When you think of quality control, you probably think of manufacturing businesses inspecting products for flaws. In reality, quality control processes can be used in all types of businesses and organizations, whether they are product-based or service-based.
Quality control is a key component of a well-run enterprise. A quality-control program helps ensure that your business or team is delivering a consistent product, service, and customer experience. Developing quality-control processes allows your business to operate without you, making it easier to expand into new locations, delegate duties, and even sell your business if that becomes a good idea.
Leadership in quality management forms the backbone of any improvement strategy. Business growth requires that leadership give careful attention to both income and people. The quality- control process helps ensure you’re monitoring both. Both must be in careful order to maintain your reputation and progress.
Here are some steps to develop a quality-control process:
1. Identify organizational goals. The process of quality assurance starts by defining how employees’ jobs are tied to your company or organization’s goals. Employees need to know the organization’s mission, vision, and values, and how they relate to the company and their role in it. All new employees should receive a thorough orientation with regard to the company’s vision, mission, values, and goals. Knowing their individual goals and how they relate to the organization’s goals is the first step in the process of quality assurance.
2. Set your quality standards. In some industries, you may have to meet quality standards set by an outside governing body or regulatory agency. In others, there aren't any official quality standards, so you'll need to set your own.
Each department of your business will have different quality-control standards. However, they must all be measurable objectively, not just “warm and fuzzy.” For example, if you're developing quality-control standards for your customer-service team, “sounding friendly on the phone" is not a measurable standard. Measurable standards are things like…
Answering all customer calls by the second ring
Responding to customer service emails within four hours
Resolving customer service problems in five minutes or less
3. Decide which standards will be your immediate focus. While you certainly want all things to be high quality, begin by focusing on the most important areas—those that have the biggest effect on your profits and your customer experience. You can get some quick results and keep you and your team from being overwhelmed.
For instance, if you have a restaurant and the restrooms are not always as clean as they could be, but also you don’t get high-quality food on the table in a timely manner, the food is more important to tackle first.
4. Create operational processes to deliver quality. Starting with your critical operations, create step-by-step processes that include benchmarks. Getting feedback from your clients and your employees is absolutely vital to doing this well. You need to get their perspective, as it is essential to determining needed processes. Use measurable feedback from external sources, such as customer surveys, online ratings and reviews to get a fuller picture of product and service quality.
5. Review your results. Most business software lets you customize the information you collect and use dashboards to view it at a glance. Review your data regularly to see how well your company is meeting its quality standards. See how your feedback can well inform your ongoing processes.
6. Make continuous improvements. Once you’re meeting your quality-control standards, don't stop there. The essential factor is to study the feedback received and use it to continuously improve the organization’s processes in delivering the products and services it sells to its customers, as well as improve your bottom line.
For example, if you operate a cleaning service business with high standards that are continually met, and you can cut the time it takes your employees to clean a home by 25 percent, you’ll be able to handle 25 percent more business without hiring any additional employees. That will really boost your bottom line.
Quality control is an important part of leadership. You can grow your business as you control and manage it well.