What are the 4 pillars of quality management

Posted January 19th, 2023 By Mukut Chakraborty

Quality management is the system that ensures that products, services, and processes meet customer requirements. It ensures that the quality of a product or service meets customer expectations and requirements. The aim of any quality management system is to deliver products and services that consistently satisfy customers’ expectations by focusing on delivering superior value for money.

But then the question comes: how do we achieve that? What are the building blocks of quality management? In this article, we will be discussing the 4 pillars of quality management, which are essential for any business.

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The 4 pillars of quality management

You will find numerous articles on this subject. Some articles would refer to leadership, customer focus, etc. as pillars; some articles would argue that activities like “act” or “plan,” etc. are pillars of quality management. Even though we do not disagree with these points, because they are universal truths for any concept and any business (e.g., customer focus is always important for any vertical of a business), we thought we would answer this topic from a quality management point of view.

If we talk about the fundamentals of quality management, there are essentially 4 pillars,

  1. Quality Planning
  2. Quality Control
  3. Quality Assurance
  4. Quality Improvement

Let’s discuss this in detail.

Quality planning

Quality planning is the process of setting quality goals and objectives. It’s a critical part of your overall quality management plan, and it helps you create strategies to meet your goals.

The first step in quality planning is determining your company’s vision, mission, and core values. This should be done as early in the process as possible so that you can use them to guide future decisions (like choosing between two competing products).

The next step would be defining quality objectives. That should start with a business plan, the goal of the company, requirements, and development.

Once you’ve identified these, it’s time to move on to setting quality goals for your organization. It’s important that you quantify the same. Here are a few examples:

  1. Increasing customer satisfaction by 10% within two years
  2. Cutting down defects by 50% within three years

Once these goals are set, it’s important for managers across all levels of an organization—from executives down through support staff—to fully understand them so they can be put into practice throughout every department and division within their respective areas of responsibility.

4 pillars of quality management - Pillar 1 - Quality Planning

Quality control

Out of the 4 pillars of quality management, quality control is one of the most important. Quality control is the measurement of quality to ensure that the product or service meets the requirements of the customer. It involves all activities that determine whether or not a product or service conforms to established standards.

Until and unless we have proper control measures, a product cannot meet its quality targets. It is divided into three sections:

  1. Pre-event: The quality process would involve certain checks so that any errors can be minimized during or post-event. This involves checking everything periodically.

  2. During the event: This process involves maintaining output specifications, and defining and resolving errors so that the developed product is of the desired quality.

  3. Post-event: After the event, the process checks for wastage so that it can be minimized in the future, and determines the quality as per the standards by short and long observation.

Once all these processes are complete, it moves on to quality assurance.

4 pillars of quality management - Pillar 2 - Quality Control

 

Quality assurance

Quality assurance is a process to ensure that the product or service meets the customer’s needs and expectations. It involves planning, implementing, and monitoring activities aimed at improving quality. For example:

  • The company has contracts with its customers that specify the parameters for acceptable print jobs.
  • The company has performance standards for individual employees who work on print jobs.
  • The company measures performance based on these parameters and standards to ensure customer satisfaction with its services.

Some of the activities of quality assurance are testing, audits, and understanding if the product is developed as required by the customer. For internal audits, you can hire an iso 9001 consultant.

4 pillars of quality management - Pillar 3 - Quality assurance

 

Quality improvement

Quality management is never a one-time activity. It is a continuous process of improvement in the processes and systems that affect quality. The goal of quality improvement is to eliminate the root causes of problems, reduce rework, increase customer satisfaction, and improve employee motivation. Quality improvements can be made in all areas of your business: products, services, and processes.

The quality improvement department tries to find answers to questions like why there is a gap between performance and expectations and how to minimize it, whether we are headed in the right direction, and if not, what can we do differently? Instead of focusing on one single issue, they look at this holistically and try to improve the quality based on available data, opportunities, and records.

4 pillars of quality management - Pillar 4 - Quality improvement

 

Conclusion

Before we jump into implementing a quality management system, it is imperative that we understand the 4 pillars of quality management. It is important that we evaluate a quality management system or quality management software based on these 4 pillars, i.e. if the system or software will allow strengthening these 4 pillars of quality management.

 

Graph credit: Coggle