QMT Features: September 2013
Taking the pulse on global quality
ASQ's new Global State of Quality study highlights the current use of core quality practices among manufacturers in 15 countries, representing more than 75% of the world’s gross domestic product.  By Laurel Nelson-Rowe, managing director, ASQ.


For far too many organizations, it’s never been harder to stay ahead — to achieve and sustain results and balance short- and long-term success.  Organizational survival means doing more with less, standing out from competitors and unlocking value — all to win the global contest for customers, talent and resources. Strategies and tools like Six Sigma and lean have helped management squeeze just about every drop of value from their organizations, but customers, senior executives and a host of other stakeholders expect more.

In the current environment, there’s a real need to put the spotlight back on quality, including improvement tools, techniques, systems and priorities, and find new ways to drive performance and achieve business results.

ASQ’s Global State of Quality Research is the first and only research that creates a baseline of fundamental quality and continuous improvement practices around the world. The findings and analysis included in the research provide a guide for businesses to improve overall organizational performance.

The ASQ Global State of Quality Research: Discoveries 2013 report outlines the first set of key findings regarding the current practices used by organizations around the world to govern, manage, measure and support the quality discipline. Further, in-depth information about the data are  included in reports released last July and will be in November in conjunction with World Quality Month.

ASQ’s research partner, APQC — an industry leader in quality and continuous improvement benchmarking research — identified four themes from the data, including quality governance and management, outcomes and measure, competencies and training, and culture.

Governance and management

Aligning an organization’s quality goals and measures with its overall strategic goals creates the greatest impact on overall performance. Over the last 30 years, some companies have taken a more holistic approach to quality, transforming it from a department and function of compliance to a “design in” function, employee engagement opportunity and customer feedback loop — in which every employee can play a role.

In addition, the existence of a framework or standardized processes for quality management can improve the efficiency of assessing adoption and compliance to quality principles throughout the organization.
In the United Kingdom, 70 percent of organizations use ISO as their quality framework. Only 8 percent of companies in the United Kingdom use no quality framework.

By sector, manufacturing organizations are one and one-half times more likely than services-based organizations to use ISO as a quality framework.
According to the research, senior leadership — like a CEO or company president — governs quality in 25.6 percent of all UK organizations. Just more than 26 percent of United Kingdom respondents said quality is governed by a centralized quality department.

Worldwide, 29 percent of organizations’ quality process is governed by senior leadership and 27.6 percent of respondents said their organizations’ quality process is governed by a centralized quality department.

In describing what quality does within their organization, 35 percent of United Kingdom respondents said quality is a continuous improvement activity, while nearly 19 percent said quality is a strategic asset and competitive differentiator to manage the performance of the entire organization.

In comparison, 36.7 percent of all respondents said quality is a continuous improvement activity, and 24 percent said it’s a competitive differentiator. In addition, 22 percent of all respondents said quality is mainly a compliance activity, whereas 31 percent of United Kingdom respondents said the same.

Outcomes and measures

Providing quality measures to the right people at the right time on a standard schedule enables the decision-making process to be driven by data — not by intuition. 

While senior executives in 26.5 percent of surveyed organizations receive monthly quality measures, nearly 24.4 percent of executives in UK organizations receive monthly reports. According to survey data, 31 percent of frontline managers in the UK receive monthly reports, whereas the total response rate shows 32 percent of frontline managers receive monthly reports.

Forty-six percent of the respondents said quality reporting is standardized across the entire organization. Just more than 46 percent of United Kingdom respondents said reporting is standardized. Therefore, selecting a common vocabulary,  as well as the right quality measures and data ,can have a powerful impact on overall performance.

Competencies and training
Most companies provide training on quality-related activities — only 4 percent do not — but there is room for improvement in how staff is trained and ensuring all staff is trained. The opportunity may be tied to governance, since organizations that govern quality with a centralized group are more likely to provide quality training than those where senior executives govern quality processes.

According to all respondents, the far majority of organizations offer training for auditing, ISO and quality management, and United Kingdom organizations are no exception. Nearly 69 percent of UK respondents said their organization provides training in auditing, ISO and quality management. An average 40.8 percent of United Kingdom organizations provide training in Six Sigma and lean, according to the research.

Culture
Quality and customers are now so closely aligned in successful organizations that the two are becoming one — the “Qustomer™.” An organization’s definition of quality, the quality processes it employs to drive performance and its culture all factor into the degree of alignment between quality and customers.

Worldwide, 68 percent of respondents said they share product or service quality performance with customers, while 65 percent of United Kingdom respondents said their organization shares quality performance.

Where lies a bigger disparity, is among organizations that believe the customer is the only person qualified to specify what “quality” means. Among all respondents, 56 percent agree or somewhat agree that the customer is the only person qualified to specify what “quality” is. In the United Kingdom, only half of the respondents agree or somewhat agree that the customer is the only person who should define quality.

Incentives — financial or otherwise — can play a role in defining quality culture. Eighty-eight percent of all respondents said their organization provides incentives to employees who meet critical quality targets. Organizations use financial awards, nonfinancial awards, informal manager recognition, honourary awards, variable compensation or a combination of incentives to recognize employees.

Fifty-five percent of the respondents use informal manager recognition to acknowledge employees who meet quality-related goals, and 30 percent of respondents use financial incentives to acknowledge quality personnel. According to the data just more than 85 percent of UK respondents said their organization uses informal manager recognition and 35.1 percent use financial incentives.l
 http://asq.org/global-state-of-quality

About the Research

ASQ partnered with APQC to conduct 18 months of research that includes analysis from 1,991 respondents across 22 countries in the manufacturing and services industries. In the United Kingdom, 164 organizations were surveyed. The first phase of the Global State of Quality Research, Discoveries 2013, creates a baseline of fundamental quality and continuous improvement practices around the world. Additional analysis and insights will be coming in the next two phases of the research to be completed by November in conjunction with World Quality Month.
  
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