If you had a bit of a holiday break over Christmas and New Year, welcome back to work - you're probably full steam ahead, because human services never really stops, so here are some quick tips to get your year started right, quality management-wise.
1. Set your internal audit schedule - you might call this process or document reviews. However you do it, for your organisation, make sure you book it in now. Internally auditing or reviewing your organisation SHOULD NOT be ad hoc. Prioritise, based on risk, plan, and book in the relevant stakeholders.
2. Write or review your strategic or operational plans - or at least book in a review for later in the year. Now is a great time to revisit your business priorities. You can do this on a larger scale with your staff and clients, or it might just be a quick review to set some goals for the next few weeks.
3. Book in some time to get client feedback - again, this is about knowing where you are, and setting some goals for 2018. This process does not have to be formal (think paper or online surveys), although it can be. But if you're a small organisation, you might just call up your clients and ask them how last year went with regard to their services, and if they have any suggestions for this year. Record your findings in your Improvement Plan!
4. Schedule in staff training - training staff in human services should also not be ad hoc. You need to look at your client group and the type of services you provide, and tailor staff training accordingly. Schedule it in, book in external trainers if you need to, and evaluate the training afterwards. This is also a good time to chat to staff about their goals for this year, and review last year's performance and goal achievement. Or, book that chat in for later this year now.
I hope you have a great start to 2018. If you're a new organisation, you might be starting to think about your first external audit this year! I can help by checking number 1 from this list off for you, and conducting an audit on your business - see my Pricing page, or contact me.
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It's been a huge year for me at The Quality Nerd, as I followed my dreams and made the business my full-time job. I'm infinitely grateful for my clients that made the leap possible, and I'm very much looking forward to continuing to work with you in 2018.
For 2018, I hope for the following:
1. To support new businesses with their first external audits - if you registered as an NDIS or Home Care Provider in 2017, you will probably have your first audit in 2018. An audit can be scary if you haven't been through one before, but a great way to calm your nerves is to be prepared by having an internal audit. I have over 10 years experience in internal auditing, and I can help you with a desktop audit, or come to your site / office to thoroughly review your records.
2. Continue writing - I love to write, especially policies, procedures, tender applications, and self-assessments! I'm certainly not called a nerd for nothing. In 2018 I would like to support businesses by helping them write documents for their processes that are meaningful, useful, and compliant to requirements.
3. Travel with purpose - this links in with goal #2, in that I'd like to do more pro-bono work in 2018. That's right, if you're a small human services or animal welfare organisation, and you need some support with quality, processes, or management, I offer 1-2 days onsite of my time to help you with your business issues. All I ask is for permission to write a de-identified case study about you.
If you'd like to start 2018 with a business bang, please contact me any time: email@example.com
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Please let me know if there's any other quality or business topics you'd like me to cover in a vlog!
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Good morning and happy Friday!
Just wanted to share a great post from Process Excellence Network, and contributor Debashis Sarkar, 10 Reasons Why Employees Don't Follow Organisational Processes.
I think all of these are spot on, but for human services specifically, I think number 1 (not believing in process), is the reason why we struggle with process compliance in so many human services organisations.
Let me know which of these you think is our biggest issue in human services in Australia, I'd love to hear from you!
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I might be a bit late to the party, but today I received my usual update from Stephanie Evergreen - data visualisation expert - which mentioned her Evergreen Data Academy. It took me about 15 seconds after clicking on the link to the Academy site to decide to sign up. Now, why would a quality manager want to pay to learn about data visualisation? Let me explain..
1. It should be very clear by now that how we "do" human services in Australia is changing very, very rapidly. We are no longer just 'delivering' services, nor do we just have to 'comply' to continue our funding. We are very much moving towards outcomes and competitive models. We need to be able to demonstrate what we are achieving. Organisations that can do that well will have a market edge.
2. How Quality Managers operate within human services organisations must change along with how are organisations will be run. We can't sit on the sidelines issuing reports detailing what people are doing wrong.
We must be able to proactively gather data about how services are running, and be able to display that data in a way that engages the management team to take action. We must also be able to engage clients and potential clients with that data - therefore, it needs to be accessible and appropriate to our audience.
3. A Quality Management professional should never sit still. We need to be the leaders in our organisations; the people others look to for advice; the people that others consult and collaborate with. This requires us to maintain, update, and expand our skills. I have no doubt that data and how it is used and presented is a very important part of the future of Quality Management. I am, therefore, so excited to be part of the Evergreen Data Academy, and I can't wait to start learning!
Best of all, increasing my skills means I can help your organisation more. Contact me if you'd like to talk about your data at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I'm sure this has happened to all of us. It's usually when someone new joins your organisation / team, most likely in a management role. Brimming with energy, they see problems and they want to fix it. Or they want things to work as they did their last job. So they charge through a process change, implement it without any real consultation, breathe a sigh of relief, and then sit back and wait to be praised.
Have you experienced what happens next? That staff don't fully embrace the change because they don't really understand it, or why the process has been changed at all. Or that there's re-work because the change to the process wasn't really thought out and had unintended consequences.
I feel stunned every time I see this happen, because it demonstrates what I consider to be really poor management and leadership skills. I understand that, as managers, we often feel that our experience knows best, we know what works and what doesn't, and that if only things worked our way, then the business would be better. But to change a process without actually ever having done the process is fraught with danger.
Doing the process doesn't necessarily mean you're the one doing every task. But at the very least, you should see how the process works from start to end, several times, before you start making any changes to it. Why? Because not all businesses are the same, and not all humans work the same. You also need to know that if you change anything, that it will actually work - so you need to know how long something really takes to be done, how many resources are needed, etc - and you cannot know this unless you've done the process.
