Overview: What is quality improvement?

It is the framework utilized to improve processes systematically. Quality improvement involves goal-setting, testing, and measurement. With QI, standard processes are established for continual monitoring, assessment, and improvement.

5 benefits of quality improvement

There are numerous benefits of QI when it comes to how your business functions and meets the needs of your customers:

1. Increased company morale

QI focuses on processes as opposed to nit-picking about people. This enables an organization to make real change and boost the morale of the employees within the company.

2. Risk reduction

QI puts an emphasis on incremental improvements over time. This provides for changes that carry less risk than kneejerk reactions to issues.

3. Increased revenue

Successful efforts to increase quality bring trust to your products and services, which can lead to a significant increase in revenue.

4. Peace of mind

Regular and structured data collection offers management the knowledge of what is going on in each department at any given time. This can create a more fruitful and stress-free environment for business.

5. Data-driven gains

Making the transition from emotion-based decisions to data-driven ones opens the door to improvements being long-term and sustainable.

Why is quality improvement important to understand?

If you want your organization to thrive, it is important to understand QI for the following reasons:

Meeting high standards

Having a QI program in place and understanding it puts your business in a position to be able to consistently meet high standards.

Continual change

Having a solid comprehension of QI is important since it is not a one-time fix, but more about continual change and tweaks to processes.

Flexibility of implementation

If you have a firm grasp of QI, it is up to you as to how widespread you want your approach to be. You can choose to focus on one process at a time or make several changes at the same time.

An industry example of quality improvement

A manufacturing plant is having an unacceptable amount of defects. It is decided that a greater emphasis needs to be put on systematic QI. An initiative is put into practice over the long-term that not only seeks to improve upon production, but also a reduction in delays from suppliers, variations in materials, design flaws, and company miscommunication. Over time, the company sees vast improvement in all of these areas and sees their reputation in the field flourish.

5 best practices when thinking about quality improvement

When deciding to implement QI efforts, be sure not to overlook the following practices:

1. Choosing the right leadership

An important aspect of QI is choosing the right leadership to implement the necessary changes. The leadership that is chosen should be clearly defined so that there is no confusion amongst the staff as to who is responsible and accountable.

2. Department collaboration

QI is a company-wide effort. There should be members of each department that are involved in the organization of the process changes.

3. Comparative analysis of success examples

Look at comparable companies and identify how their processes that have proven to be successful can be adapted into your workplace’s approach.

4. Regular data review across departments

Decide what data should be collected from each department, what metrics will be involved, and how success will be quantified. This should be at regular time intervals and course correction should be implemented, if necessary.

5. Use the right tools for the project

Do some research as to what tools are available that would be best suited for the particular needs of your organization’s QI efforts. Make sure that this is standardized across departments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about quality improvement

What are some common roadblocks to successful QI?

Some of the most common roadblocks to improvements in quality are poor communication, disorganized procedures, unrealistic goals that lead to demoralized staff, poor resource allocation, and disinterested leadership.

What other elements are there to quality?

The three other elements of quality are quality planning, quality assurance, and quality control.

What is the difference between QI and quality assurance?

The focus of quality assurance is being able to ensure that your current processes are acceptable. QI is a response to unacceptable practices that require change.

The right time for QI in your company

If your organization has come to the point where your deliverables are consistently not meeting the needs of your customers due to defects, it is likely time to consider implementing QI efforts. The key is to make it systematically sound and to work with it over the long term. Over time, you will likely see gradual and continuous improvements to the quality of your output.

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