• The Morningstar Quality Program
  • Morningstar has a formal Quality Program, which we have developed specifically to meet the needs of our company and clients. The goal of our Quality Program is to drive client-centricity, operational excellence, and continuous improvements across Morningstar.
  • Four Pillars of Quality
    The Morningstar Quality Program is supported by four pillars, which when interconnected, create a self-sustaining, virtuous cycle of continuous improvement. At the center of our Quality Program is the voice of our clients. With the help of our Quality Program, we align our process objectives directly with the needs of investors and our clients who serve them.

    The Voice of Our Clients
    The voice of the client is the nucleus of our Quality Program and is at the center of everything we do as a company. Client feedback guides our quality initiatives and provides the framework for a culture of continuous improvement. We directly incorporate client needs and expectations into our daily work and process objectives. Client needs influence everything from how we prioritize our process improvement projects to the metrics we set based on our clients’ requirements for timeliness, accuracy, and more. Our Quality Program allows us to deliver data, research, products, and services that help our clients make informed investment decisions.

    Pillar One: Measure
    The first pillar in our Quality Program aims to baseline and assess the Quality of our data, products, and services. To do this, our independent Quality team conducts audits and benchmarking studies. We track and monitor the performance of our processes using sophisticated dashboards to display critical data. Some of the best available in the financial industry, these dashboards are often populated in real time with automated alerts of key triggers. Through our measurements and dashboards, we are able to replicate the thorough quality processes typically found in a manufacturing environment. The “Measure” pillar helps us identify our strengths and the areas where we need to improve.

    Pillar Two: Build
    Our second pillar revolves around the use of Lean Six Sigma tools to improve our processes based on the results of our audit and benchmarking studies. Arising from the Japanese manufacturing industry, lean principles work to simplify processes by reducing waste and removing bottlenecks for greater efficiency. Six Sigma is a set of strategies to help identify and remove the causes of errors and variations. We use Six Sigma’s DMAIC framework to improve processes through these steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. We are strong believers in lean principles, and we apply the DMAIC framework to lend a structured approach to our problem solving.

  • Pillar Three: Own
    Quality is a way of life at Morningstar. Many organizations with quality programs have black belts and master black belts whose role is to execute quality projects. The downside of this approach is that it is not inclusive or sustainable. Typically when the black belt or the master black belt moves on, quality is quickly forgotten. At Morningstar, we believe that the employees who own and manage each process own its quality. This is the lynchpin of our Quality Program and sets us apart from other organizations. We run our own in-house training to help employees learn lean tools and apply them to their everyday work. Our Quality team mentors and coaches employees, encouraging them to make continuous improvement part of everything they do. The quality mindset taught through our in-house training and coaching extends beyond improvement projects, becoming ingrained in the way we work.

    Pillar Four: Sustain
    Once a process is improved, our focus is to sustain its performance, improve it further, and institute it throughout the company. Sustainable processes are critical to make a tangible, positive, and significant impact on the products and services we deliver to our clients. To support this, Morningstar introduced process certification in 2010. This effort is similar to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification in the manufacturing industry. The goal for Morningstar’s process certification is to drive client focus, build stable processes, and ensure continuous improvements. Our independent Quality team audits and certifies processes on one of three levels, depending on their stability and maturity.

    Morningstar Process Certification
    Our process certification has three levels that are monitored by our independent Quality team. Certification begins at the first level, called the “foundation level.” This is achieved when a process meets its basic objectives—for example, it has a well-defined standard operating procedure, clearly defined process owners, and performance that is being tracked. If a process consistently performs to its standards for a minimum of six months, it achieves the second level of certification, or the “control level.” Processes attain the third and highest “self-sustainment level” when they meet their goals consistently and demonstrate continuous improvement for 12-18 months. This is the most difficult level to reach and indicates that the process is truly stable, mature, and sustainable.

  • Our Four Pillars of Quality

    We conduct audits and benchmark studies and consult dashboards to measure our processes.


    We improve processes using Lean Six Sigma tools and the DMAIC framework.


    Typically we have 60+ improvement projects going on, each led by a process owner.


    Our Quality team audits and certifies processes to push them to higher levels of excellence.

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