Quality management has been booming recently due to its competitive advantage to organizations. The rise in the demand for professionals who are experts in the quality management process is a natural consequence.
This article will discuss the quality management process, its key components, and its main principles. We will also delve into how a formative Six Sigma program can help you become competent in some of the essential aspects of quality and pave the way for you to become a proficient quality management personnel.
What is the Quality Management Process?
Quality management Process (QMP) is a method for confirming, maintaining, and validating the quality of the various products or services. The QMP consists of a set of procedures to ensure quality compliance and process efficiency with the help of streamlined operations.
A great example of the implementation of QMP is Coca-Cola. The QMP in Coca-Cola is incorporated at every level, from the suppliers to the distribution system. The organization uses the various components of QMP extensively throughout its operations.
For example, in their production lines, the QMP is applied to ensure the cleanliness of the lines before the start of production.
During production, regular quality provisions include the supply of a bill of materials at the beginning of each batch, intermittent product inspection, uniformity of the formula and the volume per bottle, and production speed.
The quality management plan at Coca-Cola is robust due to each product’s labeling and efficient backtracking. Automation of the process has enabled early detection and immediate remediation of errors, such as computerized detection and removal of incorrectly filled bottles.
Such a QMP requires a few key components to enable efficient adoption. Let’s take a look at what they are.
The Key Components of a Quality Management Process
QMP comprises four components.
- Quality planning
This component involves planning for the various aspects of quality monitoring, assessment, and enhancement. It includes determining the baseline quality for the processes and the measures required to maintain them.
Assessing the possible failure modes in different parts of the process is also a critical part of the planning. Typically, the key performance indicators (KPIs), standards and regulations to be followed, organization goals, stakeholder priorities and expectations are the guiding star for quality planning. It should also note the tasks and responsibilities of the team members for various quality measures.
- Quality control
Quality control (QC) refers to implementing the quality management plan with the help of incorporation, inspection, and testing of the control procedures. The processes are examined for any errors occurring due to or despite the standards, and steps are taken to correct them.
Quality control is a continuous process where the products and services must pass a minimum standard to become deliverable. The main goal is to detect the errors during the production and eliminate them. This is usually done by sampling the product and testing various critical parameters.
The data generated from the tests is further analyzed for any deviations, and the reports are made accessible to all for quick reference in case of a future issue.
- Quality assurance
Quality assurance (QA) encompasses a proactive approach to ensuring the quality before the product is shipped to the customer.
It involves additional inspection after the completion of the production just before packaging, taking into account previous customer complaints, ensuring the corrective actions have been incorporated, and paying attention to the correct packaging standards and labels.
Quality assurance is a critical component as it goes beyond the reactive approach of QC by anticipating potential errors and implementing measures to prevent them. Ensuring compliance with standards and regulations is a part of QA.
- Continuous improvement
While the first three steps constitute preparation, monitoring, and examination of the quality of the deliverable, this final component strives to improve upon the existing quality standards.
It typically involves a management-level review of the processes and product, including customer feedback and follow-up actions. The data is evaluated to determine the most critical areas that require further improvement in the processes, such as advanced error-detection equipment, modifications in the procedure, and additional inspection points.
Seven Quality Management Principles
ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management Systems—Fundamentals and Vocabulary) gives seven quality management principles. These principles create a solid foundation to build and sustain quality management processes. Here are the seven principles:
- Customer focus
A quality management plan should consider customer satisfaction as its ultimate goal. The measures taken in QMP must satisfy customer requirements, enhance customer value, and enable continued customer loyalty. Anticipation of current and future customer needs helps frame QMP so that any possible negative feedback can be avoided or dealt with immediately.
A QMP is successful only when applied in all branches and stages of various operations. However, it is the responsibility of the leaders at each level to cultivate a culture where quality is accorded prime importance such that it becomes engrained in the working style of each employee.
- Engagement from people
A sound QMP requires involvement from personnel from all levels of business. Hence, it entails enhanced empowerment and engagement of people by treating them with understanding and respect. Special attention provided to improve working conditions ensures employees are interested in collaboration and motivated to implement QMP successfully.
