Why is it that most business leaders take painstakingly detailed steps to develop systems for business functions such as production and operations, yet cringe as if someone has just run their nails down a chalkboard at the thought of developing and maintaining a system for quality management?
This is by far one of the last major programs to be developed in many companies, and not very effectively when it finally has been implemented.
Why do you think that is?
Every executive, with no exception, will be quick to voice the proverbial “quality is of utmost importance” when the subject is raised.
“We take the quality of our products and services, and the satisfaction of our customers very seriously, in fact it is our number one priority here at Acme Inc.”
Yet when it comes time to focus on building a QMS they shelve it for another day when there are less pressing issues standing in the way.
Yes, this applies to you!
Many management types reading this article right now (and I do hope there are many), are shaking their heads and asserting “this does not apply to me or my organization!
We have a robust quality oriented strategy here!”
But it does apply to you….and you, in your heart of hearts you know this to be true…and that’s ok!
There is a valid reason for this. And that is, quality is in most cases a non-value added function of an organization.
Wait…what? Did he really just say that out-loud? He will never get invited back to another quality convention or social event again!
And that would be tragic believe me…there’s nothing better than some good quality talk over a cold brew, believe me!
Yes I said it! And I stand by that statement regardless of the consequences to my social status in the quality community!
Let me explain:
But what exactly do I mean by that? Surely quality adds value, right?
Yes of course it does, but not in the tangible way you get value from production or operations.
Quality does not generate the cold hard cash that you get from the development and physical production of a product to be handed over to a paying customer or a service to a client.
You can’t touch it, or watch it accumulate in a spreadsheet or bank account. It’s very difficult to measure and report to shareholders in such a way that shows results.
And what is it that we are trying to achieve as executive or management personnel? The generation of revenue and increased profit margin.
So it’s natural that you would focus your attention to the functions of the organization that will bring you such tangible returns.
So does this make quality any less important, or valuable to the organization’s bottom line?
I think you already know the answer to that question, at least I certainly hope you do, or else you are in for a bumpy road along your journey to business success!
No lecture here. Not today!
Now before you start thinking…”here we go with another soapbox lecture from a quality advocate. “Oh those quality management types are always preaching about the cost of quality and continuous improvement, while they slow production with their corrective actions and incessant chattering about following procedures to the letter!”
I’m not going to do all that here, not today, although you know I could in spades.
Nope, that’s not the message I am toting with this article.
Two (2) simple reasons.
In the following paragraphs I am going to give you two (2) simple and straightforward reasons why you need to implement a quality system within your organization regardless of size or industry, and why you should do it sooner than later.
Just two (2) simple reasons. But in fact, I could easily sum it up in 4 words: You have no choice! But that leaves me with little to write about, so here we go:
Reason #1: Your industry demands it.
Reason #1: Your industry demands it.
Chances are there is some form of regulatory body or industry standard that have to be adhered to in your area of business, regardless of what that industry may be.
If you don’t play by the rules then you do not get to play in the sandbox with the other kids!
Most industries have standards and regulations that must be followed by any organizations performing operations within that given industry, and these regulations and standards must be followed at a minimum.
It’s up to the organization’s leadership team to determine if they will reach over and above that minimum standard, which of course they should to get maximum benefit out of their program.
In the aviation industry for example, you have the regulations set forth by the transportation authority within that country, such as the FAA in the US, or Transport Canada here in my neck of the woods.
Then there is also AS9100 which is essentially ISO 9001 with some aviation specific content added in.
Manufacturing will also have its industry standards depending on the type of manufacturing and product being produced, such as automotive, electronics or metals, just to name a few.
All of these will have a versions of ISO 9001, again with some industry specific content incorporated.
I could go on with endless examples, but I think you get the picture.
Whether its government or industry regulated, quite simply, if your company does not follow the industry rules and regulations that have been set in place in order to maintain a standard level of quality, then you are out of business before you even offer your first product or service.
Which leads us back to my 4 keywords mentioned earlier…You have no choice!
Reason #2: Your clients and customers demand it.
Now, if the first reason wasn’t convincing enough then I hope this one makes more of a case for the importance of implementing a quality management system within your organization.
If your client, or possible client, dictates that they will only do business with organizations that have a quality system in place that conforms to a minimum standard, then as in the case stated in reason #1, you would be wise to move forward, otherwise you are going to get left out of that sandbox I mentioned earlier. And that means no revenue or profit!
Again, this standard will likely take the form of an ISO standard relevant to that particular industry.
The customer may not require your organization to be formally certified, holding a valid ISO certificate issued by an authorized registrar, but you can bet they will want to see you demonstrate a compliant quality system prior to signing off on any contract award.
Compliant being the key word here.
This does not simply apply to clients in the form of other organizations offering contracts for products or services supplied by your organization, but the general consumer as well.
Of course the general consumer is not looking for proof of a quality management system within the organization producing the product or service they are about to purchase, but will demand it through the use of their wallets.
Quality products will produce return customers!
And again, you guessed it…You have no choice!
So as you can see there is much more to the importance of implementing a quality system that is compliant to the relevant industry standards, such as ISO 9001, then reducing waste, streamlining processes, and maintaining continual improvement strategies.
Your operations and production processes, which ultimately bring in revenue and profit, simply depend on it!