Quality management provides a framework for an organisation to provide consistency in its product and service standards.
It traditionally has four main components;
- Quality Planning
- Quality Assurance
- Quality Control
- Quality Improvement
Quality management is a cyclical process of continual improvement, focused not only on end-product and service quality, but also on the means to achieve it.
Post WW2, Japan’s attention to quality in its production of goods for local and export trade gained worldwide attention. Their approach was referred to as the “total quality” approach. While most companies continued to use end of the production line inspection as the only form of quality control, Japanese manufacturers inspected their goods at every stage in the production process. This increased attention to detail not only increased the quality of their output, but lead to less waste. As a result of their approach to quality, Japan was able to produce high quality exports at lower prices, benefiting consumers throughout the world.
Quality Management Systems
In the late 20th century, independent organisations began producing standards to assist in the creation and implementation of quality management systems. A quality management system (QMS) is a formalised system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organisation’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and to improve its effectiveness and efficiency on a continual basis. In 1987, the ISO 9000 series of quality management standards was published, based on the British quality standards of the time and heavily influenced by the foundations of quality, which were derived from Military standards. Today, ISO 9001 is by far the most recognised and implemented quality management system standard in the world. The most recent version of the standard - ISO 9001:2015 - specifies the requirements for a QMS, which organisations can use to develop their own quality management programs. Establishing a quality management system helps organisations operate effectively, demonstrating to stakeholders the measures put in place to encourage continual striving for improvement.
When utilising ISO 9001 as the benchmark in global quality management, the user can look to obtain certification to act as confirmation to stakeholders that the system meets the recognised requirements of the standard. Further to this, organisations who implement a QMS often experience the following benefits:
- Saved time and money through increased efficiency
- Reduced waste due to greater consistency
- Potential increased market share
- Potential to obtain higher value clients by demonstrating compliance
- Being able to demonstrate excellence in service
- Engaged staff who are more motivated and derive value from their work