Definition and meaning
Quality improvement refers to the combined and unceasing efforts of everybody in a company to make everything about it, especially its production process, better. It is a systematic approach to the elimination or reduction of rework, waste, and losses in the production process.
Put simply, quality improvement (QI) refers to methods to improve the production process. It requires getting rid of or changing parts of the process that do not function optimally.
Quality improvement or QI focuses on improving the production process.
However, the target could be any part of an organization. There are several different methods for quality improvement. They cover:
 People-based improvement,
 Process improvement, and
 Product improvement.
Product improvement
Product improvement is the process of making meaningful product changes that result in new customers or increased benefits realized by existing customers.
The two most popular ways to make product improvements are to add new product features or improve existing ones.
Quality improvement process
1. PDCA cycle. The cycle promotes continuous improvement and should be thought of as a spiral, not a circle.
P= Plan
D= Do
C= Check
A= Act

PROFIT . Another popular quality improvement process is the six-step
PROFIT model in which the acronym stands for:
P = Problem definition.
R = Root cause identification and analysis.
O = Optimal solution based on root cause(s).
F = Finalize how the corrective action will be implemented.
I = Implement the plan.
T = Track the effectiveness of the implementation and verify that the
desired results are met.
3. Seven simple tools can be used by any professional to ease the quality improvement process are: flowcharts, check sheets, Pareto diagrams, cause and effect diagrams, histograms, scatter diagrams, and control charts.
Quality Improvement Methods
Quality improvement methods comprise three components: product improvement, process improvement, and people-based improvement.
There are numerous methods of quality management and techniques that can be utilized. They include Kaizen, Zero Defect Programs, Six Sigma, Quality Circle,
Taguchi Methods, the Toyota Production System, Kansei Engineering, TRIZ, BPR,
OQRM, ISO, and Top Down & Bottom Up approaches among others.
1. Zero defects is a way of thinking and doing that reinforces the notion that efects are not acceptable, and that everyone should “do things right the first time.
2. Six Sigma is a quality program that, when all is said and done, improves your customer‟s experience, lowers your costs, and builds better leaders.
The two main Six Sigma methodologies are DMAIC and DMADV.
 DMAIC is a data-driven method used to improve existing products or services for better customer satisfaction. It is the acronym for the five
phases: D – Define, M – Measure, A – Analyse, I – Improve, C – Control.
DMAIC is applied in the manufacturing of a product or delivery of a service.
 DMADV is a part of the Design for Six Sigma process used to design or redesign different processes of product manufacturing or service delivery.
The five phases of DMADV are: D – Define, M – Measure, A – Analyze, D –
Design, V – Validate. DMADV is employed when existing processes do not meet customer conditions, even after optimization, or when it is required to develop new methods.
3. ISO 9001 is the international standard for a quality management system
(“QMS”). In order to be certified to the ISO 9001 standard, a company must follow the requirements set forth in the ISO 9001 Standard. The standard is used by organizations to demonstrate their ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and
regulatory requirements and to demonstrate continuous improvement
Role of standardization
 Facilitates the creation of standards and promotes their use
 Tests and certifies products
 Assesses management systems
 Inspects commodities
 Helps businesses to be commercially viable. Producing standard products, or products assembled from standard parts, makes sense to
manufacturers and service providers because standardized products and parts reduce design, production, warehousing and distribution costs.
 Is reassuring. Because when goods conform to certain standards in order to be put on sale, consumers know they can believe the claims that producers make for them.
 Is protective. The standardization process gives a high priority to health and safety. Standardization assures safety, offers consumers assurance, and helps to create a cleaner environment (through environmental standards).
 Helps businesses to be cost effective and time efficient. Creating a standard is relatively straightforward because BSI has tried and tested processes for doing it.
Challenges of quality improvement in projects
Challenge 1: Convincing people that there is a problem.
Use hard data to demonstrate the extent of the problem and patient stories and voices to secure emotional engagement. Use peer-led debate and discussion.
Challenge 2: Convincing people that the solution chosen is the right one.
Come prepared with clear facts and figures, have convincing measures of impact, and be able to demonstrate the advantages of your solution. Involve respected senior figures.
Challenge 3: Getting data collection and monitoring systems right
This always takes much more time and energy than anyone anticipates. It‟s worth investing heavily in data from the outset. External support may be required. Assess local systems, train people, and have quality assurance.
Challenge 4: Excess ambitions and ‘projectness’
Over-ambitious goals and too much talk of „transformation‟ can alienate staff if they feel the change is impossible. Instead, match goals and ambitions to what is realistically achievable and focus on bringing everyone along with you. Avoid giving the impression that the improvement activity is unlikely to survive the time span of the project.
Challenge 5: The organizational context, culture and capacities
Staff may not understand the full demands of improvement when they sign up, and team instability can be very disruptive. Explain requirements to people and then provide ongoing support. Make sure improvement goals are aligned with the wider goals of the organisation, so people don‟t feel pulled in too many directions. It is important that the organizational culture supports learning and
Challenge 6: Tribalism and lack of staff engagement
Overcoming a perceived lack of ownership and professional or disciplinary boundaries can be very difficult. Clarify who owns the problem and solution, agree roles and responsibilities at the outset, work to common goals and use shared language. Intermediaries, such as training staff, are likely to have a role here. Protected staff time may help to secure engagement.
Challenge 7: Leadership
Getting leadership for quality improvement right requires a delicate combination of setting out a vision and sensitivity to the views of others. „Quieter‟ leadership, oriented towards inclusion, explanation and gentle persuasion, may be more effective. This may require additional training.
Challenge 8: Balancing carrots and sticks – harnessing commitment through incentives and potential sanctions
Relying on the intrinsic motivations of staff for quality improvement can take you a long way, especially if „carrots‟ in the form of incentives are provided – but they may not always be enough. It is important to have „harder edges‟ (sticks) to encourage change, but these must be used judiciously and are likely to require the support of senior executives, professional bodies and those designing
reward structures.
Challenge 9: Securing sustainability
Sustainability can be vulnerable when efforts are seen as „projects‟ or when they rely on particular individuals. From an early stage, projects need to identify future funding sources, or identify ways to use resources more efficiently in order to sustain improvements. Successful outcomes should be written into standards, guidelines and procedures to ensure they are embedded in routine activities.
Challenge 10: Considering the side effects of change It‟s not uncommon to successfully target one issue but also cause new problems
elsewhere. This can cause people to lose faith. Be vigilant about detecting unwanted consequences and be willing to learn and adapt

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