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An overview of findings from APQC’s collaborative benchmarking research
Organizations understand the importance of measuring and tracking quality, particularly in product manufacturing. However, applying rigorous quality measurement on an enterprisewide scale, beyond manufacturing and service levels, is relatively new. Nonetheless, some organizations have made strides toward establishing quality measurement programs and systems that serve the entire organization and its customers.
These organizations realize that creating innovative ways to measure and improve the quality of all processes benefits the business just as much as product and service innovations. Plus, improvements in how enterprise quality is measured affect the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization for years to come.
In 2011, the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), one of the world’s leading proponents of knowledge management, benchmarking, and best practices business research, set out to learn how organizations are applying quality principles enterprisewide in its best practices study, Using Enterprise Quality Measurement to Drive Business Value. After a series of conversations with organizations already leveraging effective quality measurement practices and with others in search of those practices, the study team identified eight imperatives for an enterprise quality function. Without these practices in place, organizations typically struggle to arrive at any defined and replicable way to increase quality throughout the business.
These practices are:
1. Align enterprise quality with strategic goals and initiatives.
2. Establish structures and resources to get the desired results.
3. Create supporting policies, procedures, and tools—not mandates.
4. Select, define, and standardize quality measures across the enterprise.
5. Allow business unit leaders to establish the performance targets for enterprise quality measures.
6. Report enterprise measures at least quarterly.
7. Design quality measures to focus on value-added quality activities and core strategic objectives.
8. Use measures to promote a culture of quality.
The study identified specific practices that enable organizations to achieve each imperative. It uncovered both the solid, foundational practices that most organizations are using to measure quality and the emerging practices that a few organizations are just starting to employ.
During the study, four organizations, identified for their innovative quality measurement approaches, shared in-depth practices and insights. Two agreed to have their insights published: Altera Corp. and Chemonics International.
Their experience and approaches lay the groundwork for spectacular quality measurement systems. From these organizations, business leaders can learn valuable insights and strategies for implementing systems, intranets, collaborative sites, assessment tools, scorecards, and more that can bring an enterprise together with a vision for quality.
The study's foundational and emerging practices are listed and discussed in detail in the full Using Enterprise Quality Measurement to Drive Business Value report, along with in-depth case studies of both Altera Corp. and Chemonics International.
To download a free copy of the report, visit APQC’s website.