Management systems are complex. More than complex, they can become burdensome and are too often quickly discarded to the dusty bookshelves of a back-office. Management systems work in a hierarchical structure of policies, documents, processes, standard operating procedures and other documents. One of the main benefits of this hierarchical approach is that it helps you and your organization work through the logic of the system and prioritize your work. However, you can very quickly become muddled in writing documents that only benefit management system auditors and are not actually used in your daily operations.
I could wax on about management systems, but the point is simple. After all is said and done, after all your documents are written, approved and implemented and after you have trained your colleagues and suppliers, it is all about your requirements. Forget the fancy words and expensive consultants – go to the source. You need to look at your organization and determine:
- Why do you need to do it (legal obligation, corporate, stakeholder,…)
- What do you need to do
- How do you need to do it
- Who needs to do it
- When does it need to be done
In short, you are trying to document the requirements your organization has and the actions you need your operators to take.
Once you establish this, the next step is to determine how you will verify that these actions are being done properly. In your verification you really need to break it apart into two parts:
- Are the actions identified above being taken on time?
- Are the actions being taken meeting the requirements you identified?
The real challenge is to avoid adding more documentation onto the backs of your operators. More documentation is rarely the best solution. As this recent article pointed out, handing your operators a 50 page manual is unlikely to lead to high performance operations. There is only so much information a human can absorb and retain. You need to embed your requirements into your existing procedures. The requirements should be the foundation of your operating procedures and you should then build on top of that based on your operating reality.
If you solve this challenge of identifying your requirements, determining your actions and establishing your verification procedures – I can assure your organization will be light years ahead of the majority of businesses. It is not an easy journey, but it is a project that will help you reduce your risks, improve your operations and add value to your business.