Whether you are a start-up or an established conglomerate, quality is at the heart of every successful business. The quality of operations can determine whether your start-up fades into obscurity or becomes a trusted brand. It is common for business owners to view quality as a principle only relevant to the products and services they are selling. This limited approach can be damaging. For the highest success potential, quality must be a fundamental principle underlying every operation, from customer service to supply chain management.
Create Consistency of Purpose
In order to ensure that the highest quality underlines all of your business operations, it is necessary to create consistency of purpose. For this consistency of purpose to be effective, business owners and management must reinforce it. The purpose of reaffirming the importance of quality is to ensure that quality never becomes situational.
Consistency of purpose is often challenged when deadlines conflict with the amount of time needed for high-quality practices. There are two tactics you can employ to avoid this threat to quality. Firstly, it is important to educate your employees, giving them the tools they need to complete the task to the highest standard. Employee training and education also stimulates critical thinking. This means your employees will be more likely to consider alternatives solutions that don’t involve simply lowering quality levels. Secondly, it is important to foster a culture of open communication. When staff feel comfortable, they bring problems to the attention of management as soon as issues arise, making it less likely that quality will be compromised.
Track Your Output
No matter how good your intentions when committing to uphold quality in your business, if you have not defined quality in an operational context, then it is a well-meaning but ultimately futile gesture. The examples below are some of the best ways to track quality within your business operations:
Invest in Quality Management Software
Business guru and the father of the Quality Movement, W. Edwards Deming once said: “Workers are responsible for 15% of the problems; the system for the other 85%.” No matter how committed your staff, if your business processes are not traced, tracked, and analyzed then the highest-quality levels will forever be unobtainable. A quality management software provider is there to ensure you are always able to uphold quality in your supply chain. Offering you real-time data insights on faculties, products, and suppliers will ensure you are always informed of your operations. The software does not only give you access to this data, but analyzes it too, with inbuilt guard rails to prevent quality issues occurring. You can share the data and insights collected as digitized specs across your network of departments, suppliers, and co-managers.
Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is another great way to gage the quality of your operations. Net promoter score is a customer satisfaction and management tool, which is valuable as it has been found to correlate with revenue growth relative to competitors. Your net promoter score refers to the percentage of customers you have that are likely to recommend your business, product, or service to a friend or colleague. A customer who answers 9 or 10 is seen as a promoter; a customer who provided a score of 7 or 8 is referred to as a passive; and those who give a score of 6 or below are described as detractors. To determine your net promoter score you first subtract the number of promoters from the number of detractors. Then, you add the passives to the total number of respondents. Net promoter scores vary significantly between industries, so it is necessary to consider your score within the context of your specific market.
Review Your Findings
With systems in place to track your operations and output quality, you must review your findings. Without regular meetings, you cannot get all the value out of the data. The meetings should include multiple departments and focus on identifying the root cause of quality issues. Over time, as quality issues decline, these meetings should become less time-consuming.
Change Your Management Practices
It can be easy for managers in the pursuit of quality to focus on the inadequacies of their workforce. Managers should reframe this focus, viewing quality not only as an important goal but a respectable and valuable pursuit.
In order to ensure the highest operational quality levels, managers and business owners must demonstrate the value of quality in their actions. Provided with the right training and working culture, employees can then enjoy producing quality work, rather than feeling unsustainable pressure to do so. Businesses can then review these practices to ensure that the value of quality is being reflected with revenue growth.