World Quality Week: Celebrating the Vital Importance of Quality Management

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In recognition of World Quality Week, Actalent experts discuss the meaning and importance of quality management in business and society.

In recognition of World Quality Week, Nov 7-11, 2023, we sat down with Arunmozhiarsu Krishnan and Maxim Castelino, two of Actalent's most experienced quality management experts, to gain their perspectives on the meaning of Quality and its vital importance in business and society.

Q: What does quality mean to you?

MC: In our business of providing engineering services, quality is both the tangible aspect – meeting metrics and stated expectations consistently – and the intangible aspect – surprising and delighting our clients by delivering on the unstated, not only on each project but throughout the entire relationship.

AK: Quality is the cornerstone of customer satisfaction. To ensure that we meet the expectations of our valued customers, we must deliver flawlessly, on-time, and within budget. Each of these elements is equally critical, and failure in one area can have a cascading effect on the overall outcome. Therefore, we must strive to achieve all three goals without compromising.

Q: How can companies benefit from focusing on quality?

AK: Focusing on quality is important in every aspect of life, be it in business, personal development, or delivering products or services. A focus on quality offers numerous benefits, such as ensuring happy customers, providing a competitive edge, building a strong reputation and brand image, and increasing employee morale and engagement.

MC: The direct benefits are quantifiable, for example, repeat business from delighted customers and increased profits from lowered costs due to rework and/or warranty. Additional benefits include the goodwill obtained for the brand, the ability to attract and retain top talent due to the brand's reputation, and the growth drivers that these benefits provide.

Q: What strategies are most effective for maintaining and improving quality standards?

MC: The first aspect is culture – developing, implementing, and nurturing a quality mindset and being intentional about it from the top management down to all levels. The second aspect is functional – building robust, flexible, and scalable processes that support growth and innovation while providing the organizational framework. The third aspect is financial – aligning performance with business imperatives, investments, and compensation. Lastly, there's leadership – building leaders at every level who evangelize the quality mantra and lead by example.

AK: Maintaining high-quality standards is crucial for the success and reputation of any organization. Effective strategies include setting clear quality objectives, implementing quality control systems, training employees on those systems, fostering continuous improvement, soliciting customer feedback, and creating quality assurance teams. By implementing these strategies, organizations can maintain and improve their quality standards, leading to greater customer satisfaction and long-term success.

Q: Are there any quality certifications or standards that you trust and value?

AK: Every certification brings its own value to the table. I personally turn to ISO9001:2015, which is applicable to all sites where work is being performed. However, the trustworthiness and significance of a certification or standard depend on the industry and organizational goals. Organizations should select the one that aligns best with their needs and objectives to ensure success. Considering and meeting customer expectations is paramount. The right choice can greatly impact reputation and customer loyalty, helping organizations establish credibility in their respective industries.

MC: Our internal standards are built to industry standards and meet the needs of our clients. And, having integrated them into our work product, we've achieved proven results. Additionally, we adhere to ISO standards and certifications that are globally recognized and implemented in major organizations.

Q: What challenges do companies face when striving to improve quality?

MC: When embarking on a quality journey the most common challenges include the adoption of a quality mindset at all levels of the organization, the discipline to focus on quality despite the daily pressures of delivering, justify the cost and effort both internally and to external clients, and the ability to keep pace with growth and external factors.

AK: Improving quality is crucial for a company's success but can be challenging if there is resistance to change, complex processes, a lack of data, and resource constraints. Companies need a strong commitment to continuous improvement and effective change management strategies, aligning quality improvement efforts with business objectives and customer needs, gathering data and metrics, identifying areas for improvement, and developing strategies to address them.

Q: Can you share a success story about how you and your team have helped support quality initiatives for our clients?

AK: The process of obtaining a new certification typically takes between 9 to 12 months. A few years ago, we made the decision to acquire the ISO 13485 certification for our delivery centers in India. Initially, we planned to complete this certification within 10 months. However, we received a request from one of our clients to achieve this certification in just 6 months. Despite the tight deadline, we approached this challenge with a positive attitude and took it as an opportunity to improve our processes and procedures. With hard work and dedication, we successfully completed the certification process in just 7 months. Our client and management were very impressed with our efforts and our ability to deliver quality results within a shorter timeframe.

MC: In our business, our processes are seamlessly integrated with those of our clients. This requires a system level view and approach to address quality initiatives. Recently, we worked with a client to interrogate their end-to-end design and engineering process. After identifying several gaps, we implemented changes that improved their workflow, communication, and organization. Our efforts reduced redundancy, improved clarity, established consistency of communication, and decreased throughput time. These efforts led to major improvement in the overall quality and most importantly, allowed us to achieve the clients stated program goals.