Who needs books when you’ve got the internet

Wow. A whirlwind of activity has whistled through my world thus far this year.

The ‘temporary redirection of my resource’ did indeed come to an end at the start of January as I had predicted, and immediately I launched myself into this new role with all the gusto I had. First on the agenda was an overhaul of the quality assurance process we have in the department, and so for the first two weeks my thoughts were completely consumed with quality control.

I bought myself a ‘Quality Control for Dummies’ book from Amazon believing that it would provide a good foundation of guidance for me to build from, but in fact, the type of QC it was largely based on was manufacturing which didn’t really fit with our work. So that book ended up on the shelf and is now gathering dust. Back to the drawing board I went, or rather, back to the internet I went. I Googled quality assurance programmes until my fingers were raw, and printed off dozens of guidance pages, example documents, and articles about quality assurance programmes.

It was only a matter of time before I chanced upon some guidance relating to ISO 9001:2008 – the ISO relating to Quality Management Systems. As far as I was aware at the time, the company had no plans to aim for 9001, however, after some thought and discussion with my team, I decided to base the new QA Programme around the framework of 9001; since an international standard exists for what I was doing, it seemed logical to use it. My reasoning was that using the ISO framework would result in a robust system which would future-proof the department.

It took quite a bit of reading to wrap my head around the requirements of ISO, and I’m not naive enough to claim that the finished programme would pass assessment, but as the individual elements started coming together it made a lot of sense.

The new programme launched on 2nd February after a frantic weekend of finishing touches and presentation writing, and the department seemed quite enthusiastic about it (well, as enthusiastic as they CAN get about having their work scrutinised!). I’m really proud of the work my team did on it – they put a lot of effort into making sure every last detail of their elements were bullet-proof and so far there are only minor amendments to make.

I’ve got some pretty big plans for the team for this coming year; I’m just about to publish our Learning & Development Strategy, following final approval from the Ops Manager. It’s another piece of work I’m particularly proud of as it’s pretty damned robust and sets out plans for the whole year, many of which are lengthier initiatives aimed at tackling the bigger efficiency issues within the department.

The research I did into the new QA Programme and the L&D Strategy has proven invaluable. Both pieces of work have ended up more professional looking than I could have hoped for and have set me up well in terms of producing good quality, reliable products that are fit-for-purpose and more. The autodidact in me wanted to make sure I learned enough about these new topics to do them justice, and that’s a mindset I’m looking forward to taking with me through all of these exciting plans for the future. It’s a remarkable amount of fun learning about new topics, particularly when they help me produce documents and procedures which benefit the whole department (and in turn, the whole company).

I think the next thing on my agenda will be an initiative to try to save the department a whole truckload of cash per year. It would be a big achievement for me if I can pull it off, so I need to put every bit of learning I’ve ever had into it. It’s just so god damn exciting though.

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