BUILDING A QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM TO SUPPORT SKILLS PROGRAMMES & LEARNERSHIPS


 

 

 

Dr Wynand Goosen

 

 

1. PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION AND QUALITY ASSURANCE (PIMQA 101)

 

Whilst NSDS II is clear on the objectives surrounding the enhancement & improvement of Quality Management Systems, little attention is given to the combination of Quality Management Systems and Project Management Plans. As a result, quality management and project management is often seen in isolation. Project management is mostly seen as the step-by-step plan to take a learner from NYC to C. The QMS on the other hand, is viewed as a set of policies and procedures aimed at checking if the quality of the process is acceptable.

 

But what is quality? Seriously, what is quality in training?

 

Quality or Quality Management starts with setting a Standard – the same standard set by Project Management, followed by the development of Systems to measure the degree of attainment to these Standards. In the Provider business this means that the step-by-step objectives as per the project plan, functions as the quality standards. The system to measure attainment of these objectives is normally written as Policies & Procedures into a Provider Quality Management Systems – a QMS.

 

The relationship between the QMS and the Project Plan for implementation of a skills programme or learnership should therefore be symbiotic. The quality management should take place as part of the project management on an integrated basis.

 

2. FROM START TO FINISH – TWELVE STEPS

 

During the implementation of a Skills Programme or Learnership, the process from start to finish can be divided into 12 (not so basic) steps:

 

  1. Establish training brief. This will come in the form of an appointment, or a training contract, or simply a training brief in a department.
  2. Develop project plan. The project plan should function as a step-by-step plan to evolve the level of competency of a learner from one point to the next. This plan will have to identify all the steps such as material development, training, assessment, moderation and upload onto the national learner record database.
  3. Develop a training schedule. The training schedule should function as a calendar of the training activity for learner and facilitator.
  4. Take bookings & learner registration. Learners have to register, and sign an agreement to agree to their development.
  5. Appoint facilitators. All facilitators must meet the criteria of being a subject matter expert on the appropriate level, as well as demonstrable competency as a facilitator. The appropriate level normally means that the facilitator is qualified one level higher than the level on which the facilitator is training learners.
  6. Develop & print material. Material development should be aligned to unit standards and cover all specific outcomes as well as assessment criteria in the relevant unit standards or qualification. Material should demonstrate how all the specific outcomes are met, via an alignment matrix. Training material should include; Learner material; Facilitator guide; assessor guide; assessment instrument and a POE template.
  7. Conduct training & facilitate the POE. Facilitation should include a combination of methods. Traditional theory discussions remains popular, but a part of the facilitation should include time spent on creating competency in class, via assistance to complete the POE.
  8. Measure the learner satisfaction rate. Learner should also evaluate the facilitation process. This should be done with a normative questionnaire that indicates the degree of learner satisfaction.
  9. Plan & conduct assessment. Assessments should be conducted on the prescribed format and in alignment with the unit standards. Assessors should be subject matter experts – qualified one level higher than the level on which they assess as well as being qualified assessors.
  10. Moderate assessments. Qualified moderators should conduct moderation. Moderators should also be subject matter experts. The relevant ETQA must complete supply guidelines for the moderation report.
  11. Verify results. The relevant ETQA must verify results. This process involves a review of the above process and steps.
  12. Upload results on the NLRD. Once the ETQA is satisfied that results are acceptable, the provider will upload results on the NLRD – National Learner Record Database. Once completed a learner result statement is released and a certificate of competency issued.

 

 

3. LOOKING AT THE CURRENT QMS

 

Most providers have Quality Management Systems that are somewhat generic. The reason for this is that the original QMS started from the ISO 9000:2000 basis. ISO, although a great system for quality management, does not suggest maximum standards, but like all standards, deals with minimum standards. As a result, the provider QMS is often generic and serves compliance to format and ISO type thinking more than what it does business practice.

 

The QMS suggests a couple of interesting principles such as management review & continuous improvement. Under these principles the QMS can develop into a sophisticated system that integrates quality management and project management into a single system. This could enable us to have a system where implementation is quality assured step by step. This enables the project manager to be more aware of possible deviations. As an early detection system this System enables remedial action when required rather than when it is too late!

 

In consolidating Project Management (PM) and Quality Management Systems (QMS), it deserves to be mentioned that PM is the benchmark of required outcomes whilst QMS is words and system to measure the attainment of these benchmarks.

 

4. THE MARRIAGE OF QMS  & PM

 

 

 

Project Management & Quality Management can be divided into 5 crucial steps.

These will include:

 

4.1 Pre Training Step

4.2 Training Step

4.3 Assessment Step

4.4 Moderation Step

4.5 Close out and Reporting Step

 


4.1 The Pre Training step refers to that part of the training where the training objectives and the training brief have been identified. The training brief defines the objective (s) to be reached and includes the number of people to be trained, what they are to be trained on and the reason why they are to be trained. During pre training planning the access requirements or learner profile is defined. This is needed so that a benchmark may be established for entrance. Without a defined entrance requirement, proper recruitment & selection of learners are impossible. So often companies identify a training need, but fail to screen the suitability of staff to attend the training. Once selection is completed, learners must be registered. This registration should take into consideration the information requirements of the client or company as well as NLRD requirements.

 

The development of a training schedule with times, dates and explanations of what training takes place when, should be developed prior to training. This schedule should also make provision for assessment & moderation. The inclusion of assessment & moderation on this schedule implies that there are evidence of assessment & moderation planning.

