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The Capital Program Services Division (CPSD) supports the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) in the development, implementation and management of the District's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The economic value of the SCVWD CIP is about 1.2 billion and has time horizon of about 15 years. Structured as a matrix organization, CPSD provides project management, civil engineering and environmental planning services related to the delivery of capital projects to client divisions (customers). Additionally, CPSD performs all of the fiscal management services necessary for project completion.

The decision to implement a Quality Management System (QMS) at CPSD was driven by the tremendous growth in the CIP and the corresponding hiring of personnel to support it (in a span of two years, CPSD staff grew from about 50 to over 115 employees). This level of growth exposed the need to implement a systematic approach to doing business. Projects delivery had to be consistent with high levels of quality and customer satisfaction.

To meet the challenge, the management team decided to implement the ISO 9001:2000 standard (officially known as ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System-Requirements). ISO 9001:2000 proved to be the ideal model due to its emphasis on a systematic approach to proven management practices, continual improvement and the periodic auditing/measurement of the system for effectiveness. While registration as an ISO 9001:2000 organization was possible after implementation, the management team chose not to put emphasis on this outcome. Instead, the focus was on the adoption of the standard to enable the division to move in the direction of improved customer satisfaction, continual improvement, systematic measurement and analysis of performance, improved employee training and career development, and the management of information and knowledge thorough the documentation of processes and organizational best practices.

This paper discusses the benefits of a documented QMS, the challenges of rolling out a QMS initiative, the infrastructure required to support it (people, technology and resources) and strategies to instill a culture of continual improvement in the organization.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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