Quality management is the process of overseeing tasks and activities that should be executed to achieve the desired level of excellence. It involves developing a quality polity, quality control and improvement, and quality assurance. Quality management is done to ensure that all the organization’s stakeholders work together to improve processes, products, services, and culture. Quality management strategies are the techniques and standards that are aimed at following the set plan and achieving the desired outcome.
In project management, these strategies are implemented right from the onset of a project. The top management uses these strategies to ensure that tasks and activities are executed as planned. Moreover, these strategies help them to implement short-term initiatives while focusing on the long-term goals. Here are the main quality management strategies used by executive managers.
1. Using a Quality Register
A quality register is a document that summarizes all the quality management activities that are either planned or completed. It acts as a unique reference for every quality activity, and a pointer to a product’s quality records. Besides, it provides a summary of the type and number of quality activities that have been undertaken. Successful top managers plan their activities using a quality register. Once activities get started, they update them with the results about quality control operations. They use a quality register as a form of a diary of planned and undertaken activities. Besides, anytime the management has some planned events that they undertake, they note them in the diary.
The quality register is created when initiating a project. This is important so that any activity can be recorded appropriately. That way, any reference or clarification can be made by consulting the register. It is maintained throughout the project life and provides key audit and assurance information. The details of the register assist managers to maintain or improve the quality of work. It also helps with process improvement as well as identifying activities that have not been done satisfactorily. Without a quality register, it would be nearly impossible to monitor project tasks and activities. Thus, successful executives maintain or improve quality and ultimately achieve success by using a quality register in all projects.
2. Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort aimed at improving services, products, and processes. Continuous improvement streamlines workflows as it is the number one method top managers use to reduce operating overhead. It facilitates efficient workflows that save both time and money, thereby allowing executives to minimize the wastage of time and effort. Moreover, continuous improvement minimizes project costs and helps to prevent overages. In settings where teams cannot practice continuous improvement constantly in their everyday work, successful executives hold rapid improvement events. These can last for one to five days based on the depth and breadth of what is covered. Top managers can establish a culture that stresses quality improvement. This is a great way of keeping quality management at the top of the employees’ minds.
The objective of becoming actively involved in continuous improvement is very important for an organization. When a business improves continually, it experiences an improved performance. It also experiences organizational flexibility and an increased ability to embrace new opportunities. One sure strategy to reinforce this culture is rewarding employees who illustrate a commitment to quality. It makes them want to improve the quality even more and pushes them to look for ways to improve the quality. Businesses should continuously create new processes to stay in the market. They should also adopt a new market situation. Continuous improvement culture will ensure this happens. Continuous improvement best practices help executives to manage quality and analyze improvement opportunities.
3. Customer Focus
Customer focus basically means prioritizing customers’ needs. Successful top managers satisfy their customers and maintain strong customer relationships by establishing customer-focused businesses. Moreover, they succeed by not just focusing on customers’ needs but exceeding their expectations. To become successful, an organization needs to understand the customers’ current and future needs and cater to them. Managers should make an effort to follow up on some customer service situations. This will inform them of areas where their products require improvement. They should then take action to improve the quality of the product or service while communicating effectively with the customers. This will result in customer loyalty. When customers are loyal, results will be reflected in increased revenue. The organization will also be able to identify customer opportunities. This way, it will seek ways to satisfy them.
With more efficient business processes, quality is higher. High quality products and services result in more satisfied customers and increased revenues. Moreover, focusing on your customers is the foundation for customer loyalty. This is because customer focus aims to put customers and their needs first. Successful managers offer a great customer experience by focusing on customers’ needs. They understand the needs and wants of their customers and hence offer products and services that perfectly align with those desires. Customer-focused managers are not immune to making mistakes in business. But they learn from their mistakes and continuously improve their processes to stand out as the best.
4. Effective Leadership
Leaders are responsible for creating and maintaining the internal environment. Having the right leaders is therefore a top strategy that makes a significant impact when it comes to running a successful business. Good leadership is at the core of successful businesses. Unity of purpose is provided by good leaders. They also establish the direction of the organization. Good leaders engage employees and lead them towards achieving the organization’s goals. When leaders involve the employees in setting clear organizational goals and objectives, employees get motivated to work. They in turn improve their productivity and loyalty. Top managers, being part of the leaders, need to be proactive and lead by example. They should show workers to be responsible and following through with the actions of their employees to ensure they do the right thing.
The leaders should also understand and react to fluctuations in the external environment as it is as important as the internal environment. They should also consider the wants of all stakeholders of the business. These include the suppliers, customers, employees, owners, local communities, and the general public. The leaders need to understand that these stakeholders form a vital part of the quality management process. Moreover, executives should foster open and honest communication. They should teach, train, and coach employees on improvement strategies and other initiatives. They should also develop challenging objectives and targets for their teams to help them grow. Thus, effective leadership is not an option if managers want to take their businesses to the next level.
