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A Look at World Quality Day

10 November 2015
A special day has been created to draw attention to the importance of quality issues, and it’s known as “World Quality Day.” 

Quality is an important aspect of everything we do, including how businesses and organisations function. As such, a special day has been created to draw attention to the importance of quality issues, and it’s known as “World Quality Day.” 

The day’s purpose is to promote the awareness of quality around the world, as well as encourage growth and prosperity for individuals and organisations through the implementation of strong quality standards.  

History of World Quality Day

World Quality Day is usually celebrated on the second Thursday of November each year. The day was created by the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), a professional organisation based in London. The CQI was created in 1919, and today, it has a membership of 4000.

In some locations, the observance of World Quality Month accompanies World Quality Day. Japan has observed World Quality Month in November since 1960, while China has observed its own “Quality Month” since 1978. The United States and Canada have observed “National Quality Month” since 1988. World Quality Day itself was recognied by the United Nations in 1990.

What Is Quality?

ISO 9001 is the most widely adopted quality management systems standard in the world – it defines quality as: The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object  fulfils requirements.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines quality as

  • “How good or bad something is.”
  • “A characteristic or feature that something has; something that can be noticed as part of a person or thing.” 
  • “A high level of value or excellence.”

It’s all of these goals, but especially the third one, that you’re likely to be striving for as an individual, organisation or business.

Professionals pursuing quality goals will first and foremost protect and enhance the reputation of their organisation by focusing on the needs of its stakeholders. Ideally, they’ll ensure the organisation meets any and all of its goals and requirements.

Why Quality Matters

Building a reputation for quality is important for several reasons, including:

  • Customer satisfaction. Customers expect products or services that meet their requirements. If they don’t get the quality they’re looking for, they’ll switch to another provider. For businesses, quality products can also allow you to charge and maintain higher prices.

  • Reputation. An organisation’s or a company’s reputation relies on high-quality services and products. Social media makes it easy for customers to share thoughts and opinions of companies and their products. Customers’ reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media can either boost a company’s reputation or do difficult-to-repair harm. A reputation for high quality can also allow a company or organisation to stand out in a competitive market.

  • Meeting standards. Depending on the service or product, it might be important for a company or organisation to obtain accreditation to a recognied quality standard. Companies dealing with medicine, food and electrical goods must comply with regulations for health and safety. Certification can also give companies an edge in showing their products have been independently verified as being high in quality.

  • Reducing costs and increasing profitability. Poor quality products and services can actually increase operation costs. Without quality controls or standards, companies can be forced to deal with issues such as:

    • The costs of replacement products
    • The cost of analysing which products are defective and require replacing
    • Possible legal costs for defective products that incur harm

A 2008 survey done by CQI and the British Quality Foundation (BQF) found that 53 % of employees waste up to 10 % of their day redoing work and correcting mistakes. This adds up to four billion wasted working hours annually in the United Kingdom. 

The same survey shows the impact of quality on costs and productivity. Only 22 % of employees believed their organisations or companies delivered the products or services customers wanted every time, while only 15 % of employees felt their organisations or companies always delivered services on time. 38 % of employees also felt their employers didn’t properly measure the cost of mistakes.

Support Improvements and Innovations

Companies can use quality measures to implement innovations and improvements to their operations. This can include:

  • Specifying, developing and designing processes, products and services. This category includes inputting various requirements, including statutory, regulatory, customer, technical, production, service and other specifications. There’s also transforming and developing input requirements into specification, process and defined systems as well as using appropriate quality tools and methods. Another aspect is verifying and validating design, process, specification and system outputs.

  • Process analysis and improvement. This action includes mapping, process analysis, benchmarking and analysis of competitors by using appropriate tools and methods.

  • Problem diagnosis and improvement tools. It’s important to select the appropriate tools to ensure production efficiency and accuracy. Ideally, there should be tools for: 

    • Risk assessment
    • Process capability
    • Statistical process control (SPC)
    • Reliability
    • Maintainability
    • Life cycle
    • Product/service failure techniques
  • Managing continual improvement. It’s helpful to recognie the evolutionary nature of continual improvement techniques, the influence of culture, selection of appropriate cultural improvement tools and techniques, evolutionary versus breakthrough improvement and change management. 

Process Analysis and Improvement

Diagnosis and improvement quality methods can ensure problems are first diagnosed, then a solution is found to remedy the issue.

