In business, quality is a subjective term that typically means that a product or service meets its end users' expectations. Managing quality includes controlling quality of products or services under development, assuring the quality of completed products or services as well as continually improving quality to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Quality processes and procedures are part of a company's Quality Management System. The International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001 standard applies to such processes as purchasing, order processing and preventive action. To be certified, you must define these processes.
Quality assurance involves tasks that make sure products and services meet end-user requirements in a reliable way. By regulating the quality of raw materials in a efficient infrastructure, you can ensure the end result fulfills its intended purpose the first time. By defining operational procedures, ensuring employees are competent--having the skills and experience to accomplish the tasks--and setting up incentives for producing work that meets or exceeds standards, you establish a culture in which the staff is motivated to produce quality output.
Quality control deals with testing to see if output meets established criteria, typically end-user requirements. Develop quality control processes and procedures to identify failures that slip through despite quality assurance measures put in place. You may aspire to have your organization achieve six sigma levels of quality, meaning that failure is limited to six standard deviations of the normal distribution. This statistical probability is 3.4 one-millionths, a very low margin of error. Achieving this lofty goal demands stringent practices.
Overall quality improvement processes may cover product, process or human resources. Depending on your industry, you may institute programs for manufacturing enhancements, performance improvement, increasing customer satisfaction or reexamining current business practices. Utilize a Plan-Do-Study-Act model to solve problems by instituting quality improvement processes in a systematic way. Planning involves specifying and validating the output requirements. Next, implement the process to test it. Finally, study the impact the process has on output and act on observations. By repeating this process, you can establish an atmosphere of continuous improvement.
For example, you may read customer feedback about your website on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Categorizing the comments to elicit trends may reveal common issues. In response, implement processes such as newly documented troubleshooting procedures to address any shortcomings or capitalize on opportunities and check them with a small group of your website users. Then, deploy successful interventions once proven to be effective.
- The Memory Jogger 9001:2008: Implementing a Process Approach Compliant to ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems Standards; James W. Collins Jr.; 2009
- Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality: 13th International Working Conference, REFSQ 2007, Trondheim, Norway, June 11-12, 2007, Proceedings; Pete Sawyer, Barbara Paech, and Patrick Heymans; 2007
- International Standards Organization (ISP) 9001: Quality management systems -- Requirements