Quality First is a simple tool that uses a workbook to run through nine quality areas that can help an organisation improve its performance. It is aimed at small organisations that are run solely by volunteers, though may be used by organisations with one or two paid staff.
Quality First was developed to support groups that wish to be actively involved in developing their communities without necessarily becoming employees and managers of funded organisations. It offers small organisations an opportunity to focus on quality assurance and to build on their confidence about the quality and effectiveness of their activities
Organisations using Quality First work through the Quality First Workbook, which suggests that an organisation should make procedures explicit (say what you do), ensure that those procedures are carried out (do what you say) and check their effectiveness by monitoring and reviewing performance. Improvements in quality should be seen as a result.
The nine quality areas in Quality First are:
Each quality area has two levels:
When an organisation has completed self-assessments for all nine quality areas, it fills out an overall assessment form to provide an overview and some ideas for what action can be taken in order to meet the commitment to the code of practice in these areas. Once the overview of current achievements has been established, the organisation can decide which quality areas to work on and draw up a schedule of review dates, to access each quality area at least once during the year. Evidence for quality improvements should be compiled in the workbook.
Any small or medium-sized organisation without any paid members of staff or organisations with one or two members of staff can use Quality First. It is a good starting point for organisations that are unfamiliar with quality tools.
An organiser will need to lead, but this can be anyone at the organisation who has read through the instructions.
Proficiencies or skills
Quality First is easy to use and requires little or no training.
Quality First is flexible and can be used over any period of time. It has the potential to address a range of activities across the organisation that may require some significant staff time to make improvements.
Courses, support, and information
A workbook is available for working through the process at a cost of around £35 (including postage). Details on how to order this can be obtained from the Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) website. Regional development agencies may also be able to provide support.
Quality First was written by Tony Farley in partnership with Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC). BVSC can be contacted to obtain the workbook and offer support.
Birmingham Voluntary Service Council
Tel. +44 (0)121 678 8888