Quality Improvement (QI) is not just a method, but a systematic approach to improve the performance and effectiveness of the organization, such as the effectiveness of the
existing Quality Management System (QMS)
. An unchanged system will never improve by itself, external impact is necessary in order
to enhance it. Unambiguous, evidence-based and transparent actions and interventions are needed to increase effectiveness in any kind of system, process, or complex operation.
Plenty of previously developed models and trends exist, depending on industry sectors. Some examples:
- Total Quality Management (TQM)
- Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA)
- 6 Sigma improvement principles: define, measure, analyse, improve and control (DMAIC)
Of course all models highly overlap each other, and the basic fundamentals are the same. In the end the final goal is always the same: to do it better compared to the
previous state (e.g. lean processes, increased quality level, more effective operation).
Improvement can be a simple process improvement, but even a company-wide strategic change, that enhances quality and effectiveness.
Quality Improvement (QI) gives feedback to Quality Planning (QP)
through the lessons learned process,
by sharing the experiences, information, data, methods, technologies and using them during the planning of the next product or service. It can lead to the improvement of product- or process design.
Diagram about the Juran trilogy (Source: Joseph M. Juran - Juran's Quality Handbook)
Quality- and process improvement approach is used in many sectors. ISO 9001
and the automotive-specific
are also emphasizing continual improvement, and the PDCA methodology, but the need of improvement has been reflected in
many other standards or specifications covering various industries, such as:
- Healthcare (ISO/TS 22367:2008: Medical laboratories -- Reduction of error through risk management and continual improvement)
- IT Management (ISO/IEC 15504-4:2004: Information technology - Process assessment - Part 4: Guidance on use for process improvement and process capability determination)
- IT Management (ISO/IEC TR 33014:2013: Information technology -- Process assessment -- Guide for process improvement)
- Industry-independent (ISO 13053-1:2011: Quantitative methods in process improvement -- Six Sigma -- Part 1: DMAIC methodology)
Source: qMindset.com; ISO.org; Joseph M. Juran - Juran's Quality Handbook
Quality improvement must be proactive and continuous, and it must be realistic. Before deciding about an improvement – let it be a simple process improvement, or a complex
system enhancement – consider whether this improvement is life-like, and achievable. Many decision makers initiate quality improvements, which only exist on paper, and will never be living, because of unrealistic
Try to make it simple and lean. Changing something to more simply is already a success and a real improvement. Identify process gaps, and also redundant processes, that are
not necessary, and can be eliminated. Cutting weight off the organization helps reducing failures and unnecessary effort (that energy should be used somewhere else).
Use best practices from your organization (department to department), or share and adapt ideas on industry-wide workshops, conventions. It is a general misunderstanding, that
competitors only balk each other.
The IATF 16949:2016 - and the preceding ISO/TS 16949:2009
- order the certified companies to maintain
continual improvement in manufacturing processes, related to reduced variation in process parameters, and product characteristics.