A lot of effort, and the benefits only become apparent much later - that's what many entrepreneurs think when it comes to quality management. But a reliable QM system is indispensable if you want to get ahead. After all, you need clear strategies to work efficiently. Especially in case of deadlocked structures, a reorientation can make sense.
What does quality management mean?
Before the definition of quality management comes a brief explanation of quality: this refers to the fulfillment of requirements. If something is of low quality, it does not meet the requirements. High quality, on the other hand, means that everything fits. Incidentally, it is not only customer requirements that are put to the test: everything should also run satisfactorily within the production chain and in other areas of the company.
The Quality management standard contains the requirements of the management system in the company or organization. In other words, it sets the standard that the products and/or services should meet within the framework of quality management. So on one side are the requirements, on the other the real product (or service). The quality assessment shows whether there are discrepancies between what is required and what is realized. An important pillar is customer orientation: all products and services should meet customer requirements.
Other important points of the quality management definition:
- A goal-oriented QM includes the structured planning and control of work processes. All activities serve to ensure the desired product and service quality.
- A detailed definition of processes and responsibilities is required for the quality-related activities.
- Information on business processes and product life cycles is also included in the quality management system.
- The systematic way of working improves the processes in the company and reduces the error rate.
- The quality management system, QMS for short, defines the quality policy, objectives and planning. In addition, quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement are included in the overall system.
What are the tasks and objectives of quality management?
The main task of quality management is to create better quality in the company. For this, precise definitions are necessary. A QM system forms the core of the whole. It bundles all rules, processes and responsibilities in the company. How can quality be generated and who contributes to it? Exactly these points are described in the QM system.
The goal is to ensure the success of the company. The aim is therefore to implement the economic goals. Various measures are possible - often several can be combined:
- Improve customer loyalty,
- Strengthen corporate image,
- make internal and external communication more efficient,
- Optimize working conditions and work climate,
- Increase productivity,
- Increase sales and profits.
In a good QM system, these goals are closely interlinked: This way, the tasks at hand can be tackled together.
What is ISO 9001?
The ISO 9001 quality management standard specifies a QM concept. It contains the minimum requirements for the implementation of a QMS. When it comes to establishing the ISO 9001 QM system, you need strong management. The responsible persons must be familiar with the contents of this standard in order to fulfill the requirements. That's why it makes sense to have a competent QM representative in the company. A trained quality manager understands the contents and can enforce the QMS consistently.
Depending on the size of the company, it may make sense for all managers to undergo training as QM representatives. If the entire team is familiar with the system, ISO 9001 can be better established.
The definition of ISO 9001 also lets you break down the official name at a glance. The correct version of the standard is DIN EN ISO 9001:2015-11.
- DIN stands for the German Institute for Standardization. This means that DIN is accepted as a set of standards in Germany.
- EN stands for "European Standards": the standard is therefore accepted throughout Europe.
- ISO stands for "International Standardization Organization", i.e. the international or global standardization organization.
- 9001 indicates the number of the standard.
- 2015 indicates the year of issue of the current version.
- 11 refers to the month of issue of the standard version.
If a company implements the current QM system according to ISO 9001, it can be certified accordingly.
Quality management as a tool for corporate success
Central quality management requires a few targeted measures. On the one hand, it deals with new structuring; on the other hand, it focuses on business success. Above all, it focuses on the strategic and operational aspects. Basically, however, QM should function holistically. From the first collection of requirements to their fulfillment, the products and services are under QM control. There is also consistent quality management for work processes and organizational tasks.
The holistic view makes it easy for you to identify any problems and gaps. Outdated structures can be revised and previous deficiencies get more attention. With a modern QM system, the entire environment becomes more dynamic. This shows how future-oriented quality management can be.
In addition, QM has an important mediating function. The single-minded orientation is not only about the companies' customer requirements. Quality management also relates to other aspects, such as regulatory guidelines and the requirements of business partners. The QM system bundles the various requirements and identifies potential conflicts. With the appropriate QM tools, fundamental problems and individual points can be clarified. Among other things, the QM officers deal with these issues:
- Which company-relevant topics are currently being worked on?
- Is the processing carried out with the necessary degree of maturity?
- Which tasks or topics should the QM department take on?
- Is there a need to adjust responsibilities?
- Does the company need more qualified personnel - in the QM area or in other departments?
- What specifications are required to ensure professionalism?
- How can we strengthen the creativity and motivation of employees - also in relation to quality management?
These questions show the areas into which a successful QM system penetrates and the importance of strong cohesion. The QM officers take on at least the role of moderator. In some cases, leadership is also required.
Process management and responsibilities
One of the goal-oriented tools in quality management is process management. This topic requires the QM department to work together with another unit. In a small company, it may be sufficient to designate process owners. But often you also need a precise role definition. This includes, among other things, the qualifications for the position. Does the person in charge have the skills that their new role requires? This is an essential point in the course of quality assurance.
