A Dose of ISO Could Cure What Ails Your Practice

If you’re a consultant, you’ve probably heard of consultancies counseling clients wisely while failing to follow their own good advice. Running afoul of sound management practices is a path to failure. ISO 9001 can put you on the right path. So, practice what you preach by transitioning to ISO 9001:2015, holding your own feet to the fire, and finding even greater successes.

Get on the right path with ISO. Here’s how:

ISO 9001 promotes organizational excellence by formally establishing a quality management system (QMS) to predictably guide the organization to successful outcomes and ensure the satisfaction of its customers. The QMS comprises a system of interdependencies, encompassing both internal corporate operations and customer oriented quality policies and processes.
• Internal corporate operations include functions such as human resources, purchasing, infrastructure, operations, and business development.
• Customer oriented quality policies and processes govern management practices to deliver products and services relevant to client engagements and define methodologies for project managers to continuously lead execution of the engagement life-cycle.
Exercising the QMS and its underlying processes increases operational efficiency and delivery quality, which yields value-added services and satisfied customers, which in turn drives future customer business requirements, as depicted in the quality-driven value cycle below:

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The QMS guides consistent application of proven methods to reliably produce results that are measurable and predictable, and guided by the seven ISO principles, it encourages disciplined self-management. The result is greater accountability to our customers and ourselves.
By embracing ISO principles, a consulting organization can practice its own doctrine and promote excellence even as it tailors its management and advisory services to suit each client and program. Regular process performance monitoring and performance reviews helps to focus on areas requiring attention before undesired outcomes occur.
Derive even greater value in the transition to the next generation standard.
When eMentum first implemented ISO 9001:2008, we tailored the product-specific quality standard to fit our service-driven business model. The 2015 standard addresses both products and services, clearly improving compatibility with service organizations like ours. The ISO 9001:2015 standard is also less prescriptive generally, but it presumes that performance undoubtedly links to customer requirements and understanding customer needs.

External conditions increasingly impact the scope of our QMS.
The ability to anticipate and respond to changing market conditions to meet customer needs has become increasingly critical, so the QMS and constituent processes must be flexible enough to adapt effectively.

QMS scope and assessing specific requirements.
In the past, it was possible to take exclusions if a service-organization did not design and develop products for sale. Under the 2015 standard, consulting and other service organizations are able to specify processes defining requirements, design, and provision of customer services.

Corporate knowledge, competencies, and accountability.
The new guidance moves the organization toward successful realization of corporate objectives. It emphasizes corporate knowledge and competency management, greater leadership accountability and employee engagement, and unified messaging with organizational quality objectives.

Risk-based thinking.
The 2015 standard promotes risk-based thinking for proactive opportunism with risk and improvement vigilance. Risk management and mitigation must be core considerations of our internal and customer oriented processes, not only at the project level, but enterprise-wide as well. Increased traceability continues to enhance overall performance and quality delivery.

Trend tracking.
Trends should be tracked at the enterprise level, across engagements, to encourage cross-fertilization of best practices and ideas, build corporate community, and improve customer results.
How do we get there?
The impending expiration of ISO 9001:2008 necessitates eMentum’s migration to the next generation 2015 ISO 9001 standard. Accordingly, we are identifying and implementing requisite QMS upgrades to achieve ISO 9001:2015 registration. Our migration plan consists of:
1. Training for process owners on new ISO 9001:2015 requirements.
2. Updating the eMentum ISO quality manual to align with new standard.
3. Complementing the eMentum QMS performance objectives with individual process performance measures and metrics.
4. Integrating risk management with our processes.
5. Standardizing and formal tracking of organizational knowledge and competencies.
6. Conducting internal reviews and audits.
7. Obtaining formal ISO 9001 re-certification.
With ISO 9001:2015 registration, we shall explore newer and more creative presentation formats, such as websites and videos, to replace traditional document formats with our ultimate goal being to leverage quickly updated and easily maintained communication tools, thereby effectively promoting community engagement.
Please share your own ISO experience – we all would like to learn from your lessons learned.

Do Good. Have Fun. Add Value.

Dawn Levy

Dawn Levy is a management consultant and electrical engineer with more than 20 years of service, predominantly to business and technical leaders in the federal market. She seeks to deliver efficiency and productivity to her clients and to reduce superfluous spending.

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