By Lionel Abbey, London
11th of November is World Quality Day and the purpose is to promote awareness of quality around the world, and encourage individuals, organisations and governments to embrace quality principals which will lead to growth and prosperity.
In a global economy where success depends on quality, innovation and sustainability, World Quality Day is the chance to reinforce these as the foundations of every national development.
As a quality professional, I find myself asking questions about basic requirements of the profession any time I am in the country.
I ask questions as I drive past one of the road construction sites on the Accra-Kumasi road, wondering;
• If this bridge formwork has been checked?
• s the reinforcement in the form as per the approved drawings?
• Is there correct cover to the steel reinforcement?
• Who checked the quality of the steel?
• What design and approval processes are in place for managing the design aspects of the project?
• Is there a quality plan for managing construction on this job?
• What quality reviews are carried out on the site?
• Is there a process for reviewing defects of product?
• What surveillance is carried out during construction?
• Will there be a project handover and sign off to confirm the quality as stated by the client at the start of the project and many more?
Walking around Accra during my holidays always gets my heart beating with so many other questions coming into my mind, as it would be with every passionate Quality Professional who has his or her country at heart.
Listed below are some few of the questions:
• How many companies in the country have an accredited Quality Management System?
• How many companies have an operating Quality Management System?
• How many government departments operate a Quality Management System?
• How many suppliers of goods and services have been approved, based on their process and their ability to meet quality requirements of their clients (Government and Private)?
• How many government construction projects have a project quality plan?
• Is there a process for certifying craftsmen such as welders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, etc.?
• How many institutions of learning have established quality management systems, and is quality considered in learning programmes?
• Do we have a value on the cost of reworking on projects in government organisations and even private companies?
• How much of the country’s budget is wasted on bad quality of materials and services?
I do not know the answers to these questions, but I think it is about time we start taking some positive actions to address those issues, both in the government environment and the private sector.
Quality is an exciting and rapidly changing field, and has moved from manufacturing into general services, governmental operations, and educational institutions, and indeed into the minds of consumers.
Customer satisfaction has been enhanced, and we have moved into customer delight, and all over the world, quality has become a tool for enhancing and improving goods and services in both government and private sectors.
The term quality is everywhere, in all aspects of life, and for organisations (government and private). However, deploying quality approaches is a prerequisite for creating a sustainable business.
Quality management is an organisation-wide approach to understanding precisely what customers’ need, and consistently delivering accurate solutions within budget, on time, and with the minimum loss to society.
Quality management will ensure the effective design of processes that verify customer needs, plan product life cycles and design, produce and deliver the product or service.
This also incorporates measuring all process elements, the analysis of performance and the continual improvement of the products, services and processes that deliver them to the customer.
Quality management is also referred to as business management or integrated management system.
The current situation of our country and the economy are key reasons why we have to act now. So many countries which have successfully implemented quality start from where we are, if the Japanese did it why can’t we?
The economic goals of Ghana that were spelt out in the vision 2015 document with the overall objective for Ghana to attain the level of a, ‘Middle Income Earning Country by the end of the year 2015’ may or may not have a quality element in it.
If quality management is included in the vision then it is about time we started working on the processes because quality is making a greater contribution to national development in countries all over the world.
In our pursuance of the national vision, efforts should be driven towards better quality of goods and services and also improved productivity and processes to reduce cost.
A Central Vigilance Commission’s report, on India’s Commonwealth Games infrastructure construction first made public on CNN-IBN on Wednesday July 28 2010, highlighted among the findings: “electrical installations not tested in 14 out of the 17 venues”; “quality of anticorrosive treatment on reinforcement steel was found poor”; “concrete core samples taken from the already laid concrete also failed to meet the required strength during testing in an independent outside laboratory.
We all know how much it cost India to put some of it right, to include the impact of these lack of quality on the games and the reputation of the country.
This is a direct cost of quality and an example of importance of this subject. We can start by implementing the following within existing established government processes:
1. Introduction of Quality and basic Health and Safety evaluation in tender processes.
2. Establish an independent quality body for the approval of suppliers and service providers.
3. Introduce a project assurance system for construction projects over a certain budget.
4. Introduce quality management processes as improvement tools in Government Ministries and other related organisation.
5. Encourage the private sector to implement Quality processes in their business.
6. Establish a Quality training programme and encourage Tertiary Educational Institutions to include quality in their curriculum.
7. Set up state quality award to encourage businesses to take up quality management.
Ghana as a nation is heading into a new era of development. This highlights the need to address quality issues and provide the citizen with delight in product and service.
A government initiative on quality must include suitable quality tools to improve processes, and reduce the cost of providing needed products and services.
The cost of poor quality control and lack of processes is a national problem which needs immediate attention in both the government and private sectors.
Lack of quality leads to national disasters, and they cost money in recovery, and are sometimes a disgrace to the nation.
Let’s build the nation on sound quality principles, with organisations, structures and people that will help implement quality practices, improve performance, cut cost, save lives, and build a ‘Better Ghana.’