- Process approach
A process approach means dividing the workings of an organization into various interrelated processes rather than a top-down or incoherent department-wise approach. In this approach, every process uses input data and generates output data. As a result, the goal is clearly defined, which is the quality improvement of the process.
Quality isn’t a one-time exercise. It requires consistent efforts and iterations to sustain the quality, predict future conditions, and explore opportunities for continued improvement. The improvement is not always a drastic modification but may be conducted in increments to prepare for any possible issues.
- Evidence-based decision-making
Quantification helps to pinpoint the issues and areas of improvement accurately. Evidence in the form of data analysis works exceedingly well in achieving the required quality standards combined with a streamlined decision-making process.
- Relationship management
Inter- and intra-organizational relationships are crucial for the smooth functioning of the processes. As there is a coherent flow of data and information from one process to another, quality is ensured only if the organization effectively manages the relationships between various stakeholders, employees, suppliers, and customers.
Top Quality Management Methods
Several methods have been developed over the years to enable an efficient QMP to enable the resolution of specific issues. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the most popular ones:
Six Sigma is a statistical method that takes a project-based approach for effective quality assessment and improvement. It focuses on data collection and statistical analysis to determine the process’s deviations. The recommendations of this methodology are based on reducing the number of defects per million opportunities (DPMO), where 3.4 DPMO indicates the highest level of quality.
Five WhysFive Whys is a technique that is part of Six Sigma’s ‘Analyze’ step. It is not a data-intensive method. It relies on answering the question ‘Why’ objectively and rationally to obtain a logical solution to the problem.
Kaizen is a Japanese technique that focuses on continuously improving business processes in increments. The technique is applied across all the operations of the organization and involves personnel from all levels of the business.
Total Quality Management (TQM)
TQM is a customer-focused approach that utilizes data to achieve progressive quality improvement to enhance commercial operations continuously. The primary focus is on the internal processes of the organization.
Top-Down and Bottom-Up
These approaches are based on the organizational structure and the chain of command. The top-down approach depends on the higher-level review of the reports obtained from the employees regarding quality control, measures, and performance. In the bottom-up approach, the data produced during the production is shared on an initiative with the higher-level personnel for their detailed analysis and review.
Cost of Quality
Cost of Quality (COQ) relies on using the cost of returns, rejections, and failures to arrive at the financial impact of the quality. It combines this cost with the scrap generated and the defect inspection cost to establish the final economic impact to produce the part with the originally intended quality.
ISO stands for International Standards Organization. The standard ISO 9001: 2015 establishes the guidelines and principles to achieve an efficient QMP. This is a sought-after technique as it proffers a recognized certification.
When Should You Implement a Quality Management Process?
Apart from being a regulatory requirement, quality management has become crucial to proving the integrity of the products and processes and gaining a competitive advantage.
Hence, implementing a quality management plan can be a priority when you are:
- Starting a new process
- Launching a new product or service
- Planning for a new opportunity
- Working on a product in the design phase
- Releasing a product in the market
- Entering new markets in different parts of the world
- Collaborating with a new customer in the B2B scenario
- Encountering consistent and repeated complaints for a product
- Recruiting additional personnel for increased work
- Reviewing the task and responsibility distribution in your organization
When adopting a quality management process – Six Sigma, for instance – a business needs to have professionals trained to help them in the process. By enrolling in Six Sigma training, you can gain skills that your current or future employer will find valuable.
Upskill to Master Quality Management Processes
Quality management is a vast field with several different methods, tools, and techniques to achieve the required quality of products. Acquiring knowledge of QMP opens the doors to several industries and better pay. The Six Sigma methodology is a good start to this journey.
A well-designed Six Sigma bootcamp will equip you with Six Sigma and Lean management concepts, along with detailed insights into the most popular quality analysis tools—DMAIC, Jira, and Minitab. The course will help solidify your understanding of quality management plans and processes under the guidance of experts with years of experience under their belt.