Implementing Best Practices: A Step-by-Step Guide to Aligning the Organization
Table of Contents
This article discusses the three main phases of Best Practice implementations, with a focus on the first phase of “Aligning the Organization”. This phase is planned and organized by leadership and involves many different people and groups across the organization, as indicated in Figure 1.2. It represents a milestone in which substantial progress occurs toward achieving our ultimate goal of “Achieving Excellence”. For those organizations that have successfully completed Phase I, we can say that they are now ready to progress to Phase II: “Aligning Processes” and Phase III: “Aligning People”.
The objectives are to gain an understanding of the content, meaning, relevance, value and importance of best practice implementation throughout the organization. It will provide practical guidelines for implementing quality management initiatives that relate directly to our goal of achieving excellence. This will be accomplished by reviewing the following areas:
3. General Methodology:
After reading this article, you should have a basic knowledge about Best Practices in terms of what it is, why it is important to your organization, how your company can align itself with best practices within its industry or sector, and finally your own personal role in achieving this alignment. Recommendations for facilitating the alignment will also be provided.
Within this article, key terminology is explained below to help you understand what best practice means within the context of this document:
5. Integrating Best Practices within Your Organization:
The answer to “what are best practices” can vary depending on who you ask. For example, some people might say that best practices are ways or practices that have proven themselves at other organizations or companies and often refer these as benchmarks. Other definitions consider them to be recommendations for achieving excellence in an organization, while still others view them as standard operating procedures for achieving optimum efficiency. Regardless of how one defines best practice, it is important to understand its relevance and value, since this knowledge will help you to determine its importance and how it can be integrated within your organization.
6. Benefits of Implementing Best Practices:
There are many benefits associated with implementing best practices within your organization, as indicated below:
Improved Customer Satisfaction – Organizations that have implemented a quality management system based on ISO 9001, for example, will often see improvement in customer satisfaction due to the elimination of problems encountered with previous products or services. Improved Employee Morale – When employees feel appreciated for their contribution, they tend to perform more efficiently and willingly than when treated poorly. Increased Organizational Resilience – Organizations that implement effective, procedures and systems are able to better adapt to change. Lower Expenses – Implementing best practices involves standardizing procedures, which often leads to the reduction of expenses, including material usage and product defects.
7. Why is Alignment Important?
Aligning with Best Practices requires your organization to make a substantial effort in order for it is successful. It does not happen overnight! Furthermore, the impact of alignment will vary depending on which area you are focusing on, business process or people factors. Regardless, in order for your organization to experience real success when aligning with best practices, it is necessary that all elements are identified and then appropriately addressed. What this means is that “touch-points” between different departments must be considered during each stage of implementation. For example, each time a product is purchased, there is an opportunity for alignment between purchasing and production.
8. The Role of the Executive:
The most critical decision you will need to make as executive head of your organization is to establish and approve the quality management system. It is important that all staff be made aware of this decision through frequent communication and visible support. This step will help to reinforce your vision, so that everyone within your organization understands what it’s like to work at your company.
9. The Role of Management:
Management plays a very influential role in any successful alignment with best practices. When integrating new procedures into the workplace, management must possess both “legitimate power” (the ability to effect change), and “personal power” (the ability to influence and support staff in order for changes to occur).
10. The Role of Leadership:
Leadership is a necessity when aligning with best practices. It is important that everyone within your organization understands their individual roles and how they fit into the big picture. However, leadership about process alone does not work. Leaders must be empowered to lead by example, which is evident when they are willing to model new behaviors and skills!
Culture may also present challenges in implementing these best practices due to employees’ reluctance or acceptance of change in general. Some companies find it beneficial to incorporate incentive programs through training and development opportunities for those staff members that clearly embrace the new practices.