About Graham Freeman

Graham Freeman is a content writer and editor at Intelex Technologies in Toronto, where he writes on topics relating to quality management. You can follow Graham on LinkedIn by clicking here: www.linkedin.com/in/graham-freeman-aa5a575b/

The Voice of the Customer Part 3: Digging Below the Surface with Implied Needs

In the previous blog on the Voice of the Customer (VoC), we looked at stated needs, which are the most obvious way in which the customer conveys their needs regarding products and services. In this blog, we’ll look at implied needs, which are the needs the customer does not articulate because they consider them too obvious to mention. For example, customers won’t articulate that they need a washing machine to clean clothes, but they assume that it will. When implied needs become subtle, it can be easy to miss significant opportunities to meet customer requirements. 

While the VoC tools for collecting stated needs have their origins in traditional marketing and sales techniques, those for collecting implied needs have their origins in the fields of psychology, philosophy, ethnography, and data science. This section provides a brief introduction to some of the most common methods for implied needs. Organizations should use a complementary set … Read more...

Statistical Process Control Turns Potential Problems into Valuable Opportunities

Imagine how nice it would be if you could predict the future, if you could make decisions with the confidence that you knew exactly what their consequences would be.

Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future. But we can get greater insight into the hidden patterns in processes and information that exist right now, and that can give us a much better idea of how to respond to potential problems before they become a reality. When we put what we learn from these insights to good use with an integrated EHSQ (environment, health, safety, and quality) management system, we can also unlock the potential for incredibly valuable financial opportunities.

Statistical process control (SPC) is a method traditionally associated with manufacturing. However, it can provide deep and valuable insight into any business or production process. SPC is a mathematical technique developed in the 1920s to monitor random processes and provide alerts when … Read more...

Your Customer can tell you what you need to know. Are you listening?

In our first blog we talked about why listening to the Voice of the Customer is so important and gave you a quick overview of what the customer can potentially communicate to help you improve your business’ efficiency and productivity.

In this second blog you’ll learn about the first and most obvious way the customer communicates with an organization: stated needs. These are needs that the customer is able to articulate and which can be captured using the tools we’re going to talk about below.

Some of the means by which organizations can capture stated needs are already in regular use by marketing and customer experience teams. None are obligated to use all of them, but using a broad selection of them can ensure a business is able to get the broadest cross section of articulated needs from its customers. 

Surveys and Direct Elicitation 

Surveys are a popular method for … Read more...

How EHSQ 4.0 Is Set to Supercharge Your Organization

When people think of Industry 4.0, they might think of connected factories and smart manufacturing. Yet the methods and tools of Industry 4.0 extend far beyond manufacturing. Soon, every organization will be able to benefit from Industry 4.0 methods and practices as they adopt more flexible and connected networks of people, data, and machines to improve efficiency of assets, quality of products and services, and process flow.

The approach of Industry 4.0 is poised to supercharge the world of EHSQ. For several years, the EHSQ community has been using integrated management systems to consolidate ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 systems, an approach that ISO has recently made easier with the introduction of the High-Level Structure (HLS). As EHSQ assimilates the tools of Industry 4.0 to become EHSQ 4.0, it will move from being a way to record incidents and track quality events to one of bridging multiple disciplines … Read more...

Using QMS Software to Tame the Complexity of Food Regulations

Not many safety failures hit the headlines quite the way those in the food industry do. With high-profile incidents like the 2013 horse meat scandal in the EU, the listeria contamination at Maple Leaf Foods in 2008, and the seemingly constant cadence of recalls involving leafy greens, food safety failures have the potential to create foodborne illnesses that cause serious harm to human health and significant financial damage to the organizations at the heart of them.

Global supply chains for food products have only increased the complexity of the compliance requirements for food safety. Organizations in the international marketplace must consider standards and frameworks such as ISO 22000:2018, FSSC 22000, ISO 9001:2015, HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Control Points), and the many voluntary standards of Codex Alimentarius, as well as overseers such as GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and SQFI (Safe Quality Food Institute). In … Read more...

