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Who Needs a Quality Monitoring Program?

Author: Arthur J. Flynn, CIA, CFSA, FLMI

Whether you’re a manufacturer, service provider, or technology company, ensuring the quality of your product or service is essential to the retention of clients and success of your organization. Quality is part of everything you do—it’s what separates you from your competition, and when it comes right down to it, quality is the product. It’s what keeps your business in business.

Once your company has a grasp on daily operations and business is steady, your customers, investors, or suppliers could look to audit your Quality Monitoring Program to assess if you have the proper procedures in place to ensure the quality of your products and services.

In order to give your stakeholders an extended level of comfort and confidence in the quality of your products and services, you need clear and concise documentation of your Quality Monitoring Program. You need to present them the necessary evidence showing that you’ll consistently deliver your products and services with that same level of quality across the board.

Creating a Quality Manual

A Quality Manual is a consolidated document that states the intended operations and processes in a company’s quality monitoring system. The manual defines policies surrounding the components of your business that affect your ability to meet the requirements of your customers and provide high-quality products and services.

How Do I Effectively Document My Quality Monitoring Program?

When auditing your Quality Monitoring Program, stakeholders will turn to standards provided by organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to measure your program. The ISO is an international organization made up of standardization bodies from 165 countries, and they provide global standards (such as the ISO 90001:2015, Quality Management Systems) to help companies enhance their Quality Monitoring Programs. Your stakeholders and their auditors use these standards to know what to look for and what to ask when reviewing your program.

The ISO 90001:2015, Quality Management Systems calls for a program to identify all the parts of the organization that embody the quality management principles that impact production and delivery. A good program and its manual will include:

  • An overview of the organization and its leadership
  • Business processes
  • Management and support processes
  • Approach to quality and monitoring
  • Evaluation of production and quality ‘misses’
  • An overview of how the organization incorporates quality into the governance program

Your organization may have faith that all of these considerations are in practice, but you need to be able to definitively prove to stakeholders that these operations are in place. Organizations may not know the best way to effectively present their Quality Monitoring Programs, and it’s essential to create and present the documentation that stakeholders expect.

5 Steps to Creating a Quality Monitoring Program that Stakeholders Want to See

1. Understand the Organization as a Whole (Including How Back-Office Operations Can Affect Quality)

When implementing a Quality Monitoring Program, it’s easy to zero in on the most prevalent operations that affect quality—such as your production and customer service departments. However, it’s crucial that you examine and document the risks associated with all components of your business, and analyze how the operations in these departments could potentially impact the quality of your products or services.

Ensure that you’re properly identifying how less apparent back-office operations lend support to an effective Quality Monitoring Program and analyzing potential risks in these operations that could lead to a poor customer outcome.

2. Identify Unique Components of Your Business

Standards such as the ISO 90001:2015, Quality Management Systems are generalized guides to help companies improve overall performance and provide a sturdy foundation on which to build sustainable development initiatives. However, organizations should tailor this guidance to fit the nuances of their business by identifying components of their operations that differ from the guide.

Considerations such as data security and privacy or cybersecurity may not be addressed in the chosen guidance, but these components may be crucial to your company’s specific quality management system. Identify and address these outlier components and add them to your documentation to ensure they positively affect the quality of your services.

3. Make Sure Process Owners Have Adequate Ways to Evidence Their Procedures

Your business processes probably have quality controls built in, and these likely include supervisory and monitoring controls carried out by Compliance. It's critical that you’re able to demonstrate that these everyday controls are in place, and that they're part of the overall Quality Monitoring Program. For example, having quality control sampling in a manufacturing process is having the control in place, while periodic reporting to a committee shows adequate oversight of the control's performance.

You should determine what resources your owners need to be able to accurately show that these processes are in place and running smoothly. Your organization must actively communicate with these owners to check if they have the necessary means to evidence that these quality-assuring operations are executed daily.

4. Ingrain Quality into Your Culture

Creating and implementing a Quality Monitoring Program (and in turn, a Quality Manual) shouldn’t be something that’s thrown together right before a board meeting. You should consistently follow the processes and procedures laid out in your Quality Monitoring Program, and your company must constantly engage its quality management principles to ensure a consistent output of high-quality products and services.

5. Draft and Road Test Your Manual

Put your manual to the test. Once you’ve identified all departments and parties involved in your quality assurance initiatives, and created policies and procedures intended to control your quality, test your program. Put your management program in place and run it for a finite period of time. During that time, track the program’s progress and analyze its strengths and weaknesses. Then tweak your manual to perfectly align with your business initiatives, reduce risk, and heighten quality.

Conclusion

You could use an independent party to get to know you and your business, and work through the process with you. Wolf is here with a fresh set of eyes to take in a comprehensive view of your organization. We’ll be able to show clearly and simply how quality is woven into your organization, and we’ll work with you to create a Quality Manual that’s true to your business and highlights the quality principles you have in place. With proven expertise and unparalleled guidance, we’ll also contribute ways to improve your reporting and governance processes.