5. Process Approach
A process is a set of activities that uses resources such as people and machines to transform inputs into outputs. The process approach is a strategy that involves managing a business as a system of processes and not departments, people, or products. Managers use the process approach to manage and control processes that make up their businesses, interactions between processes, and inputs as well as outputs that bond those processes together. If the top management has a good process, it will have good results. A good example of a process is baking a cake. If you follow a proven recipe in baking the cake (process), it will provide a good cake (output).
Producing the right output requires the use of the right input and most importantly, following the right process. In some cases, the output of one process forms the input of another. In such cases, each process should not be treated as an individual. The process approach strategy emphasizes achieving efficiency and effectiveness in the organizational processes. The strategy entails the understanding that good processes result in improved consistency, quicker activities, reduced costs, waste removal, and continuous improvement. If the top management manages and controls the inputs and outputs of an organization effectively, quality is assured.
6. People Engagement Strategy
Another effective quality management strategy is the engagement of employees. Whether the staff is part-time or full-time, they should be fully involved in creating and delivering value. Top managers strategize to encourage employees to constantly improve their skills and maintain consistency. Engaged workers understand their roles better and are more proactive. But how can you get your employees engaged with quality? Though it is not easy, it is possible. Top managers do so by being bold, creative, and flexible. They engage employees by:
- Asking for opinions – you can do this by inviting groups of employees to a monthly meeting. Then build up feedback into processes. You can also send employees for a survey, then give them feedback.
- Mentoring the employees – make time to mentor and coach those employees who are struggling with performance.
- Discuss their challenges – this will make them feel valued and help them understand and engage more with quality.
- Rewarding good performance – you can do this financially or through recognition.
- Improving accountability – hold individuals accountable. This will help prevent social loafing, track individual performance, and keep an accurate record of all activity.
- Making clear the goals and responsibilities – when employees are confused about their roles, they take a lot of time to identify issues and act on them. Therefore, every employee needs to have a set of goals and responsibilities.
- Perfecting onboarding process – have an effective and elaborate onboarding training program
- Celebrating World Quality Day – this helps you to promote quality to the rest of the organization. The day is held in November.
- Providing ongoing training and support
7. Evidence-Based Decision-Making Strategy
Effective ideas are based on the analysis of data and information. Guess-work and instinct are not the right bases for decision making. When making decisions, top management should adapt to a factual approach. The decisions should be based on verified and analyzed data. This helps the business to have an improved understanding of the marketplace. Therefore, the tasks that they perform produce the desired results. Additionally, they justify their past decisions. The quality of their services and goods is thus significantly improved.
This quality management strategy involves:
- Collecting relevant data and information
- Ensuring that the data and information collected is accurate, reliable, and accessible
- Analyzing this data and information using varied methods
- Using the results of logical analysis and pairing them with intuition and experience to make informed decisions
Although this strategy is rather complex, successful managers implement it easily by doing it daily.
8. Periodic Internal Audits
An internal audit is the onsite verification activity that includes inspection or examination of internal controls that include accounting processes and corporate governance. Internal auditing is done to ensure compliance with regulations and laws. Successful top managers ensure quality is maintained by ensuring that internal audits are conducted periodically. They use internal audits to get tools that are necessary for achieving operational efficiency by detecting issues and rectifying lapses early on. Internal audits play a major role in the governance and operations of a company.
Other than assessing internal controls, these audits help to hold executives responsible for the accuracy of financial records. Periodic internal audits help to deter employees from engaging in fraudulent activities. This way, managers are able to implement procedures and processes that ensure the integrity of accounting and financial information. They also promote accountability and help to prevent fraud. The audit results provide managers with improvement suggestions regarding current processes and operations. Implementing these suggestions boosts the quality of services and products. When this is achieved, customers build trust with the business because of the quality they are offered. A business that offers quality products and services quickly gains a competitive edge and increases its sales. Thus, periodic internal audit is a proven quality management strategy that managers can leverage to evaluate internal controls and improve processes, services, and products.
These quality management strategies are vital to any business or company. Top managers need to understand and implement these strategies to guarantee great value in their products and services. If you have been struggling with quality management, these strategies will help you to correct mistakes and seal gaps that result in poor quality products.
In every business, customer satisfaction is key. There is no greater way to satisfy your customers than offering high quality products and services? Therefore, implementing these strategies will result in improved quality in your business. Good quality products and services are the basis for running a successful business in any industry.