Quality management is the management and steering of an organization with an explicit focus on "quality". The aim is to design and improve the quality of products and services so that they meet the wishes and expectations of customers. Quality management helps to increase customer satisfaction, win new customers, and thus to increase competitiveness.
Quality management - Effective for Success
Professional quality management is by no means just about making a good impression on the outside. Rather, it is about managing and continuously improving your own performance - both internally and externally.
Efficient quality management (QM) helps you to realistically assess your organization's own potential and to minimize costs incurred. Only if you succeed in being a little bit "better" than the competition, will you ensure the success of your organization in the future. This is precisely the small but essential difference when meeting the rising expectations of your customers. Because one thing is for certain: while it is good to correct mistakes, from an economic point of view it is much better not to make any in the first place.
- Who needs quality management?
- What is the importance of quality management?
- What are the goals of quality management?
- Quality management - Advantages for companies
- Benefits of a quality management system
- What are the tasks of quality management?
Who needs quality management?
Every organization that wants to be successful in the future is dependent on quality management in some way, regardless of their industry or size. Systematic quality management (QM) helps you to implement goals and measures efficiently and effectively. A positive side effect is that you develop a comprehensive understanding of quality through targeted quality management. You understand your customers better, you continuously improve the range of services you offer, and you therefore safeguard your competitiveness over the long term.
The term quality is thousands of years old already, and relatively abstract. With the introduction of the international "conceptual standard" ISO 9000, the term was made more tangible for companies. It forms the basis for the correct understanding and implementation of the international quality management standard ISO 9001 and defines quality management as
"coordinated activities for managing and controlling an organization with regard to quality".
Of central importance for quality management are the standard requirements contained in the ISO 9001 standard. They provide companies with precise benchmarks against which to assess their own efforts in terms of quality. ISO 9004 provides guidelines for improving an organization's ability to achieve sustainable success.
THE ISO 9000ff SERIES OF STANDARDS
ISO 9000:2015-11: Quality management systems - Fundamentals and vocabulary
ISO 9001:2015-11: Quality management systems - Requirements
ISO 9004:2018-08: Quality management - Quality of an organization - Guidance to achieve sustained success
Ongoing and comprehensive quality management reduces the complexity of your business processes. Opportunities, risks and interrelationships become more transparent in this way. The more precisely quality management is carried out, the better you master the technical, organizational and human factors that influence the quality of your products and services.
This enables you to identify and systematically meet the expectations of all internal and external interested parties. And with the right management strategy and clear communication, your organization's reputation will also improve. This means that systematic quality management directly helps you to ensure your competitiveness.
What is the significance of quality management?
Quality management is an overriding, ongoing and comprehensive management task. But it is also a joint task. The organization's top management is responsible for and directs all decisions. They must enable the quality improvement process and provide the resources required for it. But they must also become active themselves, and support their employees in their activities.
Employees implement the requirements, and they have the same importance for success - whether in customer contact or in accounting. Simply put: If an organization optimizes their services or products in terms of quality through the participation of all employees, in all areas and functions, then this is called quality management.
Accordingly, quality management consists of the planning and realization of all measures that are necessary to design the services of an organization in such a way that the requirements of the customers and all-important interested parties are met.
What are the goals of a QM system?
Quality management according to ISO 9001
When it comes to quality management according to ISO 9001, the general term "quality" has three dimensions:
- The neutral characteristics of a product, system or process
- The quality of a product, system or process
- The attitudes behind the products, systems or processes
When customers or other stakeholders speak of quality, they almost always mean the second or third dimension. This gives rise to expectations: Stakeholders expect a certain quality of products, processes and systems. Companies and organizations must demonstrate this quality.
This is best done by means of a professional quality management system. Because only if companies implement all efforts systematically, continuously and with clear objectives can they meet the requirements of stakeholders. These requirements include the following:
- Customer expectations of product and service quality
- Legislative demands for compliance with guidelines and requirements
- Partner and supplier demands on business processes
- Employee demands on processes and corporate culture
Quality is therefore essentially based on external requirements that your organization must meet internally. Since these requirements are constantly changing, growing and aligning with new social trends, you need to find ways to meet them efficiently and effectively.
This makes quality management just as much a core task as it is a task for financial or human resources management.
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Quality management - Advantages for organizations
A functioning quality management system knows and fulfils the existing requirements of all stakeholders - the ISO standards speak of interested parties. More importantly, an organization continuously improves itself. This enables it to anticipate future requirements and react more quickly to changes.
Only then do we speak of integrated and continuous quality management. This has advantages for every organization:
- The value chain becomes more transparent, leaner and more responsive.
- Clear responsibilities create traceable processes and increase traceability.
- Errors are avoided before they occur.
- Costs for risk minimization, error correction and redundancies are reduced.
- Customers and employees are more loyal to the organization.
- New value-adding potential is identified and processed at an early stage.
- Throughput and processing times are reduced.
- The image improves.
Benefits of a quality management system
A quality management system starts at several separate points: Your organizational structure, your procedures, processes and resources that are necessary to meet the individual quality requirements in your organization.
With a professional quality management system, QM system or QMS for short, you define the framework conditions that enable systematic quality management. In doing so, you precisely define your structural and procedural organization as well as the fulfilment of all quality tasks. With a QMS, you ensure that your resources and measures relating to quality can be better coordinated, planned and measured. With an effective quality management system, you:
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Create clear responsibilities
- Motivate your employees
- Reduce costs through error prevention
- Improve competitiveness
- Reduce possible risks
- Improve your image
What are the tasks of quality management?
As in any other management discipline, quality management tasks, metrics, and measurement methods must be developed to evaluate and control your business activities. The more process- and system-oriented these methods are, the better you will be able to adapt to changing market requirements. After all, customers' demand for performance does not exist only today or tomorrow. Moreover, it is constantly changing - depending on which societal, social, environmental or individual factors are in focus.
Accordingly, quality management includes four areas of responsibility:
- Quality planning: Planning, design and development, i.e., that part of quality management that focuses on defining quality objectives and implementing them accordingly (with which processes and resources).
- Quality control: Procurement, production and selling, which is the part of the quality management that is focused on the measures for realization.
- Quality assurance: Part of the QMS that is aimed at the creation of confidence that the requirements are fulfilled.
- Quality improvement: Part of the QMS that is focused on continuous improvement.
The underlying mindset is similar to the Japanese concept of Kaizen and was developed in the 1950s by W.E. Deming for the Japanese auto industry. Deming made the PDCA cycle famous in parallel, which is now one of the central components of quality management according to ISO 9001.
PDCA means Plan, Do, Check, Act. The cycle divides the continuous improvement process into four phases:
- PLAN: Identify and plan suitable measures and quality management tasks
- DO: Implement measures and tasks
- CHECK: Measure success
- ACT: Use measurement results as an impetus for the next improvement cycle
Continuous improvement is based on the assumption that every action is an improvable process that can be constantly optimized in small steps. In this way, Deming does not advocate large, revolutionary measures, but rather a fundamental awareness of improvement in everyday business life.
Accordingly, problems are not (singular) obstacles for which (isolated) solutions are needed. They are impulses for new improvement mechanisms and quality management tasks.
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