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Why You Should be Working with Standards

December 9, 2014
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standards1There are 1000’s of standards out there, covering almost everything imaginable. Last week I read about how the bungee-jumping industry is creating a standard to standardise best practice and mitigate risks! So it is very likely that standards exist for whatever it is that your business provides.

Business standards exist to provide confidence in our products and our services. They influence decision-makers.

Here are 7 considerations for you:

  1. Using standards helps organisations improve the quality of their products and services, leading to more satisfied customers and a more profitable business.
  2. Standards are an effective way to convince potential customers that you meet the highest and most widely respected levels of quality, service and reliability.
  3. Complying with standards provides businesses with competitive advantage when bidding in a tender process.
  4. Standards help protect your reputation, for example, data protection, environmental responsibility and business continuity.
  5. Increasing your standards will improve productivity and efficiency. You will experience fewer mistakes, less fire-fighting and reduced workplace stress.
  6. Using standards is the best way to ensure your business meets the necessary regulation requirements. Keep legal, and keep peace of mind!
  7. Finally, if you are considering exporting, goods need to meet specifications defined by EU directives, and perhaps bear the CE mark – standards help with this process by making sure you understand what is required and providing a blueprint to follow.

So, perhaps in 2015 you will consider the use of standards to improve your business internally, but also externally and use them to attract and win new contracts, tenders and new customers.

How Resilient is your Business?

December 1, 2014

bs65000Introducing BS 65000:2014 – Guidance for Organisational Resilience

Resilience is crucial for any organisation to survive and prosper. But what exactly is resilience and how can it be improved?

The answer is contained within a new standard, BS 65000, which describes the nature of resilience and ways to build and enhance resilience in your company.

BS 65000 defines organisational resilience as the ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to events – both sudden shocks and gradual change. That means being adaptable, competitive, agile and robust. I struggle to think of a company who wouldn’t want to be resilient!

One way to improve resilience is by integrating and coordinating the various operational disciplines in an organisation, and so BS 65000 draws on other standards relating to these disciplines (such as ISO 22301). The standard recognises that it is essential to build resilience not only within an organisation but across networks and in partnership with others.

In short, BS 65000:
• clarifies the meaning of resilience
• highlights the key components of resilience
• helps an organisation to measure its resilience and make improvements
• identifies good practice found in other disciplines and defined in existing standards

BS 65000 will be very valuable to anyone responsible for building resilience in their company. Potential benefits of working with this new standard include:

  • Adapt/improvise successfully to unforeseen and disruptive changing business environments
  • Gain a competitive edge by identifying gaps and taking advantage of opportunities
  • Be more agile and innovative by learning from trends
  • Reduce costs and increase efficiency by avoiding potential pitfalls
  • Obtain a better understanding of risks and opportunities
  • Preserve and improve your reputation by being seen as vigilant and robust
  • Create trust amongst external clients and internally amongst staff
  • Promote a culture of shared purpose and values

For more information on the standard and how to gain these benefits, contact me on alistair@admsolutions.co.uk or 07986 442979

How to Use Process Documentation

November 4, 2014

In my last post I described how to document a business process. If you need help with understanding what to document, and why, visit this post and you will be ready to use the information you have captured.

So what now?

Documenting a process is the first step towards taking control of how things are done. By creating the document, you are creating transparency. That means that you have captured the best way to perform a series of activities, including how to do it, who performs it, etc. Implementing the process then generates consistency, meaning every time the process is performed, it is always executed in that way.

Here are a few ways to ensure your process documents add real business value:

  1. Transparency ensures that there is no hiding place! We can all see who is involved and how things are done. Use the documents to improve communication and eliminate the possibilities of people not knowing who/how.
  2. Manage risk. Risk is everywhere. We can’t eliminate it, but we can manage it. Your process documents highlight business risks, so implement solutions to mitigate them and prevent problem further down the line.
  3. Identify improvements. Now you know what’s involved in a process, identify what is taking the most time/where the bottlenecks are, what causes the stress and frustration felt by staff, what we can do more efficiently (making better use of IT for instance), and what activities we can stop doing.
  4. Train staff. Use the documents to train employees effectively. Being able to see how processes operate provides the basis for first class training.
  5. Challenge people to change/improve/re-design their processes.
  6. Build a library – a business management system, consisting of every process in the business, and measure performance.
  7. Use the documentation as the foundation for business standards, such as achieving certification to ISO 9001.
  8. Audit the processes. Follow them in real-time and see how they are performing. Bring a fresh pair of eyes to each process and identify better ways to work.