For diagnosis, problem-solving to determine what’s to be done is first required. This is followed up by analysis, to gain facts and data to about the problem to be solved. Then, armed with all the facts and information, it’s time to find an effective solution.

For improvement, developing an appropriate solution is needed first, followed by implementation and performing a follow-up audit to see how effective the solution was. If the solution is successful, completion of the project can then be declared.

Corporate Care and Responsibility

A strong sense of corporate care and responsibility can be important for ensuring strong quality, especially within the organisation or company. Aspects include:

  • Strategic management. This includes: having a strong vision, values and mission as a company/organisation as well as a positive business environment, quality planning within corporate strategy, strong goals and principles, a customer-focused strategy and consideration for stakeholder concerns.

  • Corporate governance. This includes: governance structures and accountability, company ethics, management reviews, committees and reporting structures and positive corporate citizenship.

  • Elements of corporate strategy. This includes: corporate structure, operational processes and systems, learning from previous successes and failures, managing the introduction of new technologies, assessment and management of risk, managing corporate or organisational changes and initiative fatigue.

  • Management systems. This includes: designing, installing and maintaining management systems to meet company or organisational needs, application of management system models and integrated management systems in addition to other factors, including environmental concerns, health and safety, financial concerns, IT, human resources and data protection.

  • Impact of corporate strategy on individuals. This includes: accounting for different management styles, different corporate cultures, the quality of working life, involvement of the entire workforce and performance management.

  • Managing quality on an international scale for an organisation. This includes: global/international considerations, impact of different cultures, international partnerships, working relationships with global stakeholders and customers as well as global communications.

  • Quality as a total business concept. This includes: considering models and value chains, sustaining a quality drive, contributions from supporting functions, management styles (corporate versus departmental, departmental versus process), business process change, benchmarks, considering fitness for purpose and future quality developments.

Quality of Life

For companies’ workers, quality of life is a major reason to pay attention to quality aspects. There are various reasons for this. According to recent studies, 70 % of workers find themselves disengaged from their work. Workers also report being exhausted, unfocused and dissatisfied with their work.

Attention to a more pleasant work environment can reduce stress, increase self-efficacy and help balance work and home life. Other benefits include:

  • Increased work productivity.
  • Fewer sick days off of work.
  • A lower rate of employee turnover.
  • Allowing employees to be more adaptable to work changes.
  • Improvement your company’s brand and reputation.

Important Characteristics of Quality

The means to meet strong quality measures include several important characteristics, such as:

  • Governance. Developing and implementing an effective system of governance involves several factors. One is defining what management intentions involve through clearly defined policies and procedures. Another is ensuring management intentions will fit various stakeholder requirements, including: dealing with any external standards, shareholder or trustee requirements, customer and supplier requirements, employee requirements; etc.

  • Assurance. It’s important to ensure there’s a commitment to assurance in how work is done (such as process assurance) and the output created (such as product, service, and project assurance). 

  • Improvement. Organisation improvements can be encouraged by the use of qualitative and quantitative measures, root cause analysis and adopting effective new techniques. 

How World Quality Day Benefits Businesses

World Quality Day helps businesses draw attention to how aspects of quality can improve their business operations. The day is observed by various businesses globally.

World Quality Day 2015

2015’s World Quality Day will take place on November 11. The CQI plans to centre the day around the theme of “Sweet Dreams,” with a look at the challenges facing the cocoa industry. Cocoa production’s is facing various issues, including profitability and productivity problems. With 40 to 50 million people worldwide involved in the cocoa industry, cocoa’s an important global agricultural product.

Some of the exact problems and possible solutions the cocoa industry faces include:

Problem one (governance) and its solution. In some areas, low levels of government capacity and allegations of corruption are hindrances to improving cocoa production. Poor government management can impact the ability of companies to execute sustainability commitments and affect the industry as a whole.

One quality-based solution to this problem has been found. The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) is discussing best quality practices with the government of Ivory Coast. The two are working on a project to train farmers, and also support the Certification Curriculum Enhancement (CCE) process.

Problem two (profitability) and its solution. Profitability is being affected by negative trends in agricultural sustainability itself. Ghana’s forests have declined at a rate of two per cent per year, due mainly to cocoa industry expansion with existing cocoa lands being depleted or degraded. Farmers are also switching from cocoa to more lucrative crops such as palm oil and rubber. At current rates, a cocoa shortage of one million tonnes will result by 2020.

