Quality 4.0 and the programme of research led by the CQI.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What is Quality 4.0?
  2. Why is Quality 4.0 important?
  3. Why is the CQI doing this research into Quality 4.0?
  4. Have any other organisations been involved in the Quality 4.0 research?
  5. Did the Quality 4.0 research consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors?
  6. What percentage/section of the CQI/IRCA membership will be affected by Quality 4.0?
  7. What impact does the definition of Quality 4.0 have on established quality management frameworks?
  8. How will Quality 4.0 affect ISO’s quality management standards?
  9. How will Quality 4.0 affect the content of the CQI's Competency Framework?
  10. What will Quality 4.0 mean for me in practice?
  11. Isn’t this Quality 3.0 repackaged?
  12. Is quality management being threatened by digitalisation and automation?

GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. What is Quality 4.0?

Quality 4.0 is a globally recognised term used to describe a process of change through which the practice of quality management is going. This change includes the increased digitisation of processes and the application of powerful data gathering and analytics. See the CQI’s research into how to define Quality 4.0 for more.

2. Why is Quality 4.0 important?

The implications of this gradual change to Quality 4.0 could be huge for organisations, their customers or clients, people working to deliver quality consistently and reliably and for society as a whole. It is difficult to predict how big and how quickly this change will be; however, some business models are transforming at pace and new ones are emerging, in some cases at surprising speed.

So, it is important for professionals to be at the heart of designing the future and not passive observers or victims of change. In fact, the skills, knowledge and perspectives of quality professionals are vital to the design of that future. We will need new end-to-end value chains and new assurance approaches. Multi-disciplinary teams will also need to solve complex problems and someone will need to make sure that the data being used is of the highest quality. Quality professionals can’t be bystanders. We must be part of the solution. So, it’s important for professionals working in quality management to consider how this transformation will affect the context in which they operate and how they can deliver enhanced value.

The article referenced above expands on the case for Quality 4.0.

ABOUT THE RESEARCH

3. Why is the CQI doing this research into Quality 4.0?

The CQI needs to prepare its professionals to respond to the ongoing emergence of the digital age, helping them to identify and acquire the new competences required to thrive in the future.

Initial explorations into published literature and conference proceedings on the subjects of Quality 4.0, Industry 4.0 and Supply Chain 4.0, together with discussions with thought leaders around the world concluded that there was no single accepted definition of Quality 4.0. Professionals have been contemplating the proposed definition from several different perspectives, causing some confusion for practitioners. For this reason, the CQI decided to start a research project to develop a working definition of Quality 4.0, which in turn will help CQI members to better understand what it is, how it is developing and the implications it could have for quality management in the future.

Now that this working definition has been developed, the research programme is progressing on to identifying practices, tools and technologies that are being adopted in organisations that are transitioning into a Quality 4.0 context from which the research team will identify the new knowledge, skills and behaviours that professionals will need to acquire to thrive in this emerging world.

4. Have any other organisations been involved in the Quality 4.0 research?

We have been in contact with colleagues in the ASQ, EOQ, ANQ and IRCA Japan and have engaged partner organisations, academics and thought leaders from several different countries and regions around the world. We have also shared our findings widely within the UKQI.

5. Did the Quality 4.0 research consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors?

Not specifically, although the research project that is currently revising the Competency Framework will address the area of ESG. It will identify the knowledge, skills and behaviours that professionals need to help their organisation or clients reach their ESG goals. 

QUALITY 4.0 AND QUALITY MANAGEMENT PRACTICE

6. What percentage/section of the CQI/IRCA membership will be affected by Quality 4.0?

Quality 4.0 is likely to have an impact on everyone who is still actively working as a quality management or systems audit professional, whether in paid or voluntary work. There will be some contexts in which it will have less of or a delayed effect, but it is hard to predict more at this stage. It is better to be prepared than caught by surprise. Our mission is to give you all you need to work this out in your context. Quality 4.0 is not a product that you can get out of the box and “do” to your company or for your clients. It is a phase through which quality management is progressing and through which you should re-examine what you do and how you do it. It will also need to be put into context. That is the hard work that faces us all as professionals.

7. What impact does the definition of Quality 4.0 have on established quality management frameworks?

We have developed the working definition and eight emerging core Quality 4.0 principles to help the profession better understand how the rapidly changing world of work and trade, which is being transformed by digital technologies, will affect quality management practices, tools and competences. These principles are not meant to replace the established frameworks. They help with the thinking we need so that quality management can address emerging challenges, risks and opportunities that organisations are facing.

8. How will Quality 4.0 affect ISO’s quality management standards?

This is not clear yet. In response to feedback from our Research Advisory Panel, we are mapping the eight emerging core Quality 4.0 principles to the seven core principles that underpin ISO 9001. As expected, we have discovered that these seven principles are just as important as they have been since their inception. The eight emerging core Quality 4.0 principles help us to understand how the seven quality management principles will be delivered in a digitally enabled age. We will soon be publishing this work for members to show how we believe it will help with the eventual review of ISO 9001. We are also using our Category A status to engage with members of the relevant working groups to offer our research results to enhance this review.

9. How will Quality 4.0 affect the content of the CQI's Competency Framework?

When our Q4.0 research programme is complete we will publish the revised Competency Framework, which will comprise a more detailed set of competencies required in each of the five elements of the existing framework. It will identify the new knowledge, behaviours and skills required to thrive in a Quality 4.0 environment. This will include any new elements of competence that a professional will need to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals set by their organisations.

10. What will Quality 4.0 mean for me in practice?

This work is purely at the definition stage at the moment, so it will seem theoretical. That is the nature of a principle – it should guide our thinking and practice. The next stage of the research will look at evidence of digitally enabled quality management practice and how it illustrates, supports or challenges one or more of the eight emerging core Quality 4.0 principles. We will then highlight how the toolkit of quality management is changing and how it is affecting what people are doing in the quality function, and in other parts of an organisation. This work is due to be completed in late 2021 and we hope to share it in early 2022.

11. Isn’t this Quality 3.0 repackaged?

It's difficult to predict how, where and how quickly this digital transformation will occur. But it is also difficult to envisage an aspect of life that will not in some way be directly or indirectly affected by these new technologies. It is also important to recognise that Quality 4.0 is not “throwing 3.0 out of the box” and replacing it with a new, shiny way of doing quality management. As was said before, our belief is that Quality 4.0 is a transitory state through which organisations will travel to differing extents. The principles, tools and techniques of quality management that have served us all well in the past will need some adjustments to exploit the power of new technologies whilst not losing the huge inherent value of established approaches that have proven to work despite technological progress.

12. Is quality management being threatened by digitalisation and automation?

There are two sides to this question. On the one hand, some roles within quality functions are at risk if the people in these roles are not prepared to, or can’t, adapt to their changing environments. On the other hand, Quality 4.0 gives people working in the quality function a huge opportunity to add even more value. It also allows us to address some long-held issues including the quality professional who is:

  • Not recognised for the work they do
  • Kept out of the boardroom
  • Unable to influence the strategic agenda
  • Perceived as more of a cost than a value adder
  • Not seen as a trusted advisor to the senior leaders or leader

These are some of the primary reasons for this research programme.