Jobless recovery or jobless growth is an economic phenomenon in which a macro-economy experiences growth while maintaining or decreasing its level of employment. The latest national unemployment rate inched up to 8.3% whilst adding 163,000 new jobs. U.S. real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 2.0 percent. The reality is less people are working due to negative job growth (4.4 million less jobs than in 2008), but the economy is growing while corporations net profits are increasing.
What is really happening here is that the employers are gaining in operational efficiency – i.e. getting more out per employee, making better use of invested capital and performing better at projects that return more ROI and effective tax strategies.
Let’s talk about operational efficiencies. This comes down to managing operations effectively, cutting non-value added activities, implementing efficient business processes and simply streamlining operations. This streamlining is walking a fine line, where one can optimize while taking risks in terms of safety, compliance, quality or other aspects that might otherwise add cost. In today’s world of globalization, stricter regulatory oversights (depending on products and markets served), demanding customer demographics and ubiquity of 24x7 news and social media, no one can afford or choose to take a risk on quality. So then, what are some of the ways these corporations balance all the above elements whilst maintaining quality, managing cost and maximize margins? Technology is the answer.
Some ways in which QMS technology helps institute operational efficiencies can be seen in the examples below:
- Many sectors (such as high technology and electronics) are seeing a great deal of outsourcing, off shoring and risk sharing partnerships. While this decreases costs, technology is used to connect these diverse groups of the value chain together. Since quality is still important to maintain customer satisfaction, superior products and ultimately operating margins, quality management solutions are used to maintain this link as it they are part of the same company. QMS allows these stakeholders to have full visibility, information transparency and faster resolutions to problems.
- Globalization brings in a broader supply chain, where managing critical suppliers in near real-time is essential to survival and profitability. These suppliers and corporate purchasers, along with operations, interact using quality management systems to react to and resolve problems. This translates into better products, quicker time to market and better responses to customers.
- Problems often arise but communications to the appropriate personnel, both internal and external, are manually processed. This not only adds time to closure but also expends non-value-added efforts yielding nothing in return. Another area of inefficiency comes from lost records, missed deadlines, lack of accountability, etc. By using QMS like systems, these unnecessary layers are removed, allowing a company to do more with less resources.
- Growth in certain industries has taken place due to mergers and acquisitions, which often creates a scenario of diverse and disparate systems. What this mish-mash of systems creates is islands of data which do not interact or share information. Someone, an IT resource usually, needs to manually sort through the data. This inefficiency not only requires specialized resources, but also time. However, decision makers need updated data and information for effective and timely management.
Therefore, you see how technology solutions like quality management systems help industries do more with less people. Best-in-class companies are making use of technologies as part of their best practices; the efficiencies gained from the effective use of these systems will remain in place as we move into the future.
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