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Future Trends in Quality Management
By Michael Stanleigh

Where is quality management going in the next decade? Being able to look at current trends and see where they will take us is an interesting and thought provoking exercise. It can give us a much needed competitive edge to move ahead of the pack.

Through our continuous, extensive global research studies we have identified a number of key trends that will have a positive impact on organizations and how they manage quality initiatives over the next decade.

Here are 8 trends you can expect to see happen that will help you gain organizational momentum:

  1. Quality Management is not dead – it continues to evolve

    Quality Management never really died. It evolved. Rather than being relegated as a position title or a department, it has been infused into the way everyone works in every single position within their organizations. Quality is about products and services. It is about people and processes.

    Quality management has become a critical element contributing to the successful development of innovations. It is now integrated into project management. Successful projects have clear quality processes, tools and templates. Quality management is well, alive and living in organizations today and in the future.

  2. There will be a trend towards Profound Knowledge. This includes the combination of project and quality management principles.

    Ultimately, organizations led by people who are guided by the System of Profound Knowledge are likely to be much more efficient and successful than organizations which continue with the prevailing style of management. Profound Knowledge systems integrate increasing knowledge as part of the system. To this end, no longer is quality management relegated to production and no longer is project management only an IT initiative. Quality and project management are infused into everyone position within every department within every organization. This is equally true for both public sector and private sector organizations. We are seeing training and development initiatives as well as consulting assignments focusing on how to develop quality measures to all work, projects and learning. This includes details on how to transfer this knowledge to others so that it stays resident in the organization when staff leaves. This is becoming critical as more and more long-term staff retires.

  3. Six Sigma initiatives will be successful when they are managed as a Project

    A great challenge in Six Sigma initiatives is that although they follow a clear process and quality standards they may fail because they are not well managed as a project. This has led to problems for Six Sigma initiatives becoming over time, over budget and not meeting their customer expectations. Individuals apply the Six Sigma methodology but fail in their execution. Success on Six Sigma will continue for those organizations that apply a project management approach to how Six Sigma initiatives are structured, managed and processed.

  4. Organizations will undertake Change Management initiatives focused on ensuring consistency in the management of all work processes

    Organizations are undertaking the changes required to transition themselves from ad hoc and inconsistent work practices to one where knowledge is incorporated into everyone’s job. This helps to ensure that the knowledge of one resource working on their quality measurable work is easily transferred to other employees or new employees expected to take-over or continue work within this role. Organizations will see increased customer satisfaction rates as a result.

    Successful quality management systems do have a direct bottom-line impact on an organization but will require that the organization undertake a significant cultural change because quality management systems have a profound effect on the structures, systems and resources. These cannot be changed only in the short term. To have a lasting effect, employees need to be prepared for the changes that will be necessary and understand the benefits of the change.

    The process for creating the cultural change is easy but one must recognize that it is journey. It is exciting but you must stay focused throughout. Like all journeys, it takes time. There really is no end. If quality management is built into the corporate culture than everyone in the organization will not only know what it is they have to do but how that work will be measured and how that knowledge can be transferred.

  5. Lean Management will become more important to organizations seeking continuous improvement than Six Sigma

    Six Sigma has been the dominant force for organizations seeking improvement in the management of their key business processes. Most have already reaped the benefits of Six Sigma. Continuous improvement of key business processes will be more easily realized through the principles of Lean. Organizations will identify that the time and cost required to continue to support Six Sigma will be more than the value produced. Lean is less expensive, easier to implement and delivers immediate, measurable improvement.

  6. Organizations will focus more on where to spend their supplier quality management resources

    Organizations can no longer sustain the cost of problems identified through their supplier evaluations. In order to reduce the risk of insecure supply chain organizations will focus more effort and money on creating strict quality standards that all of their suppliers will be required to meet. These standards go beyond the traditional ISO certifications in that they will be very specific to the requirements of the organization engaging the supplier. Although this will take more effort in the beginning, the long-term impact will be reduced risk for the organization that might otherwise be realized by poor supplier quality standards. These quality standards will be regularly audited to ensure compliance.

  7. Quality Standards will move beyond the realm of work processes into job functions

    Quality standards have commonly been written for all work processes. They have emerged as a key element to identify the success of a project in that they are written for all project management processes, tools and templates. Now quality standards are being written for all job role functions so that everyone knows not only what is expected of them, but exactly what quality standards they must adhere to. These quality standards will be used in their performance reviews to identify whether or not their performance adhered to the agreed-upon quality standards for work performance.

  8. Quality Departments will undertake Strategic Quality Planning

    Quality departments and quality professionals will demonstrate how, through their quality initiatives (i.e.; Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen, ISO registration, etc.) they are positively impacting the organization’s bottom-line. By being forced to become more accountable for results they will spend more time ensuring that they are doing the right quality initiatives at the right time and that each one is clearly linked to one of the key strategic imperatives developed by the management team.

    Every quality initiative can, and must be tied to key business process performance indicators in order to have any real impact on productivity and the bottom-line. Undertaking Strategic Quality Planning will ensure quality departments are able to identify what they should be doing, how they should be doing it, why they are doing it and the relationships of these endeavors to the organization’s strategic plans. When quality strategies are clearly outlined and measured, quality departments will be able to ensure overall performance improvement gains.

Concluding Remarks

Many of you will read these trends and believe that you are not “senior” enough in your respective organizations to ensure these trends are effectively implemented in your organizations. This is not at all true. One of the great strengths of leaders is their ability to use influence and critical thinking skills to bring about positive change. Each of us can choose to be either a leader or a follower. We must decide. Our organization’s future may depend upon the right decisions being made today. Hopefully, knowledge of these trends will help you stay ahead of your competitors and help you contribute to your organization’s future success.

Michael Stanleigh is the President and CEO of Business Improvement Architects. He works with executives and senior managers around the world to help them improve operational effectiveness through strategic planning, leadership development, project management and quality management. Michael has been instrumental in helping his clients reduce waste and increase efficiencies and profits with his clear processes and quality approach.

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