By David Gray
In a climate of increasingly demanding customer expectations, how does an engineering business provide outstanding quality without hurting profit and growth?
With expectations high, businesses must focus not just on what they do but how they achieve their outcomes.
Delivering an impressive customer result is often linked to the quality of a company’s internal operations. While most businesses understand this synergy, many fall short of having a strong quality management system (QMS) in place.
It’s surprising that most organisations continue to operate without implementing an effective quality management system, especially when failing to do so can be detrimental to both reputation and profit.
The consequences may include ongoing operational delays, budget overruns, and a waste of precious resources. As a result, both a business’s reputation and profit may be at serious risk.
Additionally, some employees responsible for quality management morph into the role without any official training or education. In some companies quality management can land on the lap of an employee who hasn’t undergone any training whatsoever.
While this may have been a natural step within the business structure, it may be detrimental to overall performance.
An efficient quality management system, managed by a qualified staff member, improves performance and internal efficiency, identifies inconsistencies and problems and recognises ways to resolve. As a result, staff morale and productivity is increased and consumers are given confidence in the business.
Quality managers looking to improve need to evaluate their skillsets in accordance with recognised standards such as ISO 9001, the international benchmark for any employee looking to implement a Quality Management System.
SAI Global’s Auditing Quality Management System training course provides a portable qualification that provides the necessary knowledge and skills in accordance with the standard. Remotely accessible, the 8-10 hour course is cost effective, flexible and attractive to time-poor businesses.
Based on the official ISO 9001 standard, here are my 6 foolproof steps to instill quality processes in your business:
1. Document your business model
As a first step, ensure there is a person responsible for quality management. This person is to ensure the company has a policy in place that defines its ‘quality promise’, underpinned with stated objectives and targets for employees. Be sure to include instructional documents as well as a defined ‘roadmap’ to guide employees through to fulfilling that promise. This information is to be accurate, accessible to those that need it, and detailed to a sufficient level.
2. Build relationships
Have a clear understanding of your point of difference in the marketplace – this means you must know your competitors. Know your customers, too, and what they value most about your products and services. Communicate this information to your employees, ensuring they understand what is needed to ensure happy and satisfied customers.
3. Enable and empower your people
Engage employees by delegating responsibility and authority to deliver the promise of quality made by the organisation to its customers. Remember if you spell out these aspects of operation, employees understand what is expected of them. Without these fundamental guidelines, employees will not understand the rules and they will develop their own which may not align with the expectations of the organisation or the customer. You must also ensure that employees have the knowledge and skills to perform their work with confidence.
4. Deliver on your promises
Make sure all operational aspects of the organisation are working cohesively to deliver the promise of quality, ensuring not to forget those aspects that are outsourced to external third-party providers. Do they understand what your promise of quality is, and their role in keeping this promise?
5. Evaluate and seek improvement
Objectives and targets are of little value, unless they are used as the baseline to gauge success. Monitor and measure performance results to determine whether the promise of quality was achieved. And if not, determine why not. Using these results, seek to understand what needs to change in your business roadmap and operations.
6. Apply the wisdom
Up to now you’ve assessed the possible roadblocks to quality. Now you must remove them through controlled changes in your operations. If you have a sufficient quality plan in place you will be able to assess which process is most appropriate to the issue and apply the solution in a timely manner to achieve results.
David Gray is a trainer and quality expert at leading business improvement organisation SAI Global. For further information on quality management visit www.saiglobal.com/assurance