Monday, June 16, 2008

Business Process Quality Management

The ISO standards are guidelines on how to build business processes and systems that will enable enterprises to produce quality and flourish. An entry in Wikipedia [] restates one of the most common ISOs in informal language, so that readers could grasp the essence without going into the details. This summary is reproduced below. (To further informalize the language, the parts in bold are the blogger's attempt to make this ISO even more user-friendly.)

Summary of ISO 9001:2000 in informal language:-

The quality policy is a formal statement from management, closely linked to the business and marketing plan and to customer needs. The quality policy is understood and followed at all levels and by all employees. Each employee needs measurable objectives to work towards.
[The boss-man is to make it clear to everyone what defines a job well done, and that everyone has to do a good job. This statement, known as the 'quality policy', is one of the foundations of the enterprise.]

Decisions about the quality system are made based on recorded data and the system is regularly audited and evaluated for conformance and effectiveness.
[All processes are to be recorded. This recorded information will be used for studying whether the processes are effective. These studies will form the basis of decisions about the processes.]

Records should show how and where raw materials and products were processed, to allow products and problems to be traced to the source.
[There should be a detailed flow chart for each business process, so that the source of a problem can be identified.]

You need a documented procedure to control quality documents in your company. Everyone must have access to up-to-date documents and be aware of how to use them.
[Information on business processes should be made easily available to everyone in the enterprise so that everyone will know them.]

To maintain the quality system and produce conforming product, you need to provide suitable infrastructure, resources, information, equipment, measuring and monitoring devices, and environmental conditions.
[To ensure quality, you have no choice but to spend the necessary funds to buy the right stuff.]

You need to map out all key processes in your company; control them by monitoring, measurement and analysis; and ensure that product quality objectives are met. If you can’t monitor a process by measurement, then make sure the process is well enough defined that you can make adjustments if the product does not meet user needs.
[Again, use flow charts and other mind-maps to document the processes on paper. Control the processes and analyze them. Make sure the processes do what they are supposed to do.]

For each product your company makes, you need to establish quality objectives; plan processes; and document and measure results to use as a tool for improvement. For each process, determine what kind of procedural documentation is required (note: a “product” is hardware, software, services, processed materials, or a combination of these).
[For each product, think of what you want to make, think of the processes that are to be used to make it, and then measure the results. Improve the processes for better results.]

You need to determine key points where each process requires monitoring and measurement, and ensure that all monitoring and measuring devices are properly maintained and calibrated.
[Be serious about measuring your processes.]

You need to have clear requirements for purchased product.
[Be very choosy when buying stuff.]

You need to determine customer requirements and create systems for communicating with customers about product information, inquiries, contracts, orders, feedback and complaints.
[Speak to the customer and learn their needs.]

When developing new products, you need to plan the stages of development, with appropriate testing at each stage. You need to test and document whether the product meets design requirements, regulatory requirements and user needs.
[Plan new products properly and test them extensively before letting them loose.]

You need to regularly review performance through internal audits and meetings. Determine whether the quality system is working and what improvements can be made. Deal with past problems and potential problems. Keep records of these activities and the resulting decisions, and monitor their effectiveness (note: you need a documented procedure for internal audits).
[Don't stop evaluating past results. Use past results as the basis for improvements.]

You need documented procedures for dealing with actual and potential nonconformances (problems involving suppliers or customers, or internal problems). Make sure no one uses bad product, determine what to do with bad product, deal with the root cause of the problem and keep records to use as a tool to improve the system.
[There should be processes to deal with the occasional failure of processes.]

So there you have it, the gist of quality management in organizations. These ideas can be practiced in organizations large and small, for-profit and non-profit, and even for individuals seeking increased productivity and personal effectiveness.

To make the whole thing even more simple, quality management could be summed up as follows:-
Design processes to produce products.
Put the processes on paper.
Follow the defined processes.
Analyse and evaluate the results.
Improve the processes. Then repeat step one.

Happy ISOing... :-)

Copyright © 2008 by Andrew Chua Tuan Li



  1. i'm also into those things. care to give some advice?

  2. Considering the fact that it could be more accurate in giving informations.

  3. So that's how it goes. It's true that using flowcharts is a good idea, since it can help you trace the root once a problem pops up. And having a good relationship with customers is always important in any business.