9 tips for effective quality improvement

Quality improvement is the most important goal of an ISO 9001 quality management system. Therefore, continuous improvement and process optimisation are important in order to obtain your certificate. Many organisations struggle with the proper implementation of quality improvement. In this article we give you 9 practical tips to achieve more results.

Tip 1: Don't make reporting a deviation too complex

Many organisations use extensive forms to register complaints or potential improvements. Much of the information in the file is not yet relevant or takes a lot of time to fill in. This increases the threshold for an employee to report a deviation or a potential improvement. To collect the desired information, it is more effective to work with a short form or a simple e-mail. The collection of details can be done at a later stage.

Tip 2: Work with a central improvement register

Many organisations register potential improvements in various separate forms rather than in a central register. The disadvantage of this is that there is no total overview of the events and a good analysis is difficult to achieve. Therefore, register as many events as possible in one central overview.

Tip 3: Analyse the data that comes in from various sources

Quality management is all about drawing conclusions from events that emerge.  These events are often not isolated cases, but occur more than once. By bundling the data coming from complaints, customer satisfaction, audits and reports of deviations, an overview of the most important points for improvement for the organisation is created. By analysing the data, conclusions can be drawn as to where the organisation’s pain points lie. In this way, priority can be given to the points that have to be tackled. A central improvement register (see tip 2) can be of great help with this.

Quality Control

Tip 4: Pay a lot of attention to a good cause analysis

Often you solve the problem, but the cause is not properly examined. The result is that the problem comes back later. By working with a good cause analysis, the essence of the problem is exposed. The measures that have been determined ensure that the problem does not recur.

The analysed data from tip 3 can easily be used to make the cause analysis. There are also various methods for carrying out a cause analysis. The best known forms within quality management are ‘the fishbone diagram’ and the ‘5x why’ method. The latter method is very effective. By not only asking the why, but repeating it several times, the actual cause is exposed. 

Tip 5: Perform a SWOT analysis at the process level

Does your organisation want to improve proactively? Then record various internal and external issues. This is often done using the SWOT Analysis.

The SWOT Analysis can also be used to improve processes. You perform the SWOT Analysis at the process level. You look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the process and a clear picture emerges. Not only the points that have an internal influence on the process are highlighted, but also those that have an external influence are mapped out. This is how you keep on improving.

Tip 6: Do not perform an extensive root cause analysis for every incident

For a good cause analysis you need to make time, but it can also unnecessarily cause extra time. An important tip for efficiently making a good cause analysis is not to elaborate on every incident. One of the most important reasons for organisations not to go deeply into the cause is ”that there are so many events”. Often, these events are incidents. If an event occurs only once, we speak of an incident. The incidents do need to be resolved, but they do not need to be channelled extensively.

During the cause analysis of the events, it is wise to handle several events at the same time, this saves time.

Quality control

Tip 7: Quality improvement is a culture that requires awareness

Many companies have processes for quality improvement in place, especially if the organisation is certified according to ISO 9001. Often little attention has been paid to the need for quality improvement and the essence of continuous improvement within the entire organisation.

While implementing quality improvement, it is important that the right information is communicated to all employees. However, good information is only possible with the awareness of the employee.

Tip 8: Focus on improvement during internal audits

Internal audits are often used to determine who is adhering to the agreed way of working or to verify that the organisation still meets the requirements of ISO 9001. During these internal audits, little or no attention is paid to potential areas for improvement.

 

By focusing on what can be improved and made more efficient during an internal audit, input is created for continuous improvement. In addition, it is important to perform the internal audit with an open mind, so that new risks and opportunities can be identified. This combination ensures that the quality management system is continuously improved.

Tip 9: Use ISO 9001 as a basis for continuous improvement

Do you want to implement a good quality management system in your organisation? Then use ISO 9001 as the basis for continuous improvement. This standard is recognised worldwide and provides a good structure.