PQI: A Whiteboard Video

May 14, 2019


“How Do You PQI?”

This is phrase that COA came up with a few years ago to introduce our newest toolkit. As an accreditation insider, we think it’s a clever phrase in that it conveys that:

  • PQI is a necessity
  • PQI is something that you do and that has motion, and
  • PQI is customizable.

(We also like that it rolls off the tongue easily, unlike the word “accreditation.”)

Unfortunately, not everyone is an accreditation insider. We love our acronyms at COA, and use them everywhere–in our standards, in our process, in our technology (shout out to the VIP portal!). But acronyms and jargon can be confusing to anyone not in the know, and create barriers to understanding. “PQI” is no different.

So what is PQI, you ask?

Good question–and a common question we’re asked when staffing COA’s exhibit booth at a conference. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Inquiring person: What is PQI?

Us: It’s the foundation of the accreditation process.

Inquiring Person: Yes, but what does it mean?

Us: “Performance and Quality Improvement.” It’s our name for Quality Improvement or Quality Assurance.

Inquiring person: Thanks. What’s “Quality Improvement”?

Us: On a basic level, we like to say that a PQI system is collecting data about your work, analyzing it, making course-corrections based on the data, and then tracking to see if those changes are working.

Then we usually see a glimmer of understanding in their eyes.  We give the inquiring person our PQI Toolkit postcard, and hope that it makes its way to the Quality Assurance/Data Nerd at their agency.

Based on our conversations with stakeholders, in-process organizations, and peers, we at COA know that PQI is can be a conceptual, difficult-to-grasp concept. We also know that agencies need a lot of help developing their PQI systems. This is why we talk about PQI a lot, and why we create trainings and tools to help.

One long-awaited tool is a high-level introduction to PQI for anyone new to the concept.  Now when we’re manning the exhibit table and get asked “What is PQI?”, we are thrilled to be able to reply:  

“Check out our PQI whiteboard video!”



The most effective social service organizations are those that have been accredited to meet the highest standards of quality.

For more than 40 years, the nonprofit Council on Accreditation has partnered with health and human service organizations globally to improve outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

COA’s Performance and Quality Improvement standards, or PQI, require organizations to generate and review organization-wide data to establish performance targets that improve services and outcomes for all stakeholders. It’s a comprehensive process that includes working with the entire organization instead of assigning the responsibility for quality improvement to just a few individuals.

Information generated by the PQI system is used to:

  • Monitor progress toward achievement of strategic goals and long-term direction,
  • Manage programs and operations efficiently and effectively,
  • Meet funder requirements to promote the organization and its services throughout the community, and
  • Support direct service staff to meet program goals and have a positive impact on people served.

The organization reviews findings and feedback while taking action to:

  • Eliminate or reduce identified challenges,
  • Replicate good practices,
  • Recognize and motivate staff, and
  • Improve services for the communities they serve and assist with fulfilling their mission.
Become accredited and reach a higher standard. Visit COA’s website to learn more or to get started today!

And hopefully now you think the phrase “How Do You PQI?” is clever, too.

Want to dig deeper into PQI? Check out our comprehensive PQI Toolkit.




About COA

Founded in 1977, the Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit organization that accredits human and social service providers. Our mission is to partner with human and social service organizations to strengthen their ability to improve the lives of the people they serve.