Compliance Certifications – Part 2

Ligth at the end of the tunnel

Compliance Certifications a Rubber/Wax Stamp or a By-Product of Organizational Maturity and Excellence?

Part 2: Compliance Certifications – A By-Product of Mature Organizations

‘Say what you do, do what you say, and be able to prove it’!

Readers who had exposure to quality systems, and/or audits, would have probably heard this quote before. For readers that are not familiar with the quote, what it means is this: ‘Say what you do’ means document your activities, in other words, your processes. ‘Do what you say’ means follow the processes that you have documented. ‘Be able to prove it’ means leave footprints behind you to show that you have actually used these documented processes. The footprints are usually documents and records that auditors look for during an audit as evidence that the documented processes were in fact used.

During certain types of verification activities like CMMI Appraisals for instance, for the organization to succeed in achieving its capability or maturity level target, one of the elements that the appraisal team would be looking at finding evidence of, is the institutionalization of the implemented process or processes.

Institutionalizing an activity or a process goes beyond providing footprint evidence of its use. When an activity is institutionalized, we do it without even thinking that we are doing it; in fact, it becomes a habit even when we are handling a crisis situation.

The reason why I am bringing this institutionalization topic here is because proving that an implemented process is institutionalized is no easy walk in the park, neither by the organization implementing the process nor to by the appraisal team verifying that institutionalization.

If we reflect on this institutionalization concept a bit further within the context of organization change management (OCM), we’ll find that if changes are not established enough to become institutionalized, there is a high probability that they may end up failing.

For changes (e.g. process implementation) to be successful, there should be enough buy-in or take up by affected users and enough support by other stakeholders. To achieve the level of process take-up required for the change to be deemed successful, there should be enough belief in the change/process through the marketing campaign run to promote it. This marketing campaign executed by OCM must ensure that affected stakeholders understand the change intended benefits for the organization, for the customer, and for themselves as individuals. Further, to enable change success, there should also be an appropriate level of training in the change for the different stakeholders. There should also be an acceptable level of implementation verification, progress measurement and enforcement activities commissioned by and/or performed by leaders to demonstrate their support and their determination to achieve change success.

Organizations that consistently demonstrate this level of commitment and discipline to succeed as a community, would have achieved such a level of maturity or capability that would go beyond just wanting the stamped piece of paper called compliance certificate which was discussed in part 1 of the article. For such organizations, while compliance is important, it would be a by-product of this organization’s increased maturity or capability level.

Imagine if there is an opportunity for organizations to both, obtain their compliance certification while at the same time achieving a higher level of process maturity or capability! As per part 1 of my article “Compliance Certifications – Intent and Interpretation”, many managers and staff resist the activity of documenting processes which is at the basis of complying to many, if not all standards. This is due to the level of documentation required, the less mature the organization, the more process documentation is required. So it is a daunting task, to document processes!

Well, what if there is a system that has proven to help organizations ease this task and overcome this issue of resistance, in an organic manner? What if the system can enable organizations to reduce their process implementation and their OCM time, resources and budget? The system is well suited to large organizations but most importantly to these small to medium size companies that could not afford a similar, professional quality management system in the past.

The system I am referring to is called ManageHub!

Initially, the system was created to help organizations adopt Baldrige, the gold standard which many other standards and models built their capabilities and value add on. Baldrige is a holistic model that promotes employees’ engagement in documenting and improving the activities they perform. Through their engagement, employees find themselves involved in process development and/or improvement from initiation all the way to implementation. By being part of important decision-making points in the process lifecycle, these employees become strong supporters and users of that process once it is implemented. This change in culture which occurs progressively leads to institutionalization. Another benefit of this cultural change is a workforce of empowered leaders, that is always striving to achieve performance excellence through continual improvement which in turn results in increased capability and process maturity levels!

ManageHub is not a new system. It has been in operation for over 7 years. While it was built with Baldrige implementation in mind, users of the system started using it for all type of implementations, and it worked great for them. Anecdotal reports on the utility/functionality of the system started popping up in its founder’s inbox such as “it helped speed up the adoption of CMMI”. Reports that companies were able to jump from Level 1 to Level 3 in just months were amazing. The adopting companies were excited because they reduced years of time, effort, and cost. Positive feedback didn’t only arrive from adopting organizations and implementers, appraisers were also excited about this system because companies they were working with were actually institutionalizing CMMI, and making it their company’s way of operating.

