Disjointed and Disconnected

Research shows more organizations turning to enterprise quality management software to deal with quality issues

Manufacturing and industrial executives face more challenges related to product and process quality than ever before. In today’s global marketplace, manufacturing operations are becoming more complex as facilities and suppliers expand in number and geographical location. Add in the dynamics of consumer preferences and regulations, and business leaders have much on their plates.

In addition, it’s common for quality management strategies and IT capabilities to vary considerably between facilities and regions, with solutions to many challenges implemented as needed. Rather than acting as an enabler of stronger quality management, disjointed systems and data sources often hinder executives’ ability to address these new enterprise challenges.

To keep pace with these challenges, more business leaders are adopting—or planning to adopt—enterprise quality management software (EQMS), an emerging software category that allows organizations to globally standardize, streamline and centralize key quality processes.

According to new research by LNS Research, a Cambridge, MA-based technology research firm focused on the industrial space, the software takes a more modern, holistic approach to overcoming quality challenges and can consolidate many of the traditionally manual and isolated processes that surface as roadblocks to improvement.

More than 500 executives from a wide range of industries and organization sizes participated in the LNS Research 2012-2013 Quality Management Survey, which highlights quality executives’ objectives and challenges, and illustrates the need for a more comprehensive solution for managing quality.1

Objectives, pain points

Early in the survey, executives were asked to rank their top quality management objective. The top executive goal was to reduce the total cost of quality; 37% of executives chose this as a top priority across industries (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Given the level of detail into the effectiveness of quality processes the cost of quality metric can provide, perhaps it’s not surprising that reducing it was ranked as the top quality management objective for most decision makers. The second and third-most important objectives for quality executives were to reduce nonconformances in manufacturing and improve customer experience.

The survey also asked quality executives what their biggest quality challenges were in 2012. Participants were not limited to just one response. The primary challenge surrounding quality was effectively measuring quality metrics, with more than 55% of executives identifying this as a main concern (see Online Figure 1). Interestingly, the top challenge aligns with quality executives’ top objective of measuring cost of quality.

Online Figure 1

For the second-most prevalent response, more than 50% of quality executives said their organization’s cultural approach to quality was a challenge because quality was viewed as an individual department, not a shared responsibility across the enterprise. The challenges of handling disparate quality systems and data sources were the third-highest response, with about 45% citing this.

The top challenges are symptoms of having disconnected quality systems and data sources across the enterprise, and they are best overcome by consolidating and integrating IT efforts across the value chain. Without this integration, it is typically too expensive and resource-intensive to get a holistic picture of the cost of quality and effective quality metrics. EQMS can help organizations bridge the gap between disparate quality systems and data sources and enhance the ability to effectively measure quality metrics.

Taking on challenges

EQMS software can help organizations achieve this big-picture visibility with a platform approach that supports cross-functional communication and collaboration on various quality issues. The solution automates traditionally manual processes such as compliance management, audit management and supplier quality management, allowing standardized instances of those processes to be deployed across the enterprise.

Organizations typically choose to globally standardize with EQMS only those processes that deliver substantial synergies at the enterprise level. For this reason, methods for deploying EQMS tend to be unique to each organization.

LNS Research has seen consistency in some of the highest implementation rates, however, with functionalities such as corrective and preventive actions (CAPA) and document management. Because CAPA is so widely used, it generally makes sense to deploy it across the enterprise with EQMS. Delivering CAPA with EQMS drastically reduces enterprise risk, and similar benefits are being experienced with other EQMS functionalities as well.

As more quality executives see the potential return on investment from standardizing quality processes that benefit their organizations on a single platform, EQMS implementations are expected to rise, which the survey data also shows. The survey asked quality executives about adoption rates of EQMS, as well as those of more commonly implemented enterprise solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and business intelligence (BI) for perspective. Though only about 20% said they had currently implemented EQMS software functionalities, 27% said they were in the planning stages of an EQMS implementation (see Online Figure 2).

Online Figure 2

Contrast this with ERP and BI, which both had higher current adoption rates at about 75% and 40%, respectively, but also had a lower percentage of survey respondents in the planning stages. About 15% of survey respondents replied that an ERP implementation was in the planning stages, and about 18% were in the planning stages for BI. These data are indicative of potential growth of the EQMS space in the near future, and of the value quality executives and technology decision makers are seeing in its functionality.

