Great quality management principles for great quality management
Delighting customers is one of the most important things a business must do.
But just how do you go about approaching quality? People have made millions writing books, each with their own take on things. It can get really confusing.
That’s why ISO, the organisation responsible for the most well known framework for quality (ISO 9001:2015, quality management systems), published their seven principles.
1. Quality management brings customer focus
No brainer, right? Pause a moment and look at what happens in your business. Is everything geared to delighting your customer, and doing so profitably? If not, why are you doing it?
We all know it costs 10 times more to win new business than repeat business. So it is worthwhile getting it right, and right first time.
Really get to know what your existing (& new) customers need, now and in the future. Do you regularly meet your top 20% of customers (after all, the Pareto principle suggests they contribute 80% of your revenue and margin)? If not, why not? How well do your products and services fix their problems? Ask them.
Don’t be afraid to ask potential new customers what they need & what you need to do to for them to choose you.
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Leaders at all levels in the business help establish and deliver the business objectives.
Just how clear are you as a business owner what it is you are trying to achieve, and how you want to achieve it? Are people clear on what the business goals are, and how they contribute to your success? Do you provide the right example by placing quality at the front of everything you do?
3. Engagement of people
However much a business relies on technology, at the end of the day it always comes down to people to make it all work, and work well.
Are you clear on what roles are needed in the business? Are you clear what the responsibilities of each role are? Do you know how competent your employees are for their current role, and what training they need? Do you regularly review this and meet with them to set objectives that align with your business goals? Do you promote an open and collaborative culture in the business?
4. Process approach
Failing to plan is planning to fail. For the business to deliver what it does, consistently, and consistently well, you can’t avoid having systems and processes in place.
Have you thought about what the output from each process needs to be? Have you assigned responsibility, and more importantly authority and resources to allow the process owners to achieve the results you need? Have you identified the main risks in each process and taken steps to minimise that risk?
5. Continual improvement
You can’t stand still. Look what happened to Toys r Us, Maplin’s, BHS. The list goes on. You have to continually improve and adapt.
Just how do you go about doing that then? It really falls into a 3 step process:
- Monitor and measure everything
Do you have management information [MI] for the key systems and processes? Simple ones like the proportion of quotes that become orders, the proportion of product that has to be re-worked before it passes final quality inspection? Trickier ones, like (true) customer satisfaction, debtor days, the proportion of jobs that go out late?
- Analyse everything
Raw data is one thing, what it tells you is something else. Decide what you need to know and how you are going to go about finding out
- Do something about it
Dedicate time through the year to sit down as a management team, and using the MI, improve things.
6. Evidenced-based decision making
This links to point 5 above. Gut instinct has its place, but as you grow you need to be objective in the decisions you make. Investors are far more likely to invest when you clearly show a rationale behind your decisions, ideally using facts and numbers.
Do you know what to measure, & how? Do you share that information across the business, allowing departments to improve their operations? Do you show people how to interpret the information and what they should do as a result? Do you make decisions as a team, based on fact?
7. Relationship management
Apple does not manufacture the iPhone. What they do supremely well is ‘design’ it, and has a supply chain, that in a completely integrated way, delivers the finished product.
Who are your critical suppliers? How do you select them? How do you measure their performance? Do they know just how critical they are to your success? How involved are they in designing your products and services (they may well have innovative ideas that might set you apart)? Do you ask what they need from you for them to deliver for you?
And it goes without saying that if you use sub-contractors, as far as your customer is concerned, they are your people.
All obvious and eminently sensible, right? So, you do it, and do it regularly, right? No, possibly you don’t, the day job of delivering for your customers comes first and finding the time to these things is hard.
That’s why an ever increasing number of businesses adopt IOS 9001, as it puts in place a framework whereby the seven principles become part of the business’ DNA. Take a look at the standard, you’ll see once you have understood the principles above that it is a great way to incorporate them in your business.
Adopting a quality management approach to a business is a logical process to focus on processes, improving customers experience and generally developing a business more in tune to the needs of the client – what’s not to like. Find yourself an expert in ISO consultancy to help you navigate the systems and processes necessary to gain ISO quality management certification.
Straight talking business advice from Yorkshire Powerhouse
Now you’ve read our article on Quality Management Principles – have you any more questions?
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