Quality Management, the secret to continuous improvement

Kaizen - continuous improvement
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Quality management is the set of techniques and procedures focused on improving the delivery of services or production of a company through the fulfillment of requirements. We at LIGHT we usually look at it in a broader spectrum, applied to improving any company process, not only the critics linked to the end activity.

At the end of this article, I will present a simple method for applying continuous improvement with tools in companies.

See in this article:

See also - other applications of quality management:

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What is Quality Management?

In our personal lives, when we begin to try to learn anything - a sport, a hobby, a competence - at first, we face certain difficulties and we are improving with time. The procedure for developing these activities usually does not change: many repetitions, correction of errors and goals to be sought.

This is more or less the essence of quality management. Perform, measure, learn and reduce bottlenecks until you get the version as close to perfection as possible. This way of thinking is already intrinsic in us, but it can and should be formalized in the professional day-to-day.

Think about the last time you tried playing an instrument, playing a sport, or learning a new activity that you developed over the years. It is normal to look at your beginner "I" back there and feel a certain shame for lack of practice. But you repeated it a thousand times, learned shortcuts, and improved every time you tried. In short, you have matured.

Processes are also like this and there are some techniques applied to the maturation thereof.

I recently watched the movie Famine of Power (The Founder) which tells the initial story of the McDonald's network. The McDonald brothers realize that most of the snack bars of the 40 years suffered greatly from production bottlenecks and served a terrible job. Opening the first McDonald's unit, they reorganized the kitchen, modified the ordering system (no waiters), reduced portfolio and focused strictly on performance.

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The method was known as Speedee system and was passed from branch to branch. This is an excellent example of quality management assisting in expanding a business.

Examples of quality management

As the Speedee system, there are other methods and / or pre-ready quality stamps created by those who have already faced the challenge of optimizing processes in other sectors or by institutions linked to quality management.

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The most famous institution is the ISO (International Organization for Standardization, or International Organization for Standardization). You probably have heard of the label ISO 9001. This seal is awarded to companies that can be approved by ISO's external audit.

In other words, they meet the set of prerequisites stipulated by the ISO 9001 standard for the provision of better services. These requirements refer to the standardization of certain processes. The objective of this international standard is to improve the management of companies around the world by standardizing the best practices that lead to the provision of services.

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Another philosophy I like to associate with quality management is Japanese. Kaizen. Its concept is:

Today better than yesterday, tomorrow better than today!

Kaizen is applied in several methods of continuous improvement of production processes, engineering, business management, logistics, among others. Several Japanese companies have the philosophy incorporated into their cultures and this has helped them to be global.

Toyota's production system, Lean Manufacturing, is known for applying principles of kaizen.

But do I need to opt for standardized methods?

No! And that's what's most interesting in quality management. With simple tools, you can begin a culture of continuous process improvement in your company, area, football team, any group of people who work together for a common purpose.

And what are processes?

Process is that word that everyone who is in a company knows what it is, but it is difficult to explain in their own words. Okay, I'll try ... Process is a series of sequential actions done by people to achieve a goal.

It was strange, but I'll improve with examples. I believe that selling is an important process for any company. They rely on it to survive. In a consulting firm, for example, there are a number of steps the business must follow after receiving a contact until you make a sale. For example:

  1. The business manager receives the lead and passes it on to a team member
  2. The business analyst contacts and marks a meeting.
  3. At the meeting the diagnostic questionnaire is applied.
  4. The planning team draws up a schedule with costs and milestones.
  5. The business analyst puts together a proposal and sends it to the prospect.
  6. The prospect accepts the proposal.
  7. The legal team draws up a contract.
  8. The commercial manager marks a meeting for signing the contract.
  9. The contract is signed and the project begins.

What I did above was try to map in a simple way the sales process of the consultancy in question. O mapping processes is the first step to optimize them. This technique could be done for any company process:

  • Production of different products
  • Service processes
  • Purchasing, sales and stock processes
  • Logistics
  • Customer service
  • Hiring of people
  • Closing date
  • Anyone, even. Use creativity!

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To map a process, the tool usually used is the Flowchart:

Sales Flow Chart Example

When mapping processes, always seek to be as thorough as possible. If something happens inside the process you are in doubt whether it is large enough to be a step, include it in the flowchart. Do not forget to also link each step to a responsible one. To learn more about mapping processes, just click.

Process Improvement Mentality

In our professional and personal lives we are an integral part - sometimes even leaders - of some processes. The way people participate in processes tells a lot about the professional they are. Every process has bottlenecks and can improve, you can be sure of that. Sometimes a simple change such as replacing a meeting with a phone call can make all the difference to the outcome of a company.