EQMS and operational metrics

Users of EQMS applications reported measurable improvements in several operational metrics, such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), a holistic business measurement that includes quality, efficiency and asset availability.

According to the survey, respondents who implemented EQMS software experienced a median OEE that was 8.5% higher than that of organizations without EQMS functionality.

Respondents with EQMS capabilities also reported a 3% higher on-time delivery rate median, a 3% higher products in compliance median and a successful new product introduction median of 24% more than those that lacked capabilities. The data show integrating disparate systems and leveraging centralized and automated workflow capabilities with an EQMS allows organizations to streamline processes and better react to any quality issues that arise.

Compared to the past, the complexities of today’s competitive environment can no longer be supported by a disjointed quality IT architecture. As technological capabilities advance and the world becomes even more interconnected, issues around quality will be subject to growing supply chains and heavier scrutiny.

The need for EQMS is growing, and the 27% of respondents who noted an implementation on the horizon are positioning their organizations for a competitive advantage in quality.


  1. Matthew Littlefield and Mike Roberts, "The Global State of EQMS," LNS Research, Sep 10, 2013, www.lnsresearch.com/research-library/research-articles/the-global-state-of-eqms-ebook-.

Matthew Littlefield is president and principal analyst at LNS Research in Cambridge, MA. He holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering and operations research from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Who’s Who in Q

NAME: Hemant P. Urdhwareshe.

RESIDENCE: Pune, India, which is located near Mumbai.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in Nagpur, India; business management diploma from the Institute of Management Development and Research in Pune.

FIRST JOB RELATED TO QUALITY: Urdhwareshe’s job as process engineer at Cummins India Limited (CIL) was his introduction to quality. Later, he became quality leader and management representative at CIL and had the opportunity to implement Cummins’ total quality system.

CURRENT JOB: Principal consultant and trainer at the Institute of Quality and Reliability, his consulting firm.

PREVIOUS JOB: Head of quality, engineering and reliability functions at CIL from 1977-2005.

ASQ ACTIVITIES: Chair of local community council in Pune. Recently, Urdhwareshe worked for ASQ India training and preparing about 100 design engineers for the ASQ Certified Reliability Engineer exam.

OTHER ACTIVITIES/ACHIEVEMENTS: Along with his team of consultants, Urdhwareshe has worked with Indian industry to implement Six Sigma and reliability improvement initiatives. He also has trained and motivated many professionals to improve their quality skills and seek ASQ certification. His firm has trained more than 1,000 Six Sigma Black and Green Belts and about 2,400 professionals in various quality certifications and skills. For the last five years, Urdhwareshe has served as a panelist for the Six Sigma Excellence Awards, instituted by Symbiosis Institute of Management and Human Resource Development. He also has been a visiting faculty member at the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, teaching business statistics and Six Sigma.

PUBLISHED WORKS: Author of Six Sigma for Business Excellence (Pearson Education, 2010) and co-author of Total Quality Management (Pearson Education, 2011). Also authored many articles on Six Sigma, quality and Indian cricket.

RECENT HONOR: Urdhwareshe was included in the 2013 class of ASQ fellows. He also received the Qimpro Foundation Silver Standard Award 2003, which is given to an outstanding quality manager in India.

PERSONAL: He and his wife Rashmi have one son, Sarang, who works for Cummins Turbo Technologies in Pune.

FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Playing the accordion and other keyboard musical instruments, uploading many of his songs on YouTube and playing chess with friends.

QUALITY QUOTE: Quality is a result of attitude, knowledge and execution. Apply the knowledge and convert it into solutions and success.


ANSI Unveils New Standards Portal Website

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recently launched a website for anyone to access standards that have been incorporated by reference in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

The Incorporated by Reference (IBR) Portal (http://ibr.ansi.org) allows visitors to see the standards incorporated into federal laws and regulations.

The select standards are offered at no cost in read-only PDF format for online review. They cannot be printed or downloaded.

