Quality Control for Dummies
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Without quality control, your organization can't survive for long. Successfully implementing, maintaining, and evaluating quality control standards is critical whether you're seeking ISO certification or just keeping up with customer needs. When implementing a quality control process, you'll likely face resistance from people within the organization. By staying vigilant and addressing potential problems early, however, your organization can function at a high level.

How to obtain ISO certification to demonstrate quality control standards

Meeting ISO (International Organization for Standardization) quality standards ensures customers that you’ll provide quality product. ISO standards are the most recognized quality standards — after all, the organization’s members consist of the national standards organizations of 150 countries. Follow these ISO quality standards, which provide a common language for companies to trade across the globe:

  1. Get commitment from top management to ensure success.

  2. Train all employees on the basics of quality.

  3. Prepare your quality policy manual.

  4. Document operating procedures.

  5. Perform an internal audit.

  6. Select an ISO certification agency to use.

  7. Have the certification agency perform the audit.

  8. If you pass the audit, congratulations!

  9. If you don’t pass the audit, take necessary corrective action and repeat the audit.

How to introduce quality control to your organization

Introducing a quality control program into your organization requires careful planning and precise execution. Like any other major new program you introduce, thorough planning and attention to detail will greatly increase the odds of success. Just follow these steps:

  1. Create a roadmap to guide your organization to its quality goals.

  2. Prepare everyone for the changes to come.

  3. Obtain a sponsor to be the organization’s champion of quality.

  4. Select a quality control manager.

  5. Create an effective communications program.

  6. Provide employee training on quality control.

  7. Select a pilot project.

  8. Perform the pilot, prove its value, and apply the lessons learned.

Implementing quality control standards: How to overcome organizational reluctance

Many people in the organization will see the introduction of a quality control process as an unwelcome change. Overcoming reluctance to a new quality control process calls for clear and consistent communication, and a constant eye on the “big picture.” Here are some tips on how to rally the support of the willing, ease the fears of the reluctant, and overcome the obstacles put up by the unwilling.

  • Monitor and manage the risks as your project progresses.

  • Believe in your goal, and focus on the benefits that quality will bring to your organization.

  • Don’t go it alone; find support from the quality sponsor or other experts in your organization.

  • Remain rational when you face challenges.

  • Keep everything in perspective.

  • Break down any obstacles into manageable pieces.

How to get your quality control project back on track

Of course you expect your quality-control project to succeed, but things rarely go as smoothly as planned. Even the best-laid plans sometimes run into problems. Be ready for trouble and use the following tips to get your quality project back on track.

  • Review your goals and focus on what’s really important.

  • Evaluate where your project stands — look at what you’ve achieved and where the project truly has problems.

  • Get professional help from an outside expert.

  • Learn from your mistakes by preventing them in the future.

  • Determine your minimum acceptable goals; you may have to scale back the project.

How to improve quality control through customer feedback

Customer feedback is one of the most important resources for improving an organization’s quality control. If you’re serious about quality control, you can’t assume that you know what the customer wants, and you can’t wait for them to tell you. Actively seeking customer input ensures that you know exactly what the customer wants, which is the only way to keep your organization in business.

Your organization exists to provide for the needs of your customers. Use these tips to devise a feedback survey that reveals your customers’ needs:

  1. Define your objectives; know what you hope to accomplish before you begin.

  2. Think about how you’ll analyze the data you gather; consider your objectives as well as time and budget restraints.

  3. Use good questions that fit within your objectives and data-analysis method.

  4. Keep the data-collection process simple to minimize errors.

  5. Use an unrelated party to collect data to prevent bias.

  6. Train your data collectors to ensure consistency and accuracy.

  7. Perform a trial run to work out any bugs in the collection process.

  8. Make any modifications necessary and gather more information from a larger customer population.

How to measure your current quality control process

Careful measurement is key to managing your quality control processes. Use the following steps to ensure that you measure the right quality-control factors in the right way.

  1. Determine what to measure (the items or processes you decide to measure are called metrics).

  2. Determine your measurement process by selecting the best process for your needs.

  3. Define exactly how you’ll use the selected measurement process.

  4. Train your employees on the proper measurement process.

  5. Perform gauge repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) tests to determine measurement variation.

  6. Perform the measurements and compare to customer specifications.

  7. Confirm the quality of your data with compare-and-review checks and the help of a computer.

  8. Make sense of your data with coding and different data charts.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Larry Webber is a Six Sigma Black Belt and quality improvement facilitator. Michael Wallace has developed quality control software for all types of companies.

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