In business and in life, measuring progress is a crucial step to staying on track and achieving your goals. After all, how can you determine how far you’ve come without looking back to where you began? As HARMAN continues to celebrate World Quality Month, we’re looking back on the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) Quality 2020 Study – from the original call to action to the initiatives it inspired and the key benefits it realized.

In October 2013, 22 executives from the world’s leading automotive OEMs and suppliers convened for the annual board meeting of the Automotive Industry Action Group, a non-profit organization comprised of automotive and manufacturing companies, suppliers, and service providers, AIAG members work together to improve and help streamline the automotive industry’s commercial processes. The conversation focused on concerns about the growing complexity of OEM customer-specific requirements, quality systems, and the proliferation of audits. Throughout the discussion, it became apparent that existing audit schemes were insufficient for driving improvements.

The group recognized that to meet the quality needs of the future, the industry needed to gain insights on the current state of processes and regulations. The solution was Quality 2020, a study that would provide a data-driven understanding of what was already working well and areas in need of improvement. Data was gathered through one-on-one and roundtable discussions with automakers and supplemented by a survey conducted in partnership with Deloitte of OEMs, suppliers, and members of related associations including the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Southern Automotive Industry Association, and others. Among the key findings:

  • Collaboration is crucial – Respondents repeatedly indicated that while they believed they would encounter significant levels of difficulty while attempting to make changes, they agreed it would yield impressive benefits.
  • Start with the talent agenda – Loss of experience ranked among the top five main concerns for OEMs and suppliers. Respondents agreed that the resulting impact from improving the talent pipeline would be significant.
  • Standardization. Standardization. Standardization. – Complexity and redundancy were the root causes of several concerns voiced by respondents. By implementing consistent standards, OEMs can make it easier for suppliers to meet Customer Specific Requirements.
  • Keep it moving - There was an obvious consensus on product development capabilities and areas for improvement. Mainly, that product cycles will continue to shorten and that collaboration is critical to ensuring the absence of a backlog.
  • Share the burden – The effort and cost to implement improvements should be shared across the entire supply chain.
  • Analytics to identify the roots – The need for effective identification of root causes was also top of mind for many respondents. The results indicate that by leveraging predictive analytics and capabilities to analyze data, companies would be better able to identify the root cause of issues.

A closer analysis of the results show that, while the industry’s first priority may be issue prevention, a focus on better problem solving was just as important. With a lack of effective problem solving solutions in place, the same problems would continue to arise. Building on the results of Quality 2020, HARMAN has consistently put various problem-solving actions in place to help provide more innovative quality management solutions for our OEM partners, including the deployment of an award-wining certification problem solving program, consisting of three levels: HARMAN Problem Solver, HARMAN Advanced Problem Solver, and HARMAN Master Problem Solver.

HARMAN also implemented its own internal problem solving tool known as Quality: Connected to drive structured problem solving and analytics across the organization. At the beginning of 2019, HARMAN’s Lifestyle Audio, Professional Solutions, and Automotive divisions launched the first phase, focused on complaint management and reporting. The solution provides a host of new capabilities, including customer/supplier-facing web portals, offline claim investigation, and action driven accountability on top of the global database. Early feedback clearly showed the benefits of such a solution, which is sophisticated enough to handle over 5,000 claims per month.

Looking back on the Quality 2020 results, the solutions it inspired, and the benefits it produced across the supply chain, it is clear that the key to ensuring quality is in identifying opportunities for simplification, evaluating best practices, and standardizing processes where possible. As we approach 2020 and begin to work toward our 2025 goals, HARMAN remains committed to implementing proactive measures to learn from mistakes and prevent future problems.