Quality is a broad term. It means different things for different people, businesses, and customers. This is why any quality management system (QMS) needs to focus on a broader overview of quality, and not just restrict it to a single department such as production or manufacturing.
The core idea behind this is that everyone in a business contributes to quality. Quality can be measured in various ways, and all departments add to it in some way. In order for that to be successful there needs to be standards of quality that everyone in the organisation needs to adhere.
Below we’ll delve into why quality management needs to be a multi-departmental focus and how it leads to greater business success.
Why the Quality Of a Business and its Products is Everyone’s Responsibility
Building a quality culture is important in any organisation. It makes sure that quality is a priority for everyone - not just something that should be achieved for regulatory approval. Making it a broader and more detailed topic for the entire organisation will have major advantages and here is why.
Everyone Plays a Role In Ensuring Quality
Everyone involved in a business plays an important role in ensuring quality. This applies to frontline workers in, for example, the production and manufacturing sectors all the way to the upper management.
Each department has some part in the quality of the product or service your organisation offers. And if a substandard unit or customer experience slips through, the whole company can suffer.
Let's use manufacturing as an example. Workers on the production line should be able to spot products that don’t meet quality standards as this can heavily reduce the risk of a costly recall. If the frontline workers do not follow quality standards, then products will be inconsistent, which will negatively affect the customer experience.
On another level, the company also needs to focus on quality by improving its offerings based on customer wants and needs. Research and Development (R&D) teams need to work at adding more features, functions, products or other value propositions that will benefit their customers.
Providing as much value as possible is the key to an optimal quality culture. Value needs to be a driving force behind all processes across all departments - making it everyone's responsibility.
Because of this, a major part of a Quality Management System (QMS) is understanding and documenting all of the business processes and procedures in one place for all to see. By understanding how each role and department creates and adds value to the product, organisations can put systems (e.g. different ISO standards) in place to ensure quality at every touchpoint.
Quality Is More Than Product Quality
When looking at the concept of quality, it stretches much further than just the quality of the product or service you offer. It is also about delivering a positive experience and providing reliable and consistent end-products. Moreover, it’s about continuous improvement. Organisations need to constantly work at removing deficiencies, adding useful features, and resolving root causes of defects.
Customers will start to develop ideas on the quality of a business before they get their hands on the product. This is amongst other reasons due to the brand value of the business. Therefore every customer touchpoint and every service adds to the overall quality experience.
This explains why the quality of a business can’t fall on a single department’s shoulders. Every role and department must work toward delivering a quality product and service to ensure a good customer experience and improve customer satisfaction. Otherwise it would be impossible to uphold quality in every area.
Quality Goes Through The Entire Supply Chain Process
Businesses generally have many different departments, each with their own purposes and functions. And as we elaborated on above, we already know that each of these areas contributes to quality.
In the same way, any product will have a supply chain with many different steps involved. And each one of those steps influences the next one.
For this reason, quality can’t only be attributed to the final step of the supply chain. Instead, quality management needs to be introduced through every step, from start to finish.
As such, your QMS needs to involve an entire integrated system to ensure that supply chains and their information are not siloed. Organisations also need to implement quality policies for each department and each area of the supply chain.
Cross-team collaboration can be beneficial here. People from different parts of the supply chain can come together to discuss inefficiencies, non-conformities, and find solutions. This can help streamline processes and improve quality as it enables teams to tackle problems from different perspectives.
Creating a Quality Culture
The idea of quality can mean different things to different people. Whatever department or business function, there should be a clear quality culture that runs through any business. This helps to ensure that every person in the organisation meets quality standards and works to exceed them.
Creating an environment where all team members genuinely care about quality is what building a quality culture is all about.
When people work together toward a common goal in quality practises, it improves collaboration and fosters a more innovative and open work environment. As a result, teams can continuously work towards delivering greater value to customers.
When developing a quality culture, businesses should create clearly defined goals, introduce cross-functional team collaboration, educate staff on quality standards, and emphasise a customer-centric approach.
At the end of the day, the customer satisfaction determines a large part of the quality of a business’s products. If the customer is unhappy, then their concerns need to be addressed by resolving any problems with quality at any level of the organisation.
Establishing a true quality management system and culture is no easy feat. If a business wants to ensure the highest level of quality in its products, services and overall offerings, then it needs to understand that everyone contributes to this quality. It is not something that a single department can do.
Successful implementation of a complete quality management system is a long-term strategy. It requires a lot of planning, changes in many business processes, and a large cultural shift. However, as soon as the entire business starts to understand and work towards quality, businesses will see greater success.
If your organisation is looking for a tool to involve all employees as "mini quality managers", have a look at incy.io. It enables your staff to participate in creating clarity on non-conformities, prevent and decrease the amount of friction in cross-team communications and gather actionable data while doing these.
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