Clarkston recently had the pleasure of attending the 2018 Veeva Quality Summit in Cincinnati. The summit explored the quality imperatives weighing heavily on regulated consumer products manufacturers. The themes of the summit were clear—and quite consistent with Clarkston’s recent perspectives on the direction of quality within the consumer products space:
- Organizations serious about their growth will consider quality a key component to overall digital transformation initiatives
- Quality remains a key differentiator in establishing and protecting brand equity
- Powerful technologies can unlock collaboration across an organization’s supply chain while driving increased quality
- Powerful technologies become powerless when built upon a foundation of bad data
Quality’s Role in Digital Transformations
As organizations continue to make strides toward realizing Industry 4.0—the digitization of the entire supply chain—we are seeing significant value resulting from taking a quality-first approach through this journey. The Veeva Quality Summit featured several customers who shared real stories of the efficiencies gained simply by digitizing their ways of working with their key business partners.
- Organizations not already investing in their digital transformation journey are likely already behind their competitors
- Organizations of all sizes, however, fall victim to simply digitizing their existing processes—Veeva astutely points out that this is a digital migration, not a digital transformation
- What does it take to digitally transform? To make a transformation successful, organizations must evaluate whether existing processes make sense in a digital world—moving a paper form to a spreadsheet yields trivial benefits if the tool is trapped in an inefficient or outdated business process
Quality is Critical to Brand Equity
Embedding robust quality practices into every step of your product journey is essential to your brand’s success. Consumers are squarely focused on a product’s durability, longevity, efficacy, and more. Delivering on your brand promise means delivering at or above your consumers’ expectations. Building quality into everything you do should be a cornerstone to delivering on this promise.
The ability to deliver quickly to consumers’ ever-changing preferences remains imperative for competitive consumer products organizations. Clarkston views Quality as a strategic enabler to new product introductions. With everything to consider when delivering new products with the speed necessary to capture a market, how your organization’s quality culture and processes support a new product launch should not be ignored. Common approaches to include the voice of the consumer during product design simply aren’t enough any longer. Organizations focused on harnessing efficiencies throughout the product lifecycle are also lending an ear to the voices of operations, and incorporating their perspectives into continuous improvement. This can only become a reality when the right data is provided to the right people at the right time.
Strong Data Quality Begets Strong Quality Outcomes
As organizations make strides along their digital transformation journeys, they will undoubtedly begin producing more data. As Ed Van Siclen, VP of Strategy & Business Development at Veeva, pointed out, “Data is the gift of digital transformation.” Indeed, data pours in from all corners of today’s modern organizations. As greater access to aggregated quantitative and qualitative data becomes available, organizations can have an immediate line of sight into how their continuous improvement efforts are playing out in the marketplace. This also allows for a much faster response to consumer-facing issues that need to be addressed.
Unfortunately, work remains for many consumer products organizations. According to a 2017 Forbes Insights study conducted in partnership with ASQ, less than half of established quality organizations feel they have most of the data they require to make effective decisions. To make continuous improvement efforts successful, a culture of open sharing and discussions of data are imperative. Established quality organizations are focused on sharing performance excellence data to their entire workforce with hopes to drive a bottom-up focus to Quality. The access and accuracy, however, of this data remains elusive for many lagging organizations.
Data, when presented to the right people at just the right time, has the potential to unlock insights and detect unforeseen patterns. Leading manufacturers are already acting to harness data (including data coming from IoT devices on their production lines) to drive meaningful results in quality improvement.
Your Next Move in Quality Investments
While digital transformations are always a journey, they do not need to be overwhelming. Whether your organization’s journey is just getting started or has stalled and needs a reboot, Clarkston offers the following for consideration:
- Lay the Groundwork
- Focus on your people first—investments in technology alone will fail; equipping your workforce to best leverage the digital tools around them will yield positive results
- Challenge the status quo—legacy processes from yesteryear may not complement well the digital workflows of tomorrow
- Identify the Critical to Quality (CTQ) moments in your value chain, find ways to quantify your performance against each, and provide transparency into this empirical data to your frontline workers
- Take steps to automate only after assessing organizational and process readiness; digitize your key processes with the right systems
- If sourcing external solutions, seek out vendors offering cloud-based software – this will better future-proof your Quality investments
- Ensure your software partner is certified to the stringent standards your customers have come to expect
- Challenge your software partner’s approach to product innovation – customer-focused partners will seek to evolve with your organization’s needs
To learn more about our Quality consultant’s perspectives on the 2018 Veeva Quality Summit, or to learn more about how Clarkston partners with consumer products companies with their digital transformation, contact us.