We are in an age of public spending austerity. Attracting funding for projects is becoming more competitive and those funding us are asking for us to deliver more impact on more complex issues. So how do maintain quality or work at least work towards it?
Quality is typically something measured against a level/standard or something measured in comparison. Whether it’s the hotel star rating or exploring where you can find the best pint of Guinness! Quality is being continually measured or perceived. In performance football we have seen an emergence of quality improvement measures through the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
The EPPP is about improvement in quality across football clubs around areas concerning player/talent development. Within community football no thorough measures exists to compare to this approach. But we know quality exists across programmes.
One approach, which may be useful to us is Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM is a management approach that seeks to achieve quality through the participation of all organisational members/team, by aiming at long-term success through customer/stakeholder satisfaction and benefits to all members of the organisation and society. The main approach of TQM is outlined below:
- focus on customer (satisfaction): the customer/stakeholder can be described as the first principle of TQM from which all other principles are derived
- continuous improvement (innovation): all processes are constantly refined and improved to yield better value to customers/stakeholders
- total involvement (commitment): all employees participate and are involved in order to increase the value provided to customers/stakeholders.
Image from De Knop, Van Hoeke and De Bosscher (2004)
Some of the common features of TQM include:
• focus on the customer/stakeholder
• strategic planning
• quality measurement and analysis
• quality assurance
• quality and productivity improvement results
• top management leadership and support
• employee training and teamwork.
Having spent some time over the past couple of months ‘out in the field’ with community football programmes, there is an evident desire by those in management and coaching positions to maintain and improve quality. Strategic planning, continuous improvement, leadership and continuing training, education and team building were all key features of the programmes observed. However, few of us have meaningful quality measures in place to create and evidence improvement in results/performance/impact (depending on who we are telling)
It is clear that community football programmes are seeking support for research and evaluation to help gauge their impact, to provide a benchmark to build upon. As everyone knows that without this we have a very slim chance in being able to evidence ‘improvements in effectiveness’, to those in the commissioner and funding positions in the future.