Sometimes process change has to be quick - but taking at least some time to do the process is vital so that you know that when you make those changes, that they'll actually work. It's certainly better than the embarrassment of having to go back and re-do the change, or, worse still, have the process fail completely.
As always, if you have any blog topics that you'd like me to write about, please let me know.
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The not-for-profit (or for-purpose) sector and its stakeholders (especially government) have been flirting with outcomes measurement for a long time. Sometimes it’s felt like a game of cat and mouse, or ‘will they, won’t they’. The sector’s interest and commitment to outcomes measurement within its organisations has wavered in line with what it’s perceived as ‘likelihood of threat’. This, actually, is not a great way to live, or operate, or manage.
So, can we, the sector, say now is the time? Because now IS the time! It really is! Performance measurement, measuring social outcomes, social impact, social bonds – all this stuff – it’s been around now for a REALLY LONG TIME. And as a sector, we STILL haven’t fully embraced it? Sometimes I find that so hard to believe, because it really would not be too hard for each and every organisation to measure ONE THING.
If I seem overly passionate about this, I am! I truly believe we need to measure in order to know that our services are making the difference we want them to make. We are constantly saying that ‘the system is broken’, or we lack funding, or we need new ways of getting funding – so let’s measure. Let’s show the difference we’re making. Or if we’re not making the difference we want, measuring gives us the opportunity to improve. There is no downside.
So I just wanted to share three of articles / resources that might fire up your interest, if you’re new to outcomes or measuring.
From Social Ventures Australia:
Managing to Outcomes: What, Why and How?
Finding the golden thread: A new approach to articulating program logic
From the Centre for Social Impact:
The Compass: Your Guide to Social Impact Measurement
If you have any more, please let me know in the comments!
I have been a huge fan of Christopher Paris’s work essentially since I first started in Quality Management way back when. His Eyesore 9001: A Smartass’s Guide to ISO 9001:2000 (now in 2008 version) basically saved my bacon when I was a Quality newbie. It was useful and applicable, and it told me that I wasn’t going crazy and that no matter how ISO tried to dress up 9001 as a standard for both ‘products and services’, it really, really wasn’t written for services at all (or by anyone who understood service organisations?), especially human services.
For ISO’s 2015 version of 9001, Paris hasn’t released an Eyesore – instead he went down the rabbit-hole and has written and published an entire book. This book is the most comprehensive drill-down of the ISO 9001 that you will ever read. How Paris made it out of his analysis alive and sane could be considered a miracle (or did he? Someone let me know), as he has really left out no detail – it’s pretty much a word-by-word breakdown of what is, in my opinion, the worst written anything of everything.
I have, since the beginning of my Quality career, been a huge critic of the use of ISO 9001 in human service organisations. I absolutely believe that organisations should have management systems in place, and should be concerned about the quality of their services and how they achieve quality for their clients. But it scares me that governments have written into service agreements that human service organisations must be certified to ISO 9001, and that some organisations are voluntarily opting-in (because they think it helps prove that they’re doing the right thing) when the standard just isn’t written in our language and is still very much “we make products” focused.
(Also, governments, there are so many human services quality standards you can now pick from that you could ask organisations and services to demonstrate compliance to (without needing them to be certified if the standard is from another state). Why waste time with ISO 9001?)
Paris’s book is amazing, right from his documentation of the history of how the standard comes about (which should be appalling to all of us quality professionals), to his breakdown of the clauses, to how we can apply it in our organisations – but (and this is not Paris’s deficiency, but rather my conclusion), his book only further convinces me of the unsuitability of ISO 9001 for our industry. That being said, if you do work in human services and you do need help figuring out ISO 9001, this is the best book you could buy to help you.
PS – this blog post is not sponsored, and I don’t know Christopher Paris and I’ve never done any work with Oxebridge. I just really respect what he is trying to do and I have genuinely found his work to be very helpful to me as I’ve tried to navigate the ISO 9001.
The Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) is a UK-based chartered professional body for quality professionals. I’ve been referring to their website for years—they've got some great resources, including a newsletter and magazine that are usually well worth the read.
Recently, the CQI developed and released on their website a Competency Framework. The following is directly from their website:
The framework is designed to:
I was really happy to see that something like this was developed—quality management may be well-embedded into many industries, but here in Australia, and particularly in human services, it still feels like we’re a poor substitute to some other career. That is changing, and I think that a framework like this one
helps to position us as a professional body.
There are five sections to the framework: context, governance, leadership, assurance,
All aspects of the framework I think are important, but in the context of human services in Australia and where we are heading, for me, the leadership component really stands out. It says:
Uses leadership behaviours to maximise influence and develop a culture of evaluation and improvement.
The key words there are ‘leadership behaviours’. The CQI explains this in detail on their website, but for me it means:
· Are you objective and fair in your measurement of the organisation, not allowing your personal feelings or the feelings of others to influence your assessments?
· Do you approach each day with positivity, and rather than think it’s too hard you think ‘how is it possible?’
· Do you want to know ‘why’ rather than ‘who’?
· Do you have an enquiring mind; are you ready to learn and be open to other ways of doing things?
The links above will take you to the actual framework diagram and explanations of the above, so I won’t regurgitate them all here; rather, I encourage you to take a look and see how the framework might apply to you. This would be particularly useful if you are just setting up a quality department or role and are wondering what it is quality people actually do!
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The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!