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Increased Quality & Compliance Issues and Greater Innovation & Focus on Employee Wellbeing – the Impact of COVID-19 on the Quality Industry

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A report into the impact of COVID-19, produced by leading quality improvement software expert Ideagen in conjunction with the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), has revealed that the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of quality and compliance issues being reported but also a renewed focus on innovation and employee wellbeing.

The COVID-19 Quality Industry Impact report seeks to understand how organisations have responded to the crisis and what role the quality profession has played. 250 quality professionals participated in an online survey, which revealed some interesting trends.

In general, the study found that company policies and procedures were unprepared for major disruption, with half of all businesses needing to update their employee policies and 40% of all businesses changing their strategy within the first few months of the outbreak.

On the positive side, the study also revealed half of companies placed a greater emphasis on employee wellbeing, a third saw improved collaboration and a quarter reported greater innovation.

But the findings are not consistent across all industries. Despite being on the frontline, the most positive effects were reported by the healthcare and life science sectors. Two thirds of respondents in these sectors said their company was placing greater emphasis on employee wellbeing. These sectors also reported the highest levels of innovation and collaboration and were the least affected by low morale. On the flip side these sectors were most likely to suffer from increased quality and compliance issues, which suggests the organisations were struggling to keep up with the volume of change.

Alexander Woods, Policy Manager at the CQI , said: “As organisations move from “emergency response” to “new normal”, staff numbers may not return to pre-outbreak levels if they can continue to meet customer requirements with fewer people, particularly where productivity is shown to be on the up. Quality issues may yet be exposed as working practices again change.”

Approximately half of all quality professionals said that their electronic quality management system had been key since the outbreak. Businesses without such a system were less positive with 42% saying that planned technology and infrastructure spending had stalled.

Chrissi Jackson, Product Manager at Ideagen, said: “These responses point to the importance of having a robust system already in place for times like this. Businesses are now relying more than ever on their electronic quality and business management systems. This is not surprising given remote working, the need to rapidly update policies and procedures, and the need to quickly share business information with colleagues no longer in the same room or office.”

Woods, added: “The role of the quality professional in navigating these extraordinary transitions is as important as in a pre-pandemic world; arguably it is even more so. The quality professional is critical in ensuring organisations continue to meet their customer requirements, remain compliant in a dynamic environment, and exploit those opportunities for improvement in product, process and system which inevitably present themselves.

“The situation will continue to evolve as more people return to their places of work, albeit under different circumstances, following different practices, and adapting to meet changing customer requirements. What remains constant is the purpose of the quality profession as the champions, custodians and practitioners of governance, assurance, and improvement.”