Sunday, January 6, 2013

How to Create a Quality Management Plan

In today’s competitive global marketplace, a company’s quality management plan can help identify gaps in customer expectations, determine where corrective action is necessary and provide a system for continuous improvement.   While some departments, such as operations or production may have strict controls and inspections, others may operate “on the fly” without any documented procedures or work instructions.  An integrated total management system brings all departments under the same total quality management (TQM) umbrella.

Creating a total quality plan involves everyone in the organization.  TQM is not a function of the Quality Assurance department alone.  Developing a quality management plan begins with the senior management team.   They must be the driving force, providing resources, support and motivation to the quality team.  The following steps will help develop a quality  management system tailored to your organization:

Develop a Quality Baseline

Dust off the policy and procedures manuals and any quality data reports currently in use.  Gather information on returns, rework or lost productivity.  Examine customer feedback, surveys, emails and social network posts to gauge what your customers say about the quality of your product and/or services.  Look at previous audit reports, and the frequency and extent of warranty work or corrective actions.  Get a good picture of where you stand now.

Find Out What Your Customers Want

If you are already gathering customer feedback, take note of what they like.  Why do they buy your products or services over the competition?  Conduct a survey or invite customers and suppliers to participate in focus groups to gather feedback on your current product and service quality.  Look for patterns in customer feedback, sales orders or returns.  Do some benchmarking with competitors or the “best in the business” to determine what best practices could apply to your organization.

Conduct a Gap Analysis

Compare your baseline information to your customers’ needs.  Identify the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.  Create a quality team from a cross section of departments and levels, and have them observe work in progress.  Talk to the people doing the work–in operations, production, customer service, accounting, and logistics—to further understand where quality needs improvement.

Gather All Your Quality Data and Identify Weaknesses

Gather your data and information, and identify the weaknesses in your current quality management system. You can compare your system to an established industry quality system, such as ISO 9001.  Whether or not you adopt those standards, it will help identify any missing or weak elements in your quality system.

Brainstorm with Your Quality Team

Use the quality team to brainstorm ideas for quality improvements based on the gap analysis findings.  You may have discovered the company has outdated procedures and inadequate documentation.  You may not have an internal audit system or adequate training for new production employees.  The findings and recommendations for quality improvement become the quality management plan reported to senior management for implementation.


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