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4 strategies for developing a quality management plan

Quality management strategies are how manufacturers and project managers ensure that final results meet established standards. Writing out a quality management plan gives you a roadmap to follow.

Quality management is essential for any business or manufacturing project. Detailed quality management planning guides everyone involved with a project through each phase, clearly defines roles and responsibilities, and allows you to set a realistic deadline. 

Good quality management plans go through each stage of the quality management process to ensure that they are well thought out and applied consistently throughout a project. In this way, the work you do designing a quality management strategy will make your life much easier once the project starts. 

What is quality management? 

Quality products are those that have no defects, deficiencies, or significant variations between one another. In other words, quality final products function as intended and are produced in a standardized manner. 

Quality management is how companies ensure: 

  • Products meet customer expectations
  • Products are built right the first time
  • Manufacturing processes are as efficient as possible
  • Results are consistent
  • Production is as cheap as quality standards allow

Quality management as a whole is a four-step process, and a quality management plan will need to address and guide employees through each. Those steps are quality planning, quality assurance, quality control, and quality improvement. 

Quality planning

Quality planning is where you define the standards your finished product needs to meet. Decide on these standards by asking who your stakeholders are and who your customers are. What do they expect to see from you as the manufacturer? What do they need from your product? 

Also remember that in addition to consumer and internal expectations, you’ll have legal obligations when it comes to product quality. The exact standards you’re subject to are different depending on your industry, but these regulations generally revolve around keeping customers safe

Quality assurance

Quality assurance means translating the standards you’ve set for the final product into actionable steps. Here, you define all the tools, materials, and processes needed for success and ensure that your employees are similarly informed. Communicate exactly all the requirements, legal and otherwise. This includes exact product specifications; for example, size, weight, and color. 

Make sure your workers understand the manufacturing processes they will be in charge of and have the proper equipment to do their tasks safely. Inspect and test that equipment to make sure it’s functional and safe before work starts. Since quality depends on consistency, create checklists your employees can follow so that tasks are completed the same way by every team member. 

Quality control

Quality control is the stage in a quality management system where you see whether your quality assurance produced a satisfactory product or not. This is where you do a series of inspections and tests in search of any damage or flaw in your product before clearing it for shipment. 

It’s a good idea to perform quality checks throughout a manufacturing process, not just at the end. That way, if there are any errors, you can flag and resolve them without needing to start from scratch. Visually inspect as well as measure the exterior and interior of products, checking that specifications are met. 

Make sure to test products at least once to make sure they’re functional and compliant. Check that no parts are loose and that products don’t overheat or use excess energy when in use. 

Quality improvement

Quality improvement can be thought of as the analysis stage of quality management planning. Basically, you look at your observations during quality control to determine whether your quality assurance processes guarantee a good final result. If not, figure out which parts of your manufacturing process need to change.

In this way, quality management plans are flexible and account for potential future improvements. One important thing to remember about quality improvements is that the focus should always be on the processes and/or equipment, not on blaming individuals. 

4 ways to optimize your quality management plan

Worker performing an inspection in the workplace

When you write a quality management plan, it’s essential to include each component of quality management, but you also need to apply that quality management strategy. After determining the outcomes you need, improve your quality management by administering your plan effectively. 

Clearly define quality standards

Make it as easy as possible for responsible employees to implement your quality management plan. When you’re describing the standards products need to meet, use clear, simple language. Make sure your workers know how to measure the quality goals you set. 

It’s a good idea to break quality management down into lots of smaller goals. That way, you have multiple points to evaluate a quality management process. For example, instead of  saying that a final product meets all quality standards, treat each quality standard as a separate goal that you can evaluate. 

Delegate quality management tasks

Successful quality management depends on everyone understanding their tasks. Identify who in your business will be responsible for what by looking at their individual skills and experience. 

Establishing a hierarchy and matching the task to the employee helps work proceed most efficiently and avoids confusion.   

Include everyone in quality planning

A wide range of people are invested in the quality of your products, whether they’re employees, stakeholders, or customers. Involve all of these people in your quality management somehow. 

Employees are obviously the ones in charge of manufacturing the products themselves. Stakeholders can be people like managers, external suppliers, or retailers, and you can involve them by providing regular updates throughout production. While you may not be able to involve customers in your business directly, you can incorporate their feedback using customer surveys

Leave room for improvement

Quality control and quality improvement are vital to ensuring products meet your standards. A quality management plan needs to be flexible enough to accommodate changes to or newly introduced processes where necessary.

Continuous improvement – consistent small optimizations – is essential to make sure your quality management plan stays up-to-date. Make sure to respond to observations you make during quality control by avoiding those mistakes in the future. 

Design a quality management plan easily with Lumiform. Use the custom checklist creator to ensure you tailor each stage of quality management to your organization’s conditions and distribute the plan to stakeholders with one click. Use your checklist during each stage of quality management to ensure consistency.

Lumiform stores every completed checklist in the cloud, so you can access it whenever you want. This plus regular automated reports means you always have quality documentation on hand, without worrying about storing or losing files.   

A worker making sure measurements match quality specifications

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