The Top 5 Questions Answered from Yesterday’s Quality Maturity Webinar

quality management technology maturityAcross leadership capabilities, business processes, technology, and performance management, nearly every company is looking to improve in the area of quality management. The question remains, though, how do you progress forward in each of those areas to not only develop but also sustain an advantage over your close competitors?

During the Q&A portion of the webinar I participated in yesterday, Understanding Your Quality Management Maturity, it was clear that there’s a lot of interest in this topic. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and I wasn’t able to address all of the questions. But luckily there aren’t any time limits on blogging, and I’ve put together a list of the top 5 questions and my answers below.

(For context, click here for an overview of LNS Research’s Quality Management Maturity model)

Question 1: What are the progressive steps in the roadmap (controlled, proactive, agile, etc.) to go from Ad Hoc to Market Leader in Business Process Excellence?

A: There is no definitive roadmap that every organization can take on its way to Market Leader. However, there are many staples and milestones found within each. For the Business Process Excellence category, Ad Hoc means that processes were developed as needed and internally. At this phase, processes are generally manual or paper-based and very reactive in nature.

As you progress through the maturity model and adopt technology such as Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) to support these business processes, you become more focused on proactively catching and preventing poor quality issues and also ensuring good quality earlier in the value chain.

The shift of resources more toward proactively managing quality is a key characteristic of movement along the Quality Management Maturity Model. In the Agile phase, it’s likely that your business processes are becoming more standardized and easily able to globally adapt to changing needs.

Ultimately, moving into a market-leading position requires taking these business processes a step further, integrating them with other processes across the value chain and creating closed communication and collaboration loops between them.

Question 2: You mentioned building compensation and incentives into quality as a sign of quality maturity. Could you tell us a little more about that?

A: A culture that considers how its decisions and behaviors impact quality management is essential for sustaining a market-leading position, and incentives can play a significant role in this. Whether in-kind or in some monetary way, people like to be rewarded for their hard work.

Market leaders make quality personal. It’s important to align your business goals with your quality management goals, and set corresponding expectations and rewards. These rewards can be in the form of bonuses, recognition, and additional time off, or they could be tied to year-over-year pay increases.

Question 3: Which industries are leading in quality technology maturity, and why?

A: Traditionally, we’ve seen industries that face heavy regulatory and compliance burdens investing more in quality management. Many life sciences organizations, for instance, benefit from automating and digitizing the CAPA and document management processes. In the past, this has been more for risk and compliance benefits.

However, as the EQMS space matures alongside organizations’ quality capabilities and mindsets, more companies are investing in EQMS for its ability to deliver business value and cost savings. We expect this trend to continue and even pick up speed into the future.

Interestingly, other industries are ahead on culture and strategy. If you look at the automotive industry for example, quality is viewed as a shared responsibility and a core value. Often in life sciences quality is still viewed as a policing function. It will be exciting to see over the coming years which industries do a better job of maturing, wherever the current weaknesses may be.

Question 4: Are you seeing more mature companies focus on leading indicators rather than lagging quality management indicators?

A: Yes, companies further along in the Quality Maturity Model have more visibility into the leading indicators of metrics and KPIs. For instance, you could consider CAPA close rates a leading indicator of internal failure rates. And a company that has globally deployed and automated its CAPA process with EQMS can easily monitor its open CAPAs, unresolved CAPAs, CAPA close rates, and so on, which enables it to actually monitor the “health” of that process rather than just the final outcomes. This provides insights into where more resources may be required, and can over time help to continuously improve corresponding lagging indicators like yield.    

Question 5: Could you tell us more about standardization in terms of technology, and what this means for the different phases in the Quality Management Maturity Model?

A: In the Ad Hoc phase of IT maturity, there’s generally no standardization between plants or facilities. In many cases, there may not be much quality-related IT involved at all, since many companies are naturally quick to rely on paper and spreadsheets for managing operations.

As needs grow, however, and paper-based methods become less scalable and more of a source of inefficiency, it’s common for facilities to start adopting software and other technology on an as needed basis. Although movement along the maturity model is being made, the standardization is often far more local than global.

Over time, and with better technology available, many companies have outgrown this IT strategy and are investing in more global, standardized solutions. Our research has shown that many companies are adopting EQMS platforms, and slowly phasing out the disparate IT environment.

With EQMS becoming more widely available, less costly, and easier to integrate with existing enterprise IT systems, we expect to see newer companies move quicker through this maturity model. Of course there will always be the Ad Hoc phase of quality IT maturity, but it’s likely that companies growing organically—not through acquisition—will be better positioned to bypass the fractured IT environment faced today.

In case you missed this webinar, a free recording is available by following the button below.

sword achiever recording

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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