Designing Your Quality System
Quality Management System
Most businesses are looking to implement Quality Management Systems within their organisations as the improvement of product and service quality is always high on their agenda. The international quality standard ISO 9001 being one of the most popular quality management systems adopted by organisations around the world. If you are looking to implement a Quality System in your company, but know little about the subject, this article can be presented as a good starting point.
What is Quality Management System (QMS)?
A Quality Management System (QMS) or shortly known as Quality System is a set of business processes aimed at meeting customer requirements and ensuring their satisfaction. QMS is represented by organisational goals, policies, processes, and documented information, and the resources required to put it into practice. The first Quality Management Systems enabled the prediction of industrial production lines outcomes; in the 20th century, the focus has shifted towards team dynamics, while the latest years have seen a conversion towards sustainability and transparency.
Why should your organisation have a QMS?
QMS is important for any business. The most prominent advantages of having a Quality System are:
Increasing organisational effectiveness
QMS will enable you to meet your organisational goals in terms of fulfilment, sales, customer service, and purchasing. The active measurement of performance using Quality Management Systems informs you on how effective your business is in critical areas, and helps you make decisions. Additionally, it assists in the creation of action plans to close the gaps between goals and actual performance.
Improving organisational culture
Employees need to be aware of organisational objectives and their role in fulfilling them. When an organisation’s goals and priorities are not established clearly and priorities are constantly changing, a culture of uncertainty and resentment can be created. Oppositely, having the confidence you are doing the right thing promotes a positive work atmosphere.
The difficulty of conforming to requirements is common among many organisations and complying with various standards and regulations can become a just thing to do to avoid being caught off-guard by auditors. QMS makes compliance less of a challenge as it includes it from the very beginning among standards and regulations.
Improving customer satisfaction
Satisfying customers should be your ultimate business goal no matter what industry you are in. A Quality system will allow you to deliver what customers need and expect, thus keeping them happy and satisfied.
You will have to complete a lot of tedious tasks in order to make your customers happy, and documentation is one of them. Oftentimes, activities and processes are not clearly recorded because of poor documentation, and CMS helps to define these systems and needs so organisational success is no longer at risk.
Every business has a unique Quality System
Before rushing to implement a Quality System to enjoy its amazing benefits, keep in mind that QMS should be properly planned and designed to suit your business. There is no one QMS for every business because processes and goals are different in every single organisation. QMS should be focused on ensuring it meets your business’s service needs and requirements.
There are multiple factors that influence how QMS should look like for your particular business: changes and risks, varying system needs, business objectives, specific services/products provided, size and structure of business. A quality expert should be able to design a Quality System suiting your organisation needs perfectly.
What to consider before designing a QMS for your business
There are different factors to take into consideration before designing a Quality System. Following these guidelines increases your chances of creating a successful quality system and prevents the situation where you don’t know where to begin or what to do.
Define organisation mission and values
Your organisational direction is the starting point of a reliable and successful Quality System. If your organisation’s mission and values have not been defined yet, it’s the right time to do it before starting to design your QMS. Whenever you are in doubt about the direction you are taking, a quick review of mission and values will help you find the right answer.
Goals allow you to design a QMS based on what you want to achieve in both short run and long run. They stem directly from your organisation’s mission and values and establishing priorities makes it possible to take decisions based on a consistent set of values. Be honest and don’t ignore the negatives as this allows you to better your business. Another danger when it comes to priorities is falling in the trap of making statements that sound good, but failing to commit to that value when it comes to actual management and use of resources.
Mapping major processes
Since QMS programs are process-based systems, the expert designing a Quality System for your business should define the operational activities that lead to desired outcomes. Such processes are production, design, sales, and purchasing, and for each process inputs, activities, and outputs should be determined. The development of QMS requires organisations to create a formal description of how they work (not the way they should work!), and improvement can be made at a later time.
Assigning roles and responsibilities
Nothing can be done without people in your organisation, and processes can only be completed when people are given the responsibility for their processes. This step often reveals the importance of ensuring that people have the required skills and training to execute their roles, and closing this gap through continuing education is a major aspect of QMS.
System review and improvement
When the first three steps are completed – defining direction, defining processes, and identifying the responsible process owners – the next question is, how the organisation is working. At this stage, Quality System experts need to determine whether process objectives are being achieved, if the organisation is at least moving towards its goal, and if people have the skills needed to execute processes. A review of objectives is recommended to determine what needs to change and what are the actual steps required to make the improvement.
Measuring QMS processes
QMS processes include measurement activities in order to determine their effectiveness, most times through the use of KPIs. Internal audits and document control are essential in the measurement stage.
KPI is short for key performance indicator, and they are used to determine progress toward a desired result. They tell you how your organisation or department is performing and allow you to understand if you are taking the right path toward your strategic goals. A good KPI should meet the following criteria:
- To be well-defined and quantifiable
- To be disseminated throughout your organisation
- To be focused on achieving certain goals
- To be applicable to your line of business and/or department
KPIs are generally grouped into four categories: financial metrics (like profit, cost, sales by region, cost of goods sold, etc.); customer metrics (customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction and retention, etc.); process metrics (like customer support tickets); and people metrics (employee turnover rate, percentage of response to open positions, employee satisfaction).
The resources and guidelines on how to design a successful Quality System make it easier to go through this complex process, and there are quality experts that can help you with the design and implementation of QMS. However, there is one thing you always need to keep in mind:
Ensure your QMS has the CAPACITY and CAPABILITY to meet the growth of your business (it needs to be realistic). If you don’t have a realistic QMS or it cannot adjust to new situations, this will result in unrealistic workloads, reduced quality of service, and unhappy staff – all aspects of your business and Quality System will be affected, with low customer and employee satisfaction being the most visible consequences.
Looking to create and implement a Quality System for your business? Get it right from the first time to enjoy the full benefits of QMS! Contact our Quality Experts today and streamline your path towards success with a tailored Quality System!