Previously five tips were discussed for organizations and quality professionals to focus on to bring about positive results. Certainly, there are other elements which could be included but, along with the following, ten tips are discussed which can help organizations position themselves to increase performance and improve their quality culture.

Read the first part of this series here: Tips for Success, Part 1

6) Cost of Poor Quality must be known. Most organizations have no idea the extent of their total cost of poor quality (CoPQ). COPQ, sometimes referred to as the cost of non-quality, can be defined as the costs that would disappear if systems, processes, and products were perfect. There are few things in this world which are perfect. So… every organization has a COPQ but too few spend time trying to truly identify their level of poor quality.

Dr. Joseph M. Juran said that total COPQ can be as much as 15-25% of the cost of sales. While the poor-quality costs may not be known with precision, it can be staggering! So why aren’t managers challenging their organizations to identify their COPQ with close approximations and develop plans to improve? Other than it takes time and effort, I don’t know the exact answer, but many organizations are not devoting enough energy to achieve reasonable approximations so the cause of waste can be attacked. This is difficult to understand when every dollar of their COPQ saved goes straight to the bottom line.

A while back I spent time with a company that focused their entire continuous improvement efforts at the work team level. Their primary tool was a COPQ analysis worksheet. Everyone was trained, involved, and worked toward reducing their COPQ. The result was impressive as real improvement was pulled through to the bottom line. Quality improved, non-quality costs were reduced, profitability improved significantly, and jobs added in a competitive market. Everyone won!

7) Improvement doesn’t always center on hard assets. To obtain the greatest return, organizations should determine where to focus their improvement efforts. It seems the tendency for many organizations is to focus on hard assets. However, rather than just focusing on equipment and other hard assets, organizations would do well to put some portion of their continuous improvement initiatives toward people and processes. Organizations should implement disciplined day-to-day areas of review. In today’s lean manufacturing environment that effort should be part of the visual factory. Daily performance reviews should be implemented to not miss opportunities to improve basic skills, coaching, reinforcement and providing real-time feedback to and from the front-line worker.

8) Enhance employee worth. Sustainable change can only happen in an environment where workers, supervisors and managers have real-time visibility with production performance, reduced administrative burden, and a structure that allows everyone to contribute their own ideas and turn them into actions. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they openly embrace tasks with maturity and ownership. The key is to create a two-way atmosphere of openness in a trusting climate that shows employees they have worth. To support this environment, organizations should implement an appropriate reward and recognition process that will translate into an empowered workforce. These actions will be responsible for releasing an explosion of creative solutions which has the power to produce exponential results.

9) Take action. Organizations should not procrastinate! We need to decide the path that will achieve real improvement and focus on the implementation plan. With any performance improvement initiative, momentum is key, and “quick wins” provide the fuel needed to gain immediate momentum. Early successes ensure that the organization's focus remains fixed on the true goals (higher quality with lower operating cost is the target but we should not confuse the two as they are not always complementary). The proper resources need to be dedicated to making it happen. Too often organizations have great plans to create change but too few resources are committed by senior management. The result, therefore, is less than satisfactory. There must be sustained effort by all members of management to nurture the initiative, so results are achieved.

10) Expedite improvements. Many organizations take too long to implement major improvements and the efforts stall. While many transformational improvements can take months or years to implement, do not assume this is always the case. Results can occur in a relatively short time if the help of the entire workforce is solicited. Organizations must communicate the vision so that everyone can relate to how they can be involved, properly deploy effective resources, create meaningful metrics, make results visible, and focus on technology that will support the improvement effort. We should not be unreasonable but challenge the current thinking and spend time “out of the box” for a new perspective. Think days or weeks, not years!

Quality professionals are positioned to help their organizations focus on the vital few initiatives. The roadmap to success has been laid by the quality giants like Drs. Juran and W. Edwards Deming. Quality professionals must become an integral part of the transformation and be the beacon to light the way!