Effective communication within a company allows the Management System to function efficiently, by providing relevant, meaningful information to the people who need it. The 2015 revision of ISO 9001 makes it is necessary for a company to decipher the internal and external communications pertinent to the management system and put some structure around it. In doing this it is necessary to know who to communicate with, how communication will occur and who is responsible for doing the communication.
When working with communication within a company there is two main divisions to consider; internal and external. Internal communication is all levels of the organization, this means the staff who deliver and implement information, operational staff and management staff. Internal communication can be delivered in three main formats; visually, written and face to face. The format of internal communication is determined by any barriers within the company. Barriers within a company could include language barriers, illiteracy, some staff working outside the office, technology within the company, etc. Internal communication is all about ensuring internal employees have the information they need to be able to effectively execute their job.
The second division of communication within a quality management system is external communication. This method of communication involves anyone pertinent outside the company; included would be other companies in the same field (service providers, maintenance providers), contractors, customers, stakeholders or board members. Devising effective external communication ensures all relevant interested parties are appropriately informed. (more on relevant interested parties - click here).
The easiest way to formalize organizational communication is to put together a communication matrix. Odds are pretty good that you are already doing quite a bit of communicating with internal and external stakeholders, the matrix functions as a summary so all communication can be viewed from a macro level to identify gaps and redundancies in communication. The easiest way to construct this matrix is to create a table in Microsoft Word or Excel with the headings listing in the next section. Then begin populating it with all of your current communications that are taking place and use this matrix as your starting point. I have included some definitions as a guide.
Categories and examples of internal and external communication:
a) What is communicated: Define and document the topic of communication - what is the information that is going to be delivered?
b) Frequency of communication; Specify how often this communication is going to take place. This is typically daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly. The frequency of the communication depends solely on the topic of discussion, for example financial communication may be monthly whereas structural or environmental changes could be yearly.
c) Audience; this can be anyone internal or external to the company and be decided based on the topic of the communication, for example financial communication may be with only internal employees that handle cash flow or budget information, structural or environmental may only include any employees that can make physical changes within the company or work in the department being altered or changed. Quarterly business reviews may be delivered to the Board of Directors.
d) Mode of Delivery; this can be done in many ways including face to face, visually which would include power points, videos, dry erase board or written could be a newsletter, email, manual, etc.
e) Communicator; this is typically determined by the topic of communication - who is the person (or group) responsible for delivering the communication.
All in all, communication is a really important aspect of running an effective and efficient business; utilizing a simple structure like a communication matrix can ensure intentional, relevant, and timely delivery of information.
Christopher M. Spranger, MBA, ASQ MBB
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