Quality 4.0 is a Team Sport


Quality’s role as a support function in the main value chain places great demand on Quality resources and in the digital age of rapidly shifting customer sentiments and ever-present supply chain fluctuations, keeping all of the players moving in the right direction is a challenge even for the best coaches.

Quality 4.0 is a transformational approach to changing the business of Quality. First introduced by LNS Research in 2017, Quality 4.0, has been gaining momentum ever since. The number of Quality 4.0 programs has doubled in the last 5 years, however, most of them are underperforming. 

Quality 4.0 Adoption Rate, LNS ResearchWhat is Quality 4.0?

At LNS Research, we define Quality 4.0 (QX) as the application of Industrial Transformation (IX) methodologies and emerging digital technologies to transform quality management and achieve step-change improvements in the value chain across product development, suppliers, operations, logistics, and customer experience.

Quality People Process and Technology Wheel, LNS Research

The Challenge for Quality Leaders

At LNS Research our research shows that Quality Leaders at many companies have a monumental struggle to participate in delivering business value from Quality 4.0 Transformation efforts. In our Quality 4.0 Maturity Assessment, conducted last year, only 20% of QX programs are led by the Quality Leader. 

Top Stated Business Objectives for Quality Management, LNS Research

Quality is perceived as a “policing function”, overly concerned with compliance to the detriment of being a business partner to other functions involved in the work of Quality transformation across the value chain of a business. Quality is not seen as a trusted business partner, partly because quality doesn’t ACT like a trusted business partner. It really doesn’t seem to matter where Quality sits in an organization, reporting to operations, R&D, or the CEO, they seem to be perceived as a barrier to progress, that works in their own silo, and delights in finding problems. Quality can be perceived as the “department of NO.” So how does Quality rise above this perception and begin to change the reality on the ground? 

In a word: Teamwork

One of the nuggets from our Quality 4.0 Maturity survey shows that Quality 4.0 leaders are 33% more likely to have a Digital Council, and 20% more likely to have Quality 4.0 in scope for the Digital Council. 

Digital Council Established, Leaders vs Followers, LNS Research

Is Quality 4.0 In Scope for the Digital Council, Leaders vs Followers, LNS Research

That's great but what are the results?

Those that report the presence of a cross-functional Digital Council with Quality 4.0 in the scope of that council have reported the following Quality-related benefits: 

  1. Democratized Quality Data. At LNS Research we have identified one of the benefits of a Quality 4.0 effort as the proliferation of Quality data to other functions, and other data to provide context for Quality data, resulting in better and faster decision-making. A Digital Council helps to move this change along.Quality Benefits of a Digital Council, LNS Research

  2. Alignment of Quality goals with strategic goals. We've previously reported a disconnect between Quality strategic goals being overly compliance-focused and out of step with business strategic goals. A Digital Council helps the organization reconcile the two and achieve alignment. This leads to another reported benefit of a robust Digital Council - Quality use cases are prioritized higher with a Digital Council than without.

  3. Third, participation in a digital council by Quality Leaders changes the mindset about the “value” of Quality from someone else's responsibility to everyone's responsibility. This helps to kill the perception that “Quality is the policing function” and establishes that Quality is an aspect of the value chain deliverables, rather than someone's role. It promotes the idea that Quality is excellence in all things. 

Who should have a seat at the table for the digital council? Really, the answer is “it depends”, but our research shows that the broader the participation across functions, the better. 

Functional Teams that are a part of the Digital Council, LNS Research

Cross-Functional Membership on Digital Council, LNS Research

Quality Leaders who are engaged in transformation or considering starting a transformation program would do well to remember that a Quality 4.0 transformation is a team sport. 

Quality 4.0 is not about changing the Quality function, it's about adding value for customers across the value chain. 

Engaging in a rigorous digital quality council, with broad cross-functional participation goes a long way toward solving some common perceptions of quality that sometimes get in the way of achieving that true “business partner” end state.

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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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