Quality Management is, unfortunately, not a switch that an organization can simply turn on to produce a steady flow of process efficiency and customer satisfaction. It is a rigorous and prescriptive approach to meeting the stated and implied needs of your customers, suppliers, partners and employees. This means that it requires patience, dedication and, of course, financial investment.
Implementing Quality Management and investing in a Quality Management System requires the initiative of executive sponsorship in any organization. Leadership typically doesn’t spend money without a strong business case that highlights either the costs of not investing (COPQ) or the market advantage that investment could provide. Given the reality that the benefits of Quality Management are difficult to quantify in direct terms and have longer payback periods, executives with no experience in Quality Management often don’t see the value of investing in it compared to investments in sales and engineering, where the direct benefits are easier to calculate.
The reality is that the typical catalyst for garnering executive sponsorship for Quality is often a negative compelling event, such as a recall or significant loss of market share. While negative compelling events can indeed be powerful catalysts for change and help focus executive attention on Quality Management, they can also come at tremendous cost: lives may be lost, ecosystems may be destroyed, and the organization may suffer significant brand and financial damage as these external failures increase costs by an order of magnitude.
Gaining executive support starts with presenting a strong business case supported by qualitative and quantitative data that tell the story of positive compelling events and financial return such as reduced waste, increased efficiency and increased customer satisfaction. By making a strong case for proactively investing in Quality, organizations can avoid situations in which they only see value in Quality by responding to negative events that have a destructive and irreversible impact on the organization, the marketplace and the environment.