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The concept of quality management has evolved from involving the quality of a manufactured product to a system of practices and methodologies committed to business excellence and involving every individual in an organization. The concept of quality management dates back to the middle ages whereby skilled craftsmen used to inspect and remedy goods. In the early years, manufacturing processes involved low volumes of goods that were informally inspected. However, after the industrial revolution, organizations engaged in large scale production leading to the need of quality control. In 1911, Frederick Taylor introduced a more comprehensive concept of quality management which involved quality control as a more distinct function that involved people who were not directly involved in the manufacturing process.
In 1920s, Dr. Walter Shewhart introduced quality control as a proactive process that takes place in the production process. The Japanese embraced the quality management concept throughout 1950s and 1960s which led to the success of their manufacturing industry. On seeing this, the American adopted the concept of quality control in the 1970s. The British Standard (BS) 5750 for quality management was then adopted in 1979. The International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) 9000 later became an internationally recognized standard for quality management. Quality management currently involves a much wider concept that acknowledges all organizational process and the importance of these processes.
Quality management is an important concept in each organization as it ensures the excellence of a company’s product and services. Using quality management, an organisation is able to have a well communicated plan to meet set goals and objectives. Quality management improves an organization’s products as it manufactured goods can be tested to ensure that they meet the set standards. This enables an organization to improve the quality of its products. In addition, quality management enables an organization to ensure customer satisfaction by ensuring customers get what they exactly need.
The Role of Leadership
While quality management is the responsibility of every one in an organization, leadership plays a more strategic role in quality management. Leadership is important as it enables example setting and goal setting from the top that will be followed by other organizational departments. Leadership is able to initiate quality management goals and when leaders in an organization follow these goals, it would be very easy for others to follow suit and ensure the success of quality management. Quality management is a critical part of an organization’s strategy which is spearheaded by an organization’s leadership. It requires the understanding and support from the management.
The role of an organization’s management is to think strategically in order to meet organizational goals and objectives. Management is all about planning, decision making and leading an organization. Quality management involves practices and processes that lead to the production of goods that meet set standards. Quality management is similar to management as it involves planning and making decisions that will ensure high performing products that meet customer requirements are produced. Just like management involves creating a plan in order to meet the objectives of an organization, quality management involving coming up with a plan to produce high quality products and implementing this plan.
Quality management involves meeting certain standards and in so doing, creating a plan for success. The main objective of an organization is also to create plans that will ensure the success of a company. Different metrics can be used to identify the standards to be met in quality management. These include productivity, customer satisfaction, improved product performance and reduced waste.
General Quality Strategies and Tools
There are several general quality strategies and tools that enable quality engagement for organizations. These include:
- Establishing customer expectations- A key objective in quality management is to establish customer expectations by identifying the product features important to customers and creating these features. The quality of the goods and services offered by an organization is determined by customer expectations. Quality management aims at establishing and managing to meet customer expectations by offering them high quality products.
- Designing quality- Designing quality involves establishing standards that would differentiate a company’s goods and safeguard the reputation of an organization’s brand. Designing quality is an important toll in quality management as it involves specifying the requirements that an organization’s products will need to meet. Designing quality enables an organization to have unique goods and maintain its place in the market.
- Defining metrics- In order to identify whether a product has met its specifications, organizations measure performance against quality standards. Identifying and defining quality metrics enable a company to identify a weakness in a product and quickly correct any areas of deficiency. Defining metrics involves first defining organizational goals before defining the quality metrics to follow.
- Mistake-proofing- Mistakes can cause failures and defects in production and manufacturing which leads to poor customer service, increased costs and reduced output. Mistake proofing is a strategy in quality management that involves producing zero defective products. Mistake proofing can lead to enhanced reliability and productivity of the manufacturing process.
- Kaizen- Kaizen is a core principle in quality management and it involves a philosophy that incorporates different concepts including improving everything that one does in an organization, evolution rather than revolution, everyone involved in the process has the needed knowledge and works in a team, everyone is involved in the participating in improvement processes and every employee is trained in running a company.
- Six Sigma -Six sigma involves improving, designing and monitoring activities meant to eliminate waste while maximizing customer satisfaction and increasing financial performance. The performance of a process measures improvement in a business process by comparing the process capability before improvement with process capability after quality improvement strategies.
Quality Tactics and the Logistics and Supply Chain Functions
Quality tactics in the logistics and supply chain functions focus on adopting measures that will ensure quality in the logistic and supply functions. Logistics is the section of supply chain management that implements and controls storage of goods and services from the point of origin to the point of consumption. Supply chain involves the functions of planning and managing the sourcing and procurement activities Quality tactics can be applied in line with strategic supply chain decisions made by organizations. Quality tactics in logistics and supply chain focuses on creating real benefits to an organization. Every company decision requires an operational logistic function.
However, quality tactics can be applied whereby an external logistic is used whereby costs benefits can be achieved by outsourcing. In addition, some countries have high cost of land and so construction of warehouse facilities can be quite costly. Most organizations realize the cost benefits of having global suppliers and using strategic supply chain policies to take advantage of these benefits. At the organizational level quality tactics will enable the management to identify the terms that will ensure the highest quality of products and realize the greatest cost benefit.
Organizations make strategic decisions on the products they specialize in and quality tactics have to be applied so as to make the needed products. If an organization makes a decision to introduce a new product line, then the organization has to involve quality tactics regarding the specifications of the product. Quality tactics in logistics and supply chain functions involve the decisions in quality management that are made within the framework of logistics and supply chain function. Some of the tools to be applied internally include customer service, procurement, inventory management, warehousing techniques and order management and fulfilment. Quality tactics are applied to provide efficiencies and achieve cost reductions in logistics and supply chain.