February 11, 2014

Three Key Business Components for Quality Improvement

There are all sorts of quality improvement methodologies (ISO, 6Sigma, SPC, TQM, QC, and etc.).  Most of these are just different ways to measure improvement or define processes for analyzing problems and finding solutions.   However, if you look closely at each of their core concepts, you will find they have some overlap in what businesses need to be aware of to improve their quality of products and services in order to remain successful. 

Below is what I feel represents the three key components of a truly beneficial quality improvement program for any type of business. 
  1. Service Customers – Whether you preach “customer is king” or embrace “superior customer service,” as a business you recognize that there would be no business without customers.  Therefore it makes sense that meeting the customers’ needs should be your first priority followed by accomplishing their desires as well.  Meeting and exceeding customer expectations is key that unlocks both current success and doors to future success.
  2. Monitor Processes – Many people think this is all quality improvement is about.  True it is about improving your work processes.  However, it is also about communication on all sides of the process (people working inside of the company as well as outside customers and suppliers).  So find a methodology and quality tools/techniques that best fit your company needs.  Then train your employees; involve customers and suppliers; and use those tools to constantly improve. (See also post on PDSA or PDCA Model.)
  3. Motivate Teams – Going back to products and services, who delivers these to the customer?  You could say the company, but what makes up the company besides equipment and supplies?  It is the people that work there - yes your employees! They are the ones who build the products, handle customer service and sales, ship the materials, and hopefully monitor processes for improvement.  Motivate your employees to offer the best possible customer service and work together in teams to improve the business.  Your physical assets are easily measured but your intangible assets of employee skills is what helps keep you in business. 

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