What Are Quality Management Tools?

Quality Management Tools (QMT) offers assistance to employees of an organization to find the recurring defects, their root causes, and sub-causes along with their effects. Quality management tools play a major role in eliminating issues and finding areas of improvement. In addition, it helps organizations find solutions that help increase the productivity and efficiency of goods, services, and processes in various sectors (including manufacturing, services, and healthcare) to meet customers' or clients' expectations.

Importance of Quality Management Tools in Project Management

Here are some reasons why quality management tools are crucial in project management.

  • To meet or exceed the client’s or customer's requirements and expectations with respect to quality standards.
  • To ensure the team is consistently providing expected quality products or services. 
  • To monitor the engagement of each member towards the goal of the organization.
  • To increase the productivity of the goods and efficiency in the processes or services.
  • To provide the necessary structure or framework for the tasks.
  • To represent complex data in attractive visual representation, keep information organized, engaging, and easy to understand.
  • To identify defects in the processes and eliminate the same.
  • To boost the quality rate of the production, processes, or services.
  • To offer better collaboration and communication among the team members, stakeholders, and different departments.
  • To improve customer and supplier management.
  • To utilize the resources within the budget without hampering the quality of the goods and services.

18 Quality Management Tools and Techniques

Let us explore 18 top-notch quality management tools and techniques.

1. Chart

In 1786, Scottish engineer William Playfair introduced various types of charts, including pie charts and bar charts. A chart is defined as a graphical representation of data. In quality management, visual representation simplifies complex data. It helps people identify and understand each component of the data and uncover the structure, pattern, trends, and relationships in data. 

The chart is typically linked with a worksheet. It gets automatically updated in real-time with the change in data. In quality management, charts are one of the most common forms of representing complicated data more efficiently.

2. Histogram

Karl Pearson introduced the Histogram in 1891. A histogram is one of the quality management tools in project management whose structures are similar to bar graphs. There is a collection of bars where each bar represents a different group. The heights of the bars showcase the frequency of the data within that group. In addition, data of frequency can be easily broken into categories like sample size, months of the year, age, physical measurements, and others that can be represented in numerical or chronological order. Users can use different outliers (if required) of histograms to represent the distributional features of dataset variables.

In quality management, the histogram is one of the most commonly used graphs in various fields for data analysis and behavioral interpretation of different groups to manage quality. Quality professionals use a histogram to represent clear and concise frequency distribution amongst different sample groups that help in the quick identification of improvement areas within the system or process. 

3. Scatter Diagram

A scatter diagram, also a scatter plot, scatter chart, or scatter graph, was created by John F.W. Herschel in 1833. The graph uses dots to display the values of two different numeric variables. The numerical data is paired from one variable on each axis, i.e., the x-axis and y-axis, to find their relation. We have to join dependent values on the Y-axis and independent values on the X-axis where every point showcases a common intersection point. 

The dots or points will fall along the curve or line if there is any correlation found between the variables. If the correlation in the diagram is stronger, the relationship between the two variables will also be stronger. The stronger the correlation, the closer the dots will be to the line. The correlations can be observed through a scatter diagram: positive, negative, and no correlation (none). 

In quality management, the scatter diagram helps identify relationships between two variables to understand the quality defects, possible causes (personnel, activity, environment, or other variables), and their effects on the system or process. Once the connectivity between the variables is acknowledged and understood, one can easily implement focused solutions to eliminate the problem and achieve the desired outcome.

4. Control Chart

The control chart, or Stewart control charts, is a QM tool that was introduced by Walter A. Stewart in 1924. It is a graphical tool used to study the process of change over time. In this, current data and historical data are compared to get a conclusion if the variation in a process is consistent or unpredictable. Consistent data portrays that the process is in control. In contrast, unpredictable data represents out-of-control data due to being affected by special causes of variations. 

In quality management, the graph is widely used by professionals to save time and money for the organization by predicting and monitoring the process performance with respect to the expectations of the clients or customers in the final product.

5. Check Sheet

The check sheet, also called the tally sheet, is a management tool for quality control that Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa created. It is one of the most common tools applicable for collecting qualitative and quantitative data. The check sheet is specifically called a tally sheet when used to collect the quantitative data. 

In a check sheet, data is collected in the form of tally marks or checks that represent recurring specific values, enabling users to quickly zero in on defects or errors within the system or process. It also helps in identifying defect patterns and even the cause of any particular defect within the process or system to manage the quality.

