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Monday, September 17, 2012

Making Quality Faster Is All About the Delivery and Feedback of Value

In this month’s post by ASQ’s President Paul Borawski he asks that we share some of the ways the practice of quality is changing to meet the needs of faster, faster, faster.

Quality is an ever evolving perception by the customer of the value provided by a product. It is not a static perception that never changes but a fluid process that changes as a product matures (innovation) and other alternatives (competition) are made available as a basis of comparison.

The objective of “Quality" is to satisfy the ever-changing needs of our customers, suppliers and employees, with value added products and services emphasizing a continuous commitment to satisfaction through an ongoing process of education, communication, evaluation and constant improvement.

In a Lean/Quality organization, the entire organization concentrates on value delivery and quick feedback on that value. And so, the notion of “quality and faster” is not so counterintuitive as we may have once thought.

We need faster and faster feedback loops in time-to-market in order to continuously improve our ability to deliver quality (defect-free and valuable) features back to the market. Symmetrically, we need higher and higher quality features that are not defect-ridden or dubious in value in order to respond ever faster and more innovatively to the market.

Fast, high quality processes benefit revenue, cash flow and operating expenses.

  • Improve cash flow by shortening the order-to approval cycle.
  • Reduce overall exposure by avoiding high risk accounts. 
  • Reduce operating expenses by improving performance.
  • Increase sales by adding value to products.
Being fast is about companies that can deliver quicker than customers can change their minds. To achieve that you should focus on 3 main practices:
  1. Eliminate Waste: Take out all activities that do not add value from the perspective of the customer; in other words eliminate any material/resource beyond what the customer requires and is willing to pay for. 
  2. Build Quality In: Mistake-proof your process from the beginning to prevent appearance of defects late at the end of the process. One tool used to do that is poka yoke. You can’t sustain high speed, unless you build quality in.
  3. Team work: Use groups to go faster. We all have roles in our organizations but it is the power of teamwork that makes our endeavors successful. It takes everyone working together on a common goal to be successful in quality.
In a world where the speed of business is increasing, it is important to not just speed up the manufacturing/service process, but to speed up the thinking process and ask how we can do/be better.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

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