As multinational organizations and international outsourcing assume central positions in the business world, quality strategies and concepts are spreading quickly around the world as well. The growing popularity of methodologies such as Six Sigma and international quality management standards demonstrate this growth.
Not all systems and standards can be transplanted from country to country without some adjustments, however. Quality practitioners should be aware of a few enduring challenges to the global progress of quality:
- Training programs for new methodologies and concepts often do not spread into new geographical areas as quickly as the demand for programs does.
- Differences in economic conditions such as labor costs, inflation and proximity of raw materials can mean certain improvement efforts and tactics are more suitable to some countries than others.
- Comprehensive information-sharing, metrics-tracking and documentation systems within multinational corporations must overcome language and communications barriers.
- Cultural differences in management styles and employee relations mean some team-based initiatives may need to be customized for different countries.
As quality continues to advance around the world, more support organizations have formed to assist practitioners. Countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America currently have member organizations in ASQ’s WorldPartner program, which establishes partnerships among professional membership societies to meet quality needs worldwide.