When the goal is repeat customers, quality management is a no-brainer. But it’s all too common for surveys to list poor service or product shortcomings as a top ten complaint.
It’s clear that quality is on the minds of savvy consumers who demand and expect more. The takeaway is that quality matters, regardless of product or service industry.
Developing and implementing a strong QA process can help you stay on track with customers. Here’s a pathway to guide your journey.
Quality assurance is a key element for keeping customer needs front and center.
Quality assurance focuses on preventive measures throughout process operations. The objective is simple: meet customer requirements.
QA should be proactive, dealing with issues before products or services reach the customer. Remember, quality is in the eye of the beholder. Your quality assurance has to live up to the customer’s expectations. That’s what matters.
The QA process
A QA process is a consistent, repeatable system for verifying and delivering on customer standards.
It’s a combination of process-oriented activities that consider the means, methods, policies, procedures, reviews and audits necessary for ensuring quality. It also includes comprehensive system training for personnel charged with performing work that impacts the quality of goods and services.
The process typically follows the Deming PDCA cycle for continuous improvement, which applies to any business.
Steps to creating a QA process
A successfully implemented QA process helps the business’s bottom line by creating effective operations that deliver on quality. Here’s how to create yours:
Start with a plan. Form a cross-functional group to shape the plan and lead the effort. The plan must address specific quality goals and objectives the QA process needs to achieve. It should also acknowledge project deliverables.
Determine resource needs and gain commitment to move forward. Due to cost and time commitments, buy-in from top leaders is crucial.
Conduct a baseline assessment. Examine what you do now for quality assurance, and take note of what’s working and not working. The goal is to identify problem areas and associated policies, protocols and procedures that need improving.
Define the future state and determine what’s required to get there. This includes specific action items you need to complete to achieve quality goals.
Establish an implementation timeline with designated responsibilities and follow-up protocols. This is key for system execution.
Set up a method for continual review and enhancement of the QA process. Include appropriate success measures. For example, conduct customer satisfaction surveys or put procedures in place to check for elements not working properly.
Even the best plans can hit a snag. Here are some pointers to help keep the QA process implementation on track:
Don’t throw team members to the wolves. Train them and make sure the mission is clear.
Don’t skip the planning step. Failure to plan almost guarantees a failed implementation.
Don’t forget about monitoring to assess implementation success.
Don’t go it alone. Get support from a qualified resource skilled in strategic business consulting.
Quality products and services are a must when it comes to business longevity, efficiency and profitability. A QA process provides businesses with a better understanding of current methods and upgrades needed to consistently deliver on the promise of quality.
The payoff of such an effort is measured in customer satisfaction, business gains from increased productivity, and cost savings from minimized quality issues.