Companies around the world are facing many challenges today. Digitalization demands a major rethinking in some cases, end consumers have ever higher expectations, and the dynamics on international markets call for efficient as well as effective processes. At the end of the day, however, all these aspects are part of one big goal: sustainable success for the company. Find out why quality managers play an important role in achieving this goal and why they can contribute to efficient, effective processes.
Good Quality – but Fast and Inexpensive, Please
In our BloQ, we repeatedly emphasize that challenges can mean not only expenses, but also new opportunities. Digitalization in particular offers us new opportunities to optimize our processes. We work faster, more focused and use data to our advantage. The great art here is not only to ensure good quality in the interests of all stakeholders, but also to do it as cost- and effort-efficiently as possible.
We cannot ignore the fact that quality management is caught in such a triangle of tension – consisting of quality, time and costs. In our last article on context and morals, we emphasized the importance of a morally justifiable quality policy. And it is easier to talk about morals when the cost-efficiency imperative is already being successfully served. However, if you as a supplier are integrated into a tightly interlocked and precisely synchronized supply chain and if compliance with corporate and customer specifications is your first duty, there is not much room for philosophizing about morals.
How Important Is Quality?
Efficient and effective processes are a prerequisite for economic survival in industry, as they ensure competitiveness. However, they do not automatically also lead to product improvements, to innovations or to more sustainable action. The opposite can even be the case if too much attention is paid to short-term costs. There is a market for goods and companies that deliberately limit themselves in terms of quality, but attract attention with aggressive pricing policies. Wanting to win this competition as a company follows an old economic thinking in which size goes hand in hand with scale and thus lower cost per unit.
Added to this is the relocation of production to reduce costs. The textile industry has led the way with the global relocation of production. The principle of size and cheap production by third parties prevails. This is a situation in which many medium-sized companies cannot survive. There are also increasing expectations on the part of customers for credible production and products. Companies are looking for the ideal solution: to convince customers not only with competitive prices, effective and efficient processes, but also with good quality. Easier said than done …
Not all Efficiency Is the Same
Ultimately, the question arises as to what is expected of efficient and effective production: How short- or long-term are the motivations behind the decisions? Who has what expectations and which are taken into account? Every company manages these expectations – consciously or unconsciously. This means that every company also has a management system with processes, mission statement and quality policy – here too: consciously or unconsciously.
And this is where quality comes into play. Quality is a management task and always linked to the mandate for organizational development. To believe that efficiency and effectiveness can be “ticked off” with short-term measures to minimize costs and expenses will sooner or later lead to the opposite effects. At the latest when customers are dissatisfied with the performance and the supplier is left sitting on his products.
Quality Management as a Guarantee for Efficiency and Effectiveness
But enough theory, back to practice: this article would not be part of our BloQ series if quality managers could not also create valuable added value here. We are talking about the establishment of modern quality management as part of an integrated management system (IMS). This quality management makes its contribution in the context of the respective corporate strategy and takes into account the interests of all stakeholders on the basis of effective processes. There is only one lived (quality) management system – this encompasses all areas and interests of a company, including the efficient as well as effective production of innovative products. The artificial separation of quality management and quality assurance as well as a focus on certifications only should finally be a thing of the past. This is where quality managers make a decisive contribution.
In our BloQ series on the “9 Arenas of Digitalization”, only the ninth remains. It is perhaps particularly ambitious, but in view of the other eight arenas, it is elementary for the future of a company. It is about change, the future and the question: is the quality manager also or even primarily an organizational developer? In our finale, we would like to try to give a (perhaps unsurprising) answer.