One solution to this problem has been achieved. The Ghana Cocoa Board’s signed a Memorandum of Understanding with partners to implement improved agricultural practices. This includes supplying farmers with improved planting materials, fertiliser and training to up to one million cocoa farmers by 2020.

Problem three (productivity) and its solution. Productivity is another major concern in the cocoa industry. Ghana and Ivory Coast produce 60 % of the world’s cocoa, but they are facing peak productivity. One cocoa producer, Barry Callebaut, has doubled its output capacity in Asia to meet with growing demand, but changes are still needed. 

A quality based solution for this has been implemented. France’s biggest chocolate manufacturer, CÉMOI, has collaborated with The Forest Trust (TFT) to create a “Transparence” program to ensure traceability across the company’s supply chain and encourage improvements. CÉMOI states this ensures it’s involved in management of every processing step, as well as improving traceability of its cocoa supplies.

World Quality Day 2014

2014 also featured a similar World Quality Day theme. The theme was “Build a Quality World Together.” The CQI’s goal was to focus on the impact quality professionals make to an organisation, while recognising how everyone can contribute to building a quality world together.

Several key quality issue messages the CQI promoted for 2014’s theme included:

  • Quality professionals are an important part of an organisation or company, and not a barrier.
  • To deliver quality products and services, senior management must understand the importance of quality standards as part of long-term business strategies.
  • Neglecting quality can seriously damage your company’s brand or reputation.
  • Quality management impacts everyone in a work environment.

Improving quality even on a small scale can affect everyday life around the world. The CQI noted some of the ways:

  • If the entire adult population of England and Wales turned the tap off while brushing their teeth, 180 million litres of water a day could be saved, or enough to supply nearly 500,000 homes.

  • Quality professionals participated in over 55,000 hours of testing and research for Speedo’s Fastskin Racing System swimwear and precision-fit goggles/cap. The swimwear was designed to be streamlined and fit the contours of the face, which reduced drag and allowed swimmers to pass through water more efficiently.

  • The average person consumes 39 kg of meat per year. International meat production quadrupling since the early 1960s has led to 290 million tonnes of meat produced in 2010. All of this meat production is energy intensive. As such, energy efficiency for the world’s food system would be greatly increased if more people would consume less meat and more grains and vegetables.

  • More than a third of daily commuting by Copenhagen, Denmark’s residents is done by bicycle, reducing reliance on fossil fuels. The city has invested in measures to promote and encourage this, including special bike lanes and traffic lights, plus bicycle parking facilities.

Art galleries are using specialised technology to identify art fraud. The technology can identify pigments used in paintings and identify the type of binding medium. This allows galleries to ensure consistency and inspect artwork that may otherwise go unchecked.

Plenty of businesses and organisations took part in 2014’s World Quality Day, some in a creative or humourous fashion:

  • In the United Kingdom, quality staff for EDF Energy dressed in clothing from the Victorian Age and 1970s to showcase “building a quality world through the ages.” Viapath held a 100km run as a team to highlight the importance of working together, while Crossrail held Lego building challenges.

  • In Asia, TCB Cert (a certified training organisation) ran a quality session that over 100 professionals attended. The session featured interactive speeches, quizzes and local media coverage.

  • In the Middle East, Haya Water and Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital held workshops that celebrated success stories, as well as focusing on key stakeholders.

  • In Australia, Nestlé used a series of workstations to have staff move around to different areas, ensuring they were still following basic procedures in daily work.

What Businesses Can Do to Observe World Quality Day

Your company and organisation can use the 2014 and 2015 World Quality Day activities listed for your own recognition of the day. However, there are other activities your organisation can do for the day as well:

  • Organise joint workshops with clients and internal staff to focus on ways to realise quality.

  • Conduct training courses on quality for all employees.

  • Ask employees to come up with ways of improving quality approaches using creative means, such as presentations, videos or informative handouts.

  • Sponsor a competition where employees think of three ways they can improve quality in their work and how they can implement these ideas.

  • Have a quality group plan occasional fun activities on and after World Quality Day to maintain quality awareness.

  • Put up posters around the workplace and distribute World Quality Day promotional material to increase the day’s awareness.

  • Hold monthly lunch-and-learn sessions for general quality discussions.

Overall, quality awareness doesn’t have to be limited to World Quality Day, but the topics and ideas World Quality Day can raise are ones that can be implemented and discussed year round.

Contact NQA if you’d like to begin the quality certification process for your business, or if you have any questions.