Quality Improvement Explained

Why Quality Improvement?

In the past the way of doing business was by setting a profit margin which determines the price, this no longer applies in the modern business market. The modern business market is consumer driven. Customers set the price they are willing to pay! The only way to stay competitive and profitable is to reduce operating costs.


QMS ISO 9001

Over 1,000,000 companies world wide as registered to ISO 9001. The benefits they find include:

  • Improved management -86% of respondents
  • Better customer service -75% of respondents
  • Improved efficency -69% of respondents
  • Reduced waste -53% of respondents
  • Improved staff motivation -50% of respondents
  • Reduced costs -40% of respondents


The benefits:

  • Productivity increase of 10% to 50%
  • Reduction of inventory of 30% to 80%
  • Reduction of floor space of 20% to 40%
  • Reduction of lead time of 30% to 70%
  • Reduction of set up time of 30% to 90%

Six Sigma

The benefits:

  • 50% to 90% reduction of quality non-conformance
  • 30% to 70% reduction of cycle times
  • 70% to 100% increase in on time delivery
  • 10 to 20 times return on investment (ROI)

When are they used?

They work to remove the PAIN which a business is experience.

A Quality Management System (QMS) based on ISO 9001 provides a formal structure for the business processes and objectives to meet customer needs and continuous improvement.

  • This is implemented when a business has organizational problems - no standard procedures, unclear responsibilities, no clear objects etc.

LEAN establishes a management philosophy of waste reduction.

  • This is implemented when a business has productivity and profitability problems - late delivery, large inventory, lack of floor space, waste in the processes etc.

Six Sigma provides a business strategy for improvement and eliminating specific problems where there is no known solution.

  • This is implemented when there are specific product or process problems - large rework / non-conformances / rejects, process varations and customer dissatisfaction etc.

The development and implemenatation of quality improvement shall require:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the tools.
  • An understanding of the processes involved in providing the product/service (based on the supplier / customer chain) and processes for improvement.
  • An understanding of customer needs to determine organizational objectives to enhance customer satisfaction.
  • A commitment of resources

How do they work?

QMS ISO 9001

In 1987, the international standard ISO 9001 for Quality Management was issued, it is now in its fifth edition. The standard covers the characteristics of a quality system for all businesses, regardless of industry. It is based on the eight quality principles and Plan, Do, Check, Act.

The Eight Quality Principles
Customer focused organization / Leadership / Involvement in People / Process Approach / System Approach to Management / Continual Improvement / Factual Approach to decision making / Mutually beneficial supplier relationships.

ISO 9001 Main Clauses

 ·       Context of the organization

·        Leadership

·         Planning

·         Support

·         Operations

·         Performance evaluation

·         Improvement



Quality Manual & Procedures
A quality manual and relevant procedures, work instructions etc. need to be developed, describing the system and processes of the organization.

Document and Records Control

Documents and records must be controlled. Records are required to provide evidence of conformity of the system, processes and product.


ISO 9001 Implementation

  • Determine the context of the organization
  • Identify Objectives
  • Identify Processes
  • Sequence and Interaction of processes
  • Determine criteria and methods
  • Availability of resources and information
  • Determine 'risks' if any
  • Monitor, measure and analysis of processes


The main goal of Lean is to eliminate waste in the process. All activities that a business undertakes can be classified as processes.

Management commitment to the achievement of a waste-free operation that focuses on the customer's success by simplifying all processes in a continuously improving enviroment that involves all eployees. The tools to accomplish this goal are: 5S, Process Mapping, Value-Added Analysis, Pull System, Layout Analysis - Work Cess, Bottlenick Analysis etc.

LEAN consists of:

  1. Controlling the work area
  2. Using simple improvement tools
  3. Solving production problems with known solutions

Six Sigma

Six sigma enables an organization to have a strategy for improvement projects to ensure problems do not reoccur and more importantly eliminate problems which do not have a known solution.

Six Sigma uses scientific and statistical techniques with idea generating tools to find and eliminate the root causes of the companies "Pain".

Six Sigma is an integral part of a strategy that ties organizational goals and performance together.

Simply stated - Six Sigma measures the level of perfection of a company's processes providing an accurate baseline on which business decisions can be made.

Six Sigma projects typically have an ROI of 10x or more.