Quality management is a process that ensures products and services meet certain standards of quality before they are released to customers. It involves setting quality standards, testing products and services to ensure they meet those standards, and implementing processes to correct any deficiencies. Quality management can help organizations improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.
There are several key principles of quality management that can help organizations achieve these goals. The first is customer focus. This involves understanding the needs and expectations of customers and ensuring that products and services are designed and delivered to meet those needs. The second principle is leadership. Effective leadership is essential for establishing a culture of quality within an organization and for driving continuous improvement.
The third principle is engagement of people. All employees should be involved in the quality management process, and their expertise and knowledge should be leveraged to identify and solve problems. The fourth principle is process approach. This involves treating each product or service as a process, with inputs, outputs, and controls, and identifying and managing the interrelated processes that make up the organization.
The fifth principle is improvement. Quality management should be seen as a continuous process of improvement, with regular assessments of processes and products to identify areas for improvement and the implementation of strategies to address those areas. The final principle is evidence-based decision making. This involves using data and other forms of evidence to make decisions about quality and to measure the effectiveness of quality management strategies.
Implementing a quality management system can help organizations improve their products and services, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction. By following the principles of quality management and continuously seeking to improve, organizations can ensure that they are providing the highest level of quality to their customers.
Quality management is typically based on a set of principles adopted by a firm that define how an organization will prioritize and achieve quality. For example, the well known 14 quality principles used by Toyota to drive every process at the company.
Management by Walking Around
Firms that achieve high levels of quality use techniques such as management by walking around whereby executives are expected to be fully engaged with both customers and operations such that they understand any gaps in quality. Where this doesn’t occur, the quality management team is tasked with aggressively advocating for quality at the executive level.
Management accounting is the practice of measuring anything that management needs to know. Quality management is largely a practice of measuring, improving and measuring again. This can include measurements that improve operational processes in real time. For example, measuring quality variances at every step of the production process to identify quality problems at the workstation level.
Root Cause Analysis
Determining the root cause of quality problems and addressing the cause as opposed to the symptoms.
Capturing and communicating knowledge so that the same quality mistakes aren’t repeated. Knowledge waste and knowledge loss are common root causes of quality problems.
Giving teams the knowledge they need to produce quality in their role. For example, training front desk staff at a hotel in hopes of improving service quality.
Designing processes and roles to give employees the authority they need to address quality issues on the spot. The classic example is a worker on an assembly line who has authority to stop an entire production line for a quality problem.
Quality control is the process of testing products and services. This is a tiny part of the quality management process that is too often mistaken as the only step required to achieve quality.
Quality assurance is the process of ensuring end-to-end quality including elements such as process design, product design and procurement. Quality management is often separated into two practices: quality assurance and quality control.
Quality Management = Quality Assurance + Quality Control
Incident management is the reactive process of managing quality incidents such as a service that goes down.
Problem management is the corrective process of addressing the root causes of incidents.
Engaging customers to understand quality perceptions. This avoids a process of naive quality management whereby quality is viewed as a specification as opposed to a market reality.
Quality management feeds into product design to improve quality at the design level.
Quality management often takes a design thinking approach whereby all quality problems are designed-out of processes. For example, mistake-proofing a step in a production process.
Sponsoring changes to technology that design-out quality problems. For example, user interfaces that remove latent human error.
Advocating for quality with company wide communication. For example, speaking at weekly all-hands meetings to raise awareness of quality issues and recognize individuals who have improved quality.
Developing norms, expectations, symbols and language that are conductive to quality. For example, the norm that all employees only speak positively about customers in internal conversations in a firm that depends on customer service quality.
Managing suppliers to obtain quality inputs. For example, a supplier scorecard whereby suppliers are held accountable for quality failures.
Quality often requires consistent processes, practices, products and services such that standards compliance is an important element of quality management.