Quality is the key determinant and the most desired objective of doing business whether a company is involved in manufacturing or providing services. The concept of quality has changed over time, as new practices for achieving higher levels of performance have been introduced.
Nowadays, there are numerous practices for organizing business and approaches to enhancing quality such as a variety of international standards, lean management, Six Sigma approach, etc. Nevertheless, the focus is always the same – produce better goods or provide better services in order to win more customers and become more successful and influential in a particular sector of domestic, regional or even global economy.
This research aims at investigating global trends in practices of business organizations, which have proved to be effective. In order to avoid overloading the paper with hardly understandable details and information, primary attention will be paid to estimating the practices deployed by companies involved in it in order to guarantee long-term sustainability and growth together with constantly bettering quality.
No distinction between services and products will be made because business organization is the central issue. Hence, it is assumed that the principles appropriate in this case are the focus on stakeholders and customers, continuous learning and improvement, making the primary focus on quality, and employee engagement.
There are different practices commonly used by companies to improve the quality of their products. They derive from the principles lying in the foundation of organizations’ philosophies. That said, there are such central practices as customer-focused, process-focused, engagement-focused, data-driven, strategic-focused, and leadership practices.
For example, customer-focused approach centers on determining the most valuable group of customers and addressing their needs, e.g. designing products and improving them in a way to satisfy the desires of these customers whether they are related to aesthetics or functionality of a product. Moreover, the emphasis is made on creating feedback channels because they are seen as the opportunity to hear their voice and use it as the guide for further improvements.
As for process-focused practices, the foundation of the strategy is upgrading the most important working processes through innovation and training staff in order to improve performance. Engagement-focused practices are based on currently employed workforce. The central idea is the belief that if the level of job satisfaction increases, the employee performance will improve as well because workers will become more interested in higher productivity and better quality.
Speaking of data-driven practices, they are built on recognizing the significance of data and information. The emphasis is made on introducing innovations and using the newest technologies for processing and sharing data because any feedback or established trend could become the source of and motivation for improvement. Strategic-driven practices are totally engaged in maintaining company’s competitiveness, and quality and performance are seen as the means for remaining competitive in a continuously changing economy.
The focus is made on the combination of short- and long-term strategies incorporating intermediate targets of quality and production and determining the direction of an organization’s development. Finally, leadership practices center on a strong leader, who will be able to bring any team and company as the whole to success due to their personal involvement in the working process such as developing strategies, controlling their implementation, empowering employees, etc.
This study will use the concepts mentioned above for the generalization of the findings and identifying the type of business organization practices, which works the best for reaching a higher level of quality and performance.
To conduct this research, qualitative research design has been selected, specifically literature review. The rationale for choosing this method among others is the fact that the study focuses on global experience and globally established trends. For this reason, reviewing existing literature on the most effective business organization practices is the best option. For the same reason, no observations or interviews were carried out. Moreover, no surveys were conducted because they are not common for qualitative researches.
In fact, because the focus of the project is made on global experience, it would be necessary to involve people employed by the most influential organizations, especially managers. However, this step is impossible bearing in mind limited resources of the projects. That is why the data used is the secondary data – information from other investigations representing primary and analyzing primary data, i.e. that obtained during conducting interviews, surveys or observations (Johnson & Christensen, 2014; Roller & Lavrakas, 2015).
That said, the process of information collection is made up of several steps. First of all, topic coverage is selected – business organization practices for the purposes of this research. Second, they are analyzed and summarized in order to represent the primary ideas and findings behind the paper. Finally, the general conclusion on the issue under consideration is made bearing in mind the results of the previous research (Oliver, 2012).
It is imperative to note that the preference will be given to reports of APQC (American Productivity and Quality Center) and ASQ (American Society for Quality), organizations involved in investigating business operation and global quality improvement, in order to collect the information of adequate quality meeting the requirements of this research. The motivation for choosing one type of sources and one organization is the desire to avoid inconsistencies because different authors use different approaches to collecting and analyzing data. Therefore analyzing information obtained from one organization diminishes this risk, as all data represented in their investigations is collected using survey and questionnaires, i.e. is primary.
Results and Findings
This section aims at revealing the primary trends in choosing business organization practices established globally. That said, there are several popular patterns today. First of all, companies worldwide tend to focus on addressing the needs and meeting the requirements of customers. The rationale for choosing this approach to business organization is the fact that enhancing quality is impossible without hearing the voice of customers whether they are internal or external.
The information is collected by means of a variety of feedback channels and conducting surveys and questionnaires aiming at identifying customers’ preferences and designing ways to address them (ASQ & APQC, n.d.). The primary explanation for the establishment of this trend is the evolution of customer requirements and expectations with the introduction of new products and services. For this reason, addressing them is synonymous to maintaining competitive positions. The same can be said about stakeholders because their experience and requirements are also focused on and considered.
