Implementing quality standards
A ‘quality management system’ is any structured and coordinated approach to managing and monitoring quality within an organisation. It is made up of the various processes the organisation has in place to manage, monitor and review the quality of service. And it is the way that these processes are linked to one another to drive performance improvement, that makes them a ‘system’.
Quality management systems can be large, complex and electronic, or small, simple and manual. It all depends on the needs of the organisation – how many services and programs are being run, the level of risk in the types of services provided, and the level of external regulation.
Unfortunately, in many organisations, quality management is often reduced to checking off compliance with external quality standards or requirements. It becomes an administrative chore and may, ironically, even impact negatively on the quality of service provided.
Quality management is more than just compliance activity. Managing quality should really be about setting up continuous improvement cycles within the organisation that give the governance body and managers a way of:
- Collecting feedback and other evidence of how well the organisation is performing its role
- Using external regulations, standards and requirements as guides to good practice
- Engaging frontline staff in identifying where and how improvements can be made
- Taking action to improve practice and outcomes
- Monitoring the impact of improvements
The challenge for community services and health NGOs is to develop and manage the process of quality compliance in a way that really contributes to organisational improvement and service excellence, rather than adding further burden on the administrative infrastructure of the organisation.
Well-designed resources, information and training, as well as a streamlined approach to external requirements, can really support NGOs in meeting this challenge.