 

The pre training step should conclude with a final checklist of requirements. The checklist could include items such as printing, material development, classroom checking, security issues  & learner communication. The checklist should be kept as a record of planning and forms part of final report at a later stage. Lastly the entire practice needs to be documented – as a policy firstly and procedure secondly. The policy should be written as a narrative of the step – describing the outline and operation of this step. The procedure should describe in broad terms, the step-by-step guide to achieving certain outcomes and objectives. The policy and procedure should serve as the description of what is to be achieved as well as how they the efforts will be tested against this possible achievement. Also included in this step are the development and identification of the required documents (templates) as well as the records (populated documents) that must be kept.  In order to consider the effective implementation of the project plan, every step of the plan can be quality assured. Remembering that the PM step is setting the benchmark and that the QMS step is measuring the attainment of the benchmark, we can align the PM and QMS steps into a single system.

 

 

 

Training material development should be done based on unit standards but also on client needs. The client needs can be determined by developing an analysis of the “problem base” This involves a study whereby a survey is conducted of all that which does not work on a company and then developing a training programme to address these needs. The alignment of these needs to the unit standards may prove tricky, but not impossible. Thus, satisfying both corporate and competency needs are possible.

 

 

4.2 The Training Step includes items such as induction, actual facilitation of training, evaluation of trainer by learners, development of a learner satisfaction index and reports on continuous improvement. The step also considers training methodology such as facilitation of theory, POE and outcomes based, the use of case studies etc.

 

The welcoming of learners will be done with the aid of and induction document and a code of conduct. The signed code of conduct and induction by the learner serves as the record to be kept. In keeping, the induction policy describes what induction is and why it is done. The procedure outlines the broad steps that are to be followed when engaging in the induction of learners. Accordingly, the facilitation of learning has as documents, facilitator’s guides, learner guides, attendance register and alignment matrix. The accompanying documents are the training register and the record the signed register. The policy describes how the training takes place and mentions that registers are kept. The procedure suggests how it is kept. Learners evaluate the trainer by rating certain pre-determined aspects. These are then “digested “via a learner satisfaction index to represent a picture of trainer effectiveness as rated by learners. Again the process is described and documented by means if a policy & procedure. Documents and records are listed as per the attached slide:

 

 

 

How to select facilitators, assessors & moderators should be mentioned in the staff selection policies & procedures. This should include the development of standard Service Level Agreements. Training staff should always have access to facilitator, assessor and moderator guides.

 

 

4.3 Assessment Step

The assessment step starts with the design & development of the assessment instrument. Documents to be used include the unit standards, draft assessment instruments and assessor development guides. The alignment table, indicating how and where the assessment criteria are covered, serves as a quality requirement. However, design & development of assessment instruments must also be reflected in the policy and procedures. Prior to assessment of the POE, learner portfolios should also be quality assured. This requires a POE checklist that enables the quality assurance officer to ascertain if the POE meets with requirements of evidence – whether evidence satisfies the requirements of the unit standards.

 

Once the Q/A process is complete, the POE can now be assessed, using the instrument and the policy and procedures to determine the standard of operation. NLRD upload takes place based on ETQA regulations as well as policy & procedure. Again the assessment step is characterized by a process that has documents, records and quality standards.

 

 

 

 

 

4.4 The moderation step starts with a moderator brief. The complete brief will require that the moderator consider the organizations policy & procedure of moderation to start with. In the context of this review, the moderator brief should reflect an application of policy and procedure. Once the moderator is satisfied that the policy & procedure meets with the ETQA criteria and covers the brief, the moderation of the assessment instrument begins. Although often not the practice, a competent moderator will also consider the training material used as well as the delivery mode. Where RPL was used, the moderator should review the QMS, the process used and the quality of evidence. Sound practice suggests that the moderation process is well planned and that the plan is documented. As a rule of thumb, one moderators report for every 30 credits should be completed, or 4 for a complete qualification. The final moderators report should include a VARCS report.

 

Once the moderation is conducted, a checklist to determine GAP’s is always a good idea. Moderation should also include a review of the moderation itself, as well as clear feedback to assessors in terms of a feedback letter. Again, every project step in moderation has a QMS step, as well as documents & records.

 

 

 

 

 


4.5 Close out reporting suggests a review and report of the initial objectives. The report should start with a type of discussion of the objectives set in the beginning of the project, followed by an analysis of the attainment of the objectives. GAP’s should be highlighted and remediation discussed. A section for lessons learnt is always a good idea.

 

Again, every activity in the close out report should be quality assured. This is done via the alignment matrix of documents, records, policy and procedure. One of the best ways to develop a report is to keep score of developments as they take place, step by step. If for example, in the pre training step, all documents are kept and the same in the subsequent steps, the compilation of a final report becomes a consolidation of a process that was quality assured, step by step. The benefits being that project management do not have to wait until the completion of the entire project to engage in an analysis of GAP’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. CONCLUSION

 

The development of a Project Management Implementation & Quality Assurance System (PIMQA) can be seen as the next evolutionary step in the improvement of the training provider QMS.

The development of standards policies & procedures are of lesser importance where the provider engages in actual implementation of a system that quality assures as it project manages.

The separation of the two disciplines makes the application academic.

 

By engaging in a process of consolidation, we not only devise a practical system, but also ensure a step-by-step development that can detect problems early on in a project, whilst they can still be corrected. 

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