Quality Management Planning – Introduction
Quality management as the name suggests, is the overall monitoring of the product, services or the internal processes of any organization for its overall betterment. It ensures that there is consistency in the product or service delivered so that every single time the customer experience is of premier quality. Quality management planning is not only limited to the product or service but also to the processes and goals of the organization. Maintaining uniformity in the organization’s objectives, product or services is the core function of quality management planning.
The objective of achieving superior quality management planning is to attained through classifying it into further four categories which include quality planning, assurance control, and improvement.
- Quality planning is the foremost step in attaining quality management process. It helps in identifying the areas that need improvement and the way and means to achieve the desired goals. It also encompasses the quality assurance and controls part of total quality management. Basically, quality management planning is the first step and gives a roadmap for the further processes.
- Quality Assurance is the combination of processes, techniques that help in identifying the means of achieving the desired level of quality for a particular product or service. It helps in identifying the lags in the already established processes so that the objective of attaining unswerving quality can be achieved.
- Quality control as the name suggests is the compilation of all those quality management processes that help in attaining a level of control in the desired level of set quality standards and points out any deviation from the same. It primarily reviews the quality of the product or service to check whether it is of the set standards.
- Quality improvement is a continuous never-ending quality management process that keeps upgrading from time to time. With the advent of technology newer and more apt methods of measuring quality standards get introduced in the system, it is a holistic process that not only involves applying newer systems from time to time but also reinventing the older systems and keeps finding better methods. Organizations cannot afford to stay stagnant in the way they function, they have to keep re-establishing the older processes with new improved versions.
Best Practices Guide to Quality Management planning
To ensure that quality management planning is a fruitful process, there are certain best practices which if followed diligently it becomes a smooth sailing for any organization and is not taken as a task other than the routine functions of the organization.
- Quality management planning is an integral part of the organization’s objectives.
- Processes monitoring, not people is the key to effective quality control
- The systematic approach to quality management planning
- Problem analysis and not mere identification
- Quality improvement is a never-ending quality management process
Quality management planning is an integral part of the organization’s objectives
Quality management planning should not be taken as a function different than the organization’s routine processes, it is a continuous process that has to be followed in the day to day practice of the organization rather than taking it up separately and then finding loopholes in the internal process. Many a times employees feel it be a hindrance to their work though it is an integral part of the overall process of delivering superior product quality.
It is a small step by step process that ensures no big gaps are found later on that have to be rectified. It is the approach of continuously asking how processes can be improved for better results rather than who can get better results. It shifts the focus on quality management process for answering difficult questions, rather than on people. It is essential to understand that quality can be measured in quantitative terms and must be managed at all cost.
It is not difficult to manage quality, it is difficult to remain stuck up with customer complaints and not knowing how to solve them. For better quality management program it is essential to document each and every quality management process so that quality can be measured in definitive terms and the specific standards set are centrally acknowledged and available to one and all in the system, this way there is no ambiguity in the various functions of quality management program and in the objective the company tries to attain through quality management planning.
Processes monitoring, not people is the key to effective quality control
Organizations have understood that processes need continuous improvement, not people. Any process in itself is not all-inclusive and cannot be perfect. Instead of impugning people for non-performance companies now have shifted focus to getting to know their own processes in detail and trying to find out the loopholes in them, analyze them in detail and fix the problems.
Companies now understand that smooth and easy processes not only enhance the speed and quality of functioning of the organization but also of the trust and loyalty of the customer resulting in additional customer-centric approach. They have understood that this way it becomes collective responsibility of each and every employee and instead of concentrating upon doing only my job or knowing only my job the employees think about getting the work done and knowing the process in detail.
An effective quality management planning system can be implemented when all the people involved are a part of the solution process rather than the problem. Each and every participant be it, employees, customers or suppliers should be a part of the quality management process and the standards set by the company for attaining the desired level of quality should be in consonance with all of the stakeholders. Involvement from each and every sector of the team will not only help in having a holistic approachable goal but also in getting it implemented.
Systematic approach to quality management planning
A systematic approach should be followed for the quality management program, assuring of the best quality to the client cannot be achieved through qualitative data. The processes and systems need to be clearly analyzed so as to ensure that consistent quality is maintained in every aspect of product or service. This way the whole processes are treated like a complete system and they have not seen poles apart from one another.
