Friday, July 06, 2012

The NEXT Quality professional

The NEXT Quality professional

I wrote on “Traits of the Newage Software Quality Professional” for an ASQ blog back in 2007. I had touched upon several aspects that were crucial elements in the evolution of the Quality role in Software. I felt it was necessary to revisit this since much water has flown under the bridge since 2007. Technology has changed for good as predicted by many, businesses are thinking on different paradigms, the world is a different place altogether and changing rapidly, business models are being re aligned, economies are under pressure for a while now and no one knows exactly when we might be back amidst the good old days.

The role of the Quality professional and the expectations from the role too have undergone significant changes and while we lead in some of these aspects there are other areas that we need to speed up on.

The NEXT Quality professional, as I would like to call one would have to demonstrate an apt understanding of Business, People, Processes, Technology & Management. While specialization would always cater to specifics the normal Quality professional would be required to demonstrate skills and competencies in the 5 categories mentioned above.

Business must necessarily drive the process and therefore I put this as the first category on the list just to emphasize the importance of the role business has to play in the entire process game. Here are the skills and competencies that the NEXT Quality professional would be required to demonstrate today, to stay in the hunt.

Business drives the process…

·         There is a great deal of difficulty CxO’s have with the dwindling understanding of folks down the line on matters of business. It’s crucial to understand the objectives of the organization you are part of – a B2C organization would have a different model than a B2B organization, but nevertheless its objectives need to be understood by the Quality professional. The NEXT Quality professional will not only understand the objectives of the organization well but also articulate initiatives to strengthen these and impact these objectives in a positive manner. For example, if growth is a priority for your organization you need to focus on highlighting value paradigms, differentiators to your sales teams more actively than remaining hidden in the backroom focusing on purely on operations.

·         Even more important is to understand the business of one of your organization’s most important stakeholders – Your customer! Understanding of the clients business would ensure the NEXT Quality professional is able to guide and provide consultation to the project/account teams with a clear view of client relevance.

·         With a clear understanding of the Domain and Operations, the NEXT Quality professional would be in a position to carry out improvements in existing processes thereby improving organization efficiency and effectiveness. Suffice to say some of these initiatives could be transformational and would need sponsorship from the CxO level leadership.
People First…Always

·         A large part of the NEXT Quality professionals work would involve interacting with people across levels in the hierarchy and horizontal roles that cut across functions and groups. The extent of collaboration required would be of the highest order and a clear focus on people as a Quality strategy is a must. Collaboration would largely be a means to achieve greater connect with clients, sales and delivery teams, enabler functions, vendors etc. to ensure sustained client value assurance. People connect would ensure the NEXT Quality professional is able to manage Diverse, multicultural and geographically distributed teams as a matter of routine.

·         A related aspect of people connect is the ability to listen, gather inputs, analyze feedback and plough it back into the processes. The NEXT Quality professional would be in a position to slice and dice information associated with inputs, strengthen listening mechanisms with various stakeholders and use it as a competitive advantage.
Processes, Models & Frameworks are the building blocks…

·         A sound foundation of standards, frameworks and models is crucial to have an understanding of the inner workings of specific and generic practices that are an essential starting point. This understanding ensures the NEXT Quality professional is able to use the know how to adequately tailor and customize processes to deliver the desired value.

·         The NEXT Quality professional would not only focus on the theoretical aspects of process definitions as process groups are often involved in, but would need to usher in a more practical perspective with the right blend of process steps automated with the right tools. The understanding of best of breed tools would enable the NEXT Quality professional to bring in true innovations in the process steps.
Technology at the core…

·         Technology today is at the center of several innovations and as an industry we are both involved in creating some of these innovations as well as leveraging few others for our competitive advantage. The NEXT Quality professional would not only have adequate understanding of the technology but would also be able to leverage it to enhance the effectiveness of various initiatives and programs for larger organization success.

·         The NEXT Quality professional would use Technology as an Enabler for driving key decisions and building new process innovations that are centered on the technology core. Tools and Technology then would work as glue for the methodology to unleash its impact across a wider base including employees, clients, vendors etc.
Management – Self as well as for others…

·         Management is a core skill for a Quality professional. The NEXT Quality professional would not only utilize this skill to the fullest extent but would specialize in certain dimensions that are going to play a vital role in the larger organization success. The NEXT Quality professional would be a Change Agent exemplar! Someone who has the ability to conceptualize, plan, organize and orchestrate large scale improvements across accounts/projects/businesses. These would encompass initiatives that cut across domain, technology, process and people.

·         A significant dimension of Leadership is the ability to not only do things for you but also help others do things for themselves. This sort of enabling people in the near environment would mean the NEXT Quality professional has to involve in large scale trainings and development sessions that would influence not only the way people work but also the way people think about concepts, processes and paradigms.

·         Knowledge being the foundation for the success of the NEXT Quality professional, Knowledge management would play a vital role in terms of determining new capabilities, faster better and cheaper ways to enhance these capabilities and also scale up the ability to do this in a repeatable manner across large number of people distributed across the globe.
The question to ask today is - Are you the NEXT quality professional that every organization is seeking to induct?

If yes, you have a wonderful future ahead of you and it’s filled with opportunities of extreme learning, experiences in value creation and tasks that enrich yourself as an individual. If no, you still have time, it’s never too late to prepare for the future. Remember, if you can’t invent the future, you could at least prepare for what someone else is going to invent. Think Apple, they did not invent the type face fonts, mouse, user interface, portable music player, PC etc. they just used existing innovations better than others.

Let us brace ourselves for the journey ahead to be the NEXT Quality professional!

©Naresh Choudhary