Quality Management & Continuous Improvement is More Than Just a Way to Work

Businesswoman conducts employee training class

Quality management and continuous improvement is a formalized process and philosophy that helps organizations reach quality processes and results.

"To me, quality is embedded in everything," says Herman Tang, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Master of Science in Quality Management Program at Eastern Michigan University. "Continous improvement can be applied to not only our professional lives but our personal lives."

Before joining EMU in 2015, Professor Tang worked in automotive manufacturing for 16 years, primarily in manufacturing system development and new vehicle launches.

Professor Tang teaches continuing professional development classes in EMU Professional Programs & Training's quality and continuous improvement program alongside the EMU Quality Management Master's Degree in the GameAbove College of Engineering & Technology.

"For me, being at EMU has been a very rewarding experience and also a great opportunity to interact with working professionals. We are able to learn the technical lessons in the classroom but also, more importantly, it's an opportunity to apply what we learn in the classroom to the real world."

Practicality and real-world applications are at the heart of quality and continuous improvement. In PPAT courses, such as Introduction to Principles and Approaches of Quality Planning, Professor Tang teaches participants a brief but comprehensive introduction to the fundamental principles and methods of quality planning in product and service development.

One of the primary benefits of quality and continuous improvement is the cost reduction it can bring to organizational processes by identifying areas for improvement. In this way, the quality and continuous improvement PPAT courses are lessons about creating more efficient organizations and processes for pragmatic people.

"These two programs are parallel," expounds Professor Tang, "the graduate program as a degree program is more systematic but the professional training program is an inviting, open door to any professionals in the field, no matter their background or position. It's a great opportunity to enhance their experience and knowledge."

EMU's Quality Program Pulls In Industry Professionals

"The PPAT program is focused on practicality. The administration has been able to pull insights from industry experts and leaders to create a course that will give industry professionals a true industry experience," says Professor Tang.


One of the industry leaders EMU has brought in to create a more industry-friendly program is Steve Povenz, the Director of Quality at Shape Corp., a tier-one automotive and industrial component supplier. Povenz serves on the EMU Quality and Continuous Improvement Advisory Board,  along with Professor Tang and several other quality-related industry professionals. Povenz brings 30 years of automotive manufacturing experience in front-line leadership, production management, supplier quality, continuous improvement, and program management.

"Eastern Michigan University has made it a point to bring in professionals from industry," Povenz says, "and we're being brought in not just for expertise but also to identify the needs and wants of the industry to create that pipeline of continuous improvement and quality professionals. I think that's a really great and unique thing the university has done here."

"When we talk of Quality or Lean Six Sigma a lot of these are technically the same - no matter who is teaching the subject," explains Professor Tang. "With the support of the advisory board, the PPAT program is very user-friendly and application-oriented. In classes, I consider myself a tour guide or a team facilitator. The principle is there, so it's more important for us to learn something and apply what we learn."

Nothing's Perfect - Quality and Continuous Improvement is For Everyone

By bringing in a wide range of quality professionals to the Advisory Board, EMU's PPAT program can draw from a variety of industries to appeal to course participants in just about any field.

"We consider quality and continuous improvement as common tools," says Professor Tang. "So regardless of what field you're working in, we have to follow the same principles and stay process focused and results-driven."

While disciplines like quality systems management are primarily associated with automotive and manufacturing fields - champions of quality see it as a way of life.

"Everything around us is a process and the program is open to anyone that is looking to apply quality and continuous improvement to their work and their life," explains Povenz.

"Everything we interact with is in a less-than-ideal state and can be improved. So, if there are individuals that want to learn and apply quality principles to improve what they're already doing and make advances in their career - that's who we're looking for."

And like most of PPAT's courses, something that makes this program so appealing to working professionals is the flexibility. The courses will be offered online, and as opposed to a graduate program, participants can take the classes without the commitment and requirements of entering a graduate program.

The philosophy behind quality and continuous improvement is also incredibly flexible. ISO 9001, one of the common methodologies of quality taught in the PPAT courses, has been implemented in over 1 million organizations.

Quality methodologies can also be applied regardless of position. Whether you're looking to implement process improvements organization-wide or find a better way to simply make your own role more efficient, EMU PPAT's quality and continuous improvement courses have something to offer.

The courses offered not only teach participants how to do a variety of processes more efficiently and achieve better results within their organizations, but they can also be a gateway to continuous improvement in our careers.

"As I often coach people on career development," says Povenz, "I tell them that the best way to get to the next job or the job you have your sights set on is to be the absolute best you can be at the job you're in today. And you'll be surprised at the doors that open for you."

For more information regarding EMU PPAT's quality and continuous improvement courses, visit our page.