Planning Your Quality Management System (QMS) Implementation: New Series

We hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday!  At the request of several clients and support desk subscribers, we’re beginning a new series on TL 9000 QMS project planning.  Planning a QMS implementation can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have much experience in project planning.  So after you recover from panic mode, you may be looking for some basics to help you along.  In this new series, we will dedicate several articles to “tips” for planning a QMS project.  So let’s begin!

First, you need to know what the major milestones are and when they must be completed.  Without them, your plan will either be late or will fail.  Every project has them.  For instance, if I plan to go to Hawaii in June of 2011, I need to make plane reservations (by a certain date) or I’m not going.   That’s an example of a major milestone!

Next, I use a technique called “backward planning.”  I start at the end and plan to the project’s beginning.  This is because things normally need to happen in sequence and some milestones have to happen before others–to make the plan complete on time.  To illustrate this, let’s return to the Hawaii travel plan.  I need to make reservations far enough ahead so that I can get them at a reasonable cost. This is where the interval becomes important.  Furthermore, I know there are 5 people going, so before I can make plane reservations I need to reach out and firm up all 5 schedules.  This scheduling activity becomes a major milestone that has to occur before “booking reservations” and with a healthy interval in between!  Both of these intervals work against the trip taking place on time and both milestones need to be done in the proper sequence.  Get the idea?

A QMS plan is no different.  There are “drop dead” milestones that if not completed on time, will become “show stoppers.”  Work to identify these from the plan end date–to the present and plug them in.  I can help you identify many of these for the QMS, but it is likely that you will have some others based on barriers you need to overcome and so forth. Also, remember that we’re talking about major milestones.  There will be multiple others in between.  Here are some of the common major milestones in a QMS plan, working backward from the completion date:

•    Completion and certification
•    Registrar audit
•    Management review
•    Internal audit of your QMS
•    Measurements reporting (TL 9000)
•    Documents complete and released
•    Conduct initial project plan meeting

In our next article we’ll flesh out some of these milestones and the recommended intervals in between them, working with the “backward planning” technique.  If you need immediate assistance please contact