Quality Breakthroughs: Many Paths, Common Themes (sidebar)

Oct. 1, 2004
Keys to Better Quality

• Culture and management support are the number one issue. To succeed over the long haul, companies must embrace fact-based management and create policies, procedures and guidelines that foster following rigorous quality methodologies.

• Projects for improvement must have adequate resources, a multi-disciplinary team, and be focused enough to accomplish results.

• Know your goal with the project—use analysis to understand the problem first.

• Business processes may need to change before major benefits will occur.

• Technology projects must stay focused on what you need, and be as simple as possible. Leverage what the vendor knows, but take responsibility internally.

• Training is the key to success in new processes, with new technologies, and in keeping technology working to fix real quality problems and accomplish real business goals.

• Management needs to see business results to stay committed, so set up processes to include measurements before and after a major change, and on an ongoing basis.

• Audit internal operations regularly. This not only makes customer and government audits easier, it produces better business results. Many quality software systems have an audit module.

• Prevent backsliding through ongoing training and education, plus ensuring the people using the system actually see benefits to their job and to the company.

• Leverage quality data and processes in all improvement initiatives. From Six Sigma to Lean, there are ways to link all of these programs effectively.

• Continuous improvement means just that—it’s a journey that is never done. Do not expect a project, program or new technology system to keep providing benefits on its own. Diligence is required to keep the business improving and competitive.

See the story that goes with this sidebar: Quality Breakthroughs: Many Paths, Common Themes