7 Core Principles of Quality Management
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If you want to serve your customers better, you’ve got to pay attention to quality management. Maybe you’ve been trying already to create products and services in a more consistent way. Understanding the principles of quality management can help you do so. It can even help you exceed customer expectations.
In this article we’ll go through the definition of quality management and we’ll explain in detail its core principles according to ISO standards.
What is Quality Management?
The concept of quality management is associated with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It refers to a set of business processes that ensure that the products and services offered by a business consistently meet up with both customer and regulatory requirements.
Ultimately, the quality of a product or service depends on the extent to which it meets customer expectations. When you focus on quality management, you show to your customers that you care about them, giving them the very best.
Picture 1. Quality management principles
What are the Core Principles of Quality Management?
According to the ISO, there are seven quality management principles. These principles ensure that an organization is able to continuously improve.
- Customer focus
- Engagement of people
- Process approach
- Evidence-based decision making
- Relationship management
These principles are not listed in priority order. Instead, the relative importance of each principle changes based on the stage that the business is currently in. Let us discuss ways to use these principles to make your customer experience better.
For your business to be successful in the long-term, you need to attract and maintain the confidence of your customers. This means that you need to build a customer-centric company. When your company is focused on customers, you will find ways to interact with them and ask for their feedback.
You can achieve this by linking your company’s objectives to the needs of your customers. When these two elements are closely connected, it makes it easier for you to produce high quality products. It also makes it easier for the various departments in your company to stay focused on the same mission.
As a part of working towards a customer focus, organizations should also aim to improve their user experience (UX). Quality management and UX design are also connected. Effective designs consider both user needs and business goals. By investing in UX design courses and tools for their teams, customer-centric companies are able to anticipate the needs of users. They can then incorporate this information into the product development cycle.
Picture 2. Customer focus
Leadership is an important part of quality management. Quality starts with a vision. At one point, someone decided to create and sell a product or service that would bring value to a specific audience. That vision then spread throughout the company. Leaders at all levels of a business help to promote a feeling of unity. This builds an environment where people are willing to support each other.
Leadership also involves creating shared values at all levels of the organization. Members of an organization should know their role and the ethical standards that are expected of them. Management should provide people with the required resources, training and authority to act with accountability. These resources should give people the ability to monitor and measure results within the business. The ISO standard also includes caring for the social, psychological, and physical health of your people.
Although leaders provide direction, employees and leaders should work together unitedly. Leaders should show employees respect as they teach them about business processes. Employees should also be encouraged to share their feedback on ways that the organization can improve. When you empower your employees, they take more pride in their work. Leaders have a powerful effect on a business. When leaders make a commitment to quality, others will commit too.
Engagement of People
Engagement of people is another key factor to consider. It is important to engage your people and appreciate them as individuals. Engaged employees are essential to the success of your business. They enable you to deliver value to each customer that interacts with your company.
Engaged employees show up every day with a passion, purpose and a sense of duty. A workplace report by Gallup found that teams who score in the top 20% in engagement realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism, and 59% less turnover.
Engaged teams are more profitable. This makes sense. After all, we all feel a stronger connection to organizations that appreciate us. When you engage your employees, they will have a stronger desire to do their best. Moreover, when you focus on shared values, it builds greater trust and collaboration throughout the organization.
Employee engagement is not an abstract feeling. It is seen through your actions. For example, it is evident when you give your employees clear expectations and provide them with the tools they need to excel. Successful organizations recognize and acknowledge employees who go out of their way to develop new skills. They know that it takes effort to leave your comfort zone and take charge of your learning.
Therefore, these organizations also encourage employees to evaluate their performance based on their own personal goals. Personal goals provide huge motivation, and can move employees to break down barriers to their growth. When companies view employee engagement in this way, it helps them connect this area to the core business strategy.
Picture 3. Employee engagement
When you create a quality management system, you should define and implement a process approach. First, you should identify your key business processes. Then you should define standards for those processes, and decide how you will evaluate each process. Next, you should document your approach to quality. When you document your approach, it creates a system that enables you to continuously improve.
For example, proposal writing is an area where many businesses should use a process approach. By using a proposal template, you simplify your business process. How? You create a document that you can reference to throughout the entire project. This is useful for the client’s understanding of the proposal. But it is also useful to you. It keeps you on track and helps you ensure that each task in the project adds value to your client.
So, you should establish quality goals and look back to see how your processes support those goals. When you do so, your business will be able to use resources more efficiently. Many businesses have also found that a process approach helps to keep things consistent across departments. In the end, processes are just a way to make your results more predictable. When you clarify actions in your business, everyone reaps the benefits.
If you want to keep producing high-quality products and services, you must find ways to improve. Improvement initiatives are beneficial for at least two reasons. First, they enable you to keep your current level of performance so you don’t lose out to competitors. Secondly, improvement allows your business to grow, adapt to changes, and find new opportunities.
It’s important to keep a pulse on activities that can influence the success of your business and loyalty of your buyers. One key factor is the quality of your customer service. You can keep improving in this area by collecting user feedback and recordings of your customer service conversations. This gives you useful information about which segments of your product or service need the most improvement.
Delivering quality does not have to be complicated. You simply need to hear back from the people you design products and services for. When you maintain a feedback loop, it enables you to fix the most frequent problems that your customers have. Even small improvements can make a big difference.
Evidence-based Decision Making
Decision making is a complex process. It can involve multiple sources and various levels of uncertainty. Since hundreds of decisions are made every day in your business, there could be areas where information slips through the cracks. It’s important to pay attention to this, because it greatly affects the quality of your results.
That’s why evidence-based decision making is important. Decisions based on data analysis will produce more trustworthy results. When you have access to the facts, it allows you to review and change decisions as often as you need.
When you look at your data, you also need to understand cause-and-effect relationships. Being able to identify when one factor causes another allows you to arrive at the proper conclusion. Another element of this is understanding unintended consequences. You should stay alert to ways your data could be affected when you change or add various factors.
When you use evidence-based analysis methods, you are able to prove the effectiveness of past decisions. It is always a confidence boost to know that your business is backed up by facts and logic. When you have a system based on evidence, it guides your decision making and ensures that you take the right actions to grow your business.
Quality is also supported by the relationships that you develop with customers, partners, suppliers, and other parties. You can achieve long-term success when you manage these relationships in a way that results in a common understanding of goals and values. In other words, you should constantly make sure that you and your stakeholders are on the same page.
Conflict resolution plays a key role in relationship management. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you and your stakeholders all want the same thing – a happy customer. Keeping the customer in the focus will enable you to address any disagreements that arise so you can solve the problem together.
When you take steps to improve your relationship management, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you should determine interested parties and their relationship with your business. Then you should make an effort to pool and share information and resources with those parties. Aim to balance short-term gains with long-term considerations.
The way you treat people today will affect the opportunities you have tomorrow. You can make your relationships stronger by going the extra mile and finding ways to delight your stakeholders. When you make sure that your business relationships are in good condition, you will promote a stable flow of goods and services and reduce quality-related risks.
The above principles of quality management are useful to organizations of all sizes. As you aim to keep your customers happy, pay attention to ways that you can promote consistency across your business. Create systems that produce quality results on autopilot. This takes effort, but it pays off. When you’re consistent, you’ll build confidence and trust in the minds of all stakeholders, especially your customers.
Roli Edema is a personal development author and digital marketer. On her blog, Roli provides individuals with useful tools to enable them to reach their personal, career, and business goals.
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