Let us imagine we are in January 2020. A person in any business review meeting suggesting (not even insisting) for management to plan for the contingency of a total unplanned shutdown at short notice. They would receive perplexed looks as a mildest response.
Conversely, if anyone thought or is thinking the return to normality is going to happen as soon as the lockdown is over and the self-isolation and social distancing rules are relaxed, their hopes are being dashed slowly by the daily news bulletins.
Between four and twelve months are the most optimistic estimates for returning to some sort of normality. This normality we are hoping for is constantly being undermined by the largest organisations on the planet warning of running out of cash in few months.
So, what normality should we expect? Of course, I am not an economist? I am a quality specialist and looking at business from the role of a Quality Specialist.
You cannot help but compare things right now to a bad nightmare. With nightmares, we wake up and the fear quickly vanishes. Here, we have to seriously anticipate what can we do to participate and plan for life after the COVID-19 nightmare. Even during good times, quality was way down the priority list of many company executives and its need was only recognised when a severe problem raised its head.
Of course, we cannot generalise as there are many organisations who have built their reputation on the foundation of a world class advanced Quality culture. However, we have to recognise that the evolution of ISO 9001 releases over the last 30 years and the departure of many establishments towards other more generic or product centric certifications such as JCI, only serves as further evidence. This statement addresses and is pertinent to organisations worldwide and so will resonate with many stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders? These can be:
- Authorities: Legislators, Institutions, Examiners, etc.
- Employers / Organisations
- Employees / Individuals
Each and every stakeholder will surely be examining what contribution needs to be made to turn the wheels again. Checks and balances will need to be effectively but efficiently applied. Planes can be autopiloted and have been for many years. Pilot empowerment to intervene and override autopilots are built in, tested and implemented. We can apply such checks and balances for standards and their implementation.
Customers & Suppliers can also do their bit with more understanding, particularly with financial and lead-time matters. But in this brief article we are focussing on the relationship between the individual and the employer
Authorities for example, can look at:
- Flexibility of laws, rules and regulations
- More technology interaction than human interaction
- Remote audits becoming a reality
- Making distance examinations and certifications a reality
- Forth party audits may be required (Outsourced activity)
- Audits without an auditee direct access to facts and information etc.
While some employers / organisations will recognise the need to focus more on management systems as a saviour and an integral part of management, many more will continue to see them as a financial burden that is way down the short or medium term priority lists in the current climate.
Employers/ Organisations will have a tough time to get back on track and will be looking to take radical action to survive and later prosper. These could include but not limited to:
- Cost reduction is the prime consideration
- Space reduction as a result of more outsourcing
- Outsourcing much of the activities
- Be part of subcontractors Umbrella Systems instead of own systems
- Work to external methodologies and not your own
Employees / Individuals will then be left to fight some difficult battles unless they start thinking to adjust and be prepared for what is likely to come their way. Experts still have no agreement on which letter of the alphabet the recession will follow. Which means us as individuals need to be prepared for verious eventualities, such as:
- More home working. Learn to get on well with your partner
- Consider office rental
- Working virtually – not even in the same country
- Get paid by deliverables
- Become an external resource
- Offering packaged solutions
- Wider range of sharing Transport, accommodation, etc.
- Short time unit charging increments such as by minutes
While we all have to be and will always be positive, Job security could become a thing of the past and we have to recognise we have to be more flexible.
Of course, this is not going to happen by this summer, but the status quo will be challenged and innovative answers will be required.
To avoid any alienation of quality in business, many of us need to adapt our way of thinking, adopt new approaches and accept technology playing a much larger part. Technology can deal with this. So, should our minds. Take advantage of the current distancing and isolation times to examine better ways of working.
By Sam Zaidan
Published: 09 April 2020
QMSrs is a provider of quality excellence solutions, registered in and operating from the United Kingdom.
We Support leadership with building "Excellence Cultures", by equipping their teams to transform inefficient systems into “Lean Integrated Systems”.
We deliver "Confidence in Quality". The future is Quality. The future of Quality is by Outsourcing it.
You can read more about QMSrs offerings Here.