Sunday, June 30, 2013

Define a Quality Professional Job

Quality has multiple definitions.  Quality is perceived differently when looked at it from control or assurance perspectives.  Thus defining a job in quality, to somebody else, may not be very straightforward.  Paul, in his blog post, asks fellow ASQ bloggers to share their thoughts to explain the job of a quality practitioner or professional.

In today's world, I think, most of us are quality practitioners.  For example, a school going child, creates a checklist to carry all the necessary items on the term examination day and adheres to it.  A tourist takes to-do notes, reviews travel plans, carries checklist before his cruise to Bahamas Islands.  A pilot goes through his exhaustive checklist of items before departure of a flight.   In a fastener manufacturing company, the assembly line technician use control charts to measure the product quality.  In an IT industry, software developer reviews his code for correctness and completeness.  Thus quality is existent in various functions - be it in real-life, manufacturing or services.  So, most people understand what quality is and, to some good extent, the job of a quality professional.

We can see that quality practice, in an organization, can either be centralized or decentralized.  For simplicity, let us look at the IT industry.  A software developer reviewing his code for correctness and completeness shall be considered as an example of a decentralized quality practice.  It is to be noted that the primary function of a software developer is write software programs.  Through self-review of the software program, he performs the part-time job, or role, of a quality practitioner.  Conversely, a software tester is a dedicated entity completely engaged in a centralized quality practice.  He spends most of his day testing software code, automating test processes, updating checklists, performing root cause analysis of defects, preparing test documents etc.  Thus we see that the job description of a software tester, the full-time quality practitioner, is a lengthy affair.

By practicing quality, even a school child can understand what quality is, and its importance from a practitioner's perspective.  Thus explaining somebody a job in quality may not be very difficult, but not very easy either and the challenge of explaining the job in quality is going to continue!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Global State of Quality Research 2013

The first research report (Discoveries 2013) from Global State of Quality Research is an outcome of a wonderful effort put by both ASQ and APQC.  The key findings of this report are insightful.  The report by itself looks very attractive.   I will take this opportunity to share my thoughts, comments and learning.

The Global State of Quality Research report has formed a launch pad for researchers to work further in the quality discipline.  This report focused on 4 foundational themes of Quality, such as  Governance and Management,  Outcomes and Measures, Competencies and Training, and Culture.   One can equate these themes to the 4 perspectives of a typical balance scorecard and work further with a futuristic view.  Organizations can use the findings of this research to benchmark their key quality parameters and choose the right quality measures and targets for continuous improvement. 

The importance of properly defining quality was well understood by the research team and some very interesting definitions of quality were made available.  "Ensuring customers come back and products do not" was a great modern definition for quality.  "Beyond delivering what the customer wants, anticipating what the customer will want when he/she knows the possibilities," reminded me about successful companies like Apple, Google etc and how they proactively approached quality practices ahead of their competition to stay at the top.

There were several other learning items.  Some of the key ones were: i) the impact of having a centralized vs. decentralized quality organization, ii) how quality perspectives differ based on the type of industry - manufacturing and services, iii) how some companies consider quality and customer as separate entities etc.

The report indeed has a futuristic outlook.  It has touched upon the latest trends and concepts such as trending, predictive analytics,  automation etc., and their impact on quality.   It covered views and data from regions across the world.  Throughout this report, numbers speak and colorful illustrations dance - a sumptuous feast for the reader.   

I invite quality practitioners to download the entire report and enjoying reading this insightful output from ASQ - in the journey of spreading the voice of quality.


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