I'm just back from an international conference with peers from the rest of the world. Being there made me realize how far behind the organization is in my country and how much we can develop.
We need to plan how we will implement all these best practices from the rest of the world, how to enforce our own and how to ensure that we stick to them.

Short background: We've been running a fundraising program for some 7 years now. Almost all our organizational knowledge is in the heads of our management teams. In terms of using information technology we are a lot like ancient shamans. We're traveling the country and spreading information via the world of mouth. This is highly inefficient, ineffective and quite stressful for all of us. It gives us very limited possibilities to plan ahead, to improve current processes and to make sure that we communicate the same message throughout the organisation.

So, I'm looking for advise on how to document processes in an effective manner, how to create and stick to a development plan. During my googling (is that a word?) I stumbled upon the ISO 9001 standard which seems very tempting to me. Is it as good as it sounds? Is it something to look closer at at this very early stage of such a process or is it something to start working with later?

rwwh's picture
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ISO9001 is quite a good set of standards to make sure that any progress you make in the organization is kept for eternity. ISO9001 makes sure all procedures that are followed are documented and all people can be replaced in case of absence. ISO9001 is very difficult for really small organizations.

ISO9001 is often followed (with the associated certification) in the manufacturing industry, where it works "virally": as a manufacturing industry it is much easier to comply with ISO9001 when your suppliers are also certified. And for that reason your customers will ask for your certification.

Do not expect ISO9001 to be a magic bullet. It will still require a lot of work to make progress. It will be quite an investment to get certified. It is up to you to judge whether this actually makes sense in your case. There are certainly enough consultants that are willing to guide you.

bug_girl's picture

I thought about this myself, since we are both facing retirements and are spread over a wide physical area (different units tend to have evolved different proceedures). Ultimately, we decided that the time it would take to implement and manage a QMS just wasn't worth it--we aren't [i]quite[/i] big enough.

We ended up just using bits and chunks of the system, and if you've never had a system for writing things down--in detail--expect some push back initially.

In our case, since things have been done [b]so[/b] informally for [b]so[/b] long, it was just too huge a culture change to implement. So, I'm just sneaking it in by little bits 8)
Random aside: I only found out 2 years ago that my dad helped write ISO 9000! :shock:
He's a typical midwestern swede who never speaks except to maybe ask for another helping of lutfisk.
I never connected all those international trips with what he was doing. :oops:

thaGUma's picture

The danger in ISO 9001 is once you have it – you advertise it – you need to maintain it. Possession opens doors and will tie your company in to ongoing overhead to maintain the accreditation. It can however allow access to tenders that you would not otherwise have access to – not something that is relevant to you.

Given you are fundraising. I would recommend that you follow the process but do not look to gain the accreditation. The value is that your organisation will have a structure better placed to run efficiently. If you are in the not-for-profit sector then your overheads will be reduced.


ctomasi's picture

One way to ensure that you are keeping your ISO documentation up to date is do periodic audits. Annually works well. These can be internal (self) audits or external. In our case, our customers sometimes audit us, and often times agencies (FDA) get involved to ensure we are compliant with other regulations as well.

The audits may turn up non-conformities or (lesser evils) "observations" which can then be addressed in an appropriate manner (weekly action items reviews, etc.)

I also recommend some sort of revision control system and "released" documents. You don't need a big IT system. You may be able to get by with a protected directory with one admin and everyone else read-only access. This ensures that everyone is pulling information from the latest "official" release of the document and you don't have half the organization running around with rev "C" of an SOP and the other half using rev "D".

RasmusTQ's picture

Wow, thanks for the fast and great responses!

[i]Does anybody have any recommendations of books or other resources? Are there some inexpensives courses in building up, implementing and maintaining a SOP?[/i]

In the best of worlds you would direct me to one comprehensive source detailing step by step guides on how to collect and store information during the process, how to evaluate it, document it and in what form to distribute what information to whom and make sure that everybody met these standards. ;)
Preferably meeting up to the ISO requirements. If anybody has a magic stick I could wave to improve organizational performance that would also be greatly appreciated. =P

Using a consultant seems to be quite expensive (too expensive that is) and we wouldn't benefit too much from the actual certification. The process however we are in dire need of. Today nothing is documented, we have a very sparse common language and we are in grave need of quick improvement followed by a rapid expansion.
Organizational background:[/u]
I took over the program in January this year and have since worked on getting a better understanding of what is going on under the hood all over the country. We work on a national scale in Sweden, small teams of street fundraisers ranging from 3 to 12 ppl depending on size of the city. Each team is lead by a teamleader who is responsible for monitoring and improving performance. It is also his or her responsibility to recruit and train new recruiters + dealing with local admin stuff. The teamleaders (currently 6) reports to me and if there is any training of them, I am responsible.

All logistical work - collecting information of newly recruited supporters, dealing with salaries, contracts and material - is done by an admin who reports to one of my peers.

There is no doubt that the results of the current teams could be a lot higher with common training standards and a solid performance management system in place. It is also clear that we could be a lot bigger and generate a whole lot more of income and support for the organization if we had systems and protocols to follow.
The problem is just that to document everything seems like a gigantic project and I have a very limited understanding of how to conduct such a thing.

RasmusTQ's picture

If I could I'd add "Six Sigma? Lean?" to the subject line. After an intense day of googling I've broaden my understanding of the market when it comes to quality management a little. It is still VERY shallow though and I have to admit I am even more confused where to start.

I've found a 2 days course on ISO 9000 that is pretty affordable. What do the experienced lot here have to say? Is that a good place to start working on organisational standards for a fundraising organization the size of 30-90 people? I'd hate to start working on a huge research project for inventing the wheel... ;)

rwwh's picture
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Start with ISO900x.

LEAN is a method to "avoid waste", to become more productive by making sure everything you do is something "a customer would pay for".

I'm not an expert on six sigma, but I have understood this is a method that strives for perfection so that you can avoid the costs associated with correcting errors. "Six sigma" is mathematically equivalent to one error in a million tries.