Management Systems: Forget Back to the Future, it’s Back to the Past!

It was 30 years ago last week (21st October 1985 to be exact) that in the movie Back to the Future, Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travelled forward in time to the 21st October 2015 to prevent Marty McFly’s future son from being imprisoned.

If you accompanied Doc in his DeLorean car as it journeyed through time to arrive last week, you would probably question whether he did transport you to 2015!  When reviewing your company’s current management system and those of your suppliers or partners, the only difference you may notice is that there are many more procedures now than in the last century, but not much else.

I watched the movie in 1985 while working at Qatar Petroleum as a Quality Engineer, and was responsible for developing procedures for every discipline in the traditional text-based format of: ‘purpose, scope, responsibilities, references’ etc. With IT being in its infancy, this format was the recognised structure for most organisations and certifying authorities alike; however writing procedures proved to be laborious, time-consuming and they were often difficult to understand.

Fast forward to today, where every industry operates within an abundance of regulatory demands, has incurred greater risk and likely operates within a more fiercely competitive market. It is essential that the workforce recognises their part to play in controlling work practises (processes) in order to deliver the highest level of performance. Apart from process automation (ERP) and workflow, the majority of activities are considered human-centric, therefore the information on `who, does what, where and when` requires serious consideration. When I hear the phrase, “our people are our greatest asset”, I do question the validity and conviction of such a phrase.

With technology that Marty McFly would think was ‘awesome’, we have the software tools to simplify the complexity of traditional management system content and improve the presentation of information that will increase the workforces’ understanding of their individual responsibilities, awareness to risk and any compliance issue related to their tasks …what’s so futuristic about that?

Peter B. Shields, CEO, BusinessPort Ltd


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