May 19, 2011

Quality - A Place Holder or a Game Changer?

Assumptions are mothers of all hidden factories (not just screw-ups). Carried through years, assumptions protect 'hidden factories' and prevent changes that can bring dramatic improvements.

An expensive assumption that potential customers expect certifications from IT Service providers created hidden factories within Quality that dole out variety of badges at whatever the cost. Soon this became the predominant or the only preoccupation of Quality function in most companies - to seek and obtain certifications of different flavors. Like all hidden factories, this will have negative impact on the competitiveness and profitability - because the assumption that customers look for certifications is not entirely defensible. Customers want their requirements met - customers want return on their investment, they really don't care how many certificates their vendors got.

Shifting focus from certifications and compliance on to...
process improvements and customer needs can make Quality a game changer. For Quality departments which do little other than certifications and compliance checks freedom from certification responsibility can be transformational, allowing them to explore creative ways of making sure (not just assure) customer needs are met. When Quality achieves this, certifications become less relevant and taxing.

The most difficult part of step here is to take this bold  decision, decision to empower Quality to add value and to shift focus away from badges.

For those who aren’t bold enough to make such drastic choices, having a separate, smaller unit dedicated for compliance and certifications is a viable workaround. This frees mainstream Quality to focus on goals that really matter.

Some questions worth asking:

  • Should Quality pursue certifications of any nature?
  • If potential customers don’t insist on certifications, would you still pursue certifications? 
  • If it were not for certifications, which goals should Quality pursue?

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