5.4.3 How can I improve quality management in my company?

Besides the principles it is important to define the basic steps you should take to improve quality management in your enterprise.
You can start with those steps below that are most relevant to your company; however, it is worth it if you go through all of them:

The basic steps towards quality1

1) Find out the needs and expectations of your clients and other interested parties:
You can either conduct a formal survey or collect information informally during customer visits as well as on the basis of customers’ complaints or other customer feedback.

2) Provide a work environment and lay down the policies necessary to motivate your staff to meet these needs:
It is essential to involve staff in the improvement processes, and empower them, i.e. give them power and authority. Besides the motivating impact of empowerment it is also inevitable to make decisions at the most appropriate level in the organization. It is the task of the company leader to lay down the policies and objectives but the employees shall agree to these, moreover, consider them as if being their own goals. Otherwise they will make no effort to carry out their tasks in line with the policies.

3) Design, resource and manage a system of interconnected processes:

This is a key step in quality management. First, try to outline two or three key processes in your company from the starting point (the point when an input reaches the company) to the end point (when the output finally “leaves” the company). Think in processes instead of separate tasks, and use a flow chart for illustration. After outlining the existing processes you can easily realize the critical points, the lack of assignment of responsibility or the superfluous steps.

At this point, you should think about how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes. Involve employees who take part in a certain process and create a new flow chart together. After finishing with the core processes you can design or redesign more and more processes from the “archiving” to the “sending of newsletters”, for instance. You will realize that everyone in the company will become more sure about their role, tasks and responsibilities. All the processes will be quicker and more transparent with fewer mistakes and without parallel activities. Find examples of flow charts and other useful related links at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowchart.

4) Measure and analyse the adequacy, efficiency and effectiveness of each process:
This is always a critical point, as to be able to measure quality factors you need to develop measureable indicators with target values to be reached by a certain date. The determination of proper indicators is not an easy task, as in most cases the indicators do not measure the quality factor they should, and the measurement requires extra task both at the beginning of the process (to have a reference value) and both at the target date.

Define 4 quality objectives for your own organization, and then assign indicators to them. Assess the initial value of each indicator and a target value to be achieved by a certain date. Describe the method for measurement and the source of data as well (e.g. questionnaire, SAP HR module). You can assign more than one indicator to an objective. Use the table below, which contains an example.

Table 1: Quality indicators


5) Continually improve the system on the basis of objective evaluation of its performance:
In order to obtain objective data on the performance, you should measure the specified indicator values from time to time. Satisfaction surveys can also be conducted among customers and employees. You should include new process in the integrated process system and supervise the existing flow charts and process descriptions continuously.

1 PM Hut article at www.pmhut.com/quality-management-strategy