As a Director or Manager for Quality, you are accountable for ensuring that the processes and culture across the organisation are aligned to the goal of delivering a high-quality product that can consistently meet increasingly challenging customer expectations. You are required to build Quality Management best practice into key business processes, while being the last line of defence to protect customers from non-conforming product.
Poor quality products that fail to deliver against customer expectations are a common cause of customer complaints and lost business. Perceived quality is essential to customer satisfaction, repeat purchasing and a positive brand that enhances sales.
Common measures of quality performance include Right-First-Time (RFT), scrap, rework and customer complaints. The adoption of Six Sigma methodologies has introduced process capability measures (such as Cp and Cpk) along with a statistical toolkit that has helped many Quality professionals to better understand the nature of variation in their materials and processes. Despite this, many organisations still struggle to fully understand and control this variation, in particular, variation introduced via poorly controlled manual activities.
The Cost Of Poor Quality (COPQ) is often used to describe both the visible costs of poor quality (such as scrap, rework and warranty claims) along with the hidden costs (missed shipments, unhappy customers, distracted staff, extra inventory, missed shipments and complaint investigation costs). The quality guru Armand Feigenbaum once estimated that these hidden costs could amount to 10-40% of total company effort. This represents a huge drain on both financial and human resources. Getting Quality right can have a huge impact on both the top and bottom lines of business performance.
The most common challenges we typically identify for Quality Directors and Managers are:
- Failing to proactively anticipate and eliminate quality risk. Many organisations rely purely on reactive problem solving to drive improvement, for example, following a major complaint investigation. By definition, this is not zero defect thinking; the organisation is waiting for a problem to occur before taking action. Organisation’s with the best quality performance have a clear process for systematically identifying process quality risk and accountable teams that drive this risk down every day. The result is a significant and sustained reduction in both internal and external quality problems.
- Failing to identify and eliminate the true root cause of problems. While proactive risk reduction is critical, it is also important that an organisation has the depth of capability to perform effective Root Cause Analysis (RCA) on issues that occur. ‘Jumping to root cause’ is a frequent problem that leads to significant delays in problem resolution, excessive costs associated with fixing the wrong things, and frustrated customers. It is only by having your quality professionals skilled in a powerful and systematic process for solving problems and issues that appropriate corrective actions will be established that permanently resolve the underlying process issues. Developing a common language and a strong capability for problem solving is therefore a key element of any successful quality management strategy.
- Transforming the New Product Development (NPD) & Change Control processes. It is typical for new and modified products to contribute a disproportionate amount of quality issues and customer complaints. While most organisations have some form of Stage-Gate process for new product development, few have a process that repeatedly supports stable processes and error free products from launch. Building Quality Management thinking into the NPD process is essential for driving quality at source. As well as just new products, changes to the raw materials, product, packaging, process, equipment, procedures, systems or settings should also be carefully managed and controlled. Many organisation’s lack an adequate Change Control process to effectively bridge the gap between the known state and the unknown state which frequently leads to significant quality issues.
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If you can identify with any of the issues above, why not contact us today to learn more about how Pico can help you to grow your business by enhancing the customer experience, while relentlessly driving out waste.