hygiene zone
quality tools
quality techniques
human issues
quality awards
quality extra
visitor tools


Stay Informed
Sign up below to receive our Occasional Newsletter.

We Respect Your Privacy!

Web SaferPak
SaferPak: Food Packaging Safety, Food Safety, Business Improvement and Quality Management
       Home     About     Contact

Validated Performance Statements - Going Public With Your Quality Management Successes
By David Powley DNV Certification Ltd

The concept of quality management has been with industry and commerce for some time. So too have various means and devices with which an organisation may choose to demonstrate its level of quality management. Just one example of this has been the certification to various standards and specifications that relate to quality management. There has always been a need therefore to achieve a certain state of adequacy and publicly declare that state of adequacy to any interested party. This is natural in a competitive and international business world where anything that can raise the stakes on the competition is sought and used in an unremitting commercial war.

However, there has been insufficient appreciation given to the power of the publication of data and information on actual performance as a result of quality management. In matters relating to the environment, the reporting of performance is long established. Many of the large corporations have for a long time declared their environmental probity and credentials by publishing validated environmental performance statements and this has in recent years resulted in the formal European Union regime known as the Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The less formal validation of environmental statements has been in existence for considerably longer. Similarly, publication of data on health and safety performance is known but this has been to a lesser extent and mainly, though not exclusively, for internal consideration.

There are great possibilities for an organisation in producing a quality performance statement. Registration to quality management codes and standards have proved to be reliable in showing the credentials of an organisation and can act as a general indicator (or predictor) along the lines of that organisation being reliable when entering into business transactions. Nevertheless an even more distinctive advantage may be gained by providing reliable information on actual quality management performance which is pertinent to the potential ‘buyer’ or any other relevant interested party. The procurement manager of an organisation may find his/her task made easier during selection of contractors and suppliers when confronted with validated data of particular interest. Similarly a sales force may find life a little easier when it can brandish favourable and reliable performance information about its own organisation.

What then are the potential benefits arising from;
producing a performance statement on actual quality management performance
having that statement rigorously validated by a reputable third party and then
publishing that statement?

Why produce a Quality Performance Statement?

The suggested content and structure of a Quality Performance Statement (QPS) will be considered in more detail later. At this stage it is more worthwhile considering the benefits of producing and validating a QPS. Suffice it to say for now that a statement should have a structure and contain that which impresses readers who are relevant interested parties. The relevant interested parties are various but the following are given together with the benefits and advantages that may be gained as a result of producing (for them) a validated QPS.

Existing clients and customers
This is the relevant interested party that is already on your ‘buying platform’ and consequently needs to be protected due to their significance to the survival of your business. It would be beneficial for you to keep the customers appraised, by means of a QPS, of the aspects that may have caused them to enter into contract with you in the first place especially if your organisation has shown further improvement with regard to these aspects. Alternatively, if certain matters of quality performance in the past have given cause for concern, an independently validated QPS may give assurance to the existing customer.

Prospective clients and customers
New clients and customers are crucial to the growth of the business and of course deserve to be impressed. These are actual prospects who have shown an interest or have already entered into dialogue with a view to a business transaction. A third-party validated QPS inserted with the other necessary tender documents may assist in securing a contract especially if the QPS contains enough favourable information on the aspects of your organisation which are of most interest to these prospects.

The general market
This interested party represents the prospective customers who are not yet known to your organisation yet are equally crucial to the development of your business. The power of good advertising is well known and could be further enhanced by the information contained within a QPS. In other words chosen extracts and quotes (within context) from a validated QPS inserted within an advertisement may put some distinction between your organisation and the competition.

The shareholders
A third party validated QPS, proudly disseminating performance data and placed within an annual report, may persuade shareholders that their investment is secure.

The managing director
This is the person who may occasionally make sounds of doubt about your ISO 9000 series management system, if you have one. A third party validated QPS showing the favourable effects of the management system could maintain or increase the level of support.

The workforce
The people of the organisation who have been most instrumental in producing a good performance may experience a boost of morale upon reading a praising QPS which has been validated by an independent and reputable third party.

What should be the content and structure of Quality Performance Statements?

What then are the potential benefits arising from;
i. A presentation of the organisation’s mission statement or policy (should it have one) and a description of the organisation, its activities and the time frame to which the QPS applies.
ii. A description of the ‘quality critical aspects’ of the organisation.
iii. A description of how the organisation is managing these ‘quality critical aspects’.
iv. A presentation of key performance information and statistics which relate to the ‘quality critical aspects’.
v. A description of the organisation’s objectives and targets.
vi. Any other preferred information.

These items can be considered in turn:
i. Policy, mission statement, organisation, activities and time frame – It is important to be clear on the activities or processes or the part of the organisation, to which the QPS applies. Similarly the period of consideration is relevant. This is a kind of ‘ring-fencing’ which enables all reporting in (and validation of) the statement to be on a sound basis. Publication of a customer / quality policy or mission statement in a QPS is a good opportunity to brandish the ideals of the organisation as well as publicising any intentions and customer care initiatives.
ii. Quality critical aspects – These are the aspects of an organisation’s activities that determine the relationship with relevant interested parties and can lead to success or failure depending on how well they are managed. The following are merely examples,

- a service call centre and its response time and friendly dialogue with callers,
- a retail operation and the visual impact of the store and the demeanour of staff to customers,
- a manufacturer’s capability to deliver material on time and within specification,
- an advisory or consultancy service and its capability to deliver competent advice.

