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Collaborative Insight 27 November 2014 - ISSUE 36

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Discussion Corner: Management Standards

Management graphicThe initial focus in creating the CRAFT methodology was the belief that for collaborative working to be successful it needed to be embedded in the business processes of organisations. From the foundation of CRAFT - PAS 11000 and BS 11000 was developed and in the next couple of years we shall be seeing ISO 11000 take the concepts global. The benefit of collaborative concepts becoming a national management standard is the reach and availability it brings. The disadvantage in some organisations is that by focusing on compliance they are perhaps losing the value of integration.

The concept of Management Systems is not new as the need to provide guidance to individuals or groups of workers to ensure quality and performance dates back to ancient times, though perhaps in those eras the instructions and controls emanated from master craftsmen providing instruction, supervision and quality control. In essence a management system is no more than a framework of processes and procedures to facilitate consistent and effective execution of tasks to meet objectives.

Each of these standards based on the principles of Plan, Do, Act ,check, of which ISO 9000 is perhaps the best known but have been developed largely in isolation include. Alongside these standards also came the development of certification schemes which enabled organisations to seek external validation of their processes and operations both to maintain compliance and provide confidence to third parties.

One of the key factors when considering the utilisation of any or the entire current portfolio of management standards is that their value in creating a consistent and repeatable approach rests on the way they are interpreted and deploy both at individual or organisational level. Having robust defined processes only defines the way things should be done but their successful contribution only comes if they are used appropriately. An organisation being assessed for compliance does not in guarantee total compliance nor does it assure operational and performance objectives are realised. The most valuable asset in most organisations and by definition the most vulnerable aspect of any operational activity is the people charged with execution of the requirements. Most in the business community would recognise and validate that relationships are a crucial aspect of any business and that poor behaviours can quickly damage even the most established long term relationships. Yet management standards until very recently have relied solely on documented rules supported by compliance mechanisms.

The success of any integrated management system and combinations processes across organisational boundaries whether internal divisions, functional departments or representative bodies (such as unions) relies on the people involved but too often the isolated adoption of standards actually creates barriers.

The development of these specialised management standards in isolation and on differing timescales poses one challenge in terms of synchronising operations within a single company is made even more complex in a business world where increasingly one or more organisations are working together. Thus external accreditation can be compromised by conflicting requirements within each entity.

One of the more recent additions to the range of management system standards has been the introduction of BS 11000. Thus enhancing the way organisations can exploit the potential of collaborative working with one or more external parties to increase performance and deliver objectives. During the development of this standard it highlighted the overlap and importance of relationships in the successful application of the range of Management Standards whether ensuring internal or external alignment of activities.

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