Using the Consortium Model
Stanley A. Marash, Ph.D.
During the past two years,
the United States, like many other nations, has experienced
trying economic times. Faith in corporate America has diminished
as accounting scandals and fraudulent activities fill the
headlines. Small companies are often subject to the ills
of bigger ones--which are, in many cases, their customers--as
this toxic economic fallout filters down.
Despite the turmoil, thousands of U.S. businesses continue
their commitment to quality initiatives. As profits erode
and competition increases, it becomes even more imperative
for organizations to improve their efficiency while continually
enhancing service and product quality to their customers.
One proven tool for helping smaller businesses accomplish
these goals is the consortium model, in which a group of
companies joins together to implement a new business management
model. The companies can be linked by geographic proximity,
industry, technology, customer base or any combination thereof.
Consortiums can be sponsored by state governments, industry
associations or the major corporations for these companies'
New Jersey helped pioneer the consortium approach in 1993,
when it became the first state to help small companies obtain
ISO 9000 registration. Since then, hundreds of companies
have gone through the process, which consists of several
A kickoff meeting presented to the top management of member
companies to explain the process, establish ground rules
and gain support
A baseline evaluation of each consortium member to provide
insight into current strengths and weaknesses
Essential training modules (e.g., executive briefings, auditor
training and documentation training) to which each member
sends two or three people
Monthly meetings, at which members share progress, problems
and lessons learned
Individual on-site consultations for each consortium member
A preassessment audit for each member to gauge its readiness
for a registration audit
This process has been modified, adapted and used internationally
to prepare companies for ISO 9000, FDA compliance, QS-9000
and other quality initiatives. Today, STAT-A-MATRIX is about
to launch a consortium of small companies interested in
implementing Six Sigma. Why not? Companies that have implemented
ISO 9001:2000 are required to demonstrate continual improvement.
What better way than to build Six Sigma into their ISO 9001
Joining together for process improvement--whether for
research, development, design, manufacturing or service--can
create a competitive edge for small businesses. Two important
reasons for joining are the shared knowledge of processes
used by others and the reduced cost of implementing an effective
management system. Whether applying process controls or
implementing regulatory requirements, companies in a networking
environment with a group of industry peers and the leadership
of a trained facilitator can appreciate the common problems
and solutions facing small businesses.
Perhaps more important, a consortium affords small companies
the opportunity to access tools used by major corporations--everything
from ANSI/RAB-registered lead auditor training to Six Sigma
Champion, Green Belt, and even Black Belt training and coaching.
These tools are all components of effective continual improvement
processes, which are particularly important today because
Ensure that companies improve their products, service quality
and business efficiency in a climate of diminishing resources
Provide a competitive edge and marketing advantages over
Help eliminate wasteful and unnecessary redundancy in management
Help companies meet and exceed customer requirements
Make companies more productive and profitable
The consortium model's success has been demonstrated time
and again. Companies that have participated in the process
report improved processes, productivity and profitability;
reduced implementation costs; enhanced communication between
departments, vendors and suppliers; increased customer satisfaction;
productive staff trained in important new skills; and opportunities
to meet potential partners.
In hard times like these, companies obviously must adjust
and make concessions, but they should never compromise on
their efforts to establish strong quality management systems.
Consortium programs offer an economically sound approach
to help ensure this will never happen. The economic uncertainty
currently affecting the United States will eventually pass;
why not make sure your company is one of the forward-looking
Stanley A. Marash, Ph.D., is chairman and CEO of STAT-A-MATRIX
Inc. Fusion Management is a trademark of STAT-A-MATRIX Inc.
©2002 STAT-A-MATRIX Inc. All rights reserved. Letters
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