Quality management : a tool for performance improvement
The UCLy science faculty has recently been awarded the ISO 9001 certification. This initiative, implemented thanks to the hard work of all university participants, illustrates the common intention of the department’s managing offices to better address the needs of students, companies and the scientific community.
Importance and recognition of quality procedures, common in the economic field, are still scarce in the academic world. Considering itself as being subject to the same requirements as other organisations, with stakeholders and processes, the Science Faculty has taken up the quality challenge by complying with the criterion of the ISO 9001 standard. This project began three years ago at the initiative of the Science Faculty Dean and the management teams of the science department’s four divisions: the ESTBB/IPROB, the ESQESE, the IFTLM and the LBG. Its main objectives are the following: better identifying the explicit but also implicit expectations from students, companies and the scientific community (i.e. the customers), defining and sharing what makes “good practises”, improving communication between the schools, and benefiting from a stronger visibility abroad.
Fundamental group effort
The ISO 9001 standard firstly requires the management teams to explain their quality policy as well as its detailed targets. These objectives are made visible to the units involved so that everyone is committed to the developed strategy. Group effort was fundamental to make this project successful. From the very beginning of the set up of the QMS (Quality Management System), working groups were installed to exchange ideas. The ISO 9001 approach is based on organisation modelling. Key processes and activities impacting customer satisfaction have been defined, while focusing on a common and cross-disciplinary approach.
The processes, each of them driven by a sponsor, are specified with monitoring indicators analysed once a year by a management committee. At the same time, surveys are conducted to assess satisfaction from students, companies and the scientific comunity. Internal audits are regularly scheduled and performed by trained collaborators. These results from these various approaches are analysed by the Science Department’s management committee, which defines and implements improvement procedures according to PDCA criterion (see diagram).
A continuous improvement process
This quality project led to the awarding of the ISO 9001 certification issued by the AFNOR (French Standards Authority), following an audit performed in December 2013. During two days, the auditor met the team in order to check the committment to the concept, and that the implemented procedures were compliant and appropriate. A quality process, by nature, undergoes constant change: customers needs evolve, improvement are introduced, working methods improve, new needed procedures are developed, new performance criteria are implemented, etc. These aspects must be annually audited by the AFNOR in order to check their compliance with the standard’s requirements and ensure the renewal of the certification every three years. Promoted by the Science Department, the quality certification is a unique tool for performance improvement and resource pooling. Entirely integrated within all departments and supported by all, it significantly contributes to promoting progress — requested by supervisory authorities — to the benefit of all UCLy stakeholders.
What is Quality management?
As from 1987, ISO 9001 quality insurance standards, then quality management standards, enabled industrial organisations and service companies to comply with internationally recognised references. The general principles of quality management were thus established, namely the following: shared responsibility, corection of recurrent failings, developed and controlled standardisation of working methods, continuous improvement through feedback sessions… These principles create a dynamic, the aim of which is to satisfy customers as well as employees, who are the players of these proactive and voluntary procedures, as well as all its stakeholders.