No Downturn for Quality

4024 reads

 

crossing-the-cracksNewspapers and televisions seem to be screaming of economic downturn and recession; there is a gloom in the market and pessimism with whomever you talk on business. Well economics seems to take up and down turn cycles, but for "Quality and Improvement" there is never a down turn, no one accepts poor quality, but on the other hand there is an ever increasing demand from customers on high levels of service and quality.

 

In an economic downward trend there is a feeling of insecurity and skepticism as regards the future and the general tendency is to go slow on all initiatives and projects, true we must be cautious of spending, but panic reaction shouldn't be the cause to bring a stop to all improvement activities; on the other hand I think it's time to sharpen the saw. Just like it is said it's probably the best time to invest in stocks, it's also a great opportunity to invest in training, development and quality improvement. While it's difficult to get people to be trained in good times, this is a time when there is less travel, business meetings or visitors; it's a time when people are relatively free and I think organizations must make best of the situation.

 When the world is moaning the downward trend, smarter organizations can make best use of this downward trend to sharpen the saw.

Laying off people is typically an option organizations look at, especially people in support functions but this is the time for support functions such as Quality and Training to be working hard. Similarly stopping recruitment of much needed Quality Engineers and Managers is also not a wise thing in my opinion. We may recall the past downturns in economy and how the cycle repeats, so the prime question to ask is if we will be prepared when the market situation improves or we will be caught unawares and get into the spiral of firefighting. I remember the last recession period in 2001-02 when we at Tyco Electronics India concentrated on training, development and quality improvement activities and when the global economic scenario changed and business improved our quality performance and customer perception was much better than our counter parts in Europe and the USA.

 

It's time to look into the inventory of knowledge and expertise in the organization and utilize the same for cross training. When I state Quality it's not just quality assurance function but overall business process improvements. It may be an ideal time to leverage on the knowledge of Sales, Engineering, Finance and Production Managers, to share their knowledge and experience to others in the organization.

 

Some of the areas to focus in the current situation are as follows:

 

*     Quality Circles: Shop floor personnel can be encouraged to form Small Group Activities or Quality Control Circles to work on problems associated with production, safety or environment issues

 

*      Training on Quality Systems: Quality Management Systems and the associated certification standards like ISO 9000 goes through changes and especially major changes typically every 4 years, but most people in the organization may not have had to opportunity to get an update on the revised standards or may have forgotten the key aspects of the standard and may need a refresher course

 

*    Training on Problem Solving Tools: It would be good idea to impart training on the basic 7 Quality tools and other problem solving tools to officers and managers of functions other than Quality Control, because problem solving is everybody's business.

 

 *     Internal Quality Audits: One of the big issues on internal quality audits is availability of auditors and auditees and this period I guess is ideal to have a much more detailed and elaborate quality system audits

 

*    Review of Systems and Procedures: Not just the standards, but the practices and processes in the organization also change and it is quite common to leave unattended the updation of the revised processes. A team can be constituted to look into all process in the organization from Sales to Stores and make amendments as desired

 

*   Cost Reduction Projects: Cost cutting is the order of the day and hence under the umbrella of Six Sigma and Lean a more focused cost reduction program can be initiated.

 

*    Soft Skill Training: Soft skills such as presentation skills, interpersonal skills have to be continuously fine tuned. Experienced Sales and Purchasing personnel can also handle topics such as Negotiation and understanding Consumer Behavior

 

*    Product Training: It is extremely important for all the technical people to understand the end use of their products and the upcoming technology in the market

 

*   Finance and Accounts: Finance for non-finance is another easy model that can be handled internally and in times of financial crunch this would be a much needed training for the technical personnel.

 

So when the world is moaning the downward trend, smarter organizations can make best use of this downward trend to sharpen the saw and get prepared for a better tomorrow 

 

pradeep-kumar-e.tPradeep Kumar E.T. A Master Black Belt in Six Sigma , is the Country Manager- Operational Excellence with Tyco Electronics Corporation India Pvt Ltd. Feedback can be e- mailed to pradeep@  businessgyan.com

Issue BG92 Nov08

Trending

93
mashable's picture

Travel accessories to give you that first class feeling

Even if your vacation destination is amazing, getting there can be, well, another story. Between the Tetris game of packing your suitcase, the bustle of a full flight, and the dreaded middle seat, you might be exhausted even before you reach your
85
harvardbusinessreview's picture

Leaders Focus Too Much on Changing Policies, and Not Enough on Changing Minds

To achieve the outcomes you want, start by thinking about people and culture.
85
sethgodin's picture

If you need deadlines to do your best work

Make some up. There’s no shame in that. In fact, it’s a brilliant hack. Set up a method of reward or punishment with a third party. Money in escrow that goes to a cause you abhor. Public congratulations. Whatever the method, the point is the same:
204
sethgodin's picture

The shortcut crowd

There is no market. There are markets. And markets have segments. There are people who enjoy buying expensive wine. There are people who will save up their money to have a big wedding. There are people who pay to have a personal trainer… And within
192
johnsullivan's picture

A Look at What’s Ahead For Talent Management In the Middle East

Note: Hessa Al Ghurair, CHRO and head of corporate social responsibility at Commercial Bank International P.S.C., writes on the state of human resources in the Middle East. In this Q&A, she discusses the talent management issues facing
320
businessstandard's picture

In media innovation is outsourced, need more data analytics: Punit Misra

 You have spent about 20 years with Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) before moving to Zee. From consumer goods to media, what is the first thing that hits you?One, there are significant levels of consumer engagement. You use a shampoo or soap
316
johnsullivan's picture

5 Strategies For Getting Your Employees Excited and Smart About Open Enrollment

Communicating employee benefits is a year-round job –– making sure employees remember key dates, know how to make changes when they have a life event such as getting married, submit claims on time and so much more. But open enrollment...
294
businessstandard's picture

AI revolution and jobs in India

 We are all in a tizzy about what new-age “artificial intelligence” (AI) systems can do. Does this harm India's hope of large-scale labour-intensive production? The picture is more optimistic than meets the eye. The AI revolution is mere
233
johnsullivan's picture

3 Questions to Evaluate a Candidate’s Emotional Intelligence

When looking to fill an open position, a lot of factors go into the screening process for the perfect candidate. You want someone who has relevant experience; an acceptable number of years in the field; a solid work history; and,...