Much more important than understanding academically what a process is and how it maps it is having the process optimization mindset rooted in itself.

I have the personal opinion that bad professionals are those who comply with the lawsuits. Good professionals fulfill the processes masterfully, but only comply with them. Great professionals do the processes well, but they make them think all the time about how to optimize them, that is, how to comply faster, more accurately, with less cost or with greater internal or external customer satisfaction.

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Tools to optimize processes

There are a number of tools around the world linked to quality management. I have my favorites and I will try to present them following a logical order of use:


The Pareto principle predicts that 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. This principle can be applied to several concepts. In stock control, for example, it is believed that 80% of the value is concentrated in 20% of products.

One of the application forms related to quality management is the concept of 80 / 20 activities. In a company 20% of activities is able to generate 80% of results. They are usually linked to crucial business processes. Needless to say, optimizing these processes will impact the bottom line.

Quality Tools - Pareto Diagram in Excel

To learn more about, read on Pareto.

See also the pareto diagram sheet. You can try it for free.

PDCA Cycle

This is one of the main tools to root the culture of process improvement in a company. PDCA is an acronym and stands for Plan, Do, Check, and Act. These are the 4 steps of the cycle that is totally geared towards improving processes.

After you've used the Pareto diagram to choose which processes to act on, use the 4 phases of the PDCA on it:

  1. Plan improvements
  2. Test them
  3. Measure Results
  4. Deploy or restart the

Using the PDCA Cycle in Inventory Management - Causes

Read more about this methodology in PDCA Cycle. See also the PDCA Cycle Sheet and test it for free.

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GUT Matrix

Within the PDCA, in the first step, you need to plan improvements in the process. Before doing so, it is interesting to map and rank the problems that that process may be presenting.

The GUT is precisely a matrix of prioritization of problems based on the criteria Severity, Urgency and Trend. That's why her name. To dig deeper into the concept, read GUT Matrix . See also the Problem-Prioritization Worksheet (GUT Matrix).

how to use gut array


It's not really a quality management tool, but it helps a lot when it comes to thinking about process improvements. Brainstorming means brainstorming and consists of, individually or collectively, putting all possible ideas on paper to filter the best ones.

Learn more How to do brainstorm.

Action Plan 5W2H

After you complete all the steps, you will need to implement the best ideas in the processes. Some are simple, but others can cause profound changes in the day-to-day business. For people to assimilate them, it will be necessary to create plans of action with deadlines and responsible.

The 5W2H methodology can help you at this point. The name comes from 5 English words that begin with "W" and 2 with "H" that are components of an action plan: What (what will be done), Who (who will do it), When (When), Where (at where), Why (why it will be done), How (as will be done) and How Much (how much will it cost).

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Only by responding to the seven terms of 5W2H will you have well-specified action plans. Learn more at What are 5W2H action plans. See also the Action Plan Worksheet 5W2H.

Implementing the culture of continuous improvement

There are numerous quality tools. Several of them more complex than the ones I mentioned. We ourselves have an article about 10 quality tools which can be used in any company. But you want some advice?

Start simple. Do the basics and gradually improve. It's funny to talk like that, but you can create a "process improvement process" and use the techniques cited in this post to improve it.

To help you, let's recapitulate the simple process of using the tools I mentioned above:

  1. Define on which process to act using Pareto Diagram
  2. Rank problems within the process with Matrix GUT
  3. Plan for possible improvements in the process by doing Brainstorming
  4. Run small tests and measure results
  5. Develop 5W2H action plans to implement the improvements
  6. Restart from point 1

I hope I have helped you, not only to understand a little about quality management, but to implement the culture of continuous improvement in your life, personal or professional.

If you have any questions or need help with the topic, it is only leave your comment below!

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  1. Hallo und vielen Dank für den wirklich interestingn Artikel.

    Den Film über McDonalds habe a genese und gerade die Phase der Prozessoptimierung in der Küche ist ein Paradebeispiel für Qualitätsmanagement, auch wenn es nicht so direkt angesprochen wurde.
    Ebenfalls finde ich McDonalds interessant als Beispiel für Standardisierung. Man kann jetzt über McDonalds denken was man möchte - sie bieten aber einen einheitlichen Standard und sie sind sehr erfolgreich damit.


  2. So, first, should you have a clear process (applying a flow diagram) of the company before you start applying quality tools?

  3. Hi Andressa, we have no, but out of curiosity, what kind of course would you be interested in? Can you further specify what you are looking for within the quality theme?

  4. I would like to know if you have an online course or a specific course for quality management.


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