The way you measure quality in your business may be holding you back.
Quality metrics are critical for any business to track, but you’re doing your organization and your customers a disservice if you rely exclusively on in-house measurements. Internal metrics are limited to the resources that you and your employees have available.
You may think your business is doing well, but that may not be the case in more objective terms. Without external measurements, you can easily miss out on important context that could improve your operations, or even overlook serious problems that have equally serious consequences. Further, someone outside of your organization may have the necessary experience and skills to easily identify and address these potential problems.
With an understanding of how and why these metrics can work against you — as well as with some outside help — you overcome those challenges in a way that allows your organization to flourish rather than stagnate.
Even if you have a team of intelligent and seasoned employees, expertise is a limiting factor for any business. You don’t know what you don’t know. And if no one in your organization knows how to monitor the quality of your products and services objectively and consistently, then you’ll never be able to get accurate measurements from your internal team.
By getting external help, you can find someone who does have the knowledge, perspective, and experience you need. They easily jump in and fill the skills gap in your organization. They’ll already know the quality standards your products and services need to meet, and can immediately start taking steps to address any problems they find.
Take, for instance, outsourcing your business’ IT operations. If you aren’t an IT expert yourself, it’s hard to know what problems are affecting your workflow or how you can go about fixing them. You’ll have to hire a managed service provider or use remote monitoring and management software — but with this external help, you’re more likely to discover any technical difficulties as they happen. You won’t have to worry about any issues that are holding up your employees, impacting your operations, or affecting your finished products and services.
Beyond even having the expertise needed to effectively monitor quality, you may simply not have the time to do so. If you want it done right, it isn’t something you can do here and there or when you happen to have spare time. After all, there are entire jobs — and entire teams, in some organizations — dedicated to quality assurance.
That isn’t even accounting for the time it would take to ensure your employees are fully trained on quality measurement. What’s more, the training and measurement processes both detract from the time your staff would typically spend on their usual responsibilities and operations.
Plus, increasing their workload also increases the risk that your employees will experience burnout. In a 2018 Gallup study of 7,500 employees, an “unmanageable workload” was one of the primary causes of burnout. Not only can this reduce the quality of an employee’s performance, but it can also cause them to miss work or leave their job altogether.
Again, if you outsource quality measurement, they’ll already be fully trained and ready to jump into their work. Whoever you hire will also have the bandwidth to do it. Your employees can then focus on doing the jobs they were hired to perform.
Similarly, you may not have the right resources to fully and accurately measure quality in-house. Of course, it can be costly, as you have to pay for each moment internal employees do this work, as well as any tools they need to do it. This can easily become unaffordable, and while there are certain strategies you can use to boost your profits, it still may not be enough for your business to absorb that cost.
Resources, however, aren’t limited to your time and money. This also encompasses the software and equipment needed to measure quality, the process documentation describing how to do it, and the training materials to teach others about it. Unless you take the time and energy to create or process them, you won’t have the resources you need to test for quality.
Though it depends on who you hire, that person or organization may already have everything they need to do the job. Because their purpose is to audit and assess quality, they’ve invested in the required tools and materials.
All of your employees were trained in a way that is specific to your organization. Even if they know how to measure quality, they may all carry a similar perspective when it comes to testing, reviewing, and auditing internally.
This bias may be beneficial for your company culture or their primary work duties, but that isn’t necessarily the case for objectively tracking quality. At best, they could be failing to innovate, get creative, or try new things. At worst, they could all be missing the same pieces of data or making the same mistake in their interpretation. In that case, your quality data is largely useless because it is foundationally incorrect.
Someone outside of your company will bring a different, detached perspective and help you avoid those negative outcomes. They can find new insights, identify important patterns, break bad habits, and bring new life to old data or processes. This isn’t to say that your employees aren’t valuable — because they are — but that they can’t bring the same benefits that a fresh set of eyes can.
Holding employees accountable for their mistakes, or even just meeting basic quality standards, is hard but necessary. Even if you work at a remote organization, you’ve probably grown to like or appreciate them in some way, or don’t want to come across as an overbearing micromanager. However, the quality of your measurements is at stake, and if they’re incorrect, it could have serious implications for your entire organization.
That tension isn’t present with external employees or organizations. You’re paying them for their products and services, and if they’re failing to do what you hired them for, it’s far easier to let them know that they need to improve. You shouldn’t be rude, or else they may decide to stop working with you, but you may not have the same hesitations when communicating your needs and expectations.
Ultimately, there are both benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing labor, particularly for such important processes, but when it comes to assessing quality, the pros may just outweigh the cons. This doesn’t mean you should give up on internal quality measurements entirely, just that you need to understand their limitations.
By supplementing them with an outside perspective, you’re far more likely to get an accurate and comprehensive picture of your business’s performance. This will allow you to charter the right course toward expansion and success.