Building your Organizational Culture of Quality with a QMS

A strategic culture of quality, one in which every stakeholder shares the pride, passion, and initiative to deliver the highest quality products and services, should be built on a quality management software solution (QMS) that integrates an organization’s people, processes, and tools. The world’s leading quality organizations, such as Toyota, know that implementing a QMS that creates an environment in which all employees can thrive, and which incorporates data-driven decision-making using statistical methods and continuous improvement, will be foundational to innovation and success.

Many industries face fundamental challenges in building a culture of quality. Construction projects often feature diverse teams of architects, designers, engineers, and builders who come together temporarily and bring with them their own unique perspectives on quality culture. In healthcare, rigid hierarchies can hinder effective communication and lead to more frequent instances of infection and negative patient outcomes. In hospitality, tight schedules and difficult physical conditions can … Read more...

What Can We Learn from the Organizational Cultures of Different Industries?

Many industries have no clear boundary between safety and quality culture. In fact, they are often very closely integrated. Quality failures and nonconformances that require rework have been correlated with increased accidents and recordable injury rates in manufacturing organizations. These injuries are frequently the result of fatigue, workplace pressure, and the pressure from extra work due to quality failures.

Among the important collective of people, processes, and tools, people are the primary point of failure in increasingly automated systems. Unlike machines, we are subject to fatigue, information overload, and stress that can have a serious impact on our ability to work safely and efficiently. However, people are also the place where dynamic sensemaking, decision-making, and situational awareness reside, which are vital ingredients in complex and high-reliability organizations (HRO).

Culture is therefore an integral element of every organization. In the new Intelex Insight Report Integrating Quality and Safety in Organizational Culture: Read more...

Culture Of Quality: Achieving Transformational Success

Technology can solve many problems. As business and consumer technology becomes cheaper and more powerful, it’s easy to think that simply purchasing a new platform or application is all we need to do to ensure revolutionary increases to our productivity. With software-as-a-service (SaaS) becoming the standard approach to implementing software, it’s also easier to use and distribute technology across the organization than ever before.

Yet technology is not a magic wand we can wave around to achieve innovation or transformational success. Organizations are more than just collections of tools for measuring production methods, and simply collecting process data doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to compete effectively in the marketplace. It’s only when tools come together with processes and people to produce a true culture of quality that organizations will be able to implement a quality management system that will drive operational excellence.

For a culture of quality to flourish, … Read more...

Did You Know That Customer Complaints Can Be a Good Thing for Your Business?

Surely, it’s a bad thing when a business receives customer complaints. If the customer isn’t happy, then there must have been a poor interaction and we need to do everything we can to make the customer happy as quickly as possible, right?

Well, not so fast. While it’s true that no one likes to hear about customers being unhappy, it’s also true that customer complaints are very valuable learning opportunities. When customers tell you why they’re unhappy and what you need to do to make things right, they’re giving you important information about how to fix your processes and design your products to improve and enhance the overall experience for all your customers. With the broad availability of technology making consumers increasingly knowledgeable about what they want, enhanced customer experience and satisfaction is set to become the best way in which businesses can differentiate themselves from their competition.

However, collecting, … Read more...

Who Should Lead the Charge to a Sustainable Future?

Sustainable development is that in which the resources we use to meet today’s business goals do not come at the expense of the ability of future generations to meet their own environmental, social and cultural needs. In other words, the slash-and-burn approach to fuelling business progress and profit will give way to replacing what we use and looking out for the environmental realities that will support our future development as a species.

The evidence for the requirement for sustainable practices is, by now, beyond reproach. Yet many questions remain about how to create sustainable practices that ensure our future environmental stability without damaging our immediate economic growth. Such questions include: should governments legislate these requirements? Should business govern its own sustainable efforts according to its own perspective? Or should the market dictate its allegiance to the idea of sustainability by supporting or opposing businesses that embrace sustainable principles?

While today’s … Read more...