Further, the system enabled appropriate parties to have real-time access to project and process documentation, highlighting related issues while this documentation was still fresh in people’s mind rather than 6 months after its initial release. This allowed real time benefits to be reaped by all affected parties.

All in all, the system’s functionality and resulting efficiencies and benefits surpassed its founder’s expectation. More recently, ManageHub has partnered with the Alliance for Performance Excellence which is the outreach arm of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. ManageHub is also used, in addition, the Success Score Assessment, as the basis of their Baldrige-based Award.

The system has proven to be very flexible, versatile and easy to use for the implementation of any model, standard and framework; it is an all in one ‘asset library’, a ‘knowledge base’, a collaboration platform, a portfolio management system, and has a great potential for providing organizations with a Continual Service improvement register.

System functionality includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. It provides organizations with the ability to store process documentation in a structured manner by divisions/departments and process teams which facilitate accessibility to this documentation.
  2. It enables employees to provide feedback on processes and ensures that the feedback is routed to the appropriate process owner/manager. This empowers employees and makes them feel that they are part of the process development, which in turn translates to higher buy-in and process take up, AND institutionalization.
  3. It enables process owners/managers to have access to and act on process feedback in an easy and timely manner. They can assign tasks to specific resources to ensure that improvement suggestions or corrective actions are easily accessible by those resources and that their progress is easy to track and to follow up to closure.
  4. It allows employees to suggest new ideas or new initiatives. The system will also ensure that these are recorded, and are visible to the community. The right employee takes credit for their creativity, and the idea is not ignored and if deemed appropriate, progressed to implementation.
  5. It allows organizations to build a knowledge base promoting organization learning and maturity.
  6. Most importantly, the system allows for institutionalization to occur organically within an organization and be easily validated. All activities related to a process or a process area are recorded and are date and time stamped eliminating any possibilities backdating documentation. The collaboration which takes place around process feedback is documented and used as evidence for any type of verification (audits, assessments or appraisals).
  7. The system also offers portfolio management capabilities and could be used to standardize and systematize project documentation.

Used correctly, ManageHub could save organizations, money and time, and would save employees and their managers stress, frustration, lost opportunities and disappointments. As mentioned earlier it organically increases organizational maturity and staff involvement.

Some of ManageHub Benefits include the following:

  • Increase organization’s ability to become very organized, focused, and effective.
  • Increase organization’s ability to align leaders and employees to their organization’s strategic imperatives, mission, and objectives.
  • Reduce stress level and frustration of both employees and managers.
  • Minimize waste and create a lean operating business.
  • Cost reduction:
  • Online Consulting Model: Rather than having technical consultants be physically present on site an organization can provide its consultants with access to the organization or to a specific workspace to perform their verification and/or validation activities online.
  • Similarly, an auditor (internal or external), and assessor, or an appraiser could be given access to the system to verify finalized process assets over a period of time reducing the length of a formal audit, assessment or appraisal. This capability could revolutionize audit/assessment approaches and bring them closer to an agile approach in line with industry best practice.
  • Allows organizations to monitor forecasted vs actual ROI related to the different initiatives.
  • Allows organizations to Rationalize their technology investment and resource costs.
  • Encourages two-way communication, the free flow of ideas, and create a culture of innovation and continual service and process improvement.
  • Minimizes knowledge silos, knowledge hoarding and facilitates knowledge management.
  • Reduces the organization’s investment in capacity management as a result of reducing the amount of emails requiring storage and archiving.
  • Frees employees from their “job traps” so they can be more easily promoted as the company grows.
  • Assists in developing management skills of all employees by making everyone a leader of their own work.
  • Empowers employees to effect and affect change, resulting in increased buy-in and change implementation success.
  • Assists organizations achieve the 3-Ss: Sustainable, Scalable, and Salable business.

I encourage readers to check this system out and let me know what they think. Should you wish to know more about ManageHub or discuss its usefulness for your organization please contact me or contact its founder Mike Kramer.

I hope you found value in the information provided. My next article will be on how to increase both the effectiveness of training and the ROI on training budgets.

Thanks for your attention.

Nevine Iskandar