FREQUENTLY LACKING MUCH-NEEDED ATTENTION – INTERNAL MARKETING FOR YOUR QM SYSTEM
You doubtless know the feeling of being caught in the treadmill when it comes to moving your QM system forward. Your colleagues only have time for additional legwork immediately prior to your external audit – and your quality management processes have not yet been sufficiently embedded into your day-to-day business operations. So despite all this, how can you still manage to implement those important QM projects?
If you consistently go through the following 8 steps, nothing will stand in the way of your QM projects:
1: Define your own aspirations
First of all, ask yourself what you expect your QM system to deliver. Are you satisfied with simply maintaining the validity of the certificate, or do you actually see yourself as a part of the organizational development process? Where would you put yourself on this scale? When you get involved in the projects, consider your own aspirations.
2: The current situation
Now evaluate the current situation and pinpoint what you aim to achieve in the future. This will provide you with an overview of the overall situation. This is important in order to be able to subsequently set the right priorities.
3: Set the priorities
It is precisely at this point that many companies fail. Are your colleagues also tired of doing projects? This may be due to several reasons. In most cases, the list of ongoing projects is already quite long – but new projects continue to be added, nonetheless. At first, work on the project is positively euphoric, but after only a short time has passed, the first resources are withdrawn from the project. Why? Because all of a sudden, the next project is much more important. For those involved, it feels like nothing is being finished whilst the list of to-dos is forever growing. Few things are more demotivating.
So – take a different path. Evaluate your plans according to the following aspects:
- What do you expect to be the most successful?
- What is possibly crucial to the certificate if it is not done by deadline X?
- What are your customers or other interested parties demanding?
Set your priorities according to the above and start off with the most important project.
Tip from the experts:
Sometimes it makes sense to simultaneously run smaller projects with a high “signal effect”. These are capable of motivating your colleagues to a high degree as they can see the success set in quickly.
4: Define your customers
Next, think about who the customers of your project actually are. Who specifically benefits from this project? Make this project as attractive to these customers as possible. Emphasize the benefits to the best of your ability.
In the future, a small manufacturing company is to be equipped with a complaints database. Alongside the QM department, the main customer of this project is the Sales department who will enjoy absolute transparency with respect to the batches delivered, the problems associated with these as well as the current status of each individual complaint – enabling them to be answerable to their customers at all times. If the Sales department now wants this tool, there is very little that can stand in the way of the project.
5: Find out who your opponents are
As you have probably already experienced at your own company, there are always those who tend to be skeptical about your projects – or who even openly oppose them. Therefore, think about everyone who could be opposed to your project and what arguments they might use. Try to defuse these arguments as far as possible.
6: Seek out supporters
On the other hand, there will always be those who you were able to win over in past projects. Check whether they also have an open attitude towards your new undertaking. If this is the case, these people may prove to be suitable supporters and multipliers for your new projects. It might also be possible to use their areas for pilot projects, in as far as these are suitable.
7: Define and implement the measures
Now that the general parameters of your new project are known, you can start to implement it. Before you bring colleagues on board, first consider what preliminary work needs to be done on your part. Do not make the mistake of making demands on others whilst falling behind yourself. At this point, you should also contemplate to what extent you actually want to support the project yourself. Tasks are often dumped on the QM department – only to never actually find their way back to the specialist department. So make sure to be on guard in this respect!
Check what information your colleagues need to be able to contribute and complete their tasks. When the project is launched, the benefits of the project should be communicated again in order to guarantee appropriate motivation. When the work packages and measures are being worked through, you should ensure that deadlines are met because once a deadline has been postponed, it loses its binding force. Remember that completing a project on time and bringing it to a successful close sends a positive signal to other projects.
8: Ensure sustainability
One point that is, unfortunately, often forgotten is sustainability. If, for example, you have implemented a complaints database, the benefits will only materialize if the database is actually completely filled with valid data. This is the only way of ensuring that your evaluations show where the biggest problem areas lie so that these can then be gradually eliminated. Work hand-in-hand with your colleagues to decide who will take over which tasks in the future. Regular reporting, which can be used to derive further measures, visualizes the benefits.
It is also important to obtain feedback from all the involved parties from time to time with respect to potential optimization measures or ways of simplifying the handling. Only if you take your colleagues on board and address their wishes and suggestions will you create the basis for further successful projects.
Stefanie Gertz, who holds two university of applied science diplomas – one in Business Studies and the other in Computer Science, has been a management consultant for 21 years – with a focus on QM and integrated management systems. She trains quality officers, QMs and auditors and conducts individual in-house trainings and audits. Her particular passion is the lean documentation of management systems and finding individual, pragmatic solutions. She also supports individuals going through such change processes in the role of business or personal coach.
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