There is no doubt that quality management is growing at a rapid rate. All over the globe, businesses are starting to take a good, hard look at the way that they do things, to find smarter, more efficient processes to improve products, processes and other areas of operation. Sadly however, despite the rapid rate of quality adaptation, many companies are still finding that implementing quality strategies is a lot tougher than they had bargained. This is largely due to the fact that quality is perceived very differently by employees than it is by top level management.
Quality culture is something that is still not taking on as quickly as quality measures themselves, and this often comes down to a few simple factors. There is still a wide assumption that quality is considered a department or concept rather than a responsibility. In large companies that employ dedicated quality teams, this is especially true. When this type of thinking occurs, it leads to a situation along the lines of “it’s someone else’s problem”. This is why it is so important to create a quality management culture that adheres to both business and local quality objectives.
Through such a culture, it becomes a lot simpler to implement strategies with a better understanding across the board, from entry level employees and factory workers all the way to managers and customer service employees.
Nurturing Your Quality Management Culture
What should you be asking yourself to ensure that you are building a solid quality management culture for your business? The following questions should be at the top of your list for starters…
1. Are you cultivating quality leaders?
You cannot have an effective quality environment without the right people to lead the way. You need to create a foundation that includes local leaders, who are able to make smart decisions for the benefit of the company. For instance, you may have a team member who has developed strong relationships with suppliers, and as such, would be the best person to handle supplier quality. Likewise, you might have leaders who excel at customer complaints handling, who may be the best people to assist with strategies in that area. Leaders first need to be identified, and then they need to be given responsibility to empower them to make decisions where suitable. Training, assessment tools and audits are all good ways to identify and develop quality leaders. As such, quality systems that have such tools integrated will help you greatly with this step.
2. What is the ratio of corporate to local quality strategy?
Local quality strategies include those done at levels such as a specific branch, department or even team. Corporate strategies include those done at broader levels – sometimes over multiple departments, branches and headquarters. Things that affect the best option for your specific company could include the size of the company, the number of sites or branches, the supplier chain and a number of others. Standardised systems are good, of course. Having a completely centralised strategy is not a totally bad thing either. But it can lead to the type of thinking we mentioned above where quality is seen as a department rather than a responsibility. Ideally, what you want is a balance that allows you to meet standards and regulations, while still being able to focus on things that matter the most to your organisational goals and local control when needed.
3. What role does technology play in building a quality culture?
Hopefully, if you have a quality system in place, it is an automated software system that embraces technology to save time, effort and resources. But it doesn’t stop there. You also need to consider where IT standardisation comes into play. This includes how data is collected and stored, whether there are procedures in place for computer and internet usage, how much you want to be able to integrate collaboration and communication tools, whether you have intranets, portals or company mobile systems and various other factors. Don’t forget to consider the role that IT and technology plan when it comes to your quality culture. Real change does not happen overnight. Sometimes, it may not even happen in a week. But the real aim of a quality culture is to put the foundation in place so that the organisation is able to grow strong and healthy from that strong framework. With that in mind, creating a solid quality management culture could be the make or break factor in achieving your greater quality goals too.