Process Approach in Quality Management System

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Quality Management System is often confused with an unnecessary administrative burden.  Many organizations assume that quality management is only a standard concerning factor; whereas, others believe that ISO 9001 is a different existence that does not have anything to do with running an organization or managing the operations.

Owing to these misconceptions or wrongly perceived notions, organizations deprive themselves from enjoying remarkable opportunities in improving the traditional processes. While it is important to take companies out of such wrongful notions, on the other hand, it is important to explain to them how can ISO 9001 be united and synchronized with the strategic business planning, making process improvement seamless, and add value to the goals of an organization.

What is Process and Insights on Process Approach
A “Process” can broadly be defined as a “set of interrelated or interacting activities, which transforms inputs into outputs”. However, to make the components that comprise a Process work out correctly, it is necessary to allocate resources that include both human and materials. These activities require allocation of resources such as people and materials.

quality management process and program

Process Approach, on the other hand, is interpreted as the method that ensures application of the system of processes accurately within the organizational context. Successful execution of process approach is difficult as it not only requires components of the system to be identified but also to determine how those components are interacting mutually.
The processes are managed as a system, by creating and understanding the interactions between components. The performance of an organization can be improved through the use of the process approach.

Organizations, looking forward to establish a solid foundation, addressing the quality management issues, should provide adequate attention towards the process approach. This actually functions as the driving force behind proper functioning of operations, concerning quality management.

Factors generally involve in a process are:
•    Inputs both tangible, such as raw materials and intangible, such as consumer demand
•    Value added activities with specific interest to conversion, which would reflect organizational success in terms of transforming inputs into outputs
•    Both tangible and intangible outputs

The process approach provides a great deal of stress upon resource gathering that may involve employees, equipment, technological resources and other types of materials. These components are used in a planned manner by an organization in transforming inputs to outputs.

Supplier and customer exist at the heart of process approach. No process can start shaping up without a supplier and a customer; however, they can be both external and internal for an organization. Before a process starts rolling, it should be allowed by an owner to operate. The owner will also be accountable for the ways in which the process should be operated, controlled or improved.

Furthermore, all approaches involved in the process should satisfy organizational, customer and any other applicable regulatory/statutory requirement. It is also important to keep the option open for measuring and monitoring the process performance. In this context, external review processes, such as audit, become highly relevant when it comes to measuring effectiveness and efficiency of the same.

Process Approach vs Departmental Approach
The functional departments of organizations are typically arranged as per structural hierarchy. Management of the departments is done vertically with specific attention to the responsibilities that the respective departments are required to fulfill in terms of functioning and output. The vertical structure, however, becomes an impediment when it comes to finding the feedback from an end customer or any other party, interested in the process. Consequently problems may occur at the interface between departments which is often given less priority than the short-term goals of the departments. If this happens, the focus is given to the functional department with little or no improvement to the customer, rather to the overall benefit to the organization.

The process approach empowers an organization with the capacity to manage and control interaction between processes. The same virtue is also delivered to a company for having a better control over functional structures of an organization. Ultimately, this approach empowers an organization to manage and systematize business activities with the goal for adding value to their products, contributing to higher satisfaction for customer and other interested parties.

Process Approach – Quality Management System
The quality management system which is made up of these value-adding processes, collectively provide value-add products and services to the internal and external customers.It also allows a review of the sequence and interaction of processes – especially how the inputs and outputs is coming around.

The process approach – quality management system introduces horizontal management of activities by removing the barriers between departments. It looks at the management system not just as a document, but also an active infrastructure of processes that shapes the goal set of an enterprise, its risk, and customer requirements, and focusing on the collective instead of individual or departmental efforts. It is not an administrative burden; in fact, it is an important tool for a competitive business to achieve the ultimate goals of the organization.

Image Credits: Wikimedia.Org

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Monika Ardianto

Quality Management Consultant and Auditor at Monika Nonce Ardianto
Monika Ardianto is a Certified Quality/Operational Management Consultant with over 20 years of experience in improving quality management systems of large businesses. She is an award winning author of "Winning the Audit".

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