Few months back the Chartered Quality Institute published a case study titled: Baltic Exchange: A Move to Quality 4.0. I was a co-author of the case study because it reflected the work that I personally lead at the Baltic Exchange to ensure our Quality Framework maximises on the digital tools we have. Since then, the CQI London branch hosted me during World Quality Week under the theme of: ‘Doing the Right Thing’ to talk about the journey. I was honoured to have Prof John Oakland, one of the Global Quality Gurus who lead the research on Quality 4.0 back in 2021, join me in presenting the case study.

The webinar had over 100 registrations and Quality professionals in England, Wales, Scotland, USA, and Portugal joined the webinar from around 17 different sectors. The engagement was good and I received so many questions which I promised I will write a post and hopefully address them.

In this post, I will aim to answer the questions that were asked. If you are a Quality Professional, an Auditor, a Business Improvement or a process owner, this is for you!

Responses from Participants during the Webinar

With a very diverse audience, let me try and answer your questions:

Q: I am an auditor. Should my audit approach change as a consequence to a business adhering to Q4.0 principles?

No. You do not need to change your approach at all. Auditing is built on strong principles and you should continue to follow the triangle of audits: hear (in interviews), read (in documents), and see (in practice). What you should consider is ascertain whether the way Q4.0 principles being used were adhering to the risk based approach the business conducts, and whether the information they provide help in the fact based decision making process.

Q: I struggle to relate Q4.0 to my market – small/medium sized manufacturers.

It’s a valid challenge. Don’t hold back. SMEs in today’s economy have a lot in place where systems and technologies morf into all parts of their business. Focus on cybernetics and help them understand how to better build their business with integrated solutions rather than off the shelf independent systems that do not speak to each other – you know the principle of fact-based decision making? It becomes easier when they have data in one place.

Q: How do I get my suppliers to buy in to Q4.0 for the ‘daily’ ‘audits’?

Partnership and Collaboration. The daily audits give a snap shot for the bigger picture of the annual audit. I don’t expect my suppliers to do anything. The systems are built to produce the data and we share it with them. That simple.

Q: Does Quality 4.0 allow for risk based approach?

Absolutely. As a Quality Professional, I need to understand where to invest, or what improvement to pitch to management. If I don’t conduct a risk based approach to my analysis and recommendation, I am taking a huge risk that might not pay off in the long run with building trust.

Q: In a contact center business, moving to Q4.0 is probably becoming Omni-channel. Is my understanding correct?

Absolutely 100%. In a contact centre environment, businesses will be (or rather should be) focusing on the customer experience. If you are able to serve your customers through an Omani channel that brings all your interaction to a single place, then your cybernetics should give you excellent data. If the data integrity is high, you will be able to bring valuable insights on customer and employee behaviours to ensure the organisation is always doing the right thing. In a recent course I attended by the CX academy, they define the difference between customer service and customer experience KPIs as follows:

For customer service, the call centre might have metrics like call answer time, call handler time. Whereas for customer experience, you can use the first resolution metric. Was the customer issue resolved first call or did they require to call again? If you operate from an Omani channel, you should be able to bring insights that drives fact based decisions to drive your Quality Management and Improvement strategy.

Q: How is digital technology helping governance to make sure what data produced is correct? and how is the data shared with right person/organisation?

If you are not very familiar with statistical analysis, then collaborate with others in your organisation. Having experts who will help you build data metrics to identify outliers, anomalies, discrepancies will help you achieve this part of your governance. For example: do you know that you can build a formula in excel to help you identify if there are duplicate cells*? Now imagine this ability on your entire data warehouse.

Q: Is your audit basically a manual, non computerised, check of the outputs vs the inputs?

With Quality 4.0 principles, Quality Professionals can really step up the game. You can start playing even more valuable role in the governance area. My ‘manual’ audit was done once to understand the systems, their integrations and the data they have. I was able to build the relevant metrics to measure and work with the data scientist to build the metrics. From that point onwards, my audit becomes the process of validating that the built-in metrics are fit for purpose.

Couple of weeks later, I was invited to share the case study in a round table discussion with a group of well seasoned Quality Professionals who are corporate partners of the Chartered Quality Institute. It was an eye opening session, which taught me a lot. There was one comment that made me fully appreciate the nuances of different sectors.

Q: How can I explain Q4.0 to my engineer on the field who works with tools?

A very valid question. I needed to think about it for a while, even after the round table discussion concluded. And now I am very comfortable with my answer: Don’t! Don’t share it or explain it to them if it won’t have any impact on their jobs (at this point). I personally would start with deploying some of the principles on the systems in place within my department. And I will then use the improvements deployed within my work to slowly have the ripple effect to other departments, until the day comes where an engineer in the field might benefit from it.

You can read more about Quality 4.0 research commissioned by the Chartered Quality Institute here. If you enjoyed this article and want to receive similar articles directly to your inbox, enter your email and hit the subscribe button below.

* You can check to build the formula for duplicates in excel here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/find-and-remove-duplicates-00e35bea-b46a-4d5d-b28e-66a552dc138d

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