David Armstrong, Head of Profession at the Chartered Quality Institute details the benefits of using governance to transform organisations
For all organisations, the delivery of high-quality products and services is essential. The consequences of failure grow ever more significant in today’s world of increasing customer and stakeholder expectations, regulatory oversight and the use of social media to broadcast success or failure.
Yet we live in a world where organisations are persisting with wasteful and inefficient ways of working, delivering products and services that do not meet requirements. Organisations that are unable to transform at speed and meet customer and stakeholder expectations see their reputations and customers slip away.
To address these problems you have to start with the foundation stone for any organisations’ activities – governance.
Governance is about having a clear intent that is documented through a suite of policies, processes and plans, and is established with reference to all stakeholder requirements – whether it’s at the organisational, functional or product/service-delivery level.
You have to have an understanding of what is to be achieved, how it can be accomplished and be certain the approach is fit for purpose. This clearly requires well-communicated policies and processes.
The real challenge is making sure the defined intent is fit for purpose and that all stakeholder requirements are clearly understood. At an organisational level, it’s easy to focus on a particular stakeholder – sometimes at the expense of others – but this is usually a mistake. Organisations who only look after their customers and shareholders often see their reputations become severely compromised because they haven’t properly respected the needs of their employees, suppliers or the community where they operate – or indeed the law.
When organisations fail to identify their stakeholders properly, things go wrong and reputations are compromised, with some organisations going out of business.
Quality professionals who work across governance are best placed to provide the support organisations need to be effective. Governance is always owned at the point where accountability for a particular activity and outcome resides. The role of the quality professional is not to take direct responsibility for establishing good governance but to question whether governance is effective.
For example, the head of HR defines HR policies and processes for activities, such as Personal Development Reviews (PDR). There is never any suggestion that the PDR process is owned by the quality function. However, the role of the quality professional is to ask whether a policy or process for PDRs is required, to what extent it should be mandated, if it has been adequately defined and whether it’s considered to be fit for purpose by the stakeholders – in this case, management and employees.
The future of governance
Governance is an area of growth because it has the most significant impact in terms of organisational robustness and protecting/enhancing reputation. Quality professionals are best placed to develop organisational capability in this regard because the profession is already heavily involved in things such as BMS, quality management systems, certifications and standards.
The Chartered Quality Institute is addressing the issues with a new Competency Framework (as pictured above) designed to support organisations and develop their quality staff. Society is demanding that organisations get better in this area – they can achieve this by working closely with their quality professionals and utilising their skills and knowledge.
Head of Profession
Chartered Quality Institute