Today I was working with my company’s software designers to add additional reports and key performance indicators to our continuous improvement software system (CIS). Normally I enjoy working on improving our software, but in this instance, I found myself struggling with many of my customer’s requests.

I wonder how similar organizations in the same industry-quality management-require such different types of performance indicators and reports. Some are interested in quantities while others are interested in dollars. One wants three-month periods while others are yearly or daily. Even more want to separate issues by various types of categories and further by issue types.

Our challenge is to have an effective reporting software system without having too many choices for our customers. After all, having to find a one useful report from 2,000 different reports would be daunting. That is why we try to maintain a smaller yet effective collection of reports. This approach is best to satisfy everyone in every industry.

Often I wonder why industries and companies do not have a standard on reporting performance and quality. This would certainly make my life easier. I think it may also make many lives better. For example, if all organizations had standard methods for collecting and reporting key performance indicators, then I would imagine audits to standards such as ISO 9001 and AS 9100 would be more accurate, easier and less expensive. Imagine if these standard reports included information about:

  • The percentage of instruments calibrated past their due dates;
  • The percentage of instruments found out of calibration on their calibration due date;
  • The percentage of corrective actions that proved not effective;
  • The percentage of employees not trained on time accordance to the required training; and
  • The percentage of customer contracts with errors. This list could be extensive and in a specific order. Furthermore, it could be in a spreadsheet for an auditor to review prior to an audit.

    A manager could be hired and the manager would already understand the reporting data and would be far more effective instantly; evaluating a company’s net worth would be easier and more accurate; and comparing companies or their locations would be easier and more accurate.

    Imagine the huge shift in auditing and certification that would take place. Rather than auditing to standard requirements, processes and deciding if the organization meets the ISO 9001 elements, one would instead audit the organization’s methods of collecting and reporting the data. The data would speak for itself.

    This means that the standard for certification could be based on meeting minimum reported performance indicators and organizations could be required to report these monthly. Additionally, there could be color-coded levels of conformance such as green for completely conforming, orange for approaching nonconforming and red for not conforming.

    Real-time conformance or real time certification that is not static for a year or between audits periods would be a more accurate system of judging conformance. I know that this is possible since our software operates in this manner to help management within the organization. With super-fast internet connections available to most all organizations today, this type of real-time certification should not be complicated at all. The first step would be to create the standard for with all organizations should report performance indicators.