Towards quality excellence – an ultimate guide how to align your business with your quality goals.

written on 20.05.2021

A call for more quality awareness.

To be honest, when I talk with my network about quality, it is more or less an alignment of regulatory standards and process routines to be documented, measured and logged. In the spotlight perspective wellknown buzzwords like Compliance, Kanban, Lean, 5S and many more are thrown on the table without any specific meaning behind. The general question about the importance of process quality and usability is not on the agenda most times.

Compliance – der cornerstone of all buzzwords.

Well, compliance is not the only buzzword with major impact on process quality, but it covers a lot of legal frameworks that must be taken in consideration. There are at least industrial norms and general process regulations like ISO 9001:2015 that influence the requirements and ensure a quality management system is implemented. On top of that there are general data protection, work safety and anti-discrimination rules, anti-corruption and fire protection guidelines, product warranty and return-material process obligations or simply self-depended initiated rules and frameworks to be respected and proven within a specific policy.
At the end, compliance covers all those areas of concerns in one term.

Quality is quite a lot, but no coincidence.

Beside the buzzword compliance there are much more aspects included in quality. To be concrete, quality generally means a kind of measurement, scaling and rating of a broad set of parameters against individual borderline values. The core problem is that there is no general or overall definition of what quality is. So, if quality means to provide a sustainable and fully functionable piece of technology without any damages, the process of measurement for quality includes a broad diversity of checks need to be done. If quality is the term for undamaged product covers only, the check routine is quite simple. So it finally depends on a vertical specific definition of common quality parameters and on corporate quality awareness that can be an unique selling point in sales processes.

Why quality is the key to success.

There are two major aspects, how B2B customers drive a decision for a specific supplier: One general and overall valid aspect is the price of a product or a service. Most companies are in a hard competition and offering the cheapest goods is one way to address the market and win market share. The second aspect for decision is the quality of products and services. So, in case you have a situation where pricing is equal, you chose the higher quality. In case quality is equal, you chose the lower price. As a conclusion of this, the pricing is a fully objective and easy to compare value and finally it is more or less a question for “total cost of ownership” within a specific period of observation. Quality on the other side is a very flexible term that include a couple of parameters that usually could not be aligned and compared easily between products and services of different vendors. So what does this mean?

If you are in a hard competition with other suppliers and talk about business opportunities, the first instinct is to reduce the pricing of your products. This could be reached by buying cheaper raw materials, enhance and optimize the production process or reduce time consumption of supply chain cycles. Did you ever consider that enhanced process quality and reduced time consumption in supply chain processes could be achieved by digital quality- and process management solutions? So finally, to reduce the costs and the pricing of your products, quality of your processes is one of the major aspects to take in consideration. Always keep in mind that identifying weaknesses and bottlenecks within your processes is only possible through detailed and structured data capture and data insights by business intelligence. Data driven decisions are the key to enhance processes and reduce cost factors.

Quality is a profit center

It decreases:

  • Defects
  • Overall costs
  • Returned goods
  • Customer complaints
  • Owner & management stress
  • Decrease legal costs
  • Employee turnover

It increases:

  • Sales
  • Profit
  • Capacity
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Market Share
  • Competitive Edge
  • Employee Satisfaction

As a conclusion to the previous lesson, we can take away, that product quality itself is one of two major aspects for being successful, and for the second major aspect it is at least one essential tool to lower costs and reduce pricing of sold goods and services. That is the reason, why quality is the most important criteria for success. Is there anything more to say?

Quality should be a mindset or methodology, it could be a brighter side of the same medal, where efficiency gains and cost reduction is no longer enough to win in the market.

One additional aspect how to win in the market is agility on changed environments and legal frameworks. Only if your quality and process management allows agile change processes, you will be able to fill the niches open up by new customer demands, new regulations or changed market dynamics. We all must accept, that quality is a more or less a common sense of what we would expect in a perfect world. That is why a corporate quality standard and a continuous “change” mindset is essential for success!

“Always deliver more than expected.”

Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google

Furthermore, quality is inside every single process a relevant criteria and part of the big picture, how strategy aligns to concrete activities and how concrete activities generate benefits on organizational targets and specific outcomes. Without specific quality targets on products, processes and services and a common corporate quality awareness, companies are not able to withstand the dynamics in market and environment changes.

Beside all these aspects there is one relevant additional topic to be discussed, when thinking about quality awareness. Isn’t it a kind of obvious, that the quality of products and services scales up and down with the accuracy of your employees? The more motivated they are, the more embedded and important they feel recognized, the higher their quality culture and level of trust will rise.

Why quality culture is essential for performance and output

Quality Culture is the core for all quality related tasks and tools. If there is no definition of quality culture within an organization, it is more or less impossible to keep this fragile quality system stable. If you don’t have a quality culture enabled and implemented, all your processes and tools become undefined, unconnected, invisible or unmeasurable.

How to measure quality on products, services and processes?

There are some general quality criterias on products that obviously could be measured by different simple check types or specific check functions, I want to list some of them below:

  • Photo documentation of goods condition status
  • Measurement of Dimension
  • Logical checks (Criteria XY met: yes / no)
  • Numerious measurements (setpoint, upper & lower limit values, warn values)
  • Functional Tests (passed / failed)
  • Stress Tests

On top of this standard checktypes for product quality there are many more aspects that could be measured and rated in a process quality perspective, for example:

  • Duration of working processes
  • Time consumption for processes
  • Calculation processes
  • Data Exchange & Data Verification
  • Feedback & Scoring Processes
  • Audits

It is very important to know about the importance of all those quality measurements and their influence on corporate quality awareness. Whenever a process is not reviewed and detailly documented, the lack of process insights could foreclose companies from taking the right decision in time or even not prevent decision makers from doing the right things much to late. In quality means all comes together to a big picture and it is absolutely necessary to track all quality relevant information and to benefits from data driven decisions through business intelligence insights on structured data.

How to implement quality assurance on products, services and processes?

There is one simple rule that applies to all digital transformation projects to achieve efficiency gains and process excellence. Keep it simple and stupid! Well, it sounds old-fashioned, but in fact, every project that ends up being classified as a failure or unsuccessful has somehow violated this rule. If you look at the steps involved in implementing digital quality assurance, it becomes clear that there is always a simple and a complex way to build and implement a process at each step. It is one of the unspoken secrets in IT projects that the process requirements and functional descriptions result from internal and external consulting services. Specifically, this means that a consultant who is billed for dedicated service expertise in Time & Material is tracking all feature requirements from the client’s business and management team’s wish list. Could anyone agree that not all the bullet points on a feature wish list are helpful in keeping a project simple and stupid?

Conclusion.

Considering the previous points “Quality Culture”, “Quality Measurement” and “Quality System Implementation”, there is a wide variety of hard and soft facts that influence “QUALITY”.
I really recommend to stop “cherry picking” in this context and start thinking big. The overall goal should be nothing less than winning the market and reducing operational risks. It is not enough to meet quality standards, be compliant or design processes for continuous improvement. Quality management is your key to success and your unique selling proposition over your competitors.

Further Readings

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Written by Markus Kopp.


Markus is a senior pre-sales manager at Testify. Through his daily dialog with customers, he is familiar with the challenges faced by companies in the context of quality assurance measures. In this article, he looks at the topic of quality excellence.



Current topics around quality management, digitalization and mobile checklists.


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