The process approach is to be intensified. A decisive new concept is the risk based approach. In this approach, taking into account of risks is integrated at many levels: in the process approach, in leadership and, very strongly, in the clause discussing planning. When planning the system, the most important risks will have to be identified adequately - among other things in relation to conformity and customer satisfaction - whilst actually enabling the organization to seize opportunities.
The revision of ISO 14001, for its part, is aimed at ensuring that environmental management can, in future, be integrated in an organization’s business processes in a manner that is even more practice oriented. This is to enable the users to utilize the resulting potentials even better. Increased attention is paid to identifying risks and opportunities in connection with the significant environmental aspects, applicable legal requirements and requirements accepted on a voluntary basis. It is, above all, life cycle considerations and ecologically compatible product design that should be incorporated.
Can audits be perceived and accepted by organizations as providing development leverage for organizations?
- It is not until 2000 that the revision of ISO 9001 helped to start to focus QM deliberations on the processes. The occasion at that time was the change of paradigms in organizational development that had taken place about ten years ago (process approach).
- Up to now, the changeover from a function approach in organizational development to a process approach has bee implemented by many companies half-heartedly (“thinking in boxes” is still prevalent).
- While processes are being carried out, the emerging organizational knowledge base provides the Process Owners with the knowledge required to help them to take the right actions and decisions in a manner compatible with the actions and situations.
- The resulting learning processes of those involved in the processes while the processes are being carried out within process management will enlarge the organization’s knowledge base.
- The “principalities” existing within the organization will pursue their own interests. Thus horizontal harmonization of processes will be difficult.
- ISO 9001:2008 demands an analysis of the interactions between the processes. In practice, the relevant specifications and measurement criteria will not be found always.
- Very often the competent Management has too little knowledge, and there is a lack of clear commitment to the process focused organization.
- It is the process description that is in the centre of interest and not the quality of the processes.
- Changed basic conditions on the market will hardly be taken into account when planning the process results (process objectives). Contradictions between strategic goals and process objectives won’t be identified.
- Correlations between processes, (which are reflected in indicators), will hardly be shown. This means that there will be hardly any analysis of effects and that cause-effect chains including QM indicators can hardly be derived.
Conclusions and expectations
- The fact that the process approach has existed for quarter of a century (see the change of paradigms in organizational development) and a commitment to intensifying the process approach do not mean that the process approach is anchored in organizational practice.
- Now the solution can definitely not be that Quality Representatives are advanced to Process Managers, Organizational Developers or Change Managers (even though a lot has already been achieved as far as training is concerned).
- Audits will have to be changed from “static observations” (do processes occur as they are documented?) to “dynamic observations” (considering changed basic conditions when planning process quality).
- Priorities and distinct interactions will also have to be taken into account. They support the process approach and foster thinking in terms of interrelations.
- Audits need to be regarded as being part of “opportunity and risk management”. They support risk management by making it possible to identify possible problems in a timely manner.
- Audits need to help to make statements about process, environmental and OH&S (occupational health and safety) performance (performance evaluation, keyword: effectiveness of systems). They enable tracking of developments (results in audit reports whilst considering the respective basic conditions).
- Audits should address special audit objectives of the organization even more. Internal audits, in particular, will thus allow “experiments” by causing specific priorities to be set.
- Organizations should define their audit strategy.
- At audits, the congruence and consistency between the strategy and process goals will be reviewed.
- At audits, the methodology for monitoring and measuring processes will be scrutinized.
- Audits can help to make levels of knowledge traceable (in the sense of information relevant to actions and decisions).
Quarter of a century of “process approach” (Attention: see the change of paradigms in organizational development) is a long time. Even though the process approach is to be intensified at the ongoing revisions, this does not mean a lot for practice yet. Audits must succeed in helping to raise sufficient awareness of the necessity of change. First, a “dynamic audit practice”, including the definition of internal audit strategies, will have to be anchored within the organizations successfully. Then audits will also be perceived and accepted as providing possible development leverage to organizations by the organizations.