A company’s reputation and success depend on reliably delivering products or services at a consistent level of quality. This increases customer trust and loyalty and helps the company compete for market share.
We often hear the terms “quality management,” “quality assurance,” and “quality control” used interchangeably, although they are distinct. Quality management or Total Quality Management (TQM) refers to the process of overseeing all tasks and activities required for achieving and maintaining the desired level of quality. Quality control refers to the actual implementation of quality requirements, while quality assurance verifies whether quality control methods perform as planned.
Most businesses, whether they’re selling products or services, have some sort of quality management system in place, and some even dedicate an entire department to this process.
Key Components and Process
Quality management has four key components:
- Quality Planning – Identifying quality standards and deciding how to meet them
- Quality Improvement – Changing a process with the intent of improving the outcome
- Quality Control – Implementing changes while striving to preserve the reliability of the outcome
- Quality Assurance – Making sure the methods used to implement changes can consistently deliver the expected result.
The process starts once the company decides on quality targets either by consulting their clients or by doing market analysis in case they’re selling to consumers.
In the next step, the company’s management team agrees on how the quality targets will be measured and what actions are required to make these measurements. For example, they will use tools like quality management software and appoint employees or consultants to oversee the process.
Based on these measurements, they identify any issues preventing them from reaching the quality targets and make improvements to the methods.
Finally, they report on what level of quality the process managed to achieve.
Principles of Quality Management
The quality management process is based on several principles upheld by the International Standard for Quality Management. These principles serve to guide the management team towards better performance.
Evidence-Based Decision Making
It’s recommended that businesses base their decision on verified and analyzed data gathered through market research and quality management software. This information is essential to understanding the cause-and-effect relationship of different factors and will help them implement changes that yield the desired outcomes.
The main focus of any company should be to meet or exceed customer expectations. When a company can use market research data to understand current and future customer needs, it can increase its revenue through customer loyalty. It will also be able to identify new market opportunities and branch out.
Good leadership inspires purpose and unity between employees and shareholders. The company culture should provide employees with the kind of environment that enables them to reach their full potential and become motivated to achieve the organization’s goals. This requires the management team to involve employees in the decision-making process and to recognize their contribution and achievements. When people feel valued and empowered, they’ll be motivated to do their best work.
Supply Chain Management
Quality management also involves maintaining mutually beneficial relations with all parties that can impact the company’s performance, such as suppliers and retailers. The management team should ensure the optimal performance of their supply chain in order to build lasting collaboration and growth in the market.