How to convince management that Quality Assurance adds Value


Paul Wildsmith

The latest 'corporate speak' in my Company is "how does QA add value to projects". Well - I think we do a fair job doing all the fairly traditional QA things: eg: audit for compliance, look for opportunities for improvement, resolve 'quality problems' etc..
None of these add value per se, but probably reduce costs - by improving efficiency (better processes), and cost overruns.
I'd like to be more 'up front' with my management to convince them that QA is truly adding value. All ideas/suggestions welcome.
(I'm the Quality Manager of a UK defence electronics Company, mainly software/systems devlopment).

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This is not a very professional reply. There are smarter people out here than me that can probably tell you in quantitative terms what Quality adds in value. In your line of work, as shown in your post, there would be no value at all to look at without a good Quality management System in place. Your customers, and they are probably defense contractors, would not even look at your company without a Quality program.

"I'd like to be more 'up front' with my management to convince them that QA is truly adding value. All ideas/suggestions welcome."

Nicely, I would suggest that without your quality system, being what it is, there would be no opportunity to question the value of Quality, because there would be no jobs. How's that for added value?
What do lengthy discussions about the value of the Quality System add in value?
I've been in this quality business my whole life, 35+ years, and have always been looked at as being overhead with no added value to the bottom line. This usually happens when there is a slow down in orders and people haven't a lot of work to do. They start to look at things, hoping that they can eliminate those things they don't understand because they surely can't have any value. I always reminded them that without a good Quality Program in place, the Customer goes elsewhere,unless you have a one of a kind product (niche) in the market place. I love it when the Customer arrives for his audit of the non value added Quality System and everyone scatters, but the "overhead, non-value added" guy. You and other like us. Hang in there. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. It's a "cyclic" thing.


[This message has been edited by energy (edited 03 July 2001).]

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
My thought is, how do they define ‘value’? If they follow traditional norms, Value=Quality/Price (cost). If these things you list are driving down costs (do you have quantifiable evidence?), then you should be able to show simple comparisons of before, after, and for future data.

But how can you know the cost of a lost customer as energy points out? Sometimes, we must accept things on faith, for instance, we do training without ever really being able to quantify it. Ask any corporate tie if they think training or education is value added. I believe that they will agree on faith. If they say faith has nothing to do with it, ask them for their evidence. My guess: they’ll give you a silly grin.
From the lean Mfg stand point, quality i.e., inspection (from sources outside the process) adds value to the product when and only when it is a customer requirement. QS9000 is a customer requirement therefore it adds value. jmho

David Mullins

How about measuring performance over time for critical features of the business like (for starters):

- delivery vs (a) original promised date (b) last negotiated date

- cost vs (a) original budget (b) last budget (due to scope change during the project - typical in Defence environs)

- Customer complaints (I personally think this is FAR TOO WEAK an item to give meaningful measures of caustomer satisfaction, but I included it because it's easy)

- customer survey results. (Every job is handed over with a survey form. In a partnering relationship you'd have forms to assess eachothers performance) (I'll e-mail some I set-up at a defence facility in Oz.

These types of business system features should give you a clear picture of the benefit of quality systems (hopefully).

If you want "cost of quality" data, you're probably a bit too far down the track, but, it's never to late to set it up. Then you can measure the value of continuous improvement activities!


David Mullins

You're not registered!
I don't know your e-mail address.
Silly me.
Silly you!


Andy Bassett

Hello Paul

I sometimes pop up on the site to stir things up a but, and i think i might do the same again.

I beleive your management is absolutely on the right track, and i cannot blame them for doing their job and questioning the value of the dept. I personally beleive that the goal of every company should be to eliminate their QA dept, and i would do this slowly and surely by for example creating a Supplier Development Manager based in Purchasing to develop suppliers, or create a group of Internal Consultants to train and assist employees to improve their processes.

You might argue that this is QA by another means. Maybe, but it might be easier to justify your value-add in this context.

Lastly if you want to stick to your traditional concept of QA i would create stats, measurements and more stats wherever i can, ie Customer Satisfaction rates, Process Improvements etc, and attempt a stab at the cost saving of these improvements.

Management like facts, espcially when they are related to costs.


Andy B
As a QA Manager I have to agree that good system does not need QA department. If everybody are doing the right things, so we dont have QA at all. However most companies are still so far from that.



So, what have we learned in the past 60 years? Do we want to start over? (Real Quality Control/Inspection began during WW2.)

Just this:

Company owners cannot and will not expend the resources to train their workforce to become “Quality” conscious. That’s why Quality groups were created in the first place. People who have skills in other areas such as Finance, Business Administration, Machining, Electronics, etc., have their hands full doing what they have been trained to do. Company owners would like to “Double up” on their employee’s responsibilities because they think it’s easy and, of course, profitable. It’s a pipe dream to think people will “police” themselves and adhere to policies without real accountability.

Most Company owners, and their bean counters, want a bigger bang for their buck and will not tolerate employees moving cautiously about to insure that policies are being followed. We have seen first hand Management’s wrath when a process or shipment is stopped or slowed because a “Quality” person attempted to exercise diligence to his/her area of expertise. I recently observed a company “owner” rant and rave at his employees because of a third rejection (same parts-gears) from a big customer. He decided he would forego formal Quality Control ($$$) and rely on his talented work force. They, to the man, said that it was because the owner pushed and pushed and did not give them ample time to inspect their own work. Nor did he give a damn about established policies. After all, the cops were gone, along with his headaches. (He thought.)

That’s usually what happens to anybody who attempts to abolish traditional Quality Controls. I have obtained good positions during my career because companies were in trouble with their customers and needed a Quality system to get back in the good graces. They had figured there was no value added and eliminated their QA/QC work force. Why? They can, for a while, that is.

Does anybody out there think that you can just make employees think about Quality Control/Assurance the same way a professional does? Once the training sessions are over, everybody goes back to what they were doing. If it were that easy, everybody would be doing it. What happens when audits reveal policies are not being followed? Do you fire/counsel your Shop Foreman, an excellent worker, or maybe an Engineer? Do you blame everybody, but yourself? What about worker morale? After all, you won’t have a QA Mgr. or an Inspector to vent at. There’s a good value added issue to contend with. Employee Morale. Somehow, that’s not as important as figuring out how you can eliminate a Department that does add to the bottom line, even if you can’t measure it.

You can dream about a world without dedicated Quality Professionals.

You can fantasize about making all your employees Quality conscious.

You can continue to question the dollars spent on Quality Control and the value added issue.

As a company owner, you can imagine all you want. But, the money spent on a good Quality Control Department and the resultant gain in Customer Satisfaction is immeasurable. Until something better comes along, and it won’t be in my lifetime, worry about improving your processes and maintaining a skilled workforce that allows you to rely less on traditional Quality Control. Because like it or not, you’re stuck with it!


Fully vaccinated are you?
Staff member
-> Real Quality Control/Inspection began during WW2

Depends upon how you define 'Real'. As far back as the Egyptians there are pictographs of *may* be inspection. One is in the building of 'something' - who knows what - but there are 2 fellas - one working and one measuring.
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