Why does your business need a quality management plan for TQM?  Total Quality Management needs a plan for the same reasons that everything – from D-Day to doing Saturday afternoon chores – needs a plan to realize success.

A Simple Example

What happens if you don’t plan out all things you need to do on a very busy Saturday?  You end up spinning your wheels; doing a lot but not getting a lot done.  Not planning the work means you are constantly retracing your steps instead of moving from one area to the next, you are making several trips for errands instead of one, and you waste time trying to remember what to do and trying to make decisions on the fly.  Things go much more smoothly if you take some time to consider what you need to do and plan the path for doing it.

If a hectic Saturday can go off-track without a plan, then consider what goes on with a quality management system that doesn’t have a clear plan.  A plan puts the structure in place that allows the TQM efforts to gain traction and produce real results.

A Quality Plan Sets TQM Priorities and Goals

Perhaps the most important aspect of a quality system plan is that it clearly sets in place, for the whole organization, a reference point for the quality management system by answering critical questions.  What is it is supposed to do?  What are we trying to achieve?

A well-communicated plan sets overarching goals as well as near-term objectives.  Once everyone understands the ultimate reason for what they are doing, people are on the same page and working toward shared TQM goals.

Clear goals and objectives then enable informed priority setting.  If it is clear to everyone what is important, then they know what they should be doing and what can be put off.  Often in organizations people don’t have a clear vision of what the goals are, so they end up doing things that aren’t really important for reaching priority objectives.

A Quality Plan clearly defines what the quality management system is supposed to achieve.  It puts everyone on the same page and working toward the same goal.  Success is impossible if you don’t even know its definition. Remember, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

A Quality Plan Clarifies TQM Activities

Once the Plan communicates why the QMS exists, the next question is how and what to do to meet the Plan goals.  In order to consistently meet TQM objectives, there has to be some standardization in how tasks are carried out.  Through policies and procedures the Plan defines processes, process owners, and the best practices for carrying out the process including capturing data for metrics.  The Plan also defines what Total Quality Management documents (procedures, work instructions, forms) and training are needed to ensure consistent results.

QMS Review and Improvement

Finally, the quality management plan creates a method for periodic review and improvement, including how to handle corrective action when something goes wrong to deal with problem as well as prevent repeat occurrences.  Correction and improvement are two critical elements of a working quality management system, often referred to as a corrective action plan.

A Plan also establishes a yardstick by which to measure performance against established goals.  In addition to identifying areas for improvement, the goals and objectives themselves are reviewed.  It is hard to find time to take stock of the situation and make needed adjustments if it is not put in place through planning.

This is the kind of structure and organization a quality management plan creates, and it produces results that almost never happen when thing are done in an ad hoc fashion.

Achieving clearly defined goals through consistent activities defined by the quality plan will provide tangible benefits and a return on your TQM efforts.  Now consider that the effectiveness of the quality management system impacts how well the whole organization meets customer expectations.

That’s the true benefit of a quality management plan.