Friday, November 30, 2012

Power of Quality

November is celebrated as the World Quality Month.   Paul, in his recent blog post, has provoked the quality community to rise up and spread the importance of quality awareness and practice. 

It is sometimes disheartening to see when the "Quality Department" is looked at as a pure overhead.  By overhead, it is meant that, Quality department and its employees do not contribute directly to the revenue growth of a company.  Thus, during tougher economies, one of the first to being laid off from their jobs is the Quality Professionals. I have seen this happening in certain service-based industries, especially Information Technology (IT).  Many a times, these cost cutting efforts result in the complete death of that company.  Here, the Senior Management lacks commitment towards quality and they underestimate the power of "quality assurance".   They compromise "long-term" benefits for achieving "short-term" needs.

You might have heard of some companies telling customers to just look at the end product and not to worry about the quality processes used during production.   They claim and believe that quality is built into each product and not in the processes.  They offer products at a much lower cost compared to other similar products.  Ultimately, the customers suffer; the products they bought from these companies fail much earlier than the expected life.  These companies and their Senior Management do not care about process improvements or ISO certifications.  They focus completely on "quality control" and repeat mistakes.  Probably, this is a scenario of complete ignorance and underestimation of the power of quality.  These companies, one day, will be on their way to the Intensive Care Unit. 

To understand the real power of quality, one must know what will happen if quality is absent.  I would like to site an example. In India, when people buy pressure cookers, they specifically look for the ISI mark provided by Bureau of Indian Standards.  The confidence about the safety perceived and the same realized by customers buying ISI certified products is immense.  A non-ISI mark product is much cheaper, but is ignored by most Indian customers.  They don't want to take a chance by buying a product where presence of quality cannot be judged.  It is to be noted that there were few accidents reported in India, where the poor quality pressure cookers burst while cooking. 

Today's market is flooded with lots of low quality and fake products.  There are lots of service providers failing due to their poor quality services.  Many companies fail to maintain revenue growth or make profits.  Bottom-line, they all compromised or ignored quality. 

Look at those companies that are successful.  See those companies that always make good profits.  Customers worship products and services from these companies.  There are many examples - Toyota (Lean), GE (Six Sigma), Maruti (ISO), TCS (CMMI) etc., are those companies that are successful due to their sound quality practices.  Successful companies preach and practice quality.  They focus on continuous improvement and robust processes.  They consider 'Quality Assurance' as superior over 'Quality Control'.  

Let us breath quality, talk quality, spread its importance and celebrate the World Quality Month during the month of November.

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