Financial losses and reputational damage regularly hit the headlines. Many of these negative news stories are caused by shortcomings in basic process, operations or decision making – in short, failures in quality.

Good quality couldn’t be more important. Indeed, 91% of managers and IT decision makers consider quality assurance and testing to be the most important of IT disciplines. It’s not only about IT though; negative customer experience, increasing competition and regulation can affect how a business approaches quality.

Often hard to define, quality expectations may vary, ranging from on-time delivery, a mobile app that works, to a typo-free proposal. For successful businesses, the definition of quality is clearly articulated. Quality is also embedded into organisational culture and supported by a continuous quality improvement process with realistic targets.

Unfortunately, all too often when a brand is perceived negatively, improving quality becomes a knee jerk reaction. However, hastily implemented quality programmes are not the answer. Quality-driven businesses have clear objectives and robust processes for gathering, analysing and actioning information and feedback on a rolling basis.

Quality is driven by and affects every stakeholder in these businesses, from employees and partners to investors and customers. Indeed, trust and quality go hand-in-hand. In businesses recognised for quality, customers believe that feedback is valued and will make a difference to services or products provided.

The importance of new communications channels needs to be recognised in the quality process. Trends such as social media are changing the pace, nature and visibility of feedback. A customer service operative no longer only handles email and telephone feedback, but may interact via Twitter, Facebook and forums. Consumers now openly ask both friends and strangers about buying experiences or product quality before purchase.

Regrettably, no one solution fits all and quality processes must be adapted for industry-specific priorities. However, a common trend for most industries, including financial, retail and automotive, is the increasing investment in technology to provide competitive advantage.

The ability to deliver high quality and innovative products and services quickly and economically is key to grabbing market share. The consequences of failure due to quality issues can include financial losses, an opportunity for competitors to steal market share and significant reputational damage. This is where a strong focus on quality will help to avoid failure.

Ultimately, when quality is built into organisational culture and subject to rigorous processes, perhaps failures and glitches will no longer fill the headlines.

How to build quality into your organisation:

  • Introduce a quality culture
  • Make everyone responsible for quality
  • Ensure that processes are in place to support quality
  • Measure and analyse quality
  • Feedback analysis into a continuous quality improvement cycle.