The quality system encompasses all the ways we organize our business, ensuring that people, processes, software and machines are aligned to meet strategic and operational goals.
Each year, the second Thursday of November is set aside to reflect on the way quality management can contribute to our work and our lives. Led by the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) in the United Kingdom, World Quality Day provides a forum to reflect on how we implement more effective processes and systems that positively impact KPIs and business results -- and celebrate outcomes and new insights.
This year’s theme is “Quality: A Question of Trust.”
We usually think of quality as an operations function. The quality system (whether we have quality management software implemented or not) helps us keep track of the health and effectiveness of our manufacturing, production, or service processes. Often, we do this to obtain ISO 9001:2015 certification or achieve outcomes that are essential to how the public perceives us, like reducing scrap, rework and customer complaints.
But the quality system encompasses all the ways we organize our business -- ensuring that people, processes, software and machines are aligned to meet strategic and operational goals. For example, QMS validation (which is a critical for quality management in the pharmaceutical industry), helps ensure that production equipment is continuously qualified to meet performance standards, and trust is not broken. Intelex partner Glemser Technologies explains in more detail in The Definitive Guide to Validating Your QMS in the Cloud. This extends to managing supplier relationships -- building trust to cultivate rich partnerships in the business ecosystem out of agreements to work together.
Quality management is a strategic function that drives value and performance throughout a business ecosystem. It can be used to achieve alignment between functional silos, levels of an organization and customers and suppliers. It spans problem resolution, continuous improvement and creating new value to meet future needs -- relationships that have led ASQ Fellow Peter Merrill to define innovation as “quality for tomorrow.”
Integrated management systems like Intelex, where environmental compliance, health and safety management and quality management share a common data repository, also can help to boost trust in organizational processes. Effective document control means you always know that you’re looking at the most authoritative, up-to-date documentation. A single platform can give you visibility into quality events -- and how they are resolved -- across sites and departments. In one example, Safety Leadership Spotlight: How to Use Leading Indicators to Benchmark Your Safety Program by Tamara Parris describes how broadly sharing knowledge collected on EHSQ processes -- to all areas of the business -- can enhance communications and build trust.
As we move into the era of Quality 4.0, in which organizations will leverage Big Data and other emerging technologies to enhance KPIs and business results through connectedness, intelligence, and automation, new technologies like blockchain may become core components to establish trust. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that amplifies even a small amount of tampering in historical transaction records. You can find out more about Quality 4.0 and blockchain in these resources:
Blockchain also can be thought of as a design thinking tool that generates trust -- “shift[ing] control to the network’s edge (people, apps, machines, edge devices, etc.)” to distribute power and authority. Over the next decade, blockchain will become a central (and likely invisible!) part of most quality management software, monitoring the quality of transactional data and strengthening the integrity of global supply chains. It’s an interesting prospect to consider on this year’s World Quality Day!
About the Author: Nicole Radziwill, Quality Practice Lead
Nicole Radziwill is the Quality Practice Lead at Intelex Technologies. Before Intelex, she was an Associate Professor of Data Science and Production Systems, Assistant Director (VP) End-to-End Operations at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and manager and consultant for several other organizations since the late 1990's bringing quality management to technologically-oriented operations. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with a Ph.D. in Quality Systems from Indiana State University. Nicole serves as Editor of Software Quality Professional (SQP) journal and is a former Chair of the ASQ Software Division. She is an ASQ Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB).
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