Furthermore, there is a trend to viewing quality of goods and services as the synonym of competence and competitiveness. It derives not only from the necessity to satisfy the needs and address the requirements of the customers but also from the fact that global networks become more intricate and improving quality is the only option for remaining involved and operative in the business environment (ASQ & APQC, 2013). In this case, the emphasis is made on strategies and taking steps to improve processes as well as reach the set targets focusing on enhancing performance measured either as quality improvements or costs reduction.
In addition to it, there is a strong trend toward employee engagement and continuous improvement. It is usually achieved by the thorough analysis of company performance information with the aim of detecting drawbacks and gaps and designing strategies to overcome the challenges. All available information about the performance of other organizations is taken into consideration. In this case, the emphasis is made on both training employees and improving processes. It is paramount to note that training strategies usually do not vary across industries, as the primary attention is paid to technological expertise and implementing the newest technologies in the working process guaranteeing that its use is flawless and benefits the customer as well as the company (ASQ & APQC, 2016).
Mentioning some findings of the surveys is imperative in order to represent the established trends and perception of business organization practices. That said, 96 percent of leading global organizations believe that quality of a product or provided service is the primary determinant of competitiveness determining the company’s future growth and its influence in the sector of domestic, regional or even global economy. Among them, 85 percent give preference to including challenging targets in strategies for development because it is the best motivation for fulfilling them and meeting exceptionally high requirements.
Moreover, 71 percent among them underscore the significant role of customer in improving quality and always consider customer feedback when upgrading products of improving services. All organization without exception invest in training employees focusing on engagement and job satisfaction because people are the foundation of an organization’s evolution.
In addition to it, all most influential organizations use the newest technologies in both manufacturing products and providing services and 73 percent among them prefer big data for internal improvements. Finally, meeting international standards of quality is seen as the determinant of success and processes are enhanced in order to become certified thus attract more customers (ASQ & APQC, 2016).
In the introduction, it was assumed that the focus on stakeholders and customers, continuous learning and improvement, making the primary focus on quality, and employee engagement are the applicable principles in case of global leaders. The findings of the study confirm that the initial assumption was correct and it can be supported by the choice of business organization practices.
To sum up, nowadays, the most influential organizations operating in both manufacturing and services sectors rarely give preference to one particular business organization. Instead, they see the combination of different practices as the best option for guaranteeing flawlessness of the working process.
That said, the new practice incorporates the constituents of customer-focused approach as the primary attention is paid to hearing customers’ feedback and satisfying their needs; strategies-focused practices, as the emphasis is made on long-term development by means of achieving short-term objectives; engagement-focused practices because employees are seen as the most valuable resource of any company; and, of course, data-driven approach in order to keep up with the times and improve performance with the help of the newest technologies. Still, the central goal of designing such a comprehensive is continuous improvement and maintaining competitive positions in the global economy.
Even though the concept of quality has evolved over time, its primary determinants and perception have remained unchanged, as the customer experience and continuous improvement are seen as quality determinants and its drivers. Improving quality is usually brought to life by using one of the following practices: customer-focused, process-focused, engagement-focused, data-driven, strategic-focused, and leadership practices.
However, regardless of the distinct separation between these practices, the most developed and influential global companies rarely use one particular strategy giving preference to the combination of the elements of customer-focused, engagement-focused, data-driven, and strategic-focused approaches instead.
The findings of this study can be used as the foundation for developing recommendations to small local companies and bigger regional ones. The central advice is to conduct a thorough analysis of the experience of global leaders and borrow the elements of their business organization practices adapting them to particular needs of each company keeping in mind type of product or service, key customer, and available resources.
The recommendation is to stop adhering to one practice and start thinking outside of the box combining the elements of different approaches, which best address the needs and specificities of a company operation and the sector of its involvement. Even though the preferred practice should be the customer-based strategy, altering it by adding elements of other approaches will benefit a company and help improve its performance as well as win new customers due to the better quality of manufactured goods and provided services.
ASQ & APQC. (2013). The ASQ Global State of Quality Report: Sponsorship opportunities. Web.
ASQ & APQC. (2016). The ASQ Global State of Quality Report: Discoveries 2016. Web.
ASQ & APQC. (n.d.). Spotlight report: QustomerTM. Web.
Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2014). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Oliver, P. (2012). Succeeding with your literature review. New York, NY: Open University Press.
Roller, M. R. & Lavrakas, P. J. (2015). Applied qualitative research design: A total quality framework approach. New York, NY: The Gilford Press.