Quality Management is the process of monitoring the different activities and tasks involved in producing and delivering a product and/or service in order to maintain its desired quality. The objective of Quality Management is for an organization to develop a long-lasting relationship between the customer and the product or service it provides, and this can only be achieved when these continuously meet customer’s expectations.
To manage the quality of a product or service, organizations are required to establish a set of procedures to successfully oversee the different processes involved within the organization. These different procedures that are linked with each other and which are meant to conduct an organization towards a specific goal is what makes up the Quality Management System. This Quality Management System follows 7 basic principles, which are:
- Customer focus
- Engagement of people
- Process approach
- Evidence-based decision making
- Relationship management
Each of these principles are important for the success of Quality Management within an organization. However, the fifth principle Improvement is particularly one of the most crucial ones for the sustained success of an organization.
Quality cannot be maintained if improvement is not achieved. The business environment is continuously changing, and customers are increasingly demanding better products and services at lower costs. In order to adapt to these constant changes, organizations need to continuously improve, not only their products and services, but their processes. Thus Quality Improvement is a systematic and continuous process aimed at minimizing costs, increasing the quality of product and services, and meeting and exceeding customer satisfaction. While the Quality Management process assist organizations in achieving and maintaining quality, Quality Improvement drives an organization forward by helping it innovate, manage and create opportunities. It could be said that Quality Improvement is the most proactive part of Quality Management.
Some of the key benefits that an organization can achieved through Quality Improvement are:
- Greater adaptive capacity to meet changing customer’s expectations.
- Decrease of defects and waste, which increases efficiency and lowers costs.
- Prevents errors throughout the organization which improves the products and services delivered to customers.
In general, Quality Management focuses on guaranteeing the ability to deliver quality products and services that meet customer’s expectations, and Quality Improvement focuses on increasing an organization’s capacity to meet its customer’s expectations. Thus, these two, Quality Management and Quality Improvement, have to be seen as counterparts, as they are both part of the same story, a story of long term success of organizations.