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The New Era of Quality: 5 Critical Ways to Improve the Quality of Your Quality Team

Tony Del Preto
Jan 20, 2021 2:01:25 PM

As someone who has focused on Engineering and Manufacturing exclusively for the last 20 years, I cannot think of a time when Quality has had a more central role – not just for organizations who have been focused on Quality as a key pillar in their strategies, but also for consumers who are more Quality focused than ever before. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the Quality discipline as organizations rush to shore-up and diversify their supply networks, work at breakneck speed to get product to market, provide evidence-based decisions and spot the next set of problems sooner than later. These are all areas where Quality provides value.

Pre-COVID, Quality was already under enormous pressure as digitalization changed the landscape making it more possible to get info and analytics to decision makers and to have every output or version be better than the last. Quality needed to manage the increasing number of data streams coming online, address the reality of misaligned systems and processes, and meet rapidly changing standards. To top it all off, the pressure to innovate at speed drove an increase in the number of quality professionals in many areas who are required to balance the integrity and security of both process and product with ground-breaking design.

Today, we stand in the middle of a global pandemic that requires many quality professionals to operate at a distance from their core operations. The good news is that digital technologies have more transparency to data streams internally and across the supply network, and many organizations have increased their investment in systems and tools to not only diagnose but predict quality failures in both design and deployed product, as well as all parts in between. The bad news is that we continue to face a significant shortage of quality professionals in top quality roles such as Quality Engineers, Quality Managers, Quality Inspectors, and Quality Technicians as well as Supplier Quality Engineers, Quality Assurance Engineers, Quality Assurance Technicians, and Quality Control Leads, Inspectors, and Analysts. This shortage of talent puts additional strain on an already overtaxed team and the adjacent roles that come together as the Quality workforce. COVID-19 is also accelerating an evolution of quality standards across multiple industries, further complicating the landscape and stressing talent resources.

Tony’s 5 Tips to Improve Your Quality Team

The call-to-action for every Quality organization is to be ahead of the game in how you look at talent. As we see in the headlines, a mistake in Quality can cost millions of dollars and undo reputations that organization have taken decades to build. Those mistakes are all too often the result of not getting the right talent in the door in the first place to deliver on the Quality promise. My message to those of you building your Quality teams – especially in this post-COVID era – is as follows:

Invest in your search for the best Quality talent on the market

The business case is simple: in a world where consumers expect Quality from day one and can instantly share their experience to the masses, you need to make sure you have the best talent money can buy who are committed to the Quality mission. The future of Quality at your organization is heavily influenced by the quality of your talent.

Understand in which roles it is critical to have industry-specific background

In my experience, industry focus is the secret sauce, especially as the regulatory environment and processes differ widely from sector to sector. Manpower Engineering, for example, has built key talent communities in Quality that align with focus industries to ensure that we provide the best match talent.

Consider Communication and Influence Skills as Necessities

Our research highlighted in our report The Future for Workers, By Workers: Making the Next Normal Better for All that although technical and industry background are table stakes, the soft skills are critical. When was the last time you considered your Quality personnel as marketers – needing to influence and persuade? In order for Quality to be more integrated into the Product Lifecycle in a high-value way (secure from the start, redirecting design, using advanced prognostics to predict failure – even post-consumer deployment, evaluating quality practices in their supply chain) they will need to be better able to communicate their value to teams vs. being seen as the ‘Department of No’. Quality is a key advocate of customers’ interests and talent needs; Impact should be evaluated with this in mind.

Develop Your Talent Attraction and Retention Strategy

We are seeing a surge in demand for Quality roles. Consider whether you want to buy, borrow or build that talent and develop partnerships that will connect you to key Quality Talent Communities. Manpower Engineering has deep expertise in this area, building and maintaining skilled talent communities throughout the country so that we can offer our clients access to the absolute best skilled engineering expertise they require. Also, keep in mind the importance of tapping diverse talent as a key linkage between Quality and Customer Experience.

For some practical ideas on attracting, developing and retaining diverse talent, read “Cracking the Code: How to Successfully Recruit and Retain Women in the Manufacturing Sector.

Understand where the Digital Era is Headed and – Upskill Accordingly

Quality roles are not isolated from the winds of change; rather, they are evolving and broadening to encompass more disciplines. Key to your strategy is to offer not only a great role in a great place, but a path for progression into more future-oriented roles. My colleague, Rebekah Kowalski, authored an interesting blog on the topic of Top 10 Digital Era Job Changes that can help you understand and prepare for that future. In addition to that, our report on The Future Factory gives a wider perspective on how roles and skills are changing.

The Quality discipline has always been critical. COVID-19 and the digital era has driven even more focus on this function as organizations seek to secure and protect the integrity of their product lifecycle and have greater transparency into that of their supply network. The quality function will need to be ever more resilient and adaptive – and that in turn will require growth and evolution of your Quality teams.

Top talent can be your differentiator. And when you’re ready to evolve your Quality team to the next level, Manpower Engineering is ready to help you do that with access to the top Quality talent you need to accelerate your team’s performance.

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