Fitting SEP with a Quality System

July 12, 2012

SEP has had ISO-9001 Certification for nearly a decade. These credentials help support our work in FDA and FAA for clients. We’ve struggled with the notion of a quality system since the beginning. SEP enjoys a very strong advancement culture that continuously strives to organically improve most of its practice areas. The worry is that a proscriptive, top-down system could harm what we have and what we have is superior.

Oddly, none of the standards we work with require a heavy system but it seems the implementation is different, and most of the experts and auditors may believe otherwise.

I like to say that the amount of written instruction an organization requires is proportional to the relative incompetence of its people (or perhaps what its leaders believe about them). We have awesome people at SEP in which we believe. As SEP rapidly evolved into an Agile/Lean organization, our quality system didn’t keep up effectively creating two systems: the formal documented one and the organic divergence.

As a result, we are rewriting our quality system to match ‘who we are’ as an organization. Our Management Representative, Jeff Lambert, is heading up this effort with help from Hillel Glazer, an Agile CMMI consultant.

I suspect we will continue with ISO and tempt audit-fate by implementing an Agile/Lean system. There will always be “two systems” and hopefully ours will be consistent, compatible and complementary. We’ve come up with a simplified Lexicon representing the whole of our quality system:

Assure Quality

Develop Employees

Grow Client Relationships

Deliver Solutions

Manage the Business

Our Vision, Mission and all of our work creating a better SEP can map to these process areas. It is easy, memorable and even inspiring. The fit of this new quality system will help us run efficiently.