5 Quality Management Areas that Will Get Executive Attention in 2013

quality management initiativesOver the past year, the LNS Research team interacted with hundreds of quality executives via online survey and live discussions at industry events. To date, we’ve collected responses from over 900 executives and have analyzed critical quality management trends such as the strategic initiatives companies are undertaking, metrics being measured, best practices, the use of quality management software, etc.

We will use this blog post to highlight the top 5 areas executives are planning to focus on in 2013. Regardless of the maturity of your organization in quality management, industry, company size, or geography, we’re confident that you’re most likely already focused on more than one of the initiatives below.

Standardization of Quality Process

Standardization is a difficult and time consuming task. When you’re talking about organizations that are global in nature, the project becomes even more complicated. Adding to the complexity, there are organizations that have grown out of acquisitions, with every Business Unit (BU) having its own quality standards. Organizations have always known the benefits of establishing a standardized process for quality management across the organization, but the project generally takes so long, and without corporate commitment, it can be difficult to get value from these programs.

Another critical area of focus for standardization is in establishing a culture of collaboration across functional groups. Organizations have increasingly started to create Corporate Quality groups with the responsibility to execute such projects. These groups generally establish a 3 year or 5 year plan around managing standardization projects and utilize multiple ISO standards to achieve those goals. Quality process standardization and the use of emerging technologies will continue to be a focal point for quality executives in 2013.

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Quality Management Software

LNS Research has seen an increase in the percentage of companies planning to implement quality management software. More specifically, Enterprise Quality Management Software and Statistical Process Control systems are increasingly adopted at an enterprise level. Executives are implementing EQMS to manage content and business processes for quality and compliance across the value chain. Similarly, Statistical Process Control is implemented with a goal to reduce manufacturing variability and manage product quality.

Companies are moving away from implementing point solutions toward managing quality across the organization. Executives have come to understand that even though the initial time and resource requirements for these types of such targeted projects are minimal, such implementations are difficult to scale and often end up being a roadblock for building a closed- loop process for managing end- to- end quality processes.

The quality management software space has matured significantly over the past few years. It’s typical for vendors to now have experience with multiple enterprise-wide implementations. It’s important for quality executives to understand vendors’ experience in their company’s specific industry, geography, functionality, and IT infrastructure, as well as the vendor's past successes. As companies are starting this journey towards quality management software implementation, it’s paramount to develop a well-established plan and have thorough knowledge of the software space to align the right solutions with needs.

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Creating a Business Process Platform

While we discussed EQMS implementation projects, another area of focus is on connecting multiple systems such as ERP, PLM, EH&S, CRM, MOM etc. to manage quality across the value chain. To effectively manage the quality of products and processes, organizations need to establish control of quality across different stages of the value chain such as R&D, design, engineering, operations, supply chain, customer service, etc.

Some organizations may have a very mature, existing PLM implementation and consequently manage quality through the PLM application. Similarly, there are organizations with mature ERP implementations that manage quality processes through the ERP system. Other systems such as EH&S, CRM, MOM, and Supply Chain management touch quality in a critical way.

Executives have now started utilizing Business Process Management (BPM) tools to automate end to end business process. In 2013, organizations will continue to focus on harmonizing the existing investments made in these systems to ensure that quality is managed seamlessly across the organization. Understanding points of integration between systems will be vital for successfully interconnecting processes and data.

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Quality Metrics Program

Measuring the quality performance of an organization is not a new concept. Organizations have done it for years now and have established standardized metrics that are utilized across industries and geographies. Industrial and manufacturing metrics such as Overall Yield, On time and Complete Shipments, Supplier defects, etc., have been consistently used by many organizations. However there are other metrics such as the Cost of Quality, New Products Introduction, and Overall Equipment Effectiveness, etc., that companies are still having difficulty with understanding and implementing.

Another area creating a challenge is in finding quality metrics data that can be used to benchmark performance and understand gaps as compared to peers in the industry. LNS Research has collected metrics data from hundreds of organizations and will be releasing it soon to Global Quality Advisory Council members. We’ll also be covering quality and manufacturing metrics more in depth throughout 2013.

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Supplier Quality Management

The final area of focus will be to on supplier quality management. Executives in many industries work with global supplier bases that are heavily tiered. An organization is not only responsible for managing the quality of its own suppliers, but also its suppliers’ suppliers. There are many critical issues that come up while managing a global supplier base such as compliance, risk management, traceability etc., that executives have to manage. As organizations scale business across geographies, this challenge will get more complicated. LNS will be publishing best practices on the supplier quality management topic in 2013. Stay tuned!

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We've mentioned 5 key areas that we expect executives to focus on in 2013. Let us know if there are other areas, initiatives, and so on that your organization will be focusing on in the coming year.
Global Quality Advisory Council

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All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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