What do products like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the Toyota Corolla/Yaris (in 2016), and the Fitbit Force (in 2016) have in common? All were potentially great products that cost their companies dearly – in both image and money – due to faulty performance resulting from poor quality management.
Enterprises have come to realize the significance of quality as an indispensable ingredient for creating impactful products. They not only view product quality management as a cost-saving measure (preventing the costs of rework, wastage, regulatory breaches, warranties, product recalls, etc.) but also as a way of accelerating product launches and creating a differentiating value proposition in increasingly commoditizing markets. Given the vast intermediation of product supply chains among vendors, technology partners, assembly partners, and logistic partners in today’s operating environment, the need for quality management activities is even more pronounced as products flow from one stakeholder to another.
Yet, despite acknowledging the positive impact of product quality management, many enterprises grapple with fully integrating, and regularly upgrading, their quality management initiatives across business activities. Some reasons for this are:
To counter these issues, enterprise stakeholders need to commit to quality management as seriously as their other business mandates (innovation, margins, etc.) They should also be open to the idea of partnering with external entities and service providers in areas where their internal capabilities fall short on yielding the desired levels of quality standards.
Product Quality Management in the Digital World
Digital themes like mobility, IoT, and data analytics are enabling enterprises to build new capabilities in their products and enhance the customer experience. The advent of IoT and automation has also led to a transformation of production processes, wherein enterprises can build their products more smartly and with shorter turnaround times.
However, many enterprises face initial failures in bringing robust digital products to market because they tend to focus only on developing digital products, completely ignoring the need to adapt the underlying processes to ensure the reliability and quality of these products. This is the same as having a Euro Standard VII vehicle engine ready for market, but not having focused one bit on developing compatible fuels. We all can guess how successful (at least in the near term) these engines will be.
Digitization has thus ushered in a new era of product quality management, where capabilities need to be enhanced for testing more sophisticated products while factoring in for data management and security. Further, advancement and automation of production processes is creating the need for redefining metrics and KPIs for quality management.
So, what immediate steps should enterprises take to develop digital-ready and digitally-enabled quality management activities? They include:
Everest Group has conducted deep-dive research on quality management services in the product engineering space, covering all activities that are involved in the validation, verification, and testing of products (hardware or software) across the product lifecycle. The research covers the market landscape of quality management services, and delves into the role of digital technology themes in reshaping the way enterprises look at their product quality management efforts. Read a preview of our report, “In Pursuit of Product Excellence: Quality Management in the Engineering Services Industry.”