How many of you in the Startup and/or Seller-Doer community address Quality on a daily and proactive basis? Do you have a dedicated staffer onboard whose focus is on Quality?
The majority of us think about Quality as something amorphous that’s “out there” hovering in the back of our brains. Oh yeah, that Quality thing. Quality is a noun in search of a descriptor. Sure, we want to do “quality” work every day, and most of us strive to do so. Except the “quality” of our output can range from low to high, can’t it?
If you are honest with yourself, you may not think about processes and practices in the sales, marketing and service community until something happens with your deliverable. It’s usually not something positive. Then you pull out your Quality hat, assemble your team and try to dissect the situation and find the root cause. After the fact.
You feel Quality is something Customer Service is hired to deal with, not you. You don’t have time to make Quality part of your daily deliverable. The Quality buck stops on someone else’s desk. Besides, if you were constantly aware of Quality, it would slow time to market and time to cash.
Perhaps those of you who own or work for small manufacturing companies, or are part of the Executive Team in a startup, react to lapses in quality rather than being proactive about preventing those lapses. Your Quality guy or gal may wear multiple hats in your organization. The drill is a matter of filling in forms and assessing raw materials and assembly issues…. after your customer tells you your deliverables fell short. Or you decide to walk the floor of your metal forming company, and begin to quantify the number of rejected parts that you see, perhaps for the first time. Talk about a rework issue. Or you are a startup whose business plan doesn’t include one sentence about Quality.
The real question is: as a startup or small to mid-cap company, do you feel you can afford to have a full-time employee whose job function is 100% devoted to Quality? You know the next question: can you afford not to have such an employee?
This post is written to address the question posed by ASQ CEO and Influential Voice Paul Borawski: “What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?” That’s something to ponder, isn’t it? How many of you are aware of the Quality initiative within the organizations you work for? How many of you form your own companies with Quality principles and practices in mind?
For those of you who are in the service industry, consider the overall Service Quality Delivery of your products and services. We as consultants and sales people work very hard to identify trigger events, build relationships, position value and ROI, negotiate contracts for our products/services/platforms. Then do you keep your fingers crossed when the contract is won, the work comes in-house to be implemented or, alternatively, is sub-contracted out for others to execute? Is that where things can, and frequently do, fall apart – with you having to take responsibility for the shortcomings involved with input-throughput-output?
To me, Quality is not applied-as-needed: either as a result of a quality output issue or when a big customer is vetting your business processes as you compete for a major contract. In my world, business development is part of everyone’s job description, whether stated or not. So, in fact, is becoming familiar with and conversant in what consistent and superlative Quality delivery brings to your revenue stream.
What place does Quality occupy in your business model and business strategy?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo back into small and mid-sized businesses and creates revenue-producing business strategies for technical start-ups seeking investors and early customers. Babette is recognized as one of the “2013 Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers.”