In the classic television show The A-Team, the lead character, Col. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith would utter the words “I love it when a plan comes together,” after a mission was accomplished.
When it comes to quality management, your plan must come together to ensure the launch of a fully-functional and effective quality management system (that is, the system operates as intended, providing definitive value in quality). To get to this point, there are certain conditions that should be in place for ultimate QMS efficacy.
Condition 1: A Strong QMS Understanding
The first condition is having a full understanding of what a quality system is and what it is meant to do. This understanding is important for effective planning and implementation. The standard definition, according to the ASQ, is that a quality management system is “a formalized system that documents the structure, responsibilities, and procedures required to achieve effective quality management.”
A formal system enables effective methods to control, monitor, measure, and improve processes and activities designed to deliver quality products and services. A QMS serves as a tool that, when used correctly, helps organizations deliver on the value of goods and services that customers expect. Understanding that a QMS is a tool for driving quality and not just for show is the first step to ensuring effectiveness.
Condition 2: Committed Leadership
Company leaders must stand behind the QMS mission and show commitment to the cause. Commitment shows up in the prevalence of the necessary resources to develop, implement, manage and maintain a QMS system. It also shows up when leaders take the time and effort to communicate to all personnel why such a system fits with the quality mission and include them as part of the team in accomplishing quality goals and objectives established across all organizational levels. It is likely that a QMS will not survive or thrive without committed leadership.
Condition 3: Customer Focus
The QMS must be customer-centric. The system must be formed with the needs and expectations of customers in mind. Therefore, the QMS must be set up with the necessary processes and activities in place to identify all customer requirements and to make sure these specifications are continually met. Further, when changes to the process, procedures, and any operations impacting quality are made, customer focus must remain in place with careful change control.
Condition 4: Control of Processes
An effective quality management system includes a process approach to quality management. Organizations should have procedures in place to identify all activities required to create a quality product or service. These activities are the processes that must be managed and controlled in order to meet quality goals and objectives, with adequate resources.
Examples of process control include:
- Proper resources, materials, and equipment on hand when needed
- Means to inspect, test, monitor, and measure key quality and process parameters
- Clear procedures for designating and releasing product as customer ready
- Systems in place to preserve products while in storage and transit to the customer
- Operating procedures, work instructions, and records that support process control
Condition 5: Established Monitoring, Measurement, and Analysis Protocols
An important part of quality is monitoring and measuring performance indicators, and analyzing data to detect trends in processes or activities that affect quality. This is necessary in order to gauge how progress is being made towards meeting goals and objectives. Monitoring, measuring, and data analysis help personnel:
- Spot nonconformities with regard to product quality
- Identify process improvement opportunities
- Determine QMS effectiveness
Condition 6: Continual Improvement Efforts
A quality management system is built on the premise of continual improvement, with a goal to continually improve QMS efficacy using actions that resolve and prevent problems impacting quality. As issues and challenges surface, there must be a way to improve current practices to meet performance challenges.
Ways in which this condition can be met include the following:
- Keep the quality mission, goals, and objectives front and center
- Conduct observations, inspections, and audits to identify QMS problems
- Establish measures to resolve problems and nonconformities
- Analyze process and system data to detect and prevent potential problems
- Conduct management reviews to support and drive improvements
Condition 7: Employee Participation and Engagement
A quality management system affects employees at all levels. For full QMS efficacy, it is a good idea to engage personnel from the beginning. Employee engagement is necessary to gain buy-in and minimize inevitable resistance to change.
Start by communicating what the QMS is all about, implementation plans and the impact to the current state of quality roles and responsibilities. Organize and provide informational and training sessions tailored to the needs of employees. The flow of information should cover basic to comprehensive quality management system concepts, implementation, operational requirements, and expected quality goals.
Use a team approach to implementation by establishing cross-functional teams. This participatory engagement adds value because of the input from those using the system across all levels.
All-in-all, an effective enterprise-wide quality management system depends on conditions that involve leadership commitment, customer focus, process control, performance measures, continual improvement, and engaged personnel.
For additional help or information on how to reach ultimate QMS efficacy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with QAD CEBOS at firstname.lastname@example.org or (810) 534-2222.