The concept of quality management is one that is often seen as a technical, ‘jargonish’ thing that is limited only to the corporate environment. Some may have a basic idea that it also has an impact as far as the products that they use are concerned. Others may vaguely see it as something that apply to broader business goals. But in reality, quality is not just about the product. It’s not just about large corporates who need to meet their targets and keep ahead of competitors, either. It is about the product AND how it is produced. It is also about continuous improvement, which affects every customer at some stage or another, from the things they buy to the way in which they are treated by employees, the way that the business manages documents and even the way that employees are assessed. In fact, it has a huge deal to do with the entire culture of the business. Quality management can also teach us many important life lessons as well, showing just how vital this concept really is to the world around us.
What We Can Learn From Quality Management
Some of the things that we can learn from quality management include the following lessons…
Lesson #1: It’s about the journey, not the destination
While there is certainly a big goal in place, to produce products of the highest quality, good quality strategies are able to look beyond that to see the bigger picture as well as the end game. Achieving those goals comes down to focusing on processes as well as the overall result. This forms a vital aspect of the ISO 9001 standard for quality. In order to be compliant and meet international standards, companies need to prove that they have the procedures and processes in place that allow improvements to happen continually. A full quality system will allow just that, especially if it incorporates various aspects such as document management, audits, customer complaints, CAPA and competency assessments.
Lesson #2: There’s no “I” in team
Clichéd corporate terms aside, this is an important lesson for those wanting to see results from their quality measures. There are many responsibilities within the greater concept of quality improvement, and many different areas are affected by quality campaigns too. Needless to say, this alone makes it a team investment. In order for each tactic, plan, process and procedure to be implemented, you need everyone to be on the same page. Automated tools that allow collaboration, permissions and scheduling make sure that teams can work together simply – something that is highly important when quality and improvement are concerned.
Lesson #3: Work smarter, not harder
Believe it or not, meeting quality goals is often about doing things in a smarter, simpler way than hustling away to reinvent the wheel. Once you start to focus on improvement, it becomes a lot easier to realistically determine how well processes are working in every aspect of the business. This includes operations, finances, marketing, admin, management… even the sales team and workers on the assembly line. One of the primary reasons that many companies are looking at automated quality software is that that option makes everything far simpler than a manual system. Integrated tools that allow you to manage documents, audits and CAPA all from one central dashboard are certainly going to help you work smarter, while also saving you a lot of time and effort.
Lesson #4: You’re only as tough as your weakest link
You may have a killer team, a product that is set for fame and glory and an incredible approach to customer service. That won’t matter much if you have a weak supply chain. Processes that manage the supply chain however can go a long way in ensuring that your quality goals don’t suffer as a result of sub-standard suppliers. Of course, if you have great suppliers but you consistently have struggles with your team of employees, competency assessment and similar tools ensure that you deal with those gaps quickly and simply too. Once you have identified and resolved your weakest links, you will be well on your way to success.
Lesson #5: Follow-through is everything
This is true in just about everything. As far as the quality process goes, following-through is downright vital. Corrective Action (CAPA) tools are your new best friend for ensuring that follow-ups are done properly. Whether you have picked up a gap in competency with junior employees, you have noticed a problem in your processes or there is an issue in production that affects product standards, making sure that everything is tracked, resolved and closed is important. That way, you won’t have to worry about anything getting missed along the way. This is therefore a good tool to include in your quality system. As you can see, quality is not just about jargon. With a good quality management system in place, you will be able to fast-track your business improvement goals, while adding value to every single part of your business too.