The Improvement of Quality and Processes is seen today as an important factor for companies that want to survive against a backdrop of aggressive competition, global markets, and constant technological development. Its origins date back to early last century when mass production and Fordism took the first steps towards what would be called the Quality Management future and, in some specific cases, the Management of Total Quality. Before we talk about the 3 tools widely used in the pursuit of quality, let’s understand the evolution of quality management.
For this, we can divide the Improvement of Quality and Processes into 3 periods or eras.
View more: Understand the concept of Quality Improvement.
The 3 eras of quality and process improvement and their characteristics
1- The Inspection Age
- Products and parts are individually checked one by one
- Customers participate in inspections
- Defects are discovered, but there is no pursuit of quality
2- The Statistical Control Age
- Samples of products are used to check for discrepancies.
- The Department of Quality Control is placed in charge of the task
- Locating defects is the primary concern.
3- The Total Quality Age
- Control over the production process
- The entire company is responsible for the quality of the finished product
- The biggest concern is the prevention of defects.
- A quality improvement system should be used to manage this process.
As noted, the way Process and Quality Improvement was seen over time has changed, evolving from a search for errors to the prevention of errors and taking steps to avoid them. To better understand how this distance has been covered, let’s look at a timeline.
Check out: Understand what total quality is and how it is related to continuous improvement management
The Timeline of Process and Quality Improvement
- The operator controls the quality
- The whole product is manufactured by a group or an employee
- Those involved attested to the manufacturing quality
- The supervisor controls the quality
- He is responsible for his teams work
- Motivates the group
- Inspections to control quality
- Standards-based verification
- Goal: to detect any problems
- Statistical Quality Control
- To prevent and attack problems
- Quality improvement tools
- Focused on production
- Quality Control
- The search for new instruments beyond the use of statistics
- A more strategic and global vision
Currently, quality and process improvement in really competitive enterprises is considered an obligation and not a competitive advantage. Anyone who doesn’t offer quality products and services that are highly regarded by consumers is out of the market. The challenge presents a new level, focused on innovation and meeting customer’s needs with an approach that goes beyond “flawless” products but also encompasses sustainability, ethics, and respect for the environment.
A BPM tool will help your company understand the challenges, improve quality and process management and define the best ways to achieve the level of quality desired by your customers.
A BPM suite is a software that facilitates the introduction of the culture of processes.
3 Tools for Quality and Process Improvement
The cause and effect diagram
Also called the fish spine diagram or the Ishikawa diagram, it is a graphical representation that allows the discovery of the main causes of problems, faults or irregularities.
See how to draw a cause and effect diagram and apply it in Quality and Process Improvement:
- Clearly, describe the problem
- Draw on a sheet of paper a horizontal arrow (left to right) with a rectangular box at the right edge
- Write down the problem to be solved inside the rectangle
- Draw left leaning diagonal lines out from the arrow, both above and below (should begin to resemble a fish skeleton)
- Type at the first diagonal line next to the box a possible “primary” cause of the problem
- Ask the question: “Why does it occur?” And write the answer at the tip of the diagonal line to the left of the primary cause, as this is a “secondary” cause.
- Continue writing down the answers and again asking the question until you reach an initial cause of the problem
This work should be done in a Brainstorming group. When the diagram is complete with sufficient causes and effects, it should be reviewed until everyone agrees with what causes must be eliminated or amended to remedy the effect that leads to the problem under analysis.
This tool allows for the quick identification of elements, actions, resources and responsibilities for the execution of a project, through responses to a series of objective questions. The acronym 5W1H comes from English, as listed below:
- WHAT: What will be done?
- HOW: How is each task performed?
- WHY: Why should the task be done?
- WHERE – Where are they to be executed?
- WHEN – When will each task be performed?
- WHO – Who will be responsible for each task?
Thus, in a quick and objective manner, a project can be designed and implemented quickly.
Also called “the Shewhart Cycle” or “the Deming Cycle”, after its greatest proponent. This tool also uses an acronym for stages of a cyclical and continuous process:
- PLAN: To study a process and plan its improvement
- DO: Implement the change
- CHECK: To observe the effects and check the indicators
- ACT: To study the results and promote corrective action or standardize the process and train employees.
After that, we must return to the beginning and repeat each step after having absorbed the earlier findings, improving the process continuously in pursuit of meeting the needs of the customer. This tool can certainly help your business to engage more effectively in Quality and Process Improvement, especially when you need speed and accuracy in the search for more efficient and effective processes.