Quality Blog:     Richard Schulman, Vice President Quality, Columbia Tech, July 2011

Quality starts with the fabric or the culture of the company. The further embedded quality is into the culture of the company, the more likely it will design, build and produce quality products day after day, year after year.  However Quality doesn’t end there. Details, details, details.  As a contract manufacturer, the customer expects us to Sweat the Details to help them improve the overall quality of their products.

You need to set a course: a Quality Strategy. Once the company culture embraces Quality, the strategy can be defined.   Quality Strategy starts with identified actions that lead to an outcome that is predictable. Translating the customer’s (internal and external) expectations into deliverables will allow a nesting of actions to be identified. These actions will directly support the Quality Strategy.  There are many facets to consider when defining a Quality Strategy,  I’ll touch upon several in this first of two articles.

You need to strive for perfect quality – yes, that’s 100%. Setting the goal at any less will guarantee you will achieve less than perfect quality.  Perfect quality starts with the design and product launch process.  While the design may not be under our control as a CM, the launch is something we can assist in controlling and so quality begins to take hold.  Although there will always be significant importance on speed of design and product launch, this cannot be at the expense of quality.  A poor design or a launch that is flawed will cost more in the long run…trust me I know from past experience.  The design and launch process needs to account for quality up front, it cannot be an afterthought to be added at a later date…it must be built in!

You need to get it right the first time? Get it right from the start and keep it right.  In essence this is Quality.  Quality needs to be worked from the beginning of the process to the end of the process, day in and day out.

You need to delight your customers. Far too many companies focus on the core product details and forget about the other elements of the customer experience – that’s right, the human part!  There is an old real estate trick that really works well and I’m surprised more people have not caught on.  Whenever you plan an open house, bake chocolate chip cookies . The smell of fresh baked cookies gives people a positive impression of the house.  That trick worked for my family during our house selling moments.   I read somewhere of a local plumber who advertised on the radio that they are the “smell good plumbers”.  They explain that each of their plumbers smell really good.  Brilliant.  It costs peanuts to give each plumber a scented hand cleaner and the mental image of a good smelling plumber is much better than one that just cleaned out your neighbor’s pipes.

Unless you pay attention and sweat the details, an even perfect product can tarnish your customer’s perception.  First impressions are lasting impressions…in quality and in life.

Good luck and have a Quality Day!