From a manufacturing and production perspective, few things matter as much to the integrity of your brand as quality control. Without it, you’ll lose credibility and could face even stiffer consequences from regulatory bodies. Are you doing enough to ensure excellence in this area?
The Secrets Behind Enhancing Quality Control
The terms 'quality assurance' and 'quality control' often get thrown around together. And while they are related, they can’t be used interchangeably. One happens prior to development or manufacturing, while the other occurs after.
'Quality Assurance activities are identified before work begins on the product and these activities are completed while the product is being developed,' Arbour Group explains. 'In contrast, Quality Control activities are performed after the product has been through the development process.'
In this article, we’re going to focus on some ways you can improve quality control on the front end, so that you don’t find yourself backed into a corner on the back end. Every organization is different, but leading companies often use the following 'secrets' to enhance their quality control efforts.
1. Hire Competent People
Quality control starts and ends with people. If you have incapable people on your staff, you’re going to come up short every time. If you have skilled professionals who understand what it takes to plan and carry out quality control procedures, you’ll experience much better results.
Competency might sound like something that’s fairly easy to come by in the hiring process, but you’ll be surprised by how rare it really is. Competent quality control employees have a healthy blend of knowledge, skills, experience, and previous qualifications.
2. Define Better Processes
Are you familiar with the Pareto principle? It states that the majority of things in life and business aren’t distributed evenly. Specifically, it explains that 20% of inputs produce 80% of the outputs.
While the Pareto principle can be applied in numerous areas of your organization, it’s helpful to look at it through the context of quality control. Approximately 20% of the actions you take during manufacturing and development affect 80% of the results.
By designing processes that perfect and optimize the 20%, you can enjoy much better results. This will save time, energy, and money in the long run.
3. Be Clear With Employees
Managing people doesn’t stop with hiring. In order to get the most out of your quality control processes, you have to be clear with employees and invest in training that motivates and prepares them to execute according to plan.
As Six Sigma Online explains, 'Unmotivated employees with low morale are likely to produce a much poorer product than motivated employees with high morale are. The lack of adequate employee training can also significantly reduce the quality of any product or service.'
If employees think quality control is just another box to be checked off in order to satisfy corporate, they aren’t going to give serious attention to the processes and protocol you lay out. They need to know that you prioritize it and care about the outcome.
4. Prioritize Repeatability
Repeatability plays a major role in quality control. 'If you’ve done something with absolute success before, you want to continue doing it that way,' Electro-Matic Products believes. 'That’s why it’s important to document processes, as it provides a baseline understanding of what you do and how you do it. Following a disciplined approach to documentation promotes consistent results.'
Repeatability is important, but you can’t get too carried away with it. Just because something works, doesn’t mean you can let it be. Always revisit every aspect of quality control, even the ones that have historically proven to be reliable, as you never know when something will change for the worst.
5. Leverage the Power of Automation
Quality control is all about automating what you can and saving your energy for the handful of tasks that require manual involvement. Thankfully, there are tons of automation tools on the market today and there’s very little that you have to be totally hands-on with these days.
The key is to spend time vetting the automated solutions you choose. Seek out systems and solutions that comfortably integrate with your existing technology stack and don’t waste money on a tool that’s too rigid. Scalability is extremely important when it comes to quality control.
Quality Over Everything
When you think about it, quality control is one of the single most important areas a business can invest in. If you don’t produce quality goods and services, everything else – including pricing, marketing, advertising, and customer service – becomes irrelevant.
While you might not have a formal quality control strategy in place, now would be a good time to consider implementing one. There’s a lot at stake and you can’t afford to water down your brand’s quality in any form or fashion.