Compete or perish

Suranjith Swaris

Suranjith Swaris is the Vice President of the Colombo Business Association and a Past President of the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM)

Businesses are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the current business environment, it is a case of the survival of the fittest. In this context, quality becomes a vital factor for success, says Suranjith Swaris.

He continues: “We can’t drive our organisations without the mindset of quality consciousness. Corporates ignoring this wisdom are facing the consequences.”

“Looking at the last few months, we recall several established corporates in Sri Lanka and around the world with strong brand names that faced negative impacts due to a failure of quality consciousness in their corporate affairs,” he emphasises.

Answering the question of what quality consciousness is, Swaris retorts: “First, look at the meaning of ‘quality,’ which can be expressed as ‘fit for purpose,’ ‘customer excellence’ or ‘being defect free’.”

“So it’s very clear that this is a prerequisite for any action we undertake to fulfil an individual’s or organisation’s aspirations. In simple terms, we could say that consciousness is the awareness or concern of the person who is engaged in the situation,” he adds.

Swaris explains that the quality of any product, service, process, relationship or venture you contribute to will depend on your quality, and how you relate to and align with the environment in which you are embedded.

“Improving your awareness of quality standards, alignment with teams and organisations, and the ability to manage your attention will increase your quality consciousness,” he notes.

And to this end, he lists five vital success factors for any corporate, which need to be adhered to drive their business ventures – viz. strategic focus, people, operations, marketing and finance.

“Therefore, it is necessary to have a high level of quality consciousness to devise the best strategy to manage corporates. It is very clear that corporate success depends on the deg­ree of consciousness more than any other focus – it’s the foundation of building great corporates or brands,” Swaris remarks.

One way of ensuring quality consciousness in an organisation is to have systems and processes certified by independent international certification bodies so that all stakeholders are aware of what precisely is needed to sustain the same level of quality.

Moreover, regular training and development is another pillar that can help sustain high levels of quality consciousness.

To survive in these turbulent times, people also expect to purchase goods and services at very low price points by compromising their quality consciousness mindset, which is understandable.

Nevertheless, the danger he perceives as a marketer, corporate leader and entrepreneur is that in the prevailing circumstances, there’s a tendency to reduce costs and garner greater profits by practising unethical strategies – such as lowering the quality of products and services. He believes that some corporates are exploiting the present situation as an opportunity to fulfil selfish business aspirations.

And he adds that “the present challenging economic conditions are the most significant danger that I can see to maintaining quality levels. Most people have lost their earnings and are facing many difficulties in fulfilling even basic needs.”

In his concluding remarks, Swaris states: “As human beings, we have a right to a quality of life. Quality should be inherent in all aspects of life, and all the products and services we use. As a nation, Sri Lanka should instil in itself a deep regard for qua­lity consciousness to transform its mindset for the national good.”

If quality consciousness pervades every aspect of our lives – from education and the environment, to manufacturing, conducting business and producing consumer goods – it could potentially catapult Sri Lanka to the forefront of what is a competitive world, which in turn would attract the foreign direct investments (FDI) that Sri Lanka seeks.