Let’s suppose you are a factory’s Quality Manager. You set a goal for 2021 to improve your QMS processes.
Where should you begin?
The ISO 9001 standard is structured based on the steps of the PDCA cycle (Plan – Do – Check – Act). Most companies jump straight to setting up the “Do” section (defining the support activities and core activities) without spending time in the “Plan” section. (And the same thing is true for ISO 13485, IATF 16949 and other ‘MS’ standards).
Having QMS in place may not be enough. When the implementation is not aligned with the company's objectives, it will just turn into a paperwork. A well-defined quality management system will not only address the challenges, but also provide areas of improvement.
The 3 steps below are an excellent representation of a quality management system implementation:
1. Checklist of Risks and Opportunities
Observe your company processes and make a thorough list of what's happening well in the organization and what can be improved upon. This exercise will push you to:
- Prioritize your concerns
- Define the way forward for high-priority issues
- A handy checklist for management review
Try to expand your horizon and not limit the list to quality issues only. Be as elaborative as possible by including operational issues, market dynamics etc., that are important from your business perspective.
If you do this well (typically involving your leadership team in this process), you will have a partial roadmap for the “big improvement projects” for the near future.
2. Establish a Mission Statement (or “policy”)
A mission statement is a guiding path. It should reflect what you expect your quality manager to drive. Don't write something generic. Define the specifics.
Here is an example from Nestle:
- Guarantees product safety and full compliance by respecting our policies, principles and standards with full transparency.
- Ensures and enhances preference and consistency to delight individuals and families by valuing what they value and by offering products and services that always meet or exceed their expectations.
- Strives for zero defects and no waste by constantly looking for opportunities to apply our continuous improvement approach to deliver competitive advantage.
- Engages everybody’s commitment across our complete value chain and at all levels of our organisation to build the Nestlé Quality mind-set.
We encourage manufacturers to think beyond quality or safety and focus on building integrated quality management systems. Make it a mission statement of your factory. Make it reflect what is unique about your company. Define what you want your employees and customers to know and what your manager has to work towards.
Additionally, set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that can be measured as you get closer to your objectives. This will enhance your company’s overall management process and become an integral part of your Quality Management System. It will display improvements within processes, internal audits and management reviews.
3. Setting Needs and Expectations
Employees need clear objectives and a stable workplace. Suppliers need clear specifications, feedback and on-time payments.
Understand the target audience. Do not let bland wording contaminate your management system. In particular, focus on:
Identifying the Need
Understand your customer in-depth. Discuss challenges and issues that your competitor may not be addressing. Capitalize on the opportunity of understanding why has the customer chosen you, among others in the market. What are some of the strengths you can reinforce and what weaknesses can you improve?
Understand the Top Management’s Goal
Identify the top 3 aspects of your company that need improvement. Do you need a long term goal to address challenges that will continue to persist in 3 or 10 years?
I very frequently get the question: ‘What's going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What's not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that the second question is actually the more important of the two -- because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. ... [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection.
It's impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher.’ or ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible.
And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.
These 3 steps are closely related. They need to be planned and documented simultaneously. If you do this well, you have a fundamental base for a well-implemented quality management system.
CMC’s consultants are on-the-ground and are ready to assist. Schedule a call with us today.