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Departments: First Word

Photo: Scott Paton, publisher


New Trends in Quality Services


Scott Paton

I was recently asked to give a brief presentation on trends in the quality services market regarding registration, training and consulting. At first, I thought "no big deal," but on reflection, I realized that it's a daunting task.

The quality services industry has undergone a huge transformation in the last few years. The market has become more fragmented as new management tools, techniques and standards have been developed. In addition, new technologies such as computer- and Internet-based training are rapidly changing the face of consulting, training and registration. Consumers accustomed to near-instantaneous delivery of movies, music and other media expect training, consulting and registration services to be delivered similarly.

Remember how the process used to work? If you wanted to hire a trainer, you had to first find the ones who could meet your organization's needs. You did this by talking to colleagues, reading magazines (a process this editor hopes you'll continue to follow), attending trade shows and the like. Once you narrowed the list down, you'd contact several companies--usually by typing a letter on a primitive mechanical instrument known as a "typewriter"--or by calling the companies directly. Then you'd wait several weeks for the companies to respond to you. Next you'd narrow your list further and again wait weeks for the selected companies to mail you proposals for the their services. Even after you made your decision, you still had to deal with making travel arrangements, booking hotels, reserving meeting rooms and more. How primitive!

Now, you just log on to the Internet and search for trainers specializing in your particular need. (Did I mention that Quality Digest's consultants directories are available at www.qualitydigest.com/directories?) A few clicks of your mouse send electronic requests for proposals to the chosen companies, and within hours or a few days you've got the information you need. A process that once took weeks or months now takes hours or days. Frequently the training you need can be delivered via the Internet when and where you need it, not when and where it's convenient for the trainer.

Registrars aren't immune from the "gotta have it now" mentality either. To cope, some, such as DNV Certification, have developed Web-based tools to help their clients manage the registration process. For example, DNV's tool, E-Advantage, promises to help its clients manage their entire registration process. It's a well-executed and useful tool.

Online collaboration tools like WebEx are also helping consultants, trainers, registrars and others in the quality services business to hold meetings and training sessions online. Software companies are particularly adept and maximizing this technology. For example, Pilgrim Software holds regularly scheduled "Webinars" to demonstrate its software, allowing current and potential customers to see what's new without having to wait for a demo version to be mailed to them or install software on their own computers.

Of course, the danger of this brave new e-world is that we risk forgetting the human element. Training, consulting, registration and other quality services will always need a human touch to truly be successful.

I'd like to know what you think about the future of the quality services market.

E-mail your thoughts to letters@qualitydigest.com.