Lorraine Harrison, CQP MCQI, quality and compliance manager at Global Marine

Published: 25 Jan 2017

Lorraine Harrison, CQP MCQI, quality and compliance manager at Global Marine, explains how ISO 9001:2015 puts the focus on a cross-functional approach can help build the right culture

Changing market demands and requirements of the business world necessitate a regular review of ISO standards. For the quality profession, this process culminated in the publication of ISO 9001:2015. However, do we effectively review the business world’s understanding of the quality profession?

The recent changes in ISO 9001 bring into sharp focus the need for quality business partnering in organisations. In essence, ISO 9001:2015 focuses on bringing quality and continuous improvement into the heart of the organisation. The CQI recognises that this is a challenge in today’s fast-paced business world. Accordingly, the CQI has built its competency framework to enable employers of quality professionals to develop their people, and to enable quality professionals to plan and further their careers.

In light of the recent changes in ISO 9001:2015, the importance of cross-functional working relationships is even more important.

In light of the recent changes in ISO 9001:2015, the importance of cross-functional working relationships is even more important. We now see a greater emphasis on several areas: leadership; understanding the context of the organisation to ensure effective governance; assurance and improvement; corporate governance to effectively manage organisational risks and opportunities; and effective supply chain management.

The changes highlight a need to engage with employees in the planning and implementation of continual improvement initiatives. Dr Joseph Juran defines breakthrough as “the organised creation of beneficial change”. People who are involved in the improvements of the processes they work with are more engaged and willing to implement changes. Surely people directly involved in the process are best placed to identify the areas that need improvement and to help check the effectiveness of improvements once they have been implemented.

Business partnering is a model used by HR professionals to work closely with business leaders and line managers to achieve shared organisational objectives. There is every reason for quality professionals to also adopt the principles and competencies of business partnering as they lead in embedding a quality culture in their organisations. Quality professionals can drive forward principles of leadership, influencing, collaboration and strategic thinking. These competencies have a positive impact on business performance.

Adopting the principles of business partnering in my organisation has enabled the implementation of collaborative and cross-functional initiatives

Adopting the principles of business partnering in my organisation has enabled the implementation of collaborative and cross-functional initiatives such as the creation of a pool of trained internal auditors, made up of volunteers from other departments in the company, who independently audit our QHSE management systems.

It has also enabled the establishment of a Company Quality Committee, with representation from company directorates, to identify initiatives that drive continual improvement across the organisation. The organisation has also adopted the process approach to identify the interacting processes, which transform an identified sales opportunity into a well-delivered project to meet customer expectations.

Quality business partnering helps people to not only understand their responsibilities for delivering quality in the processes they work with, but also gives them a sense of accountability and ownership for quality within the wider business.

An engaged workforce can, and does, offer valuable input to help develop not just an effective management system for the organisation, but one that works for all.