations and client contractual obligations as a starting point. Align your criteria with accreditation standards, even if you do not pursue accreditation. Review best practices in your industry and determine how you can strive to achieve them. These will become the basis of your organization's policies and procedures.
Step 2 Create policies and procedures in conjunction with your standards. Work with various departmental leaders to develop workflows and standard operating procedures that support your quality program and meet high principles for running your business. Train staff and hold refreshers to ensure workflows are understood, implemented and meeting the needs of your business.
Step 3 • Create a quality program description. • This document should include a • mission statement, • company reporting structure, • annual program evaluation process, • goals, • business practices and • specific policies relevant to the quality program's scope. • Develop reports to measure and validate the progress and success of your company. Review and update the program document at least once a year to ensure goals and processes are current and match your company's direction and industry standards.
Step 4 Establish a quality committee that include employees from departments other than your own department. Include external participants, such as clients, who can provide subjective feedback. Meet on a quarterly basis to review quality reports, trends and improvement activities. The data the committee reviews should include quality metrics, such as progress reports, satisfaction survey results and other screening tools relevant to your business. The committee is your "checks and balances" to assure adherence to standards.
Step 5 • Implement corrective action plans when results are unsatisfactory and performance needs improvement. • Hold management accountable for developing action plans and achieving results. • Continue monitoring to ensure that your company is providing the best possible products and services.
Quality & Organizational Structure
Quality assurance principles require an organizational structure that links responsibility for quality directly to the executive level of the company. Large organizations fulfill this requirement by appointing a quality assurance manager who reports to the CEO.
***The organizational structure also has to provide the QA manager with direct organizational paths into every department.***
Human Resources In human resources, quality means that job descriptions are clear, the required education and training is specified for each position and the personnel files include proof of the required education and training for each employee. The responsibility for quality lies with the department manager. The manager responsible for quality works with the department manager through the organizational link, giving him direct access to the department. Together, they verify that employee files satisfy quality requirements.
Function Organizational structure is particularly important for decision making. Most companies either have a tall or flat organizational structure. Small companies usually use a flat organizational structure. For example, a manager can report directly to the president instead of a director, and her assistants are only two levels below the president. Flat structures enable small companies to make quicker decisions, as they are often growing rapidly with new products and need this flexibility.
Large organizations often have many tiers or echelons of management. As a smaller organization grows, it can decide to add more management levels. Roles become more defined. Therefore, it is important to know which people oversee certain functions.
Communication The importance of organizational structure is particularly crucial for communication. Organizational structure enables the distribution of authority. When a person starts a job, he knows from day one to whom he/she will report. Most companies funnel their communication through department leaders. For example, marketing employees will discuss various issues with their director. The director, in turn, will discuss these issues with the vice president or upper management.
Evaluating Employee Performance Organizational structure is important for evaluating employee performance. The linear structure of functional and product organizational structures allow supervisors to better evaluate the work of their subordinates. Supervisors can evaluate the skills employees demonstrate, how they get along with other workers, and the timeliness in which they complete their work. Consequently, supervisors can more readily complete semiannual or annual performance appraisals, which are usually mandatory in most companies.
Achieving Goals Organizational structure is particularly important in achieving goals and results. Organizational structure allows for the chain of command. Department leaders are in charge of delegating tasks and projects to subordinates so the department can meet project deadlines. In essence, organizational structure fosters teamwork, where everyone in the department works toward a common goal.
Prevention/Solution Organizational structure enables companies to better manage change in the marketplace, including consumer needs, government regulation and new technology. Department heads and managers can meet, outline various problem areas, and come up with a solution as a group. Change can be expected in any industry. Company leaders always should strive to find the best organizational structure to meet those changes.
Indications of an Ineffective Organizational Structure Learn to tell when your organizational structure is failing.
Your organizational structure is what maintains the hierarchy in your organization, facilitates communication and keeps your organization running smoothly. Effective leadership and strong organizational structure are more important to the success of a company than technology, according to the International Institute of Management. In order to address an ineffective organizational structure, you first need to learn to identify the signs of a failing company framework.
Low Morale When departments are not communicating and individuals within those departments are getting reprimanded, morale in the company will begin to suffer. Employees start to ignore the organizational structure because of fear of discipline, they do not trust their manager or they no longer feel included in the overall success or operation of the company. In some cases employees may have multiple managers due to a breakdown in the company hierarchy, and this will cause confusion, according to employment expert Joan Lloyd writing on the Job Dig website. An alienated workforce with low morale is a product of a failing organizational structure.
Customer Service An ineffective corporate structure sometimes lacks the ability to monitor interactions with the customers. In an ineffective organizational structure, there is no cohesive way of handling customer issues. When customers contact the company, they may get three different answers if they talk to three different people. This causes a problem with customer retention and ongoing revenue. If you notice that your company is having a difficult time holding on to clients, you will want to check your organizational structure for problems.
Inconsistency never creates sustainable growth! • Inconsistent marketing.... will create results that follow the curve of your marketing activity. • Inconsistent hiring practices.... many times results in human resource issues • Inconsistent communication with anyone...team members, vendors, or even customers....results in misunderstanding, mistakes, and sometimes hurt feelings.
Inconsistent billing and collections procedures.......... results in an unhealthy cash flow situation, possible write-offs, and a reputation of poor practices to the customer, and worse, your bank. • Inconsistent processes in your business..... can result in inefficient workflow, confusion to customers/vendors, and quality issues in your service or product. • Inconsistent decision-making can lead your employees to always wait on you.
As you can see, inconsistency in just about anything you can think of in business leads to an unhealthy situation. ****Consistency in your processes, practices, and decisions result in more efficiency, independence, and more capacity in your team and company. It is a key component in creating a healthy foundation.****
QUESTIONS ! Thank you and God Bless! Laura Ezzidio Graske, PhD Quality Assurance Consultant email@example.com
SOURCES • 1. Acts 6: 1 – 7 [Peter and the Law of Priorities] • [ NKJV] • 2. WWW.CHRON.COM • 3. firstname.lastname@example.org