In recent years, issues related to IBR have gotten more attention, particularly in connection with requirements that standards incorporated into federal rulemakings be "reasonably available" to the U.S. citizens and residents affected by these rules. This requirement had led some to call for the invalidation of copyrights for IBR standards.

Others have posted copyrighted standards online without the permission of the organizations that developed them, triggering legal action from standards developing organizations (SDO).

Standards now available on the ANSI IBR Portal include those developed by the International Organization for Standardization, the International Electrotechnical Commission and seven other SDOs that have signed a terms and conditions agreement with ANSI.

All users must install a plug-in and accept an online end user license agreement before accessing any of the standards. In addition to the standards available directly through the portal, several SDOs are offering free access via their own websites. Links to those websites can be found at the IBR Portal.


New Director Named

Robert Fangmeyer, previous deputy director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), was named the program’s new director late last year.

Fangmeyer will be the third director to lead the BPEP since Congress established the program in 1987. Fangmeyer has been served as acting director since his predecessor, Harry Hertz, retired in June 2013.

Prior to the BPEP, Fangmeyer worked for six years as a HR specialist in NIST’s office of workforce management. For more information, visit www.nist.gov/baldrige/baldrige-director-112013.cfm.


Third Global State of Quality Report Released

The third installment of three separate reports contained within the first-ever ASQ Global State of Quality Research has been released. "Insights and Continuing Conversations" features feedback about the research from stakeholders and offers possible opportunities for future iterations of the Global State of Quality Research.

The latest report follows the high-level "Discoveries 2013" report and the "Analysis, Trends and Opportunities 2013" report that offer comparative data based on organization location, sector and size.

ASQ, which teamed with the American Productivity and Quality Center to conduct the research, also is publishing four short, topic-specific "Spotlight Reports."

To access the reports, visit http://asq.org/global-state-of-quality/index.aspx.


2013 ASQ Fellows Class Announced

The ASQ Board of Directors has named 24 ASQ fellows.

The 2013 class includes:

  • Randy G. Aschbrenner.
  • Thomas Berestene.
  • Bryan T. Blunt.
  • William A. Brenneman.
  • Belinda Chavez.
  • Javed Cheema.
  • Scott Clary.
  • Trevor A. Craney.
  • Elizabeth A. Cudney.
  • David S. Foxx.
  • Edwin Garro.
  • Christopher L. Grachanen.
  • Douglas Hlavacek.
  • Jerry Mairani.
  • Mark A. Morris.
  • Peter Pylipow.
  • Christine Marie Robinson (named posthumously).
  • Gideon I. Roth.
  • Rajesh Sharma.
  • James R. Simpson.
  • Anshuman Tiwari.
  • Kwok-Leung Tsui.
  • Hemant P. Urdhwareshe.
  • Ver-Non T. Wakefield.


ASQ WAS RECENTLY awarded a new contract to continue its administration of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. ASQ has been the sole administrator since the award’s inception in 1987. The latest contract began in October and lasts one year.

A REVAMPED TheSRO.org website has been unveiled. The new site centralizes social responsibility (SR) resources with more focus on storytelling and helps visitors navigate the content easily and quickly. New case studies on the site also illustrate the correlation between quality and SR on a personal, organizational and community level. For more information, visit www.thesro.org.

THE BALDRIGE PERFORMANCE Excellence Program is seeking applicants for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners for the 2014 award cycle. Applications are due Jan. 9. Visit www.nist.gov/baldrige/examiners/index.cfm for more information.

APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2014-2015 Ellis R. Ott Scholarship are now available through ASQ’s Statistics Division. The $7,500 scholarships—named for one of pioneers in the use of graphical methods for applied statistical analysis—are for students in master’s degree or higher programs with a concentration in applied statistics or quality management. For more information and an application form, visit http://asq.org/statistics/about/awards-statistics.html. Applications are due April 1.

PAUL PALMES has been named the international chair of the International Organization of Standardization’s (ISO) Technical Committee 176 Subcommittee 1, which covers quality management and quality assurance concepts and terminology. The subcommittee is responsible for the development of ISO 9000, which is currently under revision and expected to be published in 2015, along with ISO 9001. Palmes, a senior member of ASQ, is principal consultant and owner of Business Systems Architects Inc.

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