These changes might be interpreted as moving the exam from a focus on internal quality projects to a more strategic view of improvement, and one involving the entire supply chain. In addition, although it cannot be seen at the macro level, some significant topics added to the new BOK include Information Systems, Knowledge Management, Theory of Constraints, and Tools for Innovation and Creativity.
In addition the BOK is now defined at a greater level of detail than before, providing more insight into what each topic area is meant to cover. For example, Strategy Development and Deployment is broken down into three areas:
Strategic Planning and Assessment
Environmental Analysis then consists of:
Legal and Regulatory Factors
Market Forces, Industry Trends, Competitive Analysis
Technology Trends and Internal Capabilities
Customer/Employee Surveys and Feedback
Internal Capability Analysis
SWOT Analysis is then further defined as “How to identify and prioritize; how to deploy appropriate action in response.”
This increased level of information then allows exam participants to better understand the content to be covered in the exam. However, the exam, as with quality management, is not just about content – process is also emphasized, and is especially tested by the constructed response questions, which are based on an integrated BOK. Following are the major elements, each of which has three-to-eight sub-elements further defined in the BOK:
Contribute to the Strategic Planning and Deployment Process
Develop and Maintain a Customer Focus
Management the Quality Organization/Department
Assess Performance Information
Develop Systems for Managing Supplier Performance
One of the more significant changes in the exam is not the BOK itself, but the level to which the BOK is tested. How well an individual knows a topic can be tested using questions written at different levels of understanding, and Bloom’s taxonomy is the model now used for this purpose in several ASQ certification exams.
Bloom (1956) proposed six levels of educational cognitive objectives, which could be summarized as:
Knowledge: Recall of basic facts of the subject
Comprehension: Familiarity with basic models used in the subject
Application: Able to use the knowledge in a common situation
Analysis: Can break down subject into component parts and clarify how they are interrelated
Synthesis: Combining various components of the topic in a new way or with other subjects in order to address a unique situation
Evaluation: The ability to determine whether a particular application of the knowledge is appropriate based on defined criteria
Following are two questions on the same topic, with the first written at the Knowledge level and the second at the Application level.
1. A typical component of the strategic planning process is a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for:
Strategic weaknesses or threats
Summarization, weightings, options, tactics
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
Suppliers working our territory
2. An organization has identified its strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats it faces. The next steps it should take include all except:
Determine which of the findings are more important
Determine which of the strengths and weaknesses might also apply to competitors, or how they might be different
Allocate sufficient capital and operating funds to pursue the opportunities identified
Develop contingency plans for threats that cannot be addressed directly
The significant differences in the level of understanding are obvious, so someone preparing for the exam must not only understand the BOK, but must do so at the level at which each component can be tested.
A Perspective Shift
Having the proper mindset when taking the CQMgr exam is also likely to impact how one will do on the exam. Following are a couple of major issues one might consider:
The focus of the exam is quality management, not quality assurance. Additionally, it is focused more on a total quality management (TQM) perspective of quality management than the narrower view of the ISO 9000 standards. Given than many quality managers spend much of their time involved in the day-to-day operation of the quality function (e.g., quality engineering, quality control, quality assurance), they may need to step back and think about quality from a more strategic, cross-functional perspective. Thinking of oneself as a director of quality responsible for multiple facilities may be helpful (Okes, 1998, Okes & Westcott, 2001).
Think about the theoretical answer to a question (e.g., what would the ASQ view be?), then adapt it to the question provided. A potential danger is to use past personal experiences (e.g., the way your company does it) as a guide. Although what a particular firm does may be very appropriate for it’s own culture, the same practice may or may not be aligned with what would be deemed the “correct” answer on the exam.
Value of the CQMgr
Some people ask why they should even consider becoming certified as a quality manager. They may already hold a title of quality manager (or even director or VP), and may have many years of experience. Following are just a few ways that CQMgr certification adds value for professionals, the profession, and society.
Let’s be honest … most people work because they need to. So money, although perhaps not the most critical variable in one’s decision about a job, is still a factor. The ASQ Salary Survey can then be of help (see Table 1), indicating an average of $9k difference in salaries of quality managers with versus without CQMgr certification.
Another value can be identified through the use of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where self-validation and peer recognition can contribute to a sense of self that is more closely self-actualizing. Passing the CQMgr exam is no small task. It indicates that one has an understanding of a very broad body of knowledge.
The CQMgr certification also plays a technology transfer role, helping to disseminate a common perspective of quality management throughout the profession, which will hopefully then carry through into society.
The ASQ CQMgr exam reflects current practice in the field of quality management. Quality professionals can benefit through preparation for the exam, as well as holding the certification itself. However, the exam covers more than the language of quality management, and personnel desiring to sit for the exam would do well to understand the breadth and depth of knowledge required.
ASQ website for CQMgr information: http://www.asq.org/cert/types/cqm/requirements.html
Bloom, B. (1956). Taxonomy of education objectives. New York: Longmans, Green.
Okes, D. (1998). Thinking like a certified quality manager. The Quality Management Forum, Spring. ASQ Quality Management Division.
Okes, D.W. & Westcott, R.T. (Eds.) (2001). The certified quality manager handbook. (2nd ed.). Milwaukee: ASQ Quality Press.
Duke Okes is a consultant, writer, and speaker on management and quality topics, and is co-editor of The Certified Quality Manager Handbook, 2nd edition. He can be reached at 423-323-7576 or email@example.com
31st Annual Delaware Quality Conference
March 4th and 5th, 2004
Call for Papers
Co-Sponsors: Delaware Section, ASQ; University of Delaware
The Reality Continues is the theme of this year’s conference. We will focus on the fact that over the years we have all been involved in various efforts to provide or obtain quintessential quality.
We have “done” Baldrige, State Awards, Benchmarking, Certification, Continuous Improvement, Cost of Quality, Deming, Design of Experiments, ISO 9000, ISO13485, ISO14000, Lean Manufacturing, Process Management, Process Mapping, Project Management, People Management, QFD, Six Sigma, Supply Chain Management, SPC, Theory of Constraints, TQM, and the list goes on and on.
What have you learned?
Where have you been successful?
Where have you been humbled?
The Delaware Quality Conference is THE place to share your experiences with your peers. Have you always been looking for an opportunity to “present” a paper or a workshop? Share a success story? Hone your presentation skills? If the answer to the above is an emphatic YES, please obtain a copy of the CALL FOR PAPERS application at the www.asqdelaware.org website, and submit it on line. We would like to have all applications by December 1 so our committee can meet their schedule.
This conference applies to everyone who is concerned about providing and receiving quality goods and services, regardless of whether it is internal to your company, in your community, or involving the paying customer.
Questions? Please contact Ron Makar, 31st Annual Quality Conference Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org .