The concept of quality management is applied in business of all sizes and all types. It is a relevant in manufacturing as it is in health care or food services. Of course, quality means different things for different industries, and takes a different meaning depending on whether a product, a service, or a combination of both is offered.

The core of quality management is being able to guide your business towards improved performance. There are three main components to quality management: quality assurance, quality control, and quality improvement. But it’s not just about the condition of the products you sell or the caliber of services your business offers but the processes to achieve consistent quality.  This guide highlights 10 tools that can help you to setup a management strategy to improve quality and documents you can use to track improvement.

1. Six Sigma Management Guide
Six Sigma is a business management strategy for improving the operational performance of a business by eliminating variability and waste. Popularized by jack Welch at General Electric, the philosophy takes a data-driven, methodological approach to eliminating defects with the aim of reaching six standard deviations from the desired target of quality.  If you are considering restructuring your management style as a means of improving quality, you should consider the Six Sigma management style. This guide includes the fundamental objectives and how to calculate the cost and savings of Six Sigma quality. 

2.  Six Sigma Template
Six Sigma is a highly structured approach to process improvement through strategy and discipline.  If you are convinced that the Six Sigma management style will work for your business, this template is customizable for your specific needs.  It is designed to reduce defects, lower costs and improve customer satisfaction.

3.  Six Sigma Program Example
You now understand Six Sigma management and how to implement it.  But if you would like to see an example of its practical use in business this specific example is for the manufacturing industry. It can be adapted to your business.

4. Total Quality Management Guide
Total Quality Management is a set of practices put in place throughout a company that are geared to ensure the organization consistently meets or exceeds customer requirements. TQM places strong focus on process measurement and controls as means of continuous improvement. This Total Quality Management Guide discusses the primary elements of quality management, and includes chart, graphs, and tools to assist a company with setting up a program of quality management.

5. Quality Management Presentation
When you have determined what approach you will take for quality management you will have to educate and train your staff about new processes to improve performance. This Quality Management Presentation can be used to educate and implement the essentials of quality, as well as the discipline of quality management, into their daily work routines. The presentation provides an outline for quality in general, quality and business needs, principles for a quality system, and principles for quality management.

6. Quality Manager Job Description
If improving quality is a larger responsibility than you thought, it may be time to hire a Quality Manager. The job of a Quality Manager can encompass many different roles from managing day-to-day production activities to training engineers and operators to being the liaison to customers and suppliers. Use the Quality Manager Job Description to outline the position by listing key job tasks and specifications for the position customized to what your business requires.

7.  Equipment Maintenance Log
Improving quality doesn’t always require a full scale restructuring of your management style or hiring an additional person to oversee quality.  Small changes such as improved documentation can significantly affect quality.   One example is keeping track of the condition of your equipment to ensure top performance and output. This Equipment Maintenance Log provides a comprehensive spreadsheet for tracking equipment maintenance records by equipment type, model number, serial number, and location.  

8. The Preventive Corrective-Action Report
It’s great to have a paper trail to track and fix mistakes. It’s much better to have a form that helps fix the process so mistakes don’t get made in the first place.  Although the form’s immediate purpose is to provide a mechanism for recording and correcting “nonconformance’s” (read: screw-ups), it has another, more important role: exposing the root causes of recurring problems.

9. The Smart Vendor Audit Checklist
When your business depends on vendors to produce your products or as an intricate part of a process you want to make sure you hire the best.  If you are not sure how to evaluate a potential supplier, the supplier audit form is designed to help your company recruit the best vendors.

10. Packing List Order Form
Again, documentation and checklists are staples of quality management. For example, each item on this packing list is important in terms of quality customer service and reduced costs.  Shipping the wrong quantity or type of a product affects your inventory, while returns or inaccurate weight information can cost you more in shipping.  A proper packing list is probably one of the easiest ways to improve quality and reduce waste. 


7 Management Tools for Quality Control

Many organizations use quality tools to help monitor and manage their quality initiatives.

There are several types of tools that can be used.  However, there are seven management tools for quality control that are the most common.

Different tools are used for different problem-solving opportunities, and many of the tools can be used in different ways.

The trick is to become familiar and comfortable with all of these quality tools so you can pull the appropriate one out of your toolbox when there is a problem that needs to be solved.

7 Management Tools For Quality Control

1. Flowchart

Most of us are familiar with flowcharts. You have seen flowcharts of reporting relationships in organizational structures.

Flowcharts are also used to document work process flows.

This tool is used when trying to determine where the bottlenecks or breakdowns are in work processes.

Flow-charting the steps of a process provides a picture of what the process looks like and can shed light on issues within the process.

Flowcharts are also used to show changes in a process when improvements are made or to show a new workflow process.

This example provides a picture so those checking children in will know the steps each takes depending on whether it is their first time or a child who has been there before.

Example Flowchart

example flowchart

2. Check Sheet

A check sheet is a basic quality tool that is used to collect data. A check sheet might be used to track the number of times a certain incident happens.

As an example, a human resource department may track the number of questions by employees, per category, per day.

In this particular check sheet the tool shows the total number of questions received by the human resources department.

This information helps that department identify opportunities to proactively share information with employees in an effort to reduce the numbers of questions asked.

Example Check Sheet

human resource questions check sheet example

3. Cause and Effect (fish bone) Diagram

A cause and effect diagram, also known as a fish-bone diagram shows the many possible causes of a problem.

To use this tool, you need to first identify the problem you are trying to solve and simply write it in the box (head of the fish) to the right.

Next, you will list the major causes of the problem on the spine of the fish.

Causes are typically separated into categories of people, process, materials and equipment.

Causes are then identified through brainstorming with a group familiar with the problem.

Once all of the possible causes are identified, they can be used to develop an improvement plan to help resolve the identified problem.

Example Cause and Effect (Fish Bone) Diagram

fish bone cause and effect diagram

4. Pareto Chart

A Pareto chart is a bar graph of data showing the largest number of frequencies to the smallest.

In this example, we are looking at the number of product defects in each of the listed categories.

When you look at the number of defects from the largest to the smallest occurrences, it is easy to see how to prioritize improvements efforts.

The most significant problems stand out and can be targeted first.

Example Pareto Chart

pareto chart example

5. Control Charts

Control charts or run charts are used to plot data points over time and give a picture of the movement of that data.

These charts demonstrate when data is consistent or when there are high or low outliers in the occurrences of data.

It focuses on monitoring performance over time by looking at the variation in data points.

And it distinguishes between common cause and special cause variations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a good example of a control chart.

Example Control (Run) Charts

control (run) chart example

6. Histograms

Histograms are bar chart pictures of data that shows patterns that fall within typical process conditions.

Changes in a process should trigger new collection of data.

A minimum of 50-75 data points should be gathered to ensure an adequate number of data points have been collected.

The patterns that are detected demonstrate an analysis that helps understand variation.

In this example, it shows that the receptionist received the most phone calls about contribution statements for that period.

Example Histogram

histogram example

7. Scatter Diagrams

Scatter diagrams are graphs that show the relationship between variables. Variables often represent possible causes and effect.

As an example, a scatter diagram might show the relationship between how satisfied volunteers are that attend orientation training.

The diagram shows the relationship between volunteer satisfaction scores and volunteer orientation training.

Example Scatter Diagram

scatter diagram example

Each of these quality tools has unique advantages for certain situations. And, not all tools are used for all problem-solving.

Once a tool is learned, it can be adapted to different problem-solving opportunities.

Additionally, as with anything else, using tools properly takes practice and experience. Simply start using each of the tools, and over time, you will become proficient and a great problem solver!