Why every organization needs a washing machine

At Plio, we’ve brought together a team with a diverse set of skills in user interface design and in cloud software design, development and operations. We’ve created software that’s simple and reliable enough for any quality or compliance team to use as a hands-on tool. Software and can be set up a quality manager or mentor in just a few minutes without specialist technical assistance.

Organizations are becoming increasing complex as new technologies expand what we can do when we create products and services.These new technologies raise the bar on quality expectations, so customers are becoming more demanding. There is also more that can go wrong, increasing the possibility of serious adverse events that impact customers and can destroy corporate reputations.

As complexity grows, even relatively small organizations are forced to introduce continuous improvement initiatives to deal with the consequences of complexity. When there is any kind of external inspection regime, the lack of effective quality or compliance management processes is seen as one of the most obvious indicators of an immature or dysfunctional organization.

The paradox of continuous improvement

Running a quality management or compliance management program can be a very challenging responsibility. Bad practice needs to be identified and weeded out. Good practice needs to be written down in standards documents and spread through the organization by appropriate training and mentoring. This means a drive towards increased standardization of processes and procedures. However, this needs to go hand in hand with innovation and an increased receptiveness to new ideas that can drive improvements in performance.

Balancing standardization with innovation

Effective quality managers (or compliance managers) must perform a juggling act. They must find a way to balance the two opposing forces or standardization and innovation. On the one hand they must act as bureaucrats, making sure that standards get defined and implemented. On the other hand they must act as disruptors, being prepared to overturn the existing ways of doing things to improve performance and outcomes. This has to be achieved by influencing others and not by directly managing them, and all this with very limited administrative backup.

Doing more with less

The effort required to run an effective quality or compliance program is considerable. Best practice has to be identified and agreed, and standard procedures need to be written down. A register of operational issues (nonconformities, in the jargon) has to be initiated and root causes of these issues need to be identified. Only then can the right corrective and preventative actions be taken. The effectiveness of these actions needs to be verified before the case can be closed. The time taken on administrative follow up of this workload is considerable. The administrative work tends to crowd out the influencing work, to the detriment of the overall program.

The washing machine

Running a continuous improvement program is a bit like washing your clothes – a repetitive, unglamorous task that is nevertheless essential to your organization's health and hygiene. Because washing machines are cheap and widely available, most people choose to automate the clothes washing process. This frees up our time to do more valuable and fulfilling work.

Almost all large organizations have installed the software equivalent of a washing machine for running continuous improvement cycles. These tend to be complex and expensive machines designed to meet large-scale needs – the industrial washing machine.

What we need now is a washing machine for running continuous improvement cycles in smaller organizations. A machine that is just as effective in cleaning our processes, but simpler. Simple enough to use as a hands-on tool and at the same time simple to install and operate.

Eliminate the drudgery!

These is our goal for Plio – the first software system that can eliminate the drudgery of running continuous improvement programs that’s practical for smaller organizations (and for units within larger organizations that lack the internal specialists who can look after the system).

We look forward to supporting you to make your continuous improvement initiatives easier to manage and more productive.

Steve Ives
CEO, Plio


Our Team

Steve Ives

Steve’s interest in management systems started at Wharton, where he studied for his MBA.  He then tried to apply what he’d learned, with varying degrees of success, in two startups that he founded in the early days of the mobile internet.  Founder of Trigenix, a mobile software company which was acquired by Qualcomm Inc. Loves cycling and the Cotswold hills.

Jack Herbert

Jack is a freelance web designer based in Cambridge, UK.  He spent four year working and studying in Japan before returning to Cambridge.  Jack created the first Plio user interface prototypes before any code was written, and helped to refine the initial designs into a simpler and more usable product. While not designing, Jack is a long suffering supporter of Crystal Palace Football Club.

Mike Rokosh

Mike is a project manager and business analyst for Apiko Software OU, an Eastern European software development company. Mike leads the small team of software engineers who created the Plio system. Outside of work, Mike enjoys snowboarding and the occasional game of tennis.

James Ives

Creator of several successful web sites, James is a cofounder of Plio Ltd.  Has strong opinions on what makes a site work (or fail) from a user perspective. Always experimenting with the latest tools, tips and techniques for driving user acquisition.  Loves rowing, past member of University of London and UCL eights crews.