What is quality management? Definition and examples

Quality management includes everything we do to make sure we produce and deliver our company’s products and services to spec and at the appropriate cost. Quality management also includes making sure goods arrive on time. It ensures that a company’s goods or services are consistent.

Quality management focuses both on product and service quality and on the means to achieve it. It has four main components: quality planning, quality control, quality assurance, and quality improvement.

BusinessDictionary.com has the following definition of the term:

“Management activities and functions involved in determination of quality policy and its implementation through means such as quality planning and quality assurance (including quality control).”

When we are talking about the system a company uses, we say QMS. QMS stands for quality management system.

Quality management – example

Let’s assume that fictitious company ACME Biros makes ballpoint pens (biros). It produces blue, black, and red biros.



To make sure that the pens have the right color, and that the color is consistent, it created a team of quality control inspectors.

The inspectors take random samples of pens and examine them for color consistency. They also check that the biros work properly, don’t leak, and that their covers fit correctly.

If the inspectors detect an inconsistency or mistake, i.e., a variance, they have the authority to halt production. In other words, if they have to, they can stop the production line until the problem is corrected.

ACME may also have quality management personnel making sure that customers get their orders on time. They, therefore, monitor stock levels, delivery vehicles, drivers, etc.

Deming Wheel - Quality Management 4 Steps
Dr. Deming (1900-1993), from Sioux City, Iowa, was an electrical engineer who later specialized in mathematical physics. His quality management approach involved systematically testing possible solutions, assessing the results, and implementing just the ones that were shown to work.

Quality management – QC vs. QA

Quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) are both parts of quality management. Although they are related, they are, in fact quite different.

Quality control

A quality control inspector makes sure that the finished products meet specifications and standards. Quality control occurs after the company has made the product. It is all about detecting defects.

Quality assurance

QA, on the other hand, is all about preventing defects. QA personnel monitor the process.

According to Diffen.com:



“The goal of QA is to improve development and test processes so that defects do not arise when the product is being developed.”

“The goal of QC is to identify defects after a product is developed and before it’s released.”

QA is a managerial tool. QC, on the other hand, is a corrective tool.

International Standard for Quality Management

The International Standard for Quality Management (ISO 9001:2015) has a number of management principles. Upper management can use these principles to guide their company to better performance. The management principles are:

Customer focus

Quality management should primarily focus on meeting customer requirements. It should also strive to exceed customer expectations.

Leadership

Every leader should establish unity of purpose and direction. Leaders at all levels should also create conditions in which individuals are engaged in achieving the company’s quality objectives.

Engagement of people

To enhance a company’s capability to create and deliver value, it is essential to have competent, engaged and empowered people. Not only people at the top but at all levels within the organization.

Process approach

It is crucial that everybody understands what the activities are and why they are important. It is also vital that they are managed as interrelated processes that function seamlessly as a coherent system. Only then can a company achieve consistent and predictable results effectively and efficiently.



Improvement

For a company to be successful, it should focus continually on improvement.

Evidence-based decision-making

People working in a company should base their decisions on the evaluation and analysis of data – in other words, hard facts. Only then are they likely to produce desired results.

Relationship management

Companies striving for sustained success should manage their relationships with interested parties, such as, for example, retailers and suppliers.

Alfie Kohn, an American author and lecturer in the areas of human behavior, education, and parenting, once said the following about quality management:

“The late W. Edwards Deming, guru of quality management, once declared, ‘The most important things we need to manage can’t be measured.’ If that’s true of what we need to manage, it should be even more obvious that it’s true of what we need to teach.”