Are you using your process documents effectively? How are your processes adding value?

How to Document a Business Process

October 15, 2014
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If you have never documented a process before, it can be quite daunting. However, it really isn’t (or shouldn’t!) be too challenging.

Firstly, be clear on the level of process that you wish to define. A process might be top-level, or it could be operational.

Then, just follow my simple steps below.

  1. Describe the purpose of the process. Why does it exist? What is it supposed to achieve?
  2. What are the triggers? What has to happen for the process to begin?
  3. What are the outputs? What is the end-point? (you have now created the boundaries for the process you are documenting)
  4. Who are the ‘actors’? Process actors are the people who are involved in the execution of the process. Don’t forget that actors can be both internal and external (such as suppliers, subcontractors, etc.)
  5. Responsibilities and authority. Who makes the decisions and who performs the key tasks?
  6. The process. Create a diagram that represents the process flow and key tasks and decisions involved. There are 2 ways to do this – (1) the standard flowchart approach or (2) using ‘swimlanes’ to depict the actors and their contribution.
  7. Measures. How would you know if the process was (a) a success, or (b) a failure? What indicators can you monitor?
  8. Known Issues. What are the problems associated with this process, that you are currently aware of?
  9. Risks. What can potentially cause an issue and compromise the success of process but hasn’t happened yet?

That’s it!

But, it’s what you do with a process document that makes it so powerful. I’ll cover that in another post…

Client Testimonial – NIHP (Northern Integrative Health Practice)

September 29, 2014

logoI have recently finished a piece of work for the Northern Integrative Health Practice, (NIHP) based in Durham. Working with the Managing Director, Paula Esson, I helped to define and shape the key processes that deliver value to their clients, both private and NHS. This enabled the business to create better structure, implement best practice standards and develop improved systems, and finally close in on certification to ISO 9001.

Paula said:

We respect Alistair immensely. If you are considering certification to ISO9001, ADM Solutions are the only company I would invite through the door to ensure you hit all the targets and gain the clever insight into the breadth of achievement that can be accomplished with the right people alongside.’

For the full testimonial, click here.

ISO 9001: 2015 FAQ

August 6, 2014
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I’m regularly asked about the forthcoming changes to ISO 9001, and so I will post answers to some of the more popular questions as they arise, here on my blog.

  1. When is the new version of ISO 9001 going to be published? – It is planned for publication in September 2015.
  2. Does my organisation need to re-certify as soon as it’s published? – No, all organisations will have 3 years to make the transition to from ISO 9001: 2008 to ISO 9001: 2015.
  3. Will it be difficult to implement ISO 9001: 2015? Generally, it shouldn’t be too difficult. It depends on the current ISO 9001: 2008 system and how it has been implemented (if it enables a ‘tick in a box’, then there will obviously be more work to do). Firstly, consider the context – how big is the company? What is it’s core business? How complex are it’s operations? What risks does it face? The new standard recognises that organisations (e.g. multi-nationals vs. small service businesses) have different needs and requirements.
  4. Should we scrap our current management system? No. I would recommend that organisations currently certified to ISO 9001: 2008 will meet many of the requirements of ISO 9001: 2015 and should keep these in place.

Do you have any questions regarding ISO 9001 2015? If so, feel free to get in touch and I will answer them for you.

5 Reasons to Review Your Business Standards

August 1, 2014
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  1. The world in which we are doing business in is changing rapidly. There is always someone looking to do it better, faster, smarter. How are you keeping ahead of the competition?
  2. What is your USP? Your standards should drive the implementation of your USP.
  3. Your business is recognised by its standards. Your customers and other stakeholders talk about you. Make sure it’s a positive conversation.
  4. Internal standards and policies align your vision (and brand) with reality. They create the culture and performance of your business.
  5. Standards provide confidence in the abilities of your business. They open doors to new business, maintain current business, and allow you to lead a market.

Which standards matter to your business?

  • answering the phone within 5 rings?
  • meeting client deadlines?
  • winning business awards?
  • achieving certification (ISO 9001, Achilles, etc.)?
  • product standards and conformity?
  • company dress-code?

I’m working with different clients on each of these standards. They are all relevant to the success of the business and need to be:

  1. understood
  2. communicated
  3. implemented
  4. measured
  5. improved

How are standards contributing to your success? 

What are the standards that you will need to meet in the next 12 months?

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