This month’s first question

I hear the term "quality professional" all the time. Is it a title that requires education, training or certification? Or is it just a self-appointed title that has no real requirements other than working in a quality function?

Our response

"Professional" is defined in many ways by a multitude of self-proclaimed experts.

But what determines a person’s level of professionalism isn’t related to academic degrees, number of certifications held or a zillion years of experience—although those skill sets obviously contribute to a person’s individual status.

Professionalism is the way in which businesspeople interact with their colleagues, clients and customers. While the degree and category of professionalism varies from one line of work to another, many of the basic tenets remain the same: Individuals who exhibit high degrees of professionalism typically are viewed in higher regard by their customers and those with whom they work.

Have respect

Having respect for others in a professional sense involves understanding boundaries, using appropriate language and not disparaging the opinions of others. Professionals respect each other’s time, talents and abilities, and don’t overstep their bounds.

This means being on time for appointments, finding something of value in others’ work, and providing feedback and constructive criticism in a thoughtful manner. Respect for shared space includes cleaning up after yourself, sharing resources and not polluting common areas with loud sounds, smells or clutter.

Show common courtesy

Common courtesies of professionalism include greeting others with a handshake, using professional titles and formal writing styles in correspondence, and using niceties such as "please" and "thank you" when making requests.

Refrain from foul or inappropriate language as well as rude, off-color or insensitive jokes. Don’t interrupt others, take phone calls in meetings or take your attention away from a client or colleague to check text messages or emails.

Employ honest and ethical behaviors

Professional behavior commands a sense of honesty and ethics. This includes always representing yourself and your organization accurately, and conducting fair business practices. Don’t lie or mislead customers or prospects.

Strive to meet all contractual obligations as agreed upon and make good on any promises that are delayed, or provide notice of duties that you are unable to fulfill. Avoid real and perceived conflicts of interest to the best of your ability.

Maintain a professional appearance

The way you look at work says a lot about the degree of professionalism you have and how you view your role in the organization. Always be clean and well-groomed, and follow attire standards for your industry. Avoid wearing inappropriate clothing or items not seen in a typical office environment. Dressing in a conservative manner conveys a sense of professionalism and respect for your job, your colleagues and your customers.

Carry a positive attitude

A professional is positive and doesn’t disparage others, repeat gossip or illicit dissent among colleagues. Don’t complain publicly, talk badly about coworkers or customers, or malign the organization in any way. Leave personal issues at home and don’t waste your time or that of your fellow employees with idle chit chat. Always communicate in a professional manner.

This response was written by Bernie Carpenter, lead auditor, Carpenter Services Group Inc., Costa Mesa, CA.

This month’s second question

If a delivery is missed or late, is the price of the load reported in the cost of quality, or just the profit from the load?

Our response

The cost of a missed or late delivery should not be included in the cost of quality unless the delivery was missed because of a quality issue.

If the missed or late delivery was caused by a quality issue, the price you would have charged the customer for the shipment should be reported in the cost of quality. If you would have charged a customer $10,000 for a shipment that was missed or late, for example, the amount reported in the cost of quality should be $10,000 because that is the amount your organization is out (at least for now).

You will create confusion if the cost of quality includes the cost of a missed or late delivery that isn’t related to a quality issue. It will incorrectly raise the cost of quality, and the stage will be set for internal disagreement, blame finding and interdepartmental fighting.

Instead, costs unrelated to quality issues should be reported under a separate heading or title, such as "Cost of missed or late delivery," and the reason for each cost also should be noted.

For example, if you forget to ship a load and it results in the customer cancelling its order—which has nothing to do with quality—the cost should be reported under a separate heading or title, as mentioned earlier. Here again, the amount you would have charged the customer for the shipment should be reported because that’s the amount the organization lost when the customer cancelled its order.

However you choose to capture and report cost of quality, it is important to do it consistently throughout the organization (for all product lines and plants).

This response was written by Pradip V. Mehta, Mehta Consulting LLC, Coppell, TX.

I agree with Herb. Forgetting to ship is a system failure and therefore a quality issue. Surely the role of quality is to help implement preventive measures so this does not happen again. I'm mystified by Pradiq's narrow view of quality.
--Bob Kennedy, 06-18-2018

I don't agree that forgetting to make a shipment "has nothing to do with quality". Every employee who can impact the customer directly or indirectly is a member of the quality team. Therefore in the case of forgetting to make a shipment, there is a weakness in the release process.
--Herb Stevens, 05-25-2018

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