What Is System Quality?

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Customers who enjoy what your business offers will tend to return to you again and again, as well as refer their friends to you. System quality, also known as a quality management system (QMS), ensures your business provides a standard of products or services that reflects your business' values and integrity. When your customers feel that they are receiving good quality and value for their dollar, they are more likely to become repeat customers, helping you to grow your bottom line and increase your market share.

Understanding Quality System Management

Quality system management involves the responsibility of ensuring that the processes, products and services involved in your business are meeting or exceeding your standards. Your quality management process implements short-term procedures that create a long-term reputation of integrity and character for your organization. Your quality management process includes all of the following:

  • Quality planning: Quality planning involves examining where your quality is now, where you would like it to be, what standards you want to you, how you will improve quality and how you will measure your progress. 
  • Quality policies: Your quality policies are written into a document that covers how you handle quality at every level of manufacturing, packaging and marketing. This includes how you handle customer quality concerns, your warranties and customer care procedures. 
  • Quality assurance: Quality assurance involves inspiring confidence that your quality policies and standards will be upheld internally and externally. 
  • Quality control: Quality control involves inspection and oversight that backs up your quality policies and assurance. This could mean inspecting products for defects or testing them for the presence of harmful substances. Money spent on quality control can decrease as an effective QMS is implemented on every level of your company. 
  • Quality improvement: Quality improvement is the process of continually refining your quality management process so that it is more and more efficient and cost-effective. Continued quality improvement can edge you ahead of the competition to help you gain market share and grow the bottom line.  

Quality Management Objectives

Your business' objectives in implementing a quality management process will be unique to your mission, vision, goals and projections. For instance, a lawn care service might want to increase the quality of edging around flower beds, while a tech company might want to reduce the chance for customer error while using their apps. A shirt manufacturing company likely wants fewer defective garments, while a bakery would like a consistent finished product that customers can rely on for years to come.

Whatever system quality system management objectives you set for yourself, ensure they are SMART goals:

  • Specific: Rather than saying you want to improve overall quality, identify the specific areas that need improvement most. For instance, instead of saying shirt quality needs to improve, you might narrow it down to improving red shirt quality for garments sewn in warehouse C.
  • Measurable: Once you identify exactly what needs improving, you need to put a measurable number to it. For instance, you might improve quality by 25 percent for red shirts sewn in warehouse C.
  • Achievable: Your quality system objectives must be realistic and feel achievable to you and your employees. If you have only been able to improve quality by half a percent in the past, setting a goal of improving by 25 percent might be unrealistic. Instead, you might aim for three to five percent. 
  • Relevant: Your QMS objectives must align with the broader goals for your business. For instance, increasing the quality of red shirts sewn in warehouse C would be relevant if your company is trying to increase customer satisfaction levels or decrease manufacturing costs. 
  • Time-Bound: Quality management process objectives must be time bound so that you can periodically review your progress and make adjustments where needed. Instead of leaving your goals open-ended, consider saying something like, "Our company will improve quality by five percent for red shirts sewn in warehouse C over the next 60 days."

Benefits of QMS

Quality management systems can benefit your company on every level when executed well. Some of the advantages include:

  • Increased customer satisfaction: When customers know what to expect from your products and services, they become loyal, spread the word and return to you again and again.
  • Boosted morale: Employees who feel good about the products and services they produce have a sense of purpose in their workdays. Camaraderie and a sense of community can increase. Employees might look forward to work days more than dread them. The side effect of this could also include decreased turnover. 
  • Decreased costs: When you are not paying to re-manufacture goods or re-service customers as frequently as in the past, your costs will go down. Higher employee satisfaction can also lead to lower costs for recruiting and training. 
  • Increased bottom line: A higher quality product or service coupled with decreased costs and higher customer retention equals a growing bottom line for your company. This makes it easier to grow, as well as to meet and exceed your projections. 
  • Improved reputation: Companies known for good quality build a reputation of integrity within their industry, the community and with their customers. People like to do business with others whom they trust. 
  • Increased market share: When your customer retention rates are high and you retain new customers due to a stellar reputation, your market share is likely to grow. When your QMS efforts produce better results than the competition, you gain a more solid footing in the marketplace. 
  • Improved efficiency: Going back to fix errors in your products or services costs you lots of time and money. When there are fewer errors to contend with, your workforce is free to spend their time on more important things like producing more goods or innovation that will set you apart from the crowd. 

Seven Quality Management Principles

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets the industry standard for QMS and has come up with seven quality management principles to help you stay on the right track:

  1. Customer focus: Anticipate and exceed customer expectations and requirements in order to provide a good value. 
  2. Leadership: Unify all levels of management and leadership in a common purpose and direction when it comes to quality. 
  3. Engagement of people: Include all employees at every level in quality management efforts to increase outcomes and improve the sense of purpose and morale. 
  4. Process approach: Understand how every area of your business is related and interacts in the quality process so that they best work in synergy. 
  5. Improvement: Quality improvement is never finished, but ought to be an ongoing process of growth and improvement.
  6. Evidence-based decision making: Rather than going on hunches, it is important to make QMS decisions based on evidence and numbers. 
  7. Relationship management: Businesses interact with suppliers, customers and other interested parties. Maintaining connections and relationships is vital to success. 

As you implement these standards and expand your QMS efforts, you might become interested in adhering to ISO 9001:2015 standards. Once you become familiar with them and implement them, an outside certifying body can send out an auditor to ensure your business' quality management process is up to par. They can then issue a certificate stating that you have met or exceeded ISO 9001:2015 standards, giving you confidence in your processes, boosting your reputation and giving you a standard to maintain over the long haul.

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About the Author

Anne Kinsey is an entrepreneur and business pioneer, who has ranked in the top 1% of the direct sales industry, growing a large team and earning the title of Senior Team Manager during her time with Jamberry. She is the nonprofit founder and executive director of Love Powered Life, as well as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach, certified HRV biofeedback practitioner and freelance writer who has written for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle and Our Everyday Life. Anne works from her home office in rural North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three children.