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How to drive forward the quality assurance process in your organisation

People in voluntary organisations choose to adopt quality assurance systems for a variety of reasons, perhaps because a particular system is required by a funder or simply because they want to create policies and procedures. Whatever your reasons, the process is likely to go more smoothly if you have a quality working group to guide your work, rather than simply relying on one person to work through your chosen system.

Things you'll need

  • You need to bring to this process a genuine desire to implement your chosen quality assurance system, rather than treating it as a tick-box exercise. This guide offers a common-sense approach to working on quality assurance.
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Things to consider

  • Decide which mix of people would constitute the best quality working group – three or four members generally works well. Encourage a range of people to be part of your group: a mixture of members of staff and trustees (and maybe even volunteers or service users if they are willing) will ensure that you get the best results from your quality assurance work.
  • One person should act as the 'quality champion'. This should preferably be someone with the authority to organise regular meetings and make sure that tasks are completed as planned.
  • Agree on the group's terms of reference (what it will and won't do).
  • Give members of the group their own roles and responsibilities if this is helpful, e.g. responsibility for work on financial processes or governance issues.
  • Make sure that arrangements are in place to enable the group to report back regularly to trustees and staff. To this end, it is useful to have a standing item on the agenda for board and staff meetings.
  • Foster a commitment to quality assurance within your organisation. It may help to adopt a short quality assurance policy statement.
  • Remember to let key stakeholders, such as funders and commissioners, know about your quality assurance work - and regularly take time out to celebrate your achievements!
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What might your quality working group need to ensure success?

  • Time for meetings and to complete agreed tasks between meetings.
  • Resources, such as volunteer expenses or access to specialist advice (e.g. support with technical policies).
  • Access to people, documents and a place to meet.
  • Good communication and support from colleagues.
  • Ground rules (e.g. confidentiality, commitment to the process, ensuring that all group members can contribute).
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Suggestions for things to include in your terms of reference

  • Encourage people to be honest about how well you do things as an organisation.
  • Give all stakeholders the chance to contribute to the quality assurance process.
  • Link the quality assurance system you are using to your business or annual plan.
  • Provide regular updates to trustees, staff, volunteers and other stakeholders.
  • Set a realistic deadline for achieving your aim (e.g. completing level one of PQASSO). If your deadline is too short your work may feel rushed and be incomplete; if it is too far away your progress may be slow because people will feel they have plenty of time.

Further information

  • Your local support agency may have a dedicated worker who can support your organisation with its quality assurance work and provide guidance about specific quality assurance systems.

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Page last edited Jul 27, 2015 History

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