We all do it: Wanting to be the best version of ourselves each time and every time.
Businesses are no different. Each business or project aspires to be the best in the industry and maintain its quality across geographies, time frames, and product classes.
And that’s where quality management comes in.
Quality management ensures that the services, products, or experiences a business offers always meet certain quality standards.
The aim of quality management is not perfection but rather consistency in standards.
Quality management has several advantages, including minimizing waste, simplifying jobs for employees, improving client satisfaction, improving efficiency, and achieving a faster turnaround time.
If the concept of quality management sounds overwhelming and confusing to you, you are not alone!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about quality management.
By the end of this blog, you will have a fair understanding of what quality management is, what the different types of quality management are, and how it helps businesses achieve value.
Here Are the Four Components of Quality Management:
Quality management is divided into four main components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control, and quality improvement.
It can seem quite daunting to grasp the entire concept of quality management.
We have explained in detail every component of quality management and how they piece together to create value for businesses.
The following are four components of quality management:
1. Quality Planning
As the name suggests, quality planning involves identifying your quality requirements. This, in turn, influences your quality standards and quality goals.
Sounds too much to stomach?
Let us break it down for you.
Everything begins with setting baseline requirements for the quality you aim to achieve. So, how do you arrive at these baseline requirements?
Here are some questions whose answers can lead you to your quality requirements:
- What are the expectations of your stakeholders on quality?
- What is the definition of success or quality according to your company? What definition of quality aligns with the goals and objectives of your business?
- Are there any definitions of quality management laid out by government agencies for your industry?
- Who is in charge, or which aspects or processes in quality management? What are the roles and responsibilities of the people involved?
- What are the criteria for success in quality? What are the tolerances or scope for error your business is ready to accept?
- How often are you willing to revisit and revamp quality standards for your business?
All of this can be overwhelming for any one individual in a business or a project!
But here is some respite – quality planning is always a team process.
The stakeholders decide quality management requirements in a business or a project which include manufacturers, consultants, clients, service providers, business owners, or sometimes even government agencies, as the case may be.
Now that we know who decides quality requirements let’s understand the driving forces of quality management.
Here are the 7 principles of quality management that govern every business and are crucial to the quality planning stage:
1. Customer Focus – customers are at the core of your quality decisions, and the aim is always to achieve customer satisfaction.
2. Leadership – Strong, motivational leadership is critical to achieving processes that help meet quality standards.
3. Engagement – Management engages, motivates, and empowers employees to help achieve quality standards each time and every time.
4. Process Approach – Defining the right processes is crucial to saving time, money, and resources and improving quality on all fronts.
5. Continuous Improvement – There are always possibilities for improvement, and the pursuit of better quality must be an ongoing exercise.
6. Evidence-Based Decisions – Good data is at the core of decision-making regarding quality management. It helps align current outcomes with desired outcomes.
7. Relationship Management – Managing relationships with suppliers and partners is important to quality management. It results in strengthened collaboration and continued success.
Now that we have understood the expanse of quality planning let us move on to the next component of quality management.
2. Quality Control
Next up, we have the quality control component.
Quality control involves physically testing all your quality requirements to identify their feasibility. Now, it is time to implement all those quality requirements you jotted down in the first component of quality management.
Quality control puts into action all the aspired standards listed in quality planning.
Quality control is an extremely important aspect of quality management, ensuring defective products or services do not reach the end consumer. Any errors, mishaps, or deviations must be identified and corrected in the quality control stage.
Across the production line or services process, raw materials, samples, semi-finished products, and finished products are tested.
This is done using any of the below approaches:
- Taguchi Method: This approach to quality control emphasizes the importance of R&D, product design, and product development over the actual production process. It believes that by getting the R&D and design on point, the majority of defects and errors in production can be eliminated.
- X-Bar Chart: This approach involves testing random products for the required attributes wherein the Y-axis tracks the degree to which the variance in the attribute is acceptable. This approach is useful in identifying if defects are occurring randomly or systematically.
- 100% Inspection Method: This approach involves looking at every single product part and finished product to rule out any defects or deviations. While this method is tedious and expensive, it is suited to certain niche industries such as diamonds & jewelry manufacturing and metallurgy.
Alternatively, in a non-manufacturing set-up, quality control is ascertained through audits, inspections, customer surveys, verbal feedback, and questionnaires.
Needless to say, the process of quality control throws up a tremendous amount of data.
So what do we do with this data?
Let me explain.
Different types of analytical or statistical tools are applied to the data collected to draw inferences on whether or not the quality standards are being met.
Some of these statistical tools include Pareto & scatter analyses, data stratification, defect maps, randomization, histograms, and other graphs & charts.
Suffice it to say, a quality control specialist must have a fair understanding of data collection, data analysis as well as different statistical and mathematical tools.
The good news?
Quality management and quality control are well-paying jobs.
The median annual wage for quality control inspectors was $38,580 in 2021, with the highest 10% earning $62,970. [Source: Link]
3. Quality Assurance
After quality control comes quality assurance.
Often used interchangeably, quality assurance is starkly different from quality control.
Quality assurance is planned activities that are executed periodically to support products or services to meet their desired quality standards.
The most interesting aspects of quality assurance:
It runs parallel through the lifespan of the project.
That’s right, this component of quality management is a recurring exercise aimed at ascertaining if the production or the project is on track to deliver on the pre-decided quality standards.
So, we move to the next logical question:
How are quality assurance tests conducted?
- Scrutinizing production processes to ensure they are running per the quality planning guidelines
- Identify any deviances and the reasons for the same
- Identify corresponding areas of improvement that can correct the deviances
What if quality assurance results show that the quality isn’t on par with expectations?
In that case, corrective actions are taken to scale up the quality to the prescribed goals or standards.
Quality assurance must be done periodically to check the quality and take necessary corrective measures continuously.
While an internal team can conduct this exercise, engaging independent third-party auditors is also a common way of quality assurance.
4. Quality Improvement
Let’s face it:
No amount of effort in quality planning or quality control will help a business if they aren’t open to change and improvement.
That’s where quality improvement comes in.
After every cycle of quality planning, quality control, and quality assurance begins a fresh cycle of quality improvement.
Quality improvement relies heavily on all the data collected in the previous three stages. Managers reevaluate processes and begin a fresh quality management cycle using this data.
Additionally, compliance is an added aspect of quality improvement. Any changes in laws or compliance governing the product or service of a business must be factored in before beginning another cycle of quality management.
And what does this result in?
Better products, better services, improved efficiency & profitability, and happy customers.
Quality managers often subscribe to ISO 9000, Six Sigma, or Total Quality Management as a continual systematic approach to improving quality.
A Total Understanding of Quality Management
So, there you have it.
We have discussed the meaning of quality management, its components, and its various approaches and tools.
Clearly, quality management is at the crux of client satisfaction, operational efficiency, cost efficiency, and delivering high-quality products or services each time and every time.
We hope you have a complete understanding of the subject and its relevance in the manufacturing and services industry.
Please share your thoughts on quality management by leaving us a comment below and tell us what you think about this all-so-important business function.