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Quality Systems

First let us tell you what we think a quality system is.  A Quality Management System is a system of well-documented and robust policies, plans and procedures which are designed to support the staff and manage and control all of the variables which create unwanted or unexpected outcomes in the procedures performed.  The development and implementation of a quality system must be accompanied by full commitment from management at all levels and effective training in quality principles, the reasons for and the operation of the quality system.  In addition, it is important that staff understand what the quality system requires of them and why, and the benefits they should expect to get from it.

Often we hear staff say that their quality system and accreditation are a waste of time and money and bring no benefit to their organisation.  This is not surprising considering the reason a large number of quality systems are implemented.

Quality systems are commonly implemented by organisations because of a mandatory requirement for accreditation to a particular Standard or set of Regulations so they can continue to operate in their current environment or expand the range of services they provide. Examples of this are medical laboratories (ISO17025), medical radiology practices (ISO17025) and building consent authorities (Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006.  These systems are often developed by people who have no real understanding of quality management and who have just either shown an interest or been nominated within the organisation to do it.  This generally results in what is know as a Low Level Quality System.

There are two levels of quality system.  There are not surprisingly called low level systems and high level systems.

Low Level Quality Systems

A low-level quality system is developed for the sole purpose of achieving accreditation.  Its focus is almost entirely upon meeting the requirements of an applicable Standard or Regulation.  It is generally developed by an inexperienced individual and implemented with a minimum of investment and effort, without commitment from all staff and little or no quality education.  This usually results in a system which is not really used fully and the quality manual and procedures manuals just sit on the shelf and are "dusted off" before the next external audit.

The implementation of a low level quality system generally results in the following:

  • A certificate on the wall,

  • Little or no staff engagement or support,

  • Poor staff understanding of quality or the quality system,

  • The system is paid "lip service",

  • Limited KPIs,

  • High cost without pay-back,

  • A few procedural improvements and 

  • Not much else.

Organisations running low level quality systems generally see little improvement in levels of rework, inefficiencies, staff engagement, customer complaints and cost.​  They can also be beset with unhappy staff and a high staff attrition rate.

High Level Quality Systems

A high-level quality system is developed for the purpose of improving the way a business operates. It controls all of its activities, promotes quality thinking  and supports staff in their quest for quality. High level quality systems are usually developed by individuals with a good level of understanding of quality principles.  Development and implementation are accompanied by enthusiastic and committed support from management and comprehensive quality education for all staff so they are involved in the development and completely understand the process and what is expected of them.  The development and establishment of a quality culture in the organisation is essential.  High level quality systems demonstrate very robust quality policies and well-written and robust standard operating procedures.  By "robust" we mean that they state categorically what must be done and how it must be done and there is no room for noncompliance. When your quality system is controlling all of the variables in your business it is much easier to ensure your products and services are of a consistent quality.

The implementation of a high level quality system generally results in the following:

  • A quality culture throughout the whole organisation,

  • Happy and fully engaged and supported staff - from top management down,

  • Very robust policies and standard operating procedures which are followed at all times,

  • The system is cost-effective and pays for itself,

  • Continuous improvements over the whole organisation,

  • Measurable KPIs indicating the performance of every part of the organisation,

  • Fact based decision making by management, based on the information supplied by KPIs and other quality measurements,

  • A certificate on the wall.

Organisations running high level quality systems generally have low levels of rework and customer complaints resulting in reduced costs.​

We encourage our clients to always implement high level quality systems to acquire the most benefit and payback from their cost effective systems.

If you would like to know more about how we can assist you to get value from your quality system, give us a call.

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