Business Process Improvement of Quality Management Systems
Business Process Improvement (BPI) is all about devising better ways to improve your Business Process Management (BPM). It focuses on analysing business operations & tasks to see how they can be improved, changed or automated over time; important factors for improving quality management.
In this article, I’ll cover some of the ideas outlined in the standard ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems. This document provides guidelines for managing Quality related business processes and outlines best-practices for achieving business efficiency.
I’ll highlight key points which may be used to improve the Quality aspects of Business Process Management strategies used in your business.
The key take-away from this standard is:
“Quality Management is a Solution-Driven Methodology”
But, what does this mean?
Business Process Improvement strategies applied to Quality Management should focus on the outcomes of your company rather than improvement of existing tasks. This is done by identifying problem areas, analysing the tasks involved and employing procedures that help support business.
A Quality BPM system should be:
- Outcomes-based – eradicate unnecessary steps!
- Sustainable – use continual evaluation of those responsible for certain processes
- Intuitive – easily recognised and understood process tasks
- Flexible – continuous re-examination & improvement of processes
Improving Quality Processes Should be a Continuous Cycle
If you’re doing BPI right, you should already be constantly revising your processes to ensure your business is running seamlessly and at full capacity.
To improve a Quality Management Systems, you will still need to follow the usual BPM improvement cycle:
Identify > Improve > Implement > Refine > Monitor
A successful Quality Management System ensures both customer and business requirements are met.
The image below provides an example from ISO 9001 of how the process of ensuring quality is an ongoing cycle.
While this may seem complicated, the key performance indicators you need to look at when improving quality is:
- Added value of process activities (Central activities cycle)
- Product Quality & ability to meet customer requirements (Outputs from activities cycle)
- Customer satisfaction (On the right)
These indicators tell us that, if we successfully improve our Quality Management, it will have a direct impact on overall business performance.
i.e. Improving the overall management of processes = improved business output
Your business outcomes are what you should be concerned with, not just the processes. This requires a more holistic approach that takes into account the main outputs outlined above and the activities that support these outcomes; Product Realisation, Measurement and Resource Management.
Michael E.Porter writes in his Harvard Business Review, ‘What Is Strategy?’
“Constant improvement in operational effectiveness is necessary to achieve superior profitability.”
Managing and controlling the activities linked to operational performance is how we best achieve this superiority.
Implementing Quality Management Improvements
When implementing new processes or process improvements, ISO 9001 recommends using the methodology known as Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA).
PDCA is ongoing, requiring good documentation and record-keeping for accountability.
Feedback captured from BPM systems post-implementation should indicate areas of weakness:
- Bottlenecks of resources
- Inefficient tasks
- Losses in value
As I’ve already mentioned, the expected output from Quality Management System implementation is an improvement in productivity and output. It’s therefore important to take note when no improvement is observed or measured, and follow this up when the PDCA cycle starts again.
What to Expect from QMS
What you are aiming for with a Quality (Process) Management System is:
- Accelerated business growth
- More productive due to timely workflows
- Greater customer satisfaction
- Greater agility and flexibility
- Faster solutions
- Greater ROI
With the increasing demand for fast, efficient, cost-effective business operations, Quality Management Systems provide a system for businesses to be competitive. The ISO 9001 standard isn’t the complete solution for all business activities, but hopefully you can see why it is worth considering when you’re next looking at ways to improve your business.
1. Business Process Management is an ongoing cycle
3. Utilise Plan-Do-Check-Act
3. Focus on business outcomes and use these to measure performance
- Added value of process activities
- Product Quality
- Customer satisfaction
Disclaimer Standards are regularly changed and updated. While this article is up to date at the time of writing, it may not describe the standard accurately in future. Be sure to refer to the most recent version of any standard when attempting to gauge compliance.