In the days leading up to #WQD2018 we have been looking at trust as it relates to customers, supply chains and employees. In these there have been common themes identified: communication, transparency, being fair/ethical, giving trust to gain trust, and doing what we say we will do.
So why are we discussing trust on world quality day? How does this relate to quality? Considering the role that trust plays in building strong organisations is a way of contextualising business success – this is something that is difficult to measure with the usual quality tools of performance metrics and audit results. The quality of what we do (as individuals or a business) affects how we are viewed by others, and how we affect others by our actions. If we understand the emotional effect of quality we can see how it is intertwined with trust. We are therefore stepping back and looking at the intangibles of what we do — the relationships we nurture as an organisation, and the core values of integrity and honesty.
Trust is powerful, and doesn’t just have emotional value but economic currency. This can be demonstrated when you consider how it increases the speed and likelihood of transactions. If we think of companies that we regularly use, and who consistently deliver a quality product or service, our decision to use them again is easier (and quicker) than deciding whether to use an unknown. We are also more likely to continue to use these tried and tested companies - possibly even increasing our spending with them or recommended them to others.
This trust is built over time. When we get what is expected when we expected it, our level of trust increases. Quality management’s main aim is to assure customers (and other stakeholders) that their needs are considered, that their requirements can be met and that business processes ensure that these are delivered as promised. Building and maintaining trust one interaction, or project, at a time!
Quality involves everyone in the business. From Senior Management ensuring that the strategic direction of the business is established, communicated and resourced for, right through all business processes and support functions, until final delivery of our customer’s projects. None of these processes could work effectively without our employees and supply chain partners. All of which will function most effectively when there are cooperative, collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships established – and this requires trust!
Effective quality management systems also helps to build organisational competence, and provides a framework for addressing complaints and performance issues when they arise. Competent organisations are more likely to deliver on their promises. In turn this builds trust among customers, clients, stakeholders and employees.
Finally, and just as importantly, quality management creates a culture in which everyone is encouraged to become involved in a cycle of continuous improvement. If we can establish engagement of people, trust becomes mutual — employees trust they have the tools to do their jobs correctly, management trusts that employees are invested in the process, and customers and other stakeholders trust in the results.
Detailed below are several ways that quality management supports organisations in building and maintaining trust (and how these relate to quality management standard requirements):
- Help to understand the broader context of their customers' expectations and plan for meeting these in its management systems (ISO 9001:2015 Clause 4)
- Enable stronger operational governance through the development and implementation of quality management systems. (ISO 9001:2015 Clause 4)
- Build engagement and leadership at management level, to ensure the organisation's values and goals align with those of their stakeholders. (ISO 9001:2015 Clauses 5 & 6)
- Help organisations identify risks and threats to their reputation, and establish metrics for monitoring their performance on an ongoing basis.(ISO 9001:2015 Clause 6)
- Identify resources needed to effectively carry out its product/service delivery process – this includes people, organisational knowledge, and the competence and awareness of employees. (ISO 9001:2015 Clauses 7.1 to 7.3)
- Encourage organisations to define how internal and external communication will take place - to ensure relevant information is communicated.(ISO 9001:2015 Clause 7.4)
- Ensuring that the organisation focuses on customer requirements, puts controls in place to ensure that their requirements can be met. (Often by establishing quality procedures).(ISO 9001:2015 Clauses 5.1.2 and 8)
- Ensure organisations have processes in place to select and evaluate their supply chain and communicate product/service requirement information to these external providers – so that goods and services used meet customer requirements. (ISO 9001:2015 Clause 8.4)
- Identify areas for improvement - such as where investments in new systems, additional training, more staff etc. For example through internal audits, performance measurement against quality objectives and customer feedback. ISO 9001:2015 Clauses 9 & 10)
This morning we held our World Quality Day Breakfast Event with our employees to discuss and exchange ideas on this year’s topic and how this applies to everyone involved in our business – including feedback and thoughts received from some of our customers and supply chain!
Happy World Quality Day 2018! Let us know how you are celebrating.