The Business Rationale for Quality Improvement

Article

Crouch, J. Michael   (1988, ASQC)   Leads Corporation, Greensboro, NC

Annual Quality Congress, Dallas TX    Vol. 42    No. 0
QICID: 3496    May 1988    pp. 657-660
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Article Abstract

Most Quality professionals recognize the need for implementing cross-functional continuous quality improvement processes within their organizations. While they have recognized the need, there is often a reluctance on the part of their Senior management to undertake such efforts. This paper explores the possible reasons for such reluctance and offers some recommendations for the Quality Man who finds himself in that situation.

Any time a company embarks in some major new direction, there is an implied indictment of the previous direction. "We must have been doing things wrong, otherwise why the change?" This is particularly true in Quality Improvement where the symptoms are often defined as Costs of Quality in excess of 15% of sales and the remedy prescribed, a more proactive, involved and participative management style. Some Senior executives take this very personally and never get past the aspect of implied indictment. If that mind-set exists, there is very little one can do except to wait for retirement, the Board of Directors or ultimately the marketplace to create a more receptive audience.

Even in companies where the environment is more receptive, there is genuine skepticism that Quality Improvement is really substantive enough to yield meaningful change. That is a legitimate concern which must be addressed.

The typical Quality Improvement effort comprises three elements:

  • A proactive (vs reactive) attitude regarding error and failures
  • Hands-on participative management style
  • An organization and methodology by which improvement can occur
It is not enough to be able to define and explain these elements to the organization; the process must contain some specific actions so that these concepts can be translated into practical action and tangible results. Education is not enough, the advocate must be able to demonstrate how Quality Improvement can be implemented in the "real-life" business environment.

Even if there is no fear of indictment or change and implementation methodology can be clearly demonstrated, there is typically a final hurdle which must be cleared: "What is the business rationale and what is the payback if such an effort is undertaken?" Here the Quality Man has a real opportunity because a factual review of the results and experiences of many companies are clearly in favor of undertaking a Quality Improvement effort:

  • The five benefits of a QIP can be explained
  • The parallel of a QIP to many typical manufacturing improvement efforts should be described
  • With the assistance of the financial people, the Cost of Quality opportunity can be defined
  • The average annual cost reduction savings of companies with QIPs can be calculated
As a result of this session, the Quality professional will be able to identify which circumstance he faces in his company and know what he can do in order to help initiate Quality Improvement in his company.

Keywords

Textile and needle trades


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