6. Ishikawa Diagram

The Ishikawa diagram, popularly called the Fishbone diagram or Cause-and-Effect Diagram, is among the top-notch quality control tools that was introduced by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa in 1945. The term Fishbone was given to the diagram due to its resemblance to a fish skeleton. However, the cause-and-effect name was based on the ability of the graph to record the cause of specific defects. 

The diagram is crucial in quality management to find the root of the cause of a specific defect and the potential factors that are responsible for the common problems in the process or system. The diagram helps in breaking down complex problems and focuses on a particular problem with different perspectives in a systematic manner. The diagram is formed in a way that represents quality problems on the right-hand side of the graph, whose foundations or root causes and sub-causes are showcased on the left-hand side of the graph individually. 

There are six elements (6M) of causes and sub-causes in manufacturing, i.e., measurements, materials, manpower (people/personnel), environment, methods (process), and machines (equipment). With changes in industries, these elements also get altered accordingly. For instance, 6M is replaced with 8P in product marketing and 4S in service industries. 

7. Flowchart

A flowchart was created by industrial engineers Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in 1921.  It is a graphical representation that separates the steps of a process systematically. Flowcharts are one of the basic quality-checking tools to document process flow and organizational structures. This approach makes flowchart an ideal quality management tool to find the bottlenecks and unnecessary steps within the system or process. 

In addition, mapping a process can lead to pinpointing activities effectively, such as when and who performed the tasks in a process. Flowcharts also determine the mechanism of process flow from one task or department to another, along with the steps removed from the process or system. These diagrams are widely used in many fields, including manufacturing, administration, service processes, healthcare, research and development, and/or academic projects. 

8. Pareto chart

The Pareto chart or Pareto distribution diagram was introduced by the Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto in the early 1900s. The chart comprises bars and a line graph in which the most common problems, along with the frequently occurring defects, are identified. The bar portrays individual values in descending order. However, the line depicts the cumulative total in the cart. In the Pareto graph, the values are plotted vertically. Through the graph, users can find problems, prioritize them, and describe their frequency in the system. 

In quality management, the Pareto chart works as an 80-20 rule. The rule predicts that 80% of a system’s or process’s defect occurs due to 20% of the major factors, frequently called ‘Vital View.’ On the other hand, 20% of the defects or problems occur due to 80% of the minor factors.

9. TQM

TQM, elaborated as Total Quality Management, was first introduced by W. Edwards Deming. It is an integrated and comprehensive system that plans and regulates all the workings of the business to produce a process or product the way expected by the client or customer. TQM is a collection of philosophies of business behaviors (such as involvement of employees and consistent upgrading of level) and related techniques to enhance quality (such as clear goal settings and performance evaluation).

10. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

At the end of the 1940s, the American military developed Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). It refers to the stepwise approach to estimate and find all possible failures in a process, function, system, product, or service. FMEA is broadly categorized into two forms: design (DFMEA) and process (PFMEA). DFMEA helps identify malfunctions and reduce product life, safety, and regulatory concerns. In contrast, PFMEA uncovers failures that influence the quality of products, reduced reliability of the process, environmental hazards, safety concerns, and customer dissatisfaction. 

11. Kaizen

Kaizen was introduced by Masaaki Imai in 1986 in Japan. In Japanese, Kai refers to ‘Change,’ and Zen refers to ‘Good,’ meaning change for the better or improvement. This quality management approach is defined as a continuous effort made by each member of the organization, from the CEO to field staff, towards the improvement of all the systems and processes of the organization to provide quick results. There are typically important elements in Kaizen: teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, quality circles, and suggestions for improvement.

12. Checklist

The checklist was first introduced by Boeing in 1935. A checklist refers to a list of items’ information and important considerations with respect to quality assurance activities. The list guides the user in finding and planning quality management activities.  It helps Quality control and quality assurance to remind the to-do list and tailor the unique needs. Checklists provide insights into product requirements, packaging requirements, on-site product tests and checks, defect classification, and collaboration between parties or members involved in the system, such as suppliers, manufacturers, line assemblers, and QA inspectors.

13. MasterControl

MasterControl is one of the best tools used in quality management that is not publicly traded. The tool MasterControl Documents aids in enhancing the efficiency of quality units and their effectiveness by automating routing or task assignment, tracking, scheduling follow-up, escalation, and evaluation, along with the approval of all the document-based workings, processes, and systems of the organization. The tools simplify the workflow and ease the overall operations so that organizations do not face quality degradation issues due to innovation for regulation or cost.

