Manufacturing organizations strive to produce high-quality products and go through rigorous processes to do so. Achieving and maintaining quality takes effort and systematic planning, and most manufacturing companies have strict quality guidelines in place to ensure their products not only meet internal standards but also live up to the expectations of customers.
With so many moving parts, the vocabulary of Quality Management can get tricky. What is the difference between Quality Management and, say, Quality Assurance? Or Quality Control? Is there a difference? Let’s examine a few of these terms and clarify.
Quality Management is the supervision of all aspects of quality at an organization -- it refers to the overarching standards by which an organization appraises and measures its performance. Quality Management typically focuses on long-term goals and improving standards of quality over time.
Under the broader umbrella of Quality Management are four other topics: Quality Planning, Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Quality Improvement. These four aspects together describe the process through which an organization can effectively manage the quality of its products and services.
Quality Assurance is the act of maintaining a set standard of quality in the process of creating a product or delivering service. It seeks to prevent and control errors, defects, and other imperfections -- it’s a proactive, rather than reactive, process. Making sure that machinery operates as it should, ensuring that factory standards meet regulatory requirements, and optimizing the assembly process are all examples of Quality Assurance within a manufacturing organization.
Quality Control concerns the testing of a product’s or service’s quality after it has been down the assembly line. While Quality Assurance takes preventative measures to prevent against error prior to the beginning of production, Quality Control ensures that errors do not occur in the process of production.
Examples of Quality Control might involve testing a random batch of finished baby strollers to ensure safety and stability, or perhaps pulling a few chocolates off an assembly line to analyze for taste, texture, and appearance. Employees can then go back after testing and correct errors to ensure fewer lapses in quality for the future.
Quality planning involves the creation of a set of quality standards and practices for an organization. A quality plan consists of the specifications that an organization should adhere to to maintain a certain level of quality for the future. According to the American Society for Quality, a quality plan should include:
- Specific, achievable objectives
- Steps indicating the organization’s operating practice
- Designation of authorities and responsibilities
- Documented standards and practices
- Programs for auditing and testing practices
- A documented process for making changes to the quality plan
- Metrics for measuring goal attainment
This plan will then inform the company’s Quality Assurance and Quality Control processes and provide a backbone for future quality development throughout the organization.
Quality Improvement helps organizations analyze and improve the quality of their products or services systematically. Quality Improvement is especially prevalent and important for healthcare organizations, focusing in on data and reports to guide the improvement of patient safety and care.
Quality Improvement requires organizations to collect data, run analyses, go through evaluations, and ultimately commit to an ongoing quality improvement process. This strategy aims to promote faster, more efficient improvement overall.
Issuetrak for Quality Management
It’s imperative for manufacturers to maintain a high level of quality in their products -- but with so many considerations involved in Quality Management, it can be difficult to keep track of every moving part. Luckily, a software solution like Issuetrak can help take the stress out of the process and get manufacturing organizations operating at top capacity faster.
Issuetrak can track issues both prior to production and on the assembly line, providing a simple way for employees to log problems and keep tabs on them until their eventual resolution. Over time, stakeholders can see trends via the software’s reporting features -- making it easier than ever to pinpoint exactly where problems in quality arise down the line. And there’s no need for physical lists or hand-written forms with Issuetrak’s Task Manager, which can create branching workflows and digital checklists directly connected to issues and projects within the software. It can even automatically notify coworkers when it’s their turn to perform an action.
Quality Management is complex, but it doesn’t have to be confusing. For more information on how Issuetrak can help improve your organization’s Quality Management process, contact one of our product experts today.