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Making the Case for Quality

August 2010

Building a Culture of Quality
By Janet Jacobsen

Jeff Balaban was 15 years into his career before he discovered
At a Glance . . . his interest in the quality field. Then a few years later upon
joining Southern California Edison in 1997, he was immedi-
• As he established a quality ately put in charge of establishing a quality assurance (QA)
assurance program in the program in the electric utility company’s information technol-
information technology (IT) ogy (IT) department. Fast forward to the present and Balaban
department at Southern
has not only built a successful QA program, but he’s also
California Edison, Jeff
Balaban was also building helped foster a culture of quality within his organization.
a culture of quality.
About Southern California Edison
• He mentored several
colleagues and
encouraged them to Southern California Edison (SCE) provides electric service
seek ASQ certification. to nearly 14 million people in some 180 cities in central,
• With its recent focus on coastal, and southern California. With approximately 15,500
continuous improvement, employees, the utility delivers reliable power to residential,
Southern California Edison commercial, industrial, and nonprofit customers.
Jeff Balaban, general manager, business
obtained two ASQ Site
operations support services, information
memberships to provide At SCE, the information technology and business integra- technology, Southern California Edison
benefits to its IT staff.
tion (IT&BI) unit, composed of 1,800 employees, supports
organizational effectiveness by ensuring that work is executed in a consistent, repeatable, and efficient
manner, all while maintaining regulatory compliance. Within the IT department is a business opera-
tions center, which provides support through process management, quality assurance, and regulatory
compliance activities.

Getting Involved With Quality

Balaban caught the “quality bug” after reading an article about QA and realizing that the financial
industry, in which he was employed as an IT testing manager, had a much different definition of this
activity than what is typically agreed to in quality circles. He soon learned of ASQ, joined the orga-
nization, and started reading more about quality methodologies. “I got excited about the whole field
and shifted my professional direction and that just took off,” recalls Balaban, an ASQ Senior member.
Shortly thereafter, SCE hired him to establish a formal QA program in the IT area.

To demonstrate his knowledge of the quality field, Balaban earned ASQ’s Manager of Quality/
Organizational Excellence certification in 1997, followed by certifications as Software Quality Engineer
in 1998 and Quality Auditor in 2001. He’s enjoyed many benefits—both personal and professional—
stemming from these credentials. From the business perspective, he says they provide credibility
because people prefer to hear about quality issues and solutions from someone who has earned

ASQ www.asq.org Page 1 of 2

She says that the Black Belt training and certi. establish- company’s website at www. ing an audit. the two site licenses cover everyone working in online Knowledge Center. Edison. as well berships for decades. finds everyday value in her continuous-improvement/electric-utility-powerful-approach. services from the Quality Information purchased a second license to cover its Irwindale. we felt it that location eligible for a wide range of benefits such as: her certification for many was a good time to increase our involvement with ASQ. and additional memberships. training. Linda Renaud. The certifications have development and attained a certain level of given me the confidence to reach for things that I may not have industry knowledge and experience.html. Balaban believes that his certifications provide him with that standing. which she earned in • Details on ASQ certifications are available at 2006.asq. a Worldwide Quality Community Jody Donaldson.pdf.org/organizations. A graduate of Drake University. “I refer • To learn more about Southern California Edison. are an economical way to open up the value of certification process and • Sustaining Excellence e-newsletter. the quality tools.edison. so I use the Six Sigma concepts Janet Jacobsen is a freelance writer specializing in quality and by habit now. she resides in Cedar Rapids. www. SCE 18 years ago. or memberships (see the ity when others see that as electronic access to seven other sidebar. in my work we are always looking for About the Author areas of process improvement. Continuous Improvement). particularly the SCE’s business operations center. he “They [ASQ certifications] signify that says. wide continuous improvement activities (see a related case organizations such as SCE to become earned her Certified study article. zation and improvement so she began investigating Six Sigma • Further information about the benefits of ASQ organizational training options. shortly after joining ASQ. “They [ASQ certifications] signify that I’ve reached a mile- stone in my professional development and attained a certain level I’ve reached a milestone in my professional of industry knowledge and experience. an IT project manager.” notes Renaud. Electric Utility Deploys Powerful Approach for part of a worldwide quality community. www. She says the cre- dential provides a great foundation for the auditing field.” for staff development and as quality mentor to his staff. Jain was interested in learning more about process optimi. as employees of Site members receive member Balaban. such as Another member of • Discounts on ASQ courses. credentials in that field. ASQ’s library. loca- who began her career at Center. saving credibility it confers. qual. “Fortunately.” says Donaldson. and the Quality conferences. IT planning and performance monitoring at • Certification discounts. IA. interacting with people. SCE ethics.asq. prices on all certifications. just those basic principles of planning.org/knowledge-center. “Electric Utility Deploys Powerful Approach for a 25-year employee at SCE.” certifications have given me the confidence Encouraging Staff Development to reach for things that I may not have As a manager Balaban is well positioned to serve as a role model otherwise felt comfortable striving for. ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt certification. CA. “It up to $180 per certification. became a Information Center.” at www. SCE leaders began considering the Quality Auditor creden- This type of membership covers one benefits of an ASQ organization membership. Then in November 2009.org/2010/08/ Monica Jain. the company’s main IT locations.” Bussard says. In fact. Balaban’s department. visit the to it constantly. Quality Progress magazine. memberships is located at www.org/certification/index. Community”). ASQ www. fication is beneficial as it provides both theoretical and practical applications. –Jeff Balaban he’s encouraged all of his quality analysts to pursue Make Your Organization Part of Joining ASQ as a Site Member ASQ certification. take advantage of many of the items on the ASQ site. books.asq. The otherwise felt comfortable striving for. With the IT department more and more involved in organization- ASQ Site membership allows ity assurance manager.org Page 2 of 2 . “Those employees can now asq. site licenses. and the tion. with all employees in tial in 2001. She values year of improvement in process and metrics for IT&BI.asq. Now. Certified Quality Auditor For More Information: in 2004. The first site license was purchased for the you are held to certain • Access to resources and research Westminster facility in 2006.” Jain reports.com. ASQ to new people. and what’s so important—the follow up.” recalls of the same reasons as Steven Bussard. “As we began a business location. Continuous Improvement. compliance topics. From a personal perspective. “Make Your Organization Part of a Worldwide Quality you’ve gone through the ASQ magazines and journals. preparing draft and final • Read a related case study article about Southern California reports. He notes that while some employees have held ASQ mem- lends a lot of credibil- • Quality Progress magazine.