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Risky Business: Have Your Organisation's Standards Slipped?

15 September 2015 at 11:37 am
Xavier Smerdon
If external reviewers visited your organisation today, would it still meet accreditation requirements?

Xavier Smerdon | 15 September 2015 at 11:37 am


Risky Business: Have Your Organisation's Standards Slipped?
15 September 2015 at 11:37 am

If external reviewers visited your organisation today, would it still meet accreditation requirements?

Organisations may invest resources to meet quality and accreditation standards and undergo external review for accreditation every two or three years. Unfortunately, there can be a tendency for organisations to then mount their awarded accreditation certificate on the wall and file the standards until the next external review. Maintaining standards is an ongoing process needed to ensure the organisation is always safe, compliant, smart, and the best it can be.

Whilst we recognise that not all sets of standards are well written or provide value and clear direction, their intent is usually to guide organisations to better practice. Good standards have both foundation and progress elements; if we view all standards through this lens, it can help to apply them in real life, even those frustrating standards we’ve come across!

The foundation elements of a standard may be defined as documentation, awareness and implementation; all needing to be in place before progress against a standard can be made. To a meet a standard relating to client complaints, for example, the organisation will need policies and procedures (documentation), staff orientation and training in complaint management (awareness), and processes for receiving and responding to client complaints, such as public notices for clients, and methods to collect a complaint (implementation).

However, without progress elements of outcome and review, how can organisations know they have met the standard? For this example, evidence is needed about clients’ access to the complaint system and complaint data is collected (outcomes), and for the documentation, awareness, implementation and outcomes to be monitored and improvements made (review).

An important point to make is that if organisations ‘do’ the standards once, does not further work, or ticks it off without any ongoing monitoring, they really are only meeting the minimum or good practice requirements of the standard at a single point in time. This doesn’t have long lasting sticking power; environments change, internally with new staff and new clients, and externally with new guidelines or legislation; and pressures may lead to unintentional or intentional deviation from established good practice. Without addressing progress elements of standards, there is no way for organisations to know if what has been put in place is working, or if documentation, awareness and implementation is still being applied or correctly.

Imagine leaving your organisation’s bookkeeping work to once in the annual cycle. Not only would it create intense chaos for all staff involved, it opens the organisation to risk. So why leave meeting quality standards to once in the accreditation cycle?

Once an organisation has identified monitoring methods, including regular internal audits and use of specific forms, register and tools, how do organisations manage that information to make use of it? Traditionally, spread sheets and word based applications have been used, now there is a greater shift towards more interactive and dynamic applications. BNG NGO Services Online offers such a solution with Standards & Performance Pathways (SPP), an online quality management system designed to help organisations maintain multiple sets of quality and accreditation standards, manage risk and compliance, and maintain quality throughout the organisation. SPP’s functions and tools support organisations to consistently meet and maintain standards. See for yourself: take a free, two-week trial of SPP here

Don’t let your standards slip.

Watch the presentation — Risky Business: Have Your Standards Slipped?

BNG recently held a webinar on this same topic. You can watch the full presentation (or segments) here.

Watch the first segment below.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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