Products without Borders

Healthcare products have no borders; however, the organizations that manufacture, market, distribute and sell those products do!  I was recently reading an article on Borderless Compliance .   I couldn’t help but make the connections between business compliance and our world of quality.   Gaps created by extended supply chain borders create serious lags and risks when reporting product issues, consumer complaints and adverse events.   Manufacturing across many distributed sites creates an equivalent number of quality blind spots. CFOs were cited because of their “informed view of the direct and indirect costs that often accompany a significant compliance misstep.”  There is apparently a need for strong corporate compliance officers (CCOs) to “wield a borderless compliance strategy [that] can spare the CFO and the enterprise from significant compliance issues and their all-but-inevitable fallout”.  I was reminded of recent consent decrees and their associated  compliance costs.  Why is it harder for senior quality executives to communicate these risks to the CFO?

While CFOs can roll up the financial state of affairs within days at the end of a quarter, quality executives admit that it can take 45-60 days to assess their state of quality and compliance.  Wall Street praises companies that demonstrate tight financial control (i.e. their financial results are ready within days of quarter end).  How would Wall Street assess the quality of a company’s goods and services if it took half a quarter to assess the previous quarter’s results?

Senior quality executives are more likely to have CFO-like tools if they can demonstrate how those tools are relevant to increased competitiveness and revenue growth.  How often is quality seen as the sales prevention department in your organization?   Quality is simply good business when it facilitates sales, reduces operating costs and assures brand integrity.  Senior quality executives need to make their case with CFOs and garner budget for quality education and streamlined enterprise tools.

Highly functioning quality organizations have information at their fingertips.  The state of quality is available on a dashboard.  It can be discussed openly and in real-time.  Trend analysis and decision making does not lag midway into the next quarter.  While many CFOs have initially spent >$100M on ERP, a quality executive would spend a very small fraction of that to improve critical business operations and reduce regulatory threats.

A CFO measures the state of financial control by the number of days required to roll up financials at the end of a quarter.  Essentially, speed equals control.

How long does it take your company to roll up your state of quality at the end of the quarter?  What does it say about your state of control?  What does it say about your quality mindset?   Remember to speak to your CFO in terms he or she understands.  Your company’s brand image depends on it.