7 Quality Management Principles

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4. Process Approach 

The Process Approach principle, is all about recognising that business activities are best understood and managed as interrelated processes.  And not only is it an important approach to use when you implement your system, but it’s also vital to use it when maintaining your system.

The process approach will first involve defining your processes and the desired result it sets out to achieve, which will then lead to:

  1. The ability to identify and measure the inputs and outputs of the process
  2. Ability to identify the interfaces of the process with the functions of the organisation
  3. Evaluate any potential risks, consequences or impacts of processes on customers or other stakeholders
  4. Establish straightforward authority, responsibility and accountability for the management of the process

Despite being around for many years, the process approach is still quite a revelation to many management teams.  

The process approach will give you transparency.  It will bring significant gains in efficiency.  It will provide you with consistent results.  Your team will enjoy clarity and a feeling of ownership.  Your customers will love the effect it has on their experience.  And naturally, all of that will make the shareholders and owners of the business very happy indeed.

When you start getting into it, it’s likely that you will be staggered by the sheer number of processes that need managing and perhaps documenting.  

Taking inputs and turning them into outputs doesn’t happen with the wave of a magic wand.  There’s the design process, the measurement process, the internal auditing process, the delivery process, the training process, the distribution process, the customer communication process, the monitoring process, the traceability process, the complaints process, the market research process … and dozens and dozens more.  

To add to the fun, the output of one process often becomes the input of another.  The processes contained in even a small business are numerous and complex.

As great as it is, there’s no mistaking that using the process approach is a hefty undertaking.  There will be much discussion and debate, and lot of back-and-forth with differing ideas and viewpoints.  You’ll go to a lot of meetings. You’ll talk to a lot of staff.  You’ll listen to a lot of staff.  Many hours of your day will be spent mapping out the many dozens of processes that your organisation is built on.  It’s important work that requires commitment and energy.

Good results from using the process approach will surely come, but how to manage the complexity?  In a word - flowcharts.  

Flowcharts will be your new best friend on this journey.  They are an elegant and useful piece of design.  Whether your business is large or small, flowcharts will enable you to take control of your processes.  They will simply and beautifully illustrate what would otherwise take many paragraphs of dense text to understand.  They will enable you to get to the core of problems.  They will make your organisation lighter on its feet.

I can’t say it strongly enough - there really isn’t a downside to getting on board with the process approach, especially when you have flowcharts in your holster.

 

The other Quality Management Principles are: 

  1. Customer Focus 
  2. Leadership 
  3. Engagement of people 
  4. Process Approach 
  5. Improvement 
  6. Evidence based decision making 
  7. Relationship Management