Each and every quality management process in interrelated, identifying the aspects of each and every process is essential for the betterment of any organization, only then an all-inclusive approach towards quality management program can be fruitful. Instead of blaming the people the company should focus on rectifying the problem and then train and motivate the people accordingly to use the quality management processor systems in a way that the productivity is increased and of respectable quality.
The companies should be proactive in their approach towards finding out any issues at the beginning rather than finding ways to fix them later on. They should be ready to keep a track of all the developments from time and time and keep documenting everything, create reports, review and analyze them incessantly to enable better quality maintenance. Such method ensures that the companies would not wake up one fine day to some major problem but would keep resolving minor issues from time to time so that they do not snowball into a major issue later on.
Quality management planning was always a part of the organization’s framework, in earlier times it used to be done in the form of inspection of the various aspects of production process. In today’s times with the advent of technology, it has transformed into various well-defined theories, tools, and practices that lead to proper and holistic quality management planning. To substantiate the above, let’s take the example of Six Sigma which was developed only for finding out the variations in the manufacturing processes in the electronics industry primarily for Motorola Inc., whereas today Six Sigma is the holy grail of quality management planning and is used in numerous industries and in several departments.
Problem analysis and not mere identification
Another important aspect of quality management planning is problem analysis. Quality control can be exercised only when there is a clear-cut method of in-depth analysis of the processes involved. Quality control can be exercised when processes are analyzed in detail for probable dissipation and appropriate methods are utilized for the control function of quality management planning.
Quality control is an ongoing quality management process and cannot be delegated to a particular function or a particular dimension of any production process, it implies in inspecting and rectifying at every stage of production so that the desired level of quality is maintained. Reviewing the already prevalent system regularly goes a long way in solving minor issues at the early stages only.
Proper analysis and review are essential in understanding the reason behind a particular lag, quality control or QC as it is normally referred to is the quality management process wherein each and every product is carefully examined and analyzed so as to catch any defect in the first place so that proper and timely decisions can be taken. Any decision is effective only when it is taken judiciously and is based on actual facts and figures, hence it becomes imperative for the organizations to gather data and information from time to time to analyze it carefully and come to necessary conclusions.
Once quality standards are set it should be communicated to all the teams so that they know what is expected from them, moreover, the quality standards should be archived as the reference point for other situations that might crop up in future so that all the teams are on the same page and there is no ambiguity in the systems.
Quality improvement is a never-ending quality management process
Quality improvement isn’t static; it is like a never-ending river which keeps flowing. Once data has been analyzed and quality standards set, it is the role of the quality management planning to ensure that the agreed upon objectives are met. This can be done by communicating the set standards to all the stakeholders moreover the quality standards are set in accordance with the feedback from all the stakeholders and each and every one of them is equally involved.
In this way, there is no ambiguity in the system and each employee or production line knows what is expected from them so that quality management program becomes an ongoing process and is achieved each day throughout the various processes involved. Continuous quality improvement is termed as Kaizen a Japanese term, which was introduced by Masaaki Imai in his book titled Kaizen. Kaizen basically refers to the ongoing process of constantly identifying ways of attaining quality control at each and every level of the organization from top to the bottom of the hierarchy.
It is applied to all the processes of the organization at each stage from logistics, assembly line, purchasing and even to all the stakeholders i.e. its employees and suppliers. It basically aims at attaining lean manufacturing i.e. elimination of all the waste processes from the system so that production is hassle free and at the least achievable cost with maximum benefits and with maximum quality standards met.
It also involves at attaining the quality standards set basis the fact that cost and time, as well as the scope of the service involved, is not affected adversely and quality management planning becomes a universal approach wherein costs and other benefits are taken into consideration.
Quality management planning or Total Quality Management commonly referred to as TQM is a vast domain which ensures quality standards are not only set, assured, control but also attained and continuously revised upon from time to time. It should not be seen as a function separate from the organization but is an integral part of the organization’s overall strategy and approach. In this age of shrinking margins, companies can’t avoid investing in quality management program rather, it has become an essential part of their corporate strategy.
It involves all the stakeholders involved in the quality management process since it is not a system different from the system but very much a part of it. After all, it’s the employees who have to attain the set standards and have to work towards the attainment of the set standards which would contribute to the overall development of the company as a whole.