What is a quality control system?
A Quality Control System is a formal procedure deployed by businesses to help them improve the quality of their products and organizational processes.
It’s basically product and process management developed and executed to achieve better outcomes for businesses.
A little encouragement is in order here, especially for small businesses: you don’t have to be a Quality Control expert to set up a Quality Management System that works for your enterprise. You might need a certified professional to handle large scale projects, but if you know what your business’s products and processes are, and if you’re able to chart a course for improving them, you can fashion out a simple but effective Quality Control management framework.
Uses of quality control
Businesses use Quality Control to achieve any or all of the following:
- Raise the quality of their product or service
- Improve the efficiency of the production system and organizational processes
- Enhance customer experience
- Maintain focused progress towards fulfilling growth goals
For example, imagine you’re the boss at a tailoring shop. You’ve employed a dozen tailors to sew alongside you. You want them to make the sort of wares you’d like your business to be known for, and that your customers will be pleased with. How do you get this done? Maybe you’ll clearly define what you want, train your staff to get the job done, see how your shop’s output is regarded by your customers, and assess areas in which improvement is obviously needed. These steps are part of a typical Quality Management strategy for small businesses.
Designing a quality control system
How to you design a Quality Control or Management System for your business? Here’s a stepwise guide to building one.
1. Know what you want to achieve
We’ve already noted some of the things that a Quality Control System can help you bring about. Its ultimate aim should be to keep your business on the path to attaining your ultimate goal as contained in your mission statement.
You should also know what success indicators you’re looking to improve. They could be your business’s financial status, the speed and output of organizational processes, market share, customer satisfaction or service delivery. The task of getting your business to meet preset standards will be much easier to carry out if you know exactly what those standards are.
2. Have a detailed outline of your business’s products and processes
Come up with comprehensive descriptions of your products. Cover all specifications and functions. Note the features that make it unique in comparison to competing products. An exhaustive product description will help lay bare your offering for thorough examination, and simplify the task of pinpointing areas that require improvement.
This also applies to your business’s processes. Put together staff job descriptions and the responsibilities which link each person or department, and draw up a flowchart illustrating the process interactions between functional units in your business. All of this should provide you with a clear picture of how the business works at the moment, and pave the way for a sweeping probe of your enterprise as an entity.
3. Conduct customer and staff surveys
Feedback is indispensable. You can’t build a business that thrives without getting your customers’ needs right. And your business won’t be able to function optimally if the administrative and production processes aren’t bringing the best out of your employees.
While it’s alright to take your own observations about your product or service seriously, you should be careful to find out what your customers think about it. They’re the ones you’re selling to, the ones you expect to consume your output. Surveys are a great way to know what they feel about your offerings and learn what (if any) adjustements or new things they think you should make. Because surveys on digital platforms come with design options that expand the possibilities for what surveys can achieve, you could gain exciting insights into customers’ thoughts on the quality of your product.
The success or failure of a Quality Control System ultimately depends on how you and your staff work. Planning for a management system should take into account the business’s organizational structure, roles and personnel. Ask the staff or team members at your enterprise to describe their daily work routine, note the input and equipment they use, list the hinderances to them being more productive, and make suggestions that could help improve their performance.
Remember that your questions should be geared towards eliciting answers that bear directly or indirectly on the goals you want to achieve or the indices you want to improve.
4. Collect performance indices
Things like staff productive output, sales records and customer retention rates should be gathered. Taken together, they can also reveal the business’s true state and expose growth drivers and problem spots.
5. Evaluate your business based on survey responses and observations
Examine your product and processes with your survey responses, collected indices and other evaluative tools. Areas of deficiency would be aspects of the business process or product that fall below your expectations, fail to make the most of the skills and resources at your disposal, or do not ensure a brand experience that customers consider satisfactory.
6. Create and execute strategies for improvement
Quality Control Management requires that you design specific solutions for each discovered area of deficiency. Control measures could include instituting a staff performance evaluation register, training and retraining staff, reorganizing organizational structure and processes, or modifying your product. Whatever resolutions you make, be sure to communicate them to any staff who’s concerned, and devise formal ways to monitor the progress of execution.
It’s important to remember that Quality Control isn’t a one off process. Ideally, it’s undertaken regularly throughout the life of a business. But if you get it done properly, it could significantly improve your business’s products and your brand’s appeal in general. It could spur your enterprise on to immediate and long term growth.