Benchmarking the challenge to quality program implementation
The influence of quality on customer perceptions and thereby consumption behavior has led some analysts to call quality the single most important factor for long-term competitive success. It is not surprising then that almost everyone agrees that quality is vital and that every company needs to have a well-designed and executed quality program in place. Unfortunately, quality programs often fail to deliver the outstanding - parts per million - quality that is required for competitive advantage. Quality programs have proven to be difficult to implement successfully, leading many to ask, "Why is it so hard to implement a successful quality management program?" The research discussed in this paper specifically addresses this issue of implementation difficulty. Insight from over 300 quality directors reveals that obtaining managerial commitment, establishing a quality culture, and fully involving employees are the three most intractable challenges encountered in the implementation of quality programs. Indeed, these three issues represent almost half of the problems identified by the quality directors. As managers approach the implementation of a new quality program, they must use a methodology that can overcome the challenges to implementation by first garnering managerial commitment and establishing early quality successes. Building momentum based on measurable successes is critical to establishing a quality culture.