The Many Layers of Quality Management

If we learned anything from yesterday’s AFC championship game, it’s that a winning strategy in sports—and business—requires a quality support structure.   


It was a real doozy of an AFC championship game yesterday. Who wasn’t stunned when kicker Billy Cundiff’s 32-yard field goal attempt hooked to the left, sending the Baltimore Ravens heading for home and pointing the New England Patriots toward Lucas Oil Stadium and the Super Bowl in Indianapolis?

One mistake cost Baltimore a chance at the Super Bowl title. Or did it? Consider Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s post-game assessment: “I sucked today.”  Those are hard-hitting words from a man known for his leadership and skillful execution on the field. Like Cundiff, he had an off game. But Brady had excellent back-up. The reason the Patriots won, according to Brady, was because of its quality defensive line.

Lesson learned: A winning strategy requires many layers of quality management.

With competition in the manufacturing industry as fierce as it was in Gillette Stadium last night, companies must beef up their business strategies with new lines of defense that include teamwork, training, and technology. Call it total quality management (TQM)—a philosophy under which all members of an organization participate in improving processes, products, services, and culture—with the help of new technology.

To that end, enterprise software vendors have been busy embedding quality management capabilities into their applications, integrating quality management across supply chain and production management programs, and creating hubs of organized data that the team can see, learn from, and execute on.

ERP supplier Infor, for example, recently acquired a quality management application from RSVP Business Systems that, integrated with the Infor10 ERP Business System, will add the ability to track workflow and change management from the production line to the shipped product.

DISCUS Software introduced a Web-based interface to its quality management software that it said facilitates the sharing of technical data across the supply chain and eases integration with enterprise software. Similarly, MES provider Apriso unveiled its Global Trace and Genealogy app that collects data from multiple sources and pools it into a centralized hub, while applying manufacturing intelligence for root-cause analysis.

The emphasis, in these cases and others like them, is on arming the team with new information—a new playbook, so to speak, that includes multiple layers of strength and skill to ensure a solid operational offense, and, when needed, some quality back-up.

Which team will be better prepared to take the Super Bowl title this year?








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