How can quality management (QM) face up to the changes brought about by digitization in order to remain a strong partner for production and services? Dr. Wilhelm Griga, Senior Quality Manager at Digital Industries, Siemens AG, focused on two questions at the DQS Customer Day event in Karlsruhe: What effects does QM face in this transformation process? And: What contribution can QM make to digitalization?
Digital transformation is a process of change in which - and everyone must be aware of this - we are already in the midst. This change process is based on digital technologies that are being developed at an ever faster rate. And no sooner has one arrived than it opens the door to new digital technologies. Even classic quality management is by no means exempt from digitization.
Is this a spiral that is turning at breakneck speed and swallowing up people in their work and actions? No, says Dr. Griga, but we have to ask the right questions, and as concretely as possible: So how can quality management and quality assurance - also in dealing with the international standard ISO 9001 - face up to the changes brought about by digitization in order to remain an impulsive partner for industry, production, and services?
Quality management: Dealing confidently with digitization
What matters in the digital transformation, also in quality management, is not new at first, because these are requirements that have always mattered - meeting customer requirements as well as legal and regulatory requirements. However, this is now being joined by the ability of top management, executives, and employees in companies and organizations to reflect on three strengths and realign these concepts in the digital age:
- Competencies and knowledge: they are also crucial to the future success of quality management. Knowledge of the organization about the development and influences of digitization, knowledge about the effects of this transformation on processes and management systems, and on information quality and data quality.
- Flexibility: Some topics remain, for example the importance of quality per se with the goal of a satisfied customer. Others change and new ones are added. Recognizing this is essential!
- Professionalism: "Dealing confidently with digital change!" is one of Dr. Griga's beliefs. Don't wait and see, but deal with change professionally and actively.
Digital transformation: Recognizing upcoming changes
If you want to adapt to new things, you have to recognize the changes, name them, and find answers to them. In his presentation at the DQS Customer Day event, Dr. Griga calls a spade a spade:
- Individualization of products
- Linking production and services
- Integration of customers and business partners
- Use of new technologies and working methods
- Internet of things
But Dr. Griga also provides answers. From his point of view, quality management can make contributions to digitization in many fields in order to position itself as an impulse-strong partner with value-creating contributions:
- Data quality, data analysis, and data forecasting.
- Digitization of quality assurance processes
- Networking in collaboration
- Role model in agile mindset, agile working, and use of agile methods
Great opportunity: Quality leaders must be role models
In his keynote, Dr. Griga repeatedly petitioned for a confident attitude from the large community of quality representatives: quality managers should act as role models - and not as the last ones to just go along with this change. He is convinced that management representatives are in a very good position to use agile methods to accompany and advance new topics, including artificial intelligence.
"Quality management does not have to become a driver of digitization, but it must be part of this transformation. Don't let it change - change with it!"
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Quality management and digitization: Those who ask, lead
Helping to shape change means taking the lead in the right places. This also applies with regard to digital transformation. Questioning skills, Dr. Griga emphasizes, are one of the most important skills of all - and quality management officers in their role as internal auditors, for example, can do a tremendous amount in this regard. Namely, with questions like:
- Are the future necessary competencies and roles clear?
- Does the management system support necessary learning in the organization?
- Is the quality aspect clearly anchored in agile projects?
- Is there a target-oriented cooperation of agile project teams with classic project teams and the line organization?
With regard to auditors, auditing, and the assessment of management systems and processes, Dr. Griga draws a strong conclusion: We will not be able to make do without human auditors.
On the contrary, auditors will become increasingly important. The contribution of a physical auditor, with his quality of information, emotional intelligence, and knowledge of digitalization, remains crucial to the outcome of audits today and in the future, on the path from management assessment to certification.
Or very succinctly: "Digitization or not - the audit assignment remains! Increase your importance as an auditor for your clients - and make yourself indispensable."
Note: The above text summarizes contents of the presentation by Dr. Wilhelm Griga at the DQS Customer Day. The summary by the author of this article is provided with the kind permission of Dr. Wilhelm Griga.
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