Friday, November 2, 2012

Beyond Traditional Quality

On his October blog, Paul Borawski writes about going beyond the traditional quality function. Quality is so important that without it, there is no business and no customers. Most organizations see the value of quality as a control function, but they may not necessarily expand beyond that. When I used to work in manufacturing, there were many new product initiatives lacking input from quality during design and development. Project tollgates had a section for sign-off by quality, but it was towards the end during final inspection after product is already designed and manufactured. Quality plan was basically an inspection plan.  As a quality engineer, I had different views about quality's role and its significance. I did a lot of research and tried to learn as much as I can from other quality professionals about quality's involvement throughout product's lifecycle. After hard work and a lot of convincing, we were able to introduce a comprehensive quality plan. There was push back from other departments at first, but as the organization began to see the benefits, there was no going back to the old ways. So far, I've been talking about products. How about process improvement? Does quality have a role beyond just products? Absolutely! Another important role of quality is continuous improvement. Organizations that go beyond traditional quality may employ lean six sigma professionals in order to improve processes and take cost out of the business. This is a great way to establish a quality culture in the organization.