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Building Quality Management into Food Safety Training Can Help Mitigate Your Company’s Risk

By Michelle Rzendzian

When it comes to training and food safety, quality management is key in ensuring consistency and excellence. An organization that has a strong quality management system sees benefits in all aspects of programming, service delivery and scalability.

Benefits of a Training-Specific Quality Management System

A training-specific quality management system can provide numerous benefits, including:

An organization that has a strong quality management system sees benefits in all aspects of programming, service delivery and scalability.

  • An internal structure that allows the organization to scale up training easily
  • Greater consistency in activities involved in providing products and/or service, creating more value
  • Reduced risk and, as a result, reduced costly mistakes
  • Increased accountability and efficiency via better use of time and resources
  • Continuous improvement in record management and customer satisfaction
  • Added value to market your business more effectively and protect your brand
  • Gateways to opportunities to explore new market sectors and territories
  • Faster and easier onboarding of employees and independent contractors

The risks of severe outbreaks, injuries, and other crises everywhere from meat processing plants to quick service restaurants have heightened the need for a quality management system dedicated to training. In fact, training-specific quality management systems are becoming increasingly favored by government, NGO funding programs and certain jurisdictions, with some making it a requirement for organizations to operate.

Components of a Training-Specific Quality Management System

A comprehensive training-specific quality management system includes several key components. These can be implemented one at a time or simultaneously, depending on direction from management and the resources available.

Instructional Design

As a first step, organizations should complete instructional design. This includes defining course programming needs and collaborating with market research, sales, and business units, as well as determining if existing or new content will be used. With existing content, content may need to be translated and/or adjusted for specific regions. New course development includes determining resources needed to develop training content, creating learning documents, and producing course content, such as materials and assessments. The timeline for course development will vary depending on how much new content needs to be created.

Trainer Management

Once the instructional design is complete, trainer management must be implemented to ensure that trainers are onboarded and are familiarized with the content. During this step, it’s important to review and update policies and procedures, such as trainer handbooks, SOPs, qualifications and trainer documentation. Regional trainers can be trained via “train the trainer” exercises and course reviews.

Operations Management

The next step is operations management. Operations management starts with defining office resources and structure. It also includes defining sales and marketing processes, such as service agreements and marketing activities, and reviewing and implementing operational policies and procedures. These include existing operational platforms, tools, standard operating procedures, shared drives, work instructions and documents.

Continuous Improvement

Once you have your instructional design, trainer management and operations management in place, it’s time to control and monitor continuous improvement. This includes an ongoing review of policies and procedures through evaluations, complaints, regional assessments, and audits. In addition, key performance indicator reporting requirements and templates can help to assess progress and effectiveness.

How to Get Started

Once an organization has decided it wants to create a training-specific quality management system, it should define personal resources and meet with stakeholders to develop a plan. Start with conducting diagnostic activities, then work on implementation plans in each area outlined in this article.

We’ve seen firsthand the benefits of having a training-specific quality management system. One example from NSF International comes from our office in Mexico, which developed its own system and was the first site outside of the United States to do so. By streamlining training across the region, they saw positive results including faster onboarding, team member engagement and empowerment, standardized training, role clarity, accurate benchmarking, stronger communication and use of a centralized database resulting in greater efficiencies. The system was so successful it’s now being considered in additional regions.

About the Author

Michelle Rzendzian is a training manager in food safety at NSF International. NSF International is an independent, global organization that facilitates the development of standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment. Founded in 1944, NSF International is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide.

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