Research out of the Juran Institute, which specializes in training, certification, and consulting on quality management globally, reveals that only 30 percent of improvement initiatives succeed.
And why do these initiatives fail so frequently? This research concludes that a lack of management support is the No. 1 reason quality improvement initiatives fail. But this is certainly not a problem isolated to just continuous improvement, as other types of strategic initiatives across the organization face similar challenges. Surveys of C-level executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit concur—sharing that lack of leadership buy-in and support can stop the success of many strategic initiatives.
Why Else Do Quality Initiatives Fail?
Evidence shows that company leaders just don't have good access to the kind of information they need about their quality improvement initiatives.
Even for organizations that are working hard to assess the impact of quality, communicating impacts effectively to C-level executives is a huge challenge. The 2013 ASQ Global State of Quality report revealed that the higher people rise in an organization's leadership, the less often they receive reports about quality metrics. Only 2% of senior executives get daily quality reports, compared to 33% of front-line staff members.
So why do so many leaders get so few reports about their quality programs? Scattered, and inaccessible project data makes it difficult to piece together the full picture of quality initiatives and their impact in a company. Because an array of applications are often used to create charts, process maps, value stream maps, and other documents, it can be very time consuming to keep track of multiple versions of a document and keep the official project records current and accessible to all key stakeholders.
On top of the difficulty of piecing together data from multiple applications, inconsistent metrics across projects can make it impossible to evaluate results in an equivalent manner. And even when organizations try quality tracking methods, such as homegrown project databases or even full-featured PPM systems, these systems become a burden to maintain or end up not effectively supporting the needs of continuous quality improvement methods like Lean and Six Sigma.
Overcoming Limited Visibility
Are there ways to overcome the limited visibility stakeholders have into their company's quality initiatives? For successful strategic initiatives, it has been identified that planning and good communication are drivers for success. These drivers also positively impact successful continuous improvement projects.
1. Ensure efficiency. Utilize a complete platform for managing your continuous improvement program to reduce inefficiencies. Using one platform to track milestones, KPIs, and documents addresses redundancies of gathering key metrics from various sources needed to report on projects, saving teams hours of valuable time. Looking past the current project at hand, one platform can also make it easy to quickly replicate processes such as roadmaps and templates that were useful in previous quality initiatives.
2. Aim for consistency. Centralize your storage by making all relevant documents accessible to all team members and stakeholders. As teams grow and projects become more complex, the benefit of having all team members aligned can prevent confusion and reduce the number of back and forth emails that tend to happen.
3. Real-time visibility for all. Visibility into the progress of your quality project facilitates the day-to-day management of tracking results and addressing any challenges. Utilize dashboards to provide a quick "snapshot" of your project's progress. Cloud-based capabilities takes your dashboard to the next level—instantly communicating real-time results.
Drive for Excellence
For quality professionals and leaders, the challenge is to make sure that reporting on results becomes a critical step in each project and that all projects are using consistent metrics that are easily accessible. Teams that can do this will find reporting on their results a manageable task—facilitating the needed visibility to all key stakeholders that's necessary for leadership buy-in.
The efficiency, consistency, and visibility needed to successfully manage quality projects is a common challenge we hear from our customers. In fact, our Companion by Minitab software was created to tackle these issues head-on based on our customer feedback. For executives, managers, and stakeholders, Companion delivers unprecedented and unparalleled insight into the progress, performance, and bottom-line impact of the organization’s entire quality initiative, or any individual piece of it. Learn more about Companion by Minitab, and try it free for 30 days.