There are several elements to a quality system, and each organization is going to have a unique system. The most important elements of a quality system include participative management, quality system design, customers, purchasing, education and training, statistics, auditing, and technology.
The entire quality process, once started, will be an ongoing dynamic part of the organization, just like any other department such as marketing or accounting. It will also need the continuous focus of management. The implementation and management of a successful quality system involves many different aspects that must be addressed on a continuous basis.
Vision and Values. The starting point for the management and leadership process is the formation of a well-defined vision and value statement. This statement will be used to establish the importance of the quality system and build motivation for the changes that need to take place, whether the organization plans to exceed customer expectations, commit to a defined level of customer satisfaction, or commit to zero defects. The exact form of the vision and values is not as important as the fact that it is articulated and known by everyone involved. This vision and value statement is going to be a driving force to help mold the culture that is needed throughout the organization in the drive for quality. It is not the words of the value statement that produce quality products and services; it is the people and processes that determine if there is going to be a change in quality. The vision and value will be very important statements to set agendas for all other processes used to manage the quality system.
Developing the Plan. The plan for the quality system is going to be different for every organization, but there are similar characteristics:
✔ There should be clear and measurable goals.
✔ There are financial resources available for quality.
✔ The quality plan is consistent with the organization’s vision and values.
The plan for the quality system might also include pilot projects that would entail setting up small quality projects within the organization. This will allow management to understand how well the quality system is accepted, learn from mistakes, and have greater confidence in launching an organization-wide quality system. The plan should provide some flexibility for employee empowerment, because, as has been demonstrated, the most successful quality systems allow employees at all levels to provide input.
Communication. Change, especially a movement toward higher quality, is challenging to communicate effectively, yet the communication process is essential for the company’s leaders to move the organization forward. Communication is the vital link between management, employees, consumers, and stakeholders. These communication lines also bring about a sense of camaraderie between all individuals involved and help sustain the drive for the successful completion of long-term quality goals.
Communication systems also must allow for employees to give feedback and provide possible solutions to issues the company must face. Management needs to allow for this in both formal and informal ways, such as employee feedback slips and feedback roundtable meetings.
The responsibility for fostering a culture that values communication lies with senior management. They alone have to ensure that goals and objectives are communicated to all. They are also responsible for setting up the system for feedback from the employees.
Rewards and Acknowledgment. Rewards, compensation, and acknowledgment for achievements in quality are very effective ways to motivate employees. They tell employees at the end of the day exactly what management is trying to accomplish. Rewards, compensation, and acknowledgment may also be seen as a form of communication— they are tangible methods that senior management uses to let employees know that quality is important. This could come in the form of individual rewards or team rewards. Rewards, compensation, and acknowledgment take many forms, and it is up to management to ensure that this type of program is in line with the goals and objectives of the quality system and the goals and objectives of the organization. Organizations have found that the best and most cost-effective reward, compensation, and acknowledgment programs are geared to meeting specific criteria. These programs motivate managers who in turn motivate their employees to strive toward predefined goals.