What does quality management mean at Scantron?

Quality management is rooted in consistency and is important for the general functioning of a business – this principle is something we adhere to rigorously at Scantron. Under the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) there are seven quality management principles:

PrincipleExplanationWhat YOU can do
Customer FocusThe need to understand your customers and what they want; meeting customer expectation
  • Link your company's core objectives to customer needs and expectations.

  • Measure/monitor customer satisfaction.
  • LeadershipLeadership holds a business together; the business needs a clear set of goals in order to continually advance
  • Communicate core objectives and current strategy throughout the company.
  • Relationship ManagementThis principle is in relation to the supply chain. Strong relationships with stake-holders can have significant benefits all along the supply chain
  • Determine all your stake-holders e.g. suppliers, partners, customers, investors, employees and society as a whole.

  • Prioritise these relationships.

  • Provide performance feedback where appropriate.

  • Engagement of PeopleThis principle can be linked to teamwork; if all employees are working in harmony then it can have tremendous benefits
  • Enable open discussion and sharing of knowledge.

  • Encourage collaboration within your company.

  • Evidence-based Decision MakingThis principle stresses the importance of informed decisions rooted firmly in analysis of data, rather than spontaneous decisions
  • Ensure all data is correct, reliable and secure.

  • Make all relative data accessible to necessary individuals.

  • ImprovementContinuous improvement should always be at the heart of a business as all market places are continually adapting and therefore so should a business
  • Ensure people involved are compelled to improve.

  • Continually review and track progress

  • Process ApproachThis principle ensures consistency through the implementation of a structured process
  • Establish authority, responsibility and accountability for the process.
  • In order for these aforementioned principles to be successful, the objectives set out under any quality management process need to:

    • Be consistent with the organisation’s own quality management policy;
    • Be measurable;
    • Take into account applicable requirements such as those set out in the quality management system ISO 9001;
    • Be relevant to conformity of products and services and to enhancement of customer satisfaction;
    • Be monitored;
    • Be communicated;
    • Be updated and appropriate.

    Are quality management techniques really necessary?

    Practising effective quality management techniques can yield substantial benefits in areas such as productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction. Committing to uphold suitable quality management standards is therefore a good base for sustainable development. It is also increasingly found that customers are demanding that their suppliers are able to prove that they have an appropriate quality management system in place, whether that be QMS ISO 9001 or their own in-house system, prior to placing an order.

    There are a few key areas that magnify why a business may want to pursue quality management and control:

    Customer satisfaction is improved when production quality management is observed

    Quality management can help to cultivate long-term relationships with customers (customer retention). However, if there isn’t symmetry between the delivery and the customer’s expectations (customer expectation>delivery) then it can reduce customer satisfaction.

    Quality management can combat the disillusionment by ensuring a consistent delivery; meaning the customers’ expectations are more likely to be on par with what they receive. This also means the customer is more likely to be satisfied with the product or service.

    Customer satisfaction is a key component in customer retention and can be a spring board for growth in many businesses. Customer satisfaction and retention is very important and often more cost effective than the effort and investment needed to attract new customers.

    In a 2001 research paper published by the Journal of Quality Management, entitled ‘The impact of quality practices on customer satisfaction and business results: product versus service organizations’ researchers Nilsson, Johnson and Gustaffson confirmed this following research into customer satisfaction writing,“…our analysis shows that for product organizations, internal quality practices influence customer satisfaction and business results primarily through an organization’s customer orientation. For service organizations, both customer and process orientation impact customers directly, and employee management has a direct impact on business results. The research also supports the claim that organizations with a quality foundation are in a better position to adopt a customer orientation.”

    Overall, this means that consistent delivery can contribute to reasonable customer expectation, leading to high customer satisfaction which in turn can bring about customer retention.

    Business strategy can be enhanced by the presence of a quality management process

    Quality management process can be used as part of a business strategy and has the power to positively affect the overall direction of a company. Small businesses, competing with large corporations, can thrive by incorporating quality management into their strategic direction. This can then be used to increase their competitive advantage. The use of quality management processes can also have a positive effect on the bottom-line of any company; a strong strategic direction can instil confidence in the workforce and impress share-holders by demonstrating an ability to steer the company.

    Writing in The Executive, a journal published by the Academy of Management (Vol. 6, No. 3 (Aug., 1992), pp. 80-87), Richard J. Schonberger sums this up perfectly, noting “As total quality management (TQM) reshapes business practices, it tends to nudge every firm toward a few common strategic planning objectives, namely: continuous improvement in quality of goods and services, responsiveness and flexibility of internal and supplier processes, and waste and cost elimination. A slightly longer set of TQM principles provides guidance helpful in connecting daily activities and decisions with TQM’s strategic objectives.”

    Risk-based thinking is one of the key elements of quality management

    Risk-based thinking can maximise the utilisation of opportunities and help organisations to avoid or rectify non-conformities (deviation from a specification, a standard, or an expectation). Risk-based thinking is essential in the pursuit of quality management as it helps when weighing up different outcomes and can guide the strategic management in the right direction. This area also plays into the 6th principle, evidence-based decision making, where by decisions are made based on data.

    How does Scanton ensure production quality management?

    Quality management is a characteristic that Scantron strives to achieve in every aspect of our daily work and is considered vital in the running of our business. From first contact to the delivery of a non-contact surface measurement system, Scantron ensures each step is as seamless as possible to ensure full customer satisfaction.

    We hold the ISO 9001:2015 certification

    We are proud to say that we hold the ISO 9001:2015 certification and are continually striving for improvements wherever possible. This is why as Office Manager, Karen Dumbill says, “we are now looking to obtain the ISO 27001”. Collectively, from start to finish, it took approximately 3 to 6 months to complete the ISO certification at Scantron. While this may seem like a lengthy process; it has been invaluable with regard to what it has given us in our day-to-day operations. We changed a number of key areas to align with ISO 9001 including obtaining and retaining proof of our standard work practices.

    “Although this has been a positive experience overall, that’s not to say the process wasn’t challenging. The biggest stumbling block was our desire to achieve perfection with the first audit rather than gradually build up to perfection. Getting individuals on board with the new procedures and changing our work methods was also challenging.”

    From our own experience, we counsel that organisations looking to achieve ISO certification consider:

    1. What will be done;
    2. What resources will be required;
    3. Who will be responsible;
    4 .When it will be completed;
    5. How the result will be evaluated.

    Overall, quality management principles and processes can have extensive effects on the day-to-day functioning of a business. They have been incredibly valuable to Scantron. A key area that we had not focussed on until adopting the ISO 9001 for example was the evaluation of data collected and using this as a basis to make good business decisions for improving our quality of supply and service. One real-world scenario where this has already led to positive change has been in procuring new suppliers where old ones were found to constantly deliver late or provide components with short life spans.

    To find out more about how we are using our ISO:9001 Quality Management System to offer the best service for customers, contact us.