14. Gap Analysis

Michael Scott conceived the process of gap analysis in the 1980s. A gap analysis is one of the most useful quality management processes that aid organizations in understanding the process of achieving business goals. In this, the current state is compared with the standard or ideal state that determines the defects and the areas of improvement in the process or system of the organization. The process involves steps like assessing the current state, finding the ideal future state, evaluating the gap, and identifying solutions, along with generating and incorporating a plan to bridge the gap to improve the system effectively.

15. Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle also called the 80/20 rule, was developed by an Italian philosopher and economist, Vilfredo Pareto, in 1896. The rule determines that 80% of the outcomes or results are regulated by 20% of the factors or activities. For instance, a company gets 80% of the profit from 20% of its product types. The rule is broadly accepted in various fields, including healthcare, manufacturing, finance, project planning, inventory management, and others. 

16. Balanced Scorecard

David Norton and Robert Kaplan first introduced a balanced scorecard (BSC) in 1992. It refers to the strategic planning and managing possess or system that the company uses to track the business performance with respect to operational goals with the focus on ensuring the progress is aligned with the overall strategy. 

Balanced scorecard's four phases of business collectively determine the entire performance of the organization, which includes learning and growth, business processes, customers, and finance. In addition, a balanced scorecard enables users to pool information in a single report to deliver information quality and services with financial performance. This approach helps in increasing the efficiency of the system in an organization.

17. Stratification

Stratification is a quality management tool that sorts data, people, or objects into distinct layers or categories. Stratification aims to identify patterns or specific conditions that are not readily apparent when data is amalgamated. This method is particularly useful when data needs to be analyzed to identify sources of variation or separate different types of information for more detailed analysis. The stratification process involves dividing data into subgroups based on specific criteria such as time, location, or attributes. 

18. Affinity diagram

The Affinity Diagram is a tool used to organize large amounts of data into related groups or themes based on their natural relationships. This technique is particularly useful in the initial stages of problem-solving when information is vast, scattered, or complex. Affinity diagrams help teams to categorize and understand information, enabling them to identify patterns, themes, and potential solutions to a problem. Creating an affinity diagram usually involves several steps, from generating ideas and displaying notes to discussing and refining.

Benefits of Using Quality Management Tools

Let us explore how quality management tools can benefit us.

  • It helps to improve the participation of each employee in the organization
  • QMT offers regular control of major business processes
  • The tools help to control and offer a successful working environment
  • QMT aids in increasing customer satisfaction
  • It also helps in improving risk management 
  • It provides greater efficiency with minimal waste
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Conclusion

Quality management tools help identify defects or errors during the process, eliminate the faults and improve the quality. It aids in consistent monitoring and enhances goods or services' production rate and quality. Learning and gaining proficiency in these tools helps uncover multiple aspects of career growth and new job opportunities. 

Unlock the full potential of your professional capabilities with Simplilearn’s Lean Six Sigma Expert Program. This comprehensive course is equips you with the skills and knowledge required to excel in the field of process improvement, quality management, and operational excellence. Whether you are looking to enhance your job prospects, ascend to a managerial position, or drive efficiency in your organization, our program is your ladder to success.

FAQs

1. What distinguishes TQM from Six Sigma?

Total Quality Management (TQM) offers high-quality products, services, manufacturing, processes, or systems of an organization. In contrast, Six Sigma focuses on providing overall improved outcomes.

2. How might quality management tools help small businesses?

Quality management tools offer customer and/or client satisfaction from small business products, processes, or services by ensuring operations and productions are up to the mark for generating high-quality outcomes.

3. Are there some sectors in which the use of quality management technologies is not appropriate?

Different sectors have different requirements for quality management tools based on their specific needs, characteristics, and processes. Organizations may face challenges in opting for quality management tools for their specific purposes. Concerning this, specific tools are designed as per the needs of the organization to reduce issues and increase the productivity and efficiency of the system. Therefore, all sectors may use quality management tools with respect to their requirements. 

4. Is Six Sigma a TQM tool?

Six Sigma refers to a new concept or methodology based on the TQM. Six Sigma came from a Greek term, where sigma refers to standard deviation and six sigma denotes that there is a chance of error within the standard deviation taken from the mean of the normal distribution. It helps in getting very low defect rates to deliver high-quality processes, services, or products.

Our Quality Management Courses Duration And Fees

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