While many tools have come along to simplify improvement strategies, not all quality management systems provide the results they should. Ultimately, even when certain processes and tasks are automated, a great deal of any strategy is prone to human error. After all, it is human beings that implement, run, track and report through each phase of an improvement strategy. There are many reasons that even the most textbook perfect quality system goes awry. Today however, we will discuss some of the more common mistakes that could affect the overall results of your quality management strategies.
Typical Quality Management Mistakes (and how to avoid them)
Some typical mistakes when it comes to QMS strategies are as follows:
- Focusing objectives only on “traditional” improvement areas. Rather than seeing quality as relating only to certain areas, it relates to everything and anything relating to your organisation. By focusing only on your obvious goals within performance for instance, you are missing out on other areas that also tie in to quality – such as safety, products, speed, innovation and even training
- Not being clear on non-conformance. Not everyone can spot a non-conformance – in products or in employee behaviour. In fact, in some cases, products can even remain on the shelf despite having major quality issues – simply because floor staff are not able to identify the issues. Make it easier to avoid assumptions, be pro-active and ensure that each employee has a clear understanding of what comprises a typical non-conformance.
- Not using CAPA processes properly. Having an integrated QMS that involves CAPA processes is essential, but this is often over-looked. Corrective actions especially play a vital role in the investigation of product issues as well as competency, delivery and various other possible issues. Preventive actions are equally important for risk assessment, process improvement and pro-active strategies.
- Having training gaps in your workforce. Training plays a huge role in improvement strategies, but in too many cases, time and resources are allocated to specific departments or job roles rather than on a company-wide level. Often it is the entry level, sales teams and production staff who are seen as those presenting skills gaps, while management positions and higher levels are overlooked. Training should be a vital part of improvement, regardless of position, department or role.
- Not taking document control seriously. Despite all the benefits offered through document management, many companies are still using this system only for documents deemed ‘official’. What this means is that contracts and client papers are being managed to best of practice strategies, but all the other documents such as tasks, procedures and employee memos are not really treated as seriously. Not surprisingly, this can cause a number of issues in the long run. As a system, it should be an ‘all or nothing’ route – documents should all be given the same protocol, or you should be prepared to suffer the consequences of unorganised documents.
Whatever the size or nature of your company, one thing should be clear by now… an effective quality management system is one that is carefully set up, properly managed and free of these common mistakes that hinder your results.