Conquering Chaos with Ingenuity: Why Standardization is a Necessity

SHB student establishes a standard consulting approach to introducing management systems

Quality management is a hot topic in modern business, especially given ISO certification requirements. Many companies now understand how important it is to introduce quality management systems and have these certified. QMH Consulting GmbH advises clients on setting up quality management systems and having these audited. The question is, whether there is a way to standardize how firms introduce such management systems. In fact, does it even make sense to use a standard approach? These were questions that Daniela Niermann posed as part of a project she carried out for her studies on the Executive Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration program at the School of Management and Technology (SMT), which is part of Steinbeis University Berlin. Her project was carried out on behalf of QMH Consulting GmbH.

QMH Consulting has a team of ten full-time employees with access to a pool of consultants spanning 20 network partners in the fields of consulting, auditing, and training. The company is specialized in providing consulting services for setting up and certifying quality management systems under ISO standard 9001 and ISO TS 16949. It also supports customers with the implementation of core tool methods and QM in adherence to VDA and AIAG methods. But without a standard approach to its projects, before every assignment QMH Consulting found it challenging preparing offers and projects, and there were no processes in place to leverage synergies.

Of course no two companies are the same, so any standard approach would have to provide enough leeway to still remain flexible and make changes to adapt to specific situations and requirements. As part of her bachelor’s degree, Daniela Niermann first analyzed whether a standardized approach to implementing a quality management system makes sense in the first place. Based on this, she developed a standard process for a consulting project revolving around the introduction of ISO standard 9001.

Standard methods bring a number of benefits to the consulting company. On the one hand, it can make allowances for the differences between consultants and project managers in terms of personal aptitudes. It can then still offer uniform quality and project delivery. On the other hand, using standard briefing procedures – even as early as the first meeting with clients – makes it possible to address all issues that are pertinent to submitting the right offer and planning the project. This reduces the time invested in initial internal processes. These routines used to be extremely time-intensive, but they could not be invoiced to clients so this had to be borne by QMH Consulting. By standardizing briefing sessions and establishing standard procedures, it is now possible to agree clearly who is responsible for what – and this also improves sign-offs during each stage of the project. At the same time, it helps with the flow of communication within the team.

Another benefit of standard procedures when introducing a management system is that facts are more comparable and consulting projects are more transparent. Even if there are differences between individual client companies, the people involved take “lessons learned” with them after completion of each project. This makes it possible to build on any insights gained from consulting projects, in order to improve business processes and keep developing them. Individual employees also learn from these insights and keep developing. Despite this, for QMH Consulting the most important added value gained from a standard process is that synergies can be leveraged and continual improvements in quality can be handed on to the customer – independent of the managers or consultants who worked on their project. This also helps build on the corporate identity of QMH Consulting.

To carry out her project, Daniela Niermann based her methodology on the Berlin Model. This takes a step-by-step approach to introducing a management system and the advantage of this is that it can be applied to the introduction of a variety of management systems. A standard briefing procedure and a checklist, which was developed by Niermann as part of her bachelor thesis for introducing ISO standard 9001, can also be used as the starting point for introducing the ISO automotive standard TS 16949 or the ISO environmental management standard 14001. This provides a toolkit for the client to use with the support of the QMH consultant. By using the Berlin Model, QMH Consulting can now introduce a number of quality management systems to a company as part of the same project. This allows QMH Consulting to draw on the benefits of standard procedures on a number of fronts at the same time. It also lays foundations for more systematic work.

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