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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

qual. Now. fication is beneficial as it provides both theoretical and practical applications. an IT project manager. SCE 18 years ago. She says that the Black Belt training and certi. or memberships (see the ity when others see that as electronic access to seven other sidebar. are an economical way to open up the value of certification process and • Sustaining Excellence e-newsletter.asq. CA. –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. Electric Utility Deploys Powerful Approach for part of a worldwide quality community. compliance topics. ASQ to new people. Continuous Improvement). prices on all certifications. “Make Your Organization Part of a Worldwide Quality you’ve gone through the ASQ magazines and journals. the company’s main IT locations.” notes Renaud.asq. ing an audit. with all employees in tial in 2001. visit the to it constantly. just those basic principles of planning. Continuous Improvement. Community”). and the Quality conferences. In fact. became a Information Center. books.org Page 2 of 2 . preparing draft and final • Read a related case study article about Southern California reports.” recalls of the same reasons as Steven Bussard. finds everyday value in her continuous-improvement/electric-utility-powerful-approach. “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.asq. Quality Progress magazine. “Electric Utility Deploys Powerful Approach for a 25-year employee at SCE.org/2010/08/ Monica Jain.pdf. 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. “Fortunately.edison.org/knowledge-center. The otherwise felt comfortable striving for. With the IT department more and more involved in organization- ASQ Site membership allows ity assurance manager. zation and improvement so she began investigating Six Sigma • Further information about the benefits of ASQ organizational training options. wide continuous improvement activities (see a related case organizations such as SCE to become earned her Certified study article. memberships is located at www. Certified Quality Auditor For More Information: in 2004.asq.” says Donaldson. ASQ’s library.” for staff development and as quality mentor to his staff.” 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. He notes that while some employees have held ASQ mem- lends a lot of credibil- • Quality Progress magazine.” Bussard says. saving credibility it confers. and additional memberships. Balaban’s department. www. interacting with people. she resides in Cedar Rapids. site licenses. take advantage of many of the items on the ASQ site. he “They [ASQ certifications] signify that says. Balaban believes that his certifications provide him with that standing. training. A graduate of Drake University. Linda Renaud.html. establish- company’s website at www. such as Another member of • Discounts on ASQ courses. She says the cre- dential provides a great foundation for the auditing field. IA. credentials in that field. as well berships for decades. From a personal perspective. particularly the SCE’s business operations center. IT planning and performance monitoring at • Certification discounts. so I use the Six Sigma concepts Janet Jacobsen is a freelance writer specializing in quality and by habit now. and what’s so important—the follow up. “As we began a business location. services from the Quality Information purchased a second license to cover its Irwindale.org/certification/index. loca- who began her career at Center.org/organizations.” at www. She values year of improvement in process and metrics for IT&BI. “It up to $180 per certification. shortly after joining ASQ. “Those employees can now asq. Then in November 2009. “I refer • To learn more about Southern California Edison.com. the two site licenses cover everyone working in online Knowledge Center. the quality tools. The first site license was purchased for the you are held to certain • Access to resources and research Westminster facility in 2006. 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. Edison. in my work we are always looking for About the Author areas of process improvement. ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt certification.” Jain reports. and the tion. as employees of Site members receive member Balaban. www. SCE leaders began considering the Quality Auditor creden- This type of membership covers one benefits of an ASQ organization membership. which she earned in • Details on ASQ certifications are available at 2006. SCE ethics. a Worldwide Quality Community Jody Donaldson. Jain was interested in learning more about process optimi. ASQ www.