ISO 9000 Projects – not just paperwork!

Recent events have made some organisations consider ISO9000 again as a badge to reassure their customers that they have a consistent way of doing business. It is more than a simple visit from an auditor but needs a commitment from everyone in the organisation to work in a consistent way.
To gain ISO 9000, your organisation will need to get senior management and whole organisation commitment to working to a defined documented process, consistently.  There will also need to be a senior person who takes responsibility for maintaining that process documentation and lead the continuous review and improvement.
For most organisations, it means changing the way the organisation works – this is much harder than many people imagine.  Most people work the way they work for a reason; you need to find that reason and show them (your stakeholders) the new way works for them as well as ISO9000.
For a project manager who is used to delivering tangible products, changing the way people think and act is a more difficult product to define. If you cannot define the outcome of the project, it becomes difficult to plan the work to be done and schedule the resources.
Defining scope in these projects is also difficult – to get the results you need, the project may have to stray out of the expected scope: implementing ISO9000 paperwork alone will not deliver the results. There will be other things that need to be changed: these could be some HR processes, pay and reward arrangements or something else may need changing to make the changes stick: you may not recognise what these other things are until you have been through the first round of deployment and watched the results over a period of time.  Defining the scope requires an analysis of the impacts and changes that need to be made in the organisations (not the new paperwork on its own).
Phasing in the new ways of working can be done in a number of ways.  It works differently for different organisations.  In all cases projects like this need strong senior sponsorship to decide the scope (the parts of the organisation included), provide resource for the process documentation and ensuring that this works in the organisation’s “real world”. Deployment can be process by process (works when changes need to be closely managed), disciple or department in turn (if you have strong “professions” working separately)  or top down.
Some organisations think they can buy a process that is compliant out of the box and work to the letter of that to get certification.  Remember that you are buying someone else’s process – make sure it is right for your business before you commit to it and loose those unique things that make the organisation what it is.

About 3triangles
Helping organisations make change happen in 3 key areas: strategic change, deliver tactical impacts, efficient and effective processes. All blog content (c) 2009 - 2012 Carol Long and Three Triangles Performance Ltd

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