Improving quality (reducing bad quality and improving work processes) in a company requires reflection by both the management and all the employees in order to define the reachable goals in terms of quality that can be accepted by everyone.
A "quality policy" is the general directives and goals in terms of quality that are laid out by a company's management and formalised in a written document. The quality policy defines the directives and stakes persued in terms of beneficiary satisfaction.
The term "quality procedure" refers to the approach and operational organization used to achieve the goals set by the quality policy.
Most importantly, an inventory of the company must be taken that can be used to outline its organization and which clarifies the company's project:
Insofar as the goal of quality is beneficiary satisfaction, it is essential to properly define the beneficiaries.
Because implementing a quality procedure often requires organizational changes, it must start off by involving the highest level of the hierarchy. Writing a commitment letter that is signed by management sets the procedure in stone and legitimises a quality manager when operational changes are implemented.
A quality procedure hinges on successive action plans that allow a company to pinpoint and formalise short-term goals and the means by which to meet them.
Instituting a quality procedure above all involves establishing a new spirit that is shared by everyone in the company. Therefore, a successful project depends largely on the communcation surrounding its implementation. So, a communication campaign will allow employees to learn about the action that has been taken and find their place in the company's project.
Formalised commitment by the management team usual involves a written letter (usually called a commitment letter) that summarises the main goals set by management. This letter, which is often considered a simple declaration of intent that is of little use, is in reality an extremely useful tool in that it sets the entire procedure in stone and proclames the importance that management is giving to the procedure.
Writing a quality action plan must be a group effort that involves all employees as well as middle management.
Each action plan is a project in and of itself that includes the initial status, goal, timeline, the means by which to achieve it and a rigorous schedule. Thus, in order to evaluate the acheivement of the goals set for each action plan, a certain number of indicators must be defined and presented during each quality committee meeting.
Article written on 16 December 2004 by Jean-François Pillou