Quality first: A focus on preventing problems

Tracy Owens, Director of Continuous Improvement, LexisNexis Legal & Professional

To me, quality control (QC) is about looking back after a product is made or after the service is complete and checking to see if it was done correctly, while quality assurance (QA) is building success into the design, process, and execution so that problems don’t happen in the first place.  Between reactive QC and proactive QA, QA wins because a little investment of time and effort now will save a lot more time, effort, and dissatisfaction later.

Last year, when the RELX Group Quality First Principles were launched, I knew I wanted to be a part of their further development and deployment.  This has been my world for the past 17 years – I started as a Six Sigma Black Belt in automotive manufacturing.  Since then I’ve applied Lean, Six Sigma, and other process improvement methods to a variety of settings and two things are clear: the problems are largely the same among all types of companies, and solid quality management helps make the customer experience better and improves profitability.

In their first year, the Quality First Principles were shared among all RELX Group businesses and the first self-assessments completed to identify risks in content and data quality.  We have since been concentrating on quality management –preventing problems before they occur.  We are identifying key strengths in the business units which we can celebrate and where there are opportunities for improvement which the Quality First Principles Working Group, with representatives from all RELX Group businesses, can support.  Quality First is not an exercise in creating unnecessary work.  Our focus is on improving the customer experience by preventing problems from arising.

I am truly excited to be leading this project in RELX Group. It is important work and has been my career and passion.