Quality needs a new paradigm


After decades of trying to "manage" and "control" quality, manufacturers continue to struggle with consistently achieving quality excellence. To conquer the realities of today's marketplace and achieve quality excellence, manufacturers need to adopt an analytic approach to quality.

The basic objective of manufacturers hasn't changed since the beginning - produce a quality product with the features customers want, at a price they'll pay and is profitable. The principles of quality management best practices were established decades ago. So why are organizations still struggling with achieving their quality goals taking market leadership? I've boiled it down to these four things.

  • Organizational silos. Many companies set vague organizational goals for quality, but then the responsibility falls on a relative few, typically engineers, with narrowly defined metrics.
  • Data silos. Critical data to resolve quality issues often reside in disparate manufacturing systems, like SPC, PIMS, SCADA, and MES.
  • Increasingly demanding & empowered customers. Shifting consumer demographics are leading to rising expectations of quality, service and value. In turn leading to product proliferation. And of course the rise of social media, where a dissatisfied customer can literally share their complaints with the world at the tap of a screen.
  • Stiffer competition. New entrants and previously niche entrants are gobbling up market share with innovative designs and setting new expectations of quality and service.

Little can be done about two of them - customers and competition. More demanding customers are the new normal. Gone are the days of Henry Ford where customer choice meant you could have any color you wish, as long as it's black. And there is little a manufacturer can do directly about competition. Actually, competition is a good thing; it means you're in healthy, vibrant industry. So what can manufacturers do about organizational and data silos that will have a meaningful and positive impact on their quality, brand equity and margins?

Leading companies are adopting "customer-driven quality," a broader definition of quality that works across their entire organization and includes the customer at its core. The concept was first introduced by Juran years ago as “Big Q.” Now, technology and analytics have converged to make it a reality. Customer-driven quality employs a quality analytics approach. It begins with creating a single view of the truth by integrating all relevant quality data and applying advanced analytics. Doing this, organizations can achieve collaboration across the enterprise, spot defects much earlier and resolve issues faster.

Companies that embrace customer-driven quality will expect to:

  1. Delight their customers, leading to higher customer loyalty and even advocacy.
  2. Launch products faster, and enjoy better margins.
  3. Lower their cost of quality and their COGS by 15-40 percent.
  4. Achieve higher brand equity, therefore commanding a premium price, higher margins and sustainable growth.

What do you think? Can you compete in today’s market and achieve these kind of results with the status quo of quality control and quality management? To learn more, check out this free white paper on customer-driven quality. You can also follow the #QualityAnalytics hashtag on twitter to read the latest updates.


About Author

Mike Hitmar

Manufacturing Industry Marketing Manager

An engineer turned product marketer, Mike has held a broad range of roles in manufacturing, engineering and marketing over a 20 year career. He brings his perspective as an industry practitioner to advocate the application of analytics to solve the most difficult of business challenges. Mike currently serves as manufacturing industry marketing manager at SAS. He regularly shares his experiences and insights in published articles, webinars and live speaking events. Mike earned a BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Ohio University and holds an MBA from The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. In addition to subscribing to this blog, you can follow his updates on Twitter @MikeHitmar and LinkedIn.

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