For the continuous maintenance of quality management, you need a clear view of things and sound expertise. Only with the appropriate know-how can quality managers recognize the potential for improvement. Capable process managers are hard to find. However, with further training for managers, you can take a big step forward. If necessary, coordination with the human resources managers takes place. This is important to clarify the roles between the QM department, the management level and other employees.
Effort and benefit of quality management
The introduction of a QM system into the company initially means a lot of effort. You have to invest time and money before the first successes become apparent. But once the basic understanding is there and the optimized applications are running, your business will benefit in the long term. The time and cost required for the new quality management cannot be estimated across the board. ISO 9001 certification requires a certain amount of preparation. But precise planning will help you to implement the QM project efficiently. Many small businesses are familiar with the basic QM topics: Here, the system can be set up relatively quickly. But unprepared entrepreneurs often expect short-term success and want an immediate project assessment.
However, the benefits of quality management become apparent later, following the gap analysis, project planning, definition and set-up.
Quality Management Nursing
The establishment of the QMS is followed by quality management maintenance. This serves the continuous improvement of the QMS itself and thus also the company's success. In practice, many disruptive factors get in the way. Operational business leaves little time for QM monitoring. But only with a consistent quality management you will be able to lead your company successfully.
When everything is going well, the positive aspects come into play. The Benefits of quality management for the company is reflected in these points, among others:
- Internal processes become more transparent.
- Errors occur less frequently, which reduces costs.
- The definition of interfaces and responsibilities facilitates the work.
- Employees sharpen their quality awareness.
- Continuous improvement has a positive effect on the overall mood.
- Customer loyalty is strengthened.
Employees also benefit from the QMS. The clear structures improve working conditions, and at the same time internal communication is easier. The increase in quality increases job security. In addition, there is greater personal responsibility and motivation.
There are also positive aspects for customers: The ISO 9001 certificate is a neutral proof of quality and thus provides security. The current results can be easily traced back. With consistent compliance with the applicable standards, long-term customer loyalty is guaranteed.
Important guidelines and principles in quality management
As abstract as many topics in QM sound: ISO 9001 lays down concrete guidelines for quality standards. The focus is on seven principles, which are summarized here. Customer orientation and sustainable success are closely linked. The expectations of customers or people involved should at least be met - and ideally even exceeded. This creates added value that strengthens the sustainability of the company.
Leadership - these terms stand for the role model function of qualified managers. Those in charge make a major contribution to the company's success. The active commitment of the people involved has a positive effect on quality: Motivation is a key factor. A process-oriented approach ensures ongoing improvements. Errors can only be avoided if the basic processes run smoothly. The interfaces in particular are a sensitive point.
The improvement process is one of the core objectives of quality management. It is based on a systematic approach ranging from error analysis to constant further development. Fact-based decision-making allows subjective opinions to be sounded out. Clear data are in the foreground when decisions are due.
Relationship management involves all the stakeholders concerned. In this way, the various wishes can be taken into account. This strengthens good relationships within the company and with external partners.
The quality manager: what does he do and what are his tasks?
The quality manager is responsible for supporting the other employees so that they can do their work reliably. In addition to specialist knowledge, social skills are required here. With further training in quality management, you will prepare yourself for the many different areas of responsibility. The special training enables quality managers to check the quality of products and services. This is not an easy task, because many departments and employees are involved in the various processes. If a mistake happens somewhere, it affects the end product. The quality is then no longer right. As a result, additional costs are incurred or customers are dissatisfied.
To avoid this, the QM representative keeps an eye on all processes. Purchasing, processing and delivery: There is some potential for improvement in almost all work processes. Optimization enables the company to respond more quickly to new requirements. At the same time, the quality manager is responsible for ensuring compliance with the company's internal standards and the ISO 9001 standard.
Before the time of the ISO standard, companies were more concerned with troubleshooting. Today, companies want to avoid mistakes. This is why planning is so important. If you know the risks, you can avoid them or at least reduce them. This is exactly the goal of quality management. If the QM representative communicates this motivation well, employees can be convinced. In this way, the quality manager acts as a kind of coach who teaches colleagues the quality oriented thinking closer.
Quality Manager Training
Comprehensive training is required for the various tasks in quality management. This advanced training is not only about technical knowledge, but also about social skills. Do you have what it takes to be a quality manager? Or does a particular employee lend themselves to the quality management tasks?
The diverse demands on the quality manager require a self-confident appearance. Precision on the one hand, understanding of colleagues on the other - there are many other skills in between. Analytical thinking is required, a good memory, a neat way of working and a quick grasp of things, all these talents help the quality manager in his work. When it comes to internal communication, an open and confident demeanor is important. Time and again, QM officers have to assert themselves and sometimes negotiate diplomatically. Every department, every employee has his or her own priorities: But the QMS must not suffer as a result.
Quality managers must occasionally create complex diagrams and be able to explain them well. Internal presentations are just as much a part of their duties as quality management training for other employees. Didactic skills are helpful in such training.
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