Indian Quality Improvement Pioneer Qimpro turns 20

20 November 2007 | Source:
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Qimpro was established in 1987 as the sole Indian affiliate of the Juran Institute, one of only 10 such affiliates worldwide. Suresh Lulla, founder, Qimpro, talks to Sourya Biswas on 20 years of helping Indian companies assimilate the quality culture

To become a business leader is a notable achievement, but to create a business itself, consistently set new standards and occupy the leadership position for a period spanning two decades is something fewer still achieve in their lifetimes.

Qimpro, India’s first dedicated quality consultancy firm set up in 1987 by Suresh Lulla, celebrates 20 years of leadership in guiding companies “to do things right”. Suresh Lulla, founder Qimpro, who has spearheaded the “quality movement” in India.

The codification of quality and associated processes had its origin in the works of two legends, Dr. William Edwards Deming and Dr. Joseph Moses Juran. While Dr. Deming concentrated on the statistical methods of quality control, Dr. Juran looked at “managing for quality”, or the human side of enterprise. Following their directions, the ravaged post-war economy of Japan flourished and has today emerged as the last word on quality.

Qimpro was established in 1987 as the sole Indian affiliate of the Juran Institute, an honoured member of the rarified group of only 10 such affiliates worldwide. Dr. Juran was very particular about the nations where such institutions were established. In a way, he had foreseen India’s current growth 20 years ago and found in his protege Lulla the ideal person to navigate her shores.

When Lulla started in 1987, “quality” was an unknown word in the Indian business lexicon, and he candidly admits that he didn’t have any clients for two years. It was only on 2 January 1989, when the legendary TISCO (as Tata Steel was then known) boss Russi Mody asked him to address his executives at Dimna, 50 kilometres from Jamshedpur, that Qimpro’s march to success began.

Since then, Qimpro has successfully advised clients like Punjab Tractors, Mahindra Tractors, etc. and helped them save over Rs 5,000 crore as “cost of poor quality”.

“Standards breed mediocrity”, says Lulla, and hence, Qimpro strives to go beyond standards set by regulatory bodies. According to him, the defining standards are those that are set by the customer, and his firm helps clients to meet these standards, and exceed them.

On Dr. Juran’s advice, Qimpro started recognising individuals for their contributions to quality, at a time when companies were unwilling to be spend on it. Over the years, the Qimpro A wards have become a benchmark for such recognition, and previous winners include such luminaries as Ratan Tata, Keshub Mahindra, Kumarmangalam Birla, Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji and Deepak Parekh. The selection procedure is completely transparent with the last winner heading the selection panel - this year the panel is being headed by Mr. Ratan Tata, who had been awarded in 2006.

In 1995, Qimpro entered its second phase of growth. Lulla was approached by the Indian Merchants Chamber to bring the Malcolm Baldrige model to India. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is given by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology to recognize quality service in the business, health care, education, and nonprofit sectors, and is the only quality award actually awarded by the President of the United States. The resultant IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality A ward can be considered the Indian equivalent of this world-renowned recognition.

With this, Qimpro moved from just “management for quality” to “quality of management”. No longer restricting itself to quality issues, it now helps clients achieve business excellence through innovative solutions in leadership, problem resolution, etc.

As it looked towards its third decade of spreading a passion for quality, Qimpro has embarked on the third phase of explosive growth by launching an innovative new venture to help companies co-ordinate their efforts towards business excellence - the Best Prax Club in 2006. Lulla states that for companies to succeed, it is “not enough to improve, but improve in relation to competition”. And that is where the Best Prax Club comes in providing an interactive forum for companies to co-ordinate, co-operate and compete in their efforts towards improvement.

With greater focus on the customer, and the entry of foreign manufacturers with perceived quality advantages, the time is ideal for Indian companies to improve their products, processes and services. This ensures that a quality leader like Qimpro will continue to shine and guide businesses for decades to come.

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