Ensuring your quality management system doesn’t become unmanageable
As a company develops, the implementation of quality management becomes a necessity as this business solution comes with many benefits such as reducing costs, eliminating defects, increasing customer satisfaction, and improving operations in multiple parts of a business; from accounting, to sales and marketing.
However, senior management and staff of an organisation can pinpoint one major issue of organisations – time that they could be spending cultivating and delivering quality services is being spent on managing their quality system. In fact, this is one of the short-term disadvantages of a QMS – it requires a significant training period for employees involved in it and this takes them away from regular work, generating an adverse reaction. However, although this may be a minimal disadvantage in the short-term, the long-term advantages firmly override these.
Having an organisation with an effective Quality Management System (QMS) should ultimately free resources and allow you to spend time delivering your services, as opposed to consuming all your time. The challenge here is to find the perfect balance between implementing QMS just on paper, and between doing it too rigorously and affecting your company activity by overloading employees with quality management-related work.
When does QMS slow your company down instead of taking it to the next level?
Let’s have a look at a few reasons why your quality system is not as effective and providing the results you require:
- Senior management is lacking certain qualities, such as commitment and perseverance. QMS doesn’t put quality where there is none – instead it helps your company optimise the use of its resources and allow employees to reach their potential
- Staff and members of organisation don’t completely understand the way the system works. This is also a common cause of inadequate QMS; the benefits of a quality management system are not clearly communicated to staff in a way that is clear, accessible, and easy to understand
- Information/data that the system is collecting is not being proactively used. When used effectively, this can benefit the organisation greatly
- The structure of QMS is not appropriately adapted to either the size of the organisation, and/or does not have the ability to adapt to the growth and needs of the organisation. A customised QMS must be adaptable to both.
Designing an effective quality system:
You plan and organise every aspect of your business; producing your Quality Management System should be no different.
Your QMS should be created and planned to meet both your organisations service needs and requirements, and should be specific to your organisation. There are a few elements that should impact both the design and implementation of your QMS:
- Type of services/products provided by your organisation
- Size/structure of organisation
- System needs
- Ever-changing system needs (QMS should be adaptable to change with your organisation).
So what should you be careful about when designing a QMS for your organisation?
- Functionality and effectiveness
It is important to define and monitor certain functions, ensuring they are working efficiently and effectively. Here we refer to things such as admin, management, and other operational functions.
There are different ways you can determine the effectiveness of organisation functions, the most common methods being KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and internal audits.
KPIs are used to measure organisation performance against key business objectives. They need to be customised for your company’s specific needs and operations instead of blindly adopting industry-recognized KPIs that don’t reflect your business. Examples of KPIs are profit, cost of goods sold, customer acquisition cost, percentage of product defects, employee turnover rate, and employee satisfaction, to name the most common.
Another way to monitor is an internal audit, which consists of gathering information to evaluate how well your actual work matches with your documented procedures/polices. It focuses on a company’s internal controls, including corporate governance and accounting processes, and is compulsory since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which has made managers legally responsible for the accuracy of financial statements.
Crucial things you must consider when developing your QMS:
Aside from following the recommended structure for the development of QMS, there are some other aspects to keep in mind during this complex creation process:
- How you fix problems that arise
Following up and fixing issues at a timely manner is imperative. Your way of working and procedures should allow you to solve problems as they emerge, rather than being forced work further without making necessary corrections.
- Document control
Document control includes the approving of documents before issuing, reviewing and updating documents to correspond with particular organisation’s needs, and ensuring documents are current and available to all staff.
- QMS must be able to meet potential growth of organisation
Many organisations don’t consider this, resulting in negatives like unhappy staff, exposed risk, reduced quality of service, unrealistic large workloads, and resources not being used correctly. QMS should be designed with evolution in mind and leave room for changes, otherwise it will hamper growth and innovation, just like this quote suggests:
“The more you hardwire a company on total quality management, the more it is going to hurt breakthrough innovation.” – Vijay Govindarajan.
For QMS to bring significant benefits to your organisation, the board should be involved in the design and implementation of quality management, with key responsibilities being:
- Developing and implementing the organisation’s strategic plan
- Creating and communicating future vision to all staff
- Supporting senior management in every aspect
- Promoting organisation’s objectives and ensuring all staff are also promoting these
- Improving quality of service and ensuring staff is involved in this too
- Getting staff involved through staff inductions, which include group discussions, celebrating achievements, and ensuring new staffs are aware of organisation expectations.
Staff engagement is important:
Engagement from all levels and staff in an organisation is essential, and can only be achieved when QMS is clear and accessible. There are multiple ways that an organisation can engage people in QMS such as; recognition through rewards, incentives, motivating individuals rather than the team, demonstrating you prioritise their work-life balance, and maintaining an open-door policy.
Measuring is a vital step of QMS implementation. This entails collecting data and information of organisation’s performance by looking at things such as; attendance records, meeting minutes, financial statements, and production reports.
Furthermore, you need to organise and use this data effectively as most organisations let it go to waste and don’t utilize it. If a well-designed QMS is in place, data is efficiently collected, and then interpreted, which can allow the organisation to establish whether certain KPI’s are being met, and if not, to obtain helpful information on how they can be met in future.
Records and documentation:
It is also a statutory requirement to maintain and have certain records and documentation within your company. However, an organisation should have these regardless because this type of information increases knowledge and drives consistent improvement and growth.
One of the main reasons why organisations have a poor and ineffective QMS is because they are lazy to manually collate data and records – it is time-consuming and comes with a higher chance of making mistakes.
The solution for effective recordkeeping and documentation is software. There are integrated electronic monitoring systems for organisations to track, monitor, and measure QMS. Having software is easy to use, saves time, and ensures data accuracy. Only consider software that can secure your information, is user-friendly and has a high search and reporting capacity.
Nevertheless, the single use of software is not enough to guarantee quality of organisation services or compliance with quality standards. Software is merely a tool to support these, and does not guarantee positive results.
Introducing quality management systems is a big step for your organisation. There are multiple aspects to take into consideration, from the design phase to evaluation, and multiple ways of getting it wrong. How can you make sure QMS will help your organisation take off at a higher speed and benefit your business in a positive way?
Creative Quality Solutions is here to make sure that any system and training program you implement within your organisation is oriented towards improving business efficiency in a measurable way. Contact us today for an individualised and effective quality system!