Whatever the quality critical aspects are considered to be, it is suggested that these are given in the QPS in order to show relevant interested parties that these have been recognised.
iii. Management of quality critical aspects - The basis of management of quality critical aspects is a combination of doing something to manage the risk of failure and to monitor this management. Generally speaking a manufacturing situation demands the management and monitoring of hardware and people capability equally whereas service situations would give predominance to the management and monitoring of people capability. A QPS, in providing a description of the management of quality critical aspects, might briefly say something about what the organisation is doing (i.e. managing and monitoring) with regard to assurance of plant and equipment and the development and control of its personnel, as is appropriate to the aspects.
iv. Key performance information and statistics – This is probably the most important section of a QPS, generating the most interest for the readership and those who would validate it. It can contain all of the information and data which is for consideration by all of the interested parties given above or just that which is of significance to those who are most important. Of course, the type of information will depend on these targeted readers. Data on number of customer complaints, out of specification product, late deliveries, response times etc. may all be meaningful for inclusion. Positive as well as negative reporting is important in order to establish an element of balance. ‘Internal’ data may be indicative for a number of relevant interested parties and this could include the amount of re-work or staff absenteeism or turn-over etc. Whatever the information, it should be relevant to quality critical aspects and the relevant interested parties. The validation process (see later) will check the veracity of the information.
v. Objectives & targets – It may be appropriate to insert, into the QPS, a section on the organisation’s objectives and targets. This is especially so in cases where it is felt an improvement in performance is achievable or necessary. Real intentions are almost as important as actual achievements to a customer who has been disappointed, for example. This declaration may just make that customer give another chance. Objectives are more believable if they are carefully and briefly stated and have adequate descriptions of the intended means of achievement together with time frames. Here again the validation will ascertain the ‘reality’.
vi. Any other preferred information – Any other relevant information may be useful for inclusion in a QPS provided that it is possible to validate it.

Who should validate Quality Performance Statements and how should they be validated?

So far the ‘why’ and ‘what’ regarding QPS have been considered. It is now time to deal with the ‘who’, ‘how’ and to a lesser extent the ‘when’.

In order to validate a QPS it must firstly be appreciated what the actual statement represents. That is a serious declaration of claims made to a population. It follows that whoever validates a QPS carries a high level responsibility thus requiring the process to be carried out by capable individuals in a conscientious manner. Furthermore, the validators must hold a considerable status and track record of independence and propriety.

In checking the veracity of quantitative and qualitative claims, a validator would ‘look behind’ the presented data and information to check that the system generating it was sound. For example, a QPS may state a number (or even a reduction in the number) of customer complaints. This would lead a validator to establish a level of confidence that the system and personnel are able to detect and register a customer complaint when confronted by one. If there were a qualifying definition of what constitutes a customer complaint (as there should be) then a validator would expect to see this definition in the QPS.

A validator would also seek that a QPS maintained a level of balance. Should an organisation have ‘tales of woe’ in the same context as success stories, then the QPS ought to give due recognition. Claims regarding Objectives or intentions should be checked to establish a level of ‘reality’ and commitment.

In all of this the validator would be constantly comparing the presented situation (in the QPS) with the reality. The variances found can be addressed in only one of two ways before validation and publication is possible. These are either making the statement meet the reality or vice versa. In most cases the former would be the preferred and often the only possible path of correction. What comes to mind here is a piece of advice that EMAS verifiers give to producers of environmental statements which is ‘Tell it like it is, however it is’.

A QPS validation requires a suite of skills and capabilities. Should they not all be found in one person for a contract then this will need to be complemented. The 3 core skills are:
a) A capability in auditing, preferably of management systems.
b) A suitable knowledge of the industry sector concerned.
c) A capability to interrogate presented data and information for its truth, representation, accuracy and balance.

As indicated above, a QPS can only reasonably be representative of a time frame in the life of an organisation. Subsequent validations of later Quality Performance Statements are possible or even validation of summary up-dates.

Is there a relationship between ISO 9000 series management systems and Quality Performance Statements and their validation?

The short answer here is yes. However, even posing the question should indicate that having an ISO 9000 series management system is not a pre-requisite for successful validation of a QPS. There are likely to be many organisations that have chosen not to develop any formal management system yet are capable of producing a QPS that can withstand the validation process.

Nevertheless a company possessing an ISO 9000 series management system will be in a fortunate position to facilitate the validation. It will very likely have good record generation and management regimes, especially with regard to retrieval of records containing supporting data. It will also have confidence-building internal audit activity and generally follow all of the disciplines that go hand in hand with management by management systems. All of this is likely to give a degree of comfort to a validator during selection of a ‘sample’.

It is also interesting to note that ISO 9001:2000 supports the concept of performance reporting.

The need for an organisation to publicly declare its performance and credentials is not new. The success of the advertising industry is testimony to this. However, in most situations there has been a lack of opportunity to establish the reliability and reasonableness of these declarations. The process of validation has been absent. It is only by subjection of such claims to the scrutiny of an independent, respected and reliable third party that a degree of comfort can be given to interested parties. It is very possible that those who are willing to publicly declare their performance and undergo validation will enjoy a competitive advantage.

DNV QA Ltd, part of Det Norske Veritas, is offering an independent service for the validation of Quality Performance Statements.


David Powley is a Principal Lead Integrated Management Systems Auditor for DNV Certification Ltd. He is a Chartered Chemist and Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, a Principal Environmental Auditor with the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment, a registered Lead Auditor with the International Register for Certificated Auditors scheme for quality management systems and Lead Verifier for EMAS. David has produced many published articles on management systems for quality, environment and health & safety and their integration, being regarded as a pioneer on the subject of integration. He is currently finalising an experienced-based book on the subject of integrated management systems. David can be contacted on dave.powley@dnv.com







Back to previous page








top of page


home :: about :: contact :: terms

© 2006 SaferPak Ltd.