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Tim Lozier


Compliance Can’t Wait: Three Steps for Better Quality Leadership

Emails and spreadsheets are no way to store and share quality information

Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 00:00

Recently, there has been a shift in the way quality is led and implemented in organizations. The updated ISO 9001 standard urges leaders to incorporate quality in all levels of business, from stakeholders to upper management and throughout the entire organization. The new view is this: Quality is everyone’s responsibility, and team leaders should be working to make quality a priority for everyone. That way, the entire team can focus on creating an organizational culture that focuses on improving quality by collaborating toward achieving common goals.

Leaders can take a few simple steps to restructure their quality management processes to better promote quality throughout their organizations. By centralizing all quality information, keeping on top of tasks, and using data to drive decisions, you can create an efficient, collaborative system. This will keep your organization on the cutting edge of quality, compliance, and continuous improvement.

This article will look into three steps you can start taking now toward better quality leadership.

1. Keep information central and visible

The way you set up your quality management process has a large impact on the way your quality system operates. A big factor in a quality system is how information is stored and shared. Unfortunately, many organizations still rely on emails and spreadsheets to create and communicate important information. This is detrimental to your operations because scattered information leads to data duplication or even data loss, and inconsistent forms of communication cause confusion and sometimes even a complete communication breakdown.

On the other hand, having all data in one place allows you to have visibility and control over the information. Centralizing your quality management processes and taking action based on those results is the best way to see all data at once. You can see the entire history of events in one place rather than in various files or email threads. Having one place for everything gives your team a central location for communication and decision making.

2. Give yourself the tools to have meaningful reminders

We’ve all been there—the nightmare of the gigantic email thread. These emails take on a life of their own and become a game of telephone, where meaning gets lost and transformed throughout the process. This is not an effective way to communicate. A guideline to follow is that email should only be a messenger for information, not the owner and certainly not the repository. In addition to ensuring you centralize and simplify your processes and quality tracking, you need to have a simplified means to bring you directly to the information needed for decision making and taking action.

Having a process for notifications when an action is expected of you is important for keeping quality a top priority. Notifications should be the reminders that keep you coming back to quality, but not necessarily the action itself. For example, our car’s dashboard annunciator reminds us when the oil needs to be changed or when there’s an engine problem—it doesn’t provide us with the tools to fix it right there, but it reminds us to go to the right place to fix it (like the mechanic). The reminder keeps the issue top of mind, and is the messenger when an action needs to be taken.

Reminders, notifications, and escalations provide alerts when we need them, driving us to the place to take action or make a decision. This is essential to communication surrounding quality management—keep the communication centralized and leverage email only as the messenger, not the owner, of the communication.

3. Use data to drive continuous improvement

A large component of quality management relies on continuous improvement. In order to keep our promise to the customer that our products and services are the best they can be, we need to ensure that we are improving quality. The only way we can improve is by taking action based on the data we’ve collected. However, this information can’t exist in a chaos of formats—spreadsheets, file servers, and email threads. This is no place for quality information to live.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Centralizing your quality system lets you store and track all information in one place and communicate more effectively. We can now have a single logical place where all the data related to quality resides. Then, we can take this information and report on it, export it, filter it, slice-and-dice it, and provide meaningful information to share with team members. This is not just about data analysis, this is about a culture of quality. It’s about gathering the quality data, sharing it, reporting to those that need it, and sharing in the improvement. You can’t do that leveraging an email thread and a handful of spreadsheets.

Closing thoughts

Keeping quality initiatives on the top of your mind can be achieved, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Emails and file sharing systems are simple and easy to jump in and use, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the best practice. You should think of these tools as supporting characters in a larger quality management scene. You need to have a more centralized, simple, and effective solution that keeps quality event detection and correction in one place. Email should be the messenger that notifies and reminds you, but not what drives the conversation. Spreadsheets should be there to help interpret data, but shouldn’t be where the data resides.

Quality management is too important to rely on supporting characters to carry the weight. Look for methods that accomplish the goals of quality management in a meaningful way, and you’ll find that quality will become more top-of-mind for your business. In turn, you will be better able to fulfill your promises to the market and your customers.

For more information on this topic, be sure to register for the webinar, “What are Companies Doing to Promote a Culture of Quality Management?,” on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, at 2 p.m. Eastern, 11 a.m. Pacific.


About The Author

Tim Lozier’s picture

Tim Lozier

Tim Lozier is the director of product strategy for EtQ, in Farmingdale, New York. He has extensive experience in the software industry, and has been involved in the creation of leading-edge technologies in user-interface design and development. He began his career in digital marketing before taking a turn into software design and marketing at Quark Inc. Since then, he’s never looked back—helping to foster the development (and blog about) leading quality management software solutions.


Constant quality awareness

It's easy to talk about quality and how it should be everyone's priority, but getting to the point where it's really top of mind can be difficult. Thanks for the tips to get closer to that goal!