The best quality control system depends largely on the type of business you conduct. A product manufacturer might use a different set of steps to control quality than a retail store or distributor would use. Vital parts of any good quality control system include clear specifications, effective testing, and accountability.
One of the most important parts of outlining a good quality control system is defining the parameters upon which successful quality production is measured. These will vary, depending on the product or service. Most systems define specific parameters for the materials used in the process, the equipment used to perform the process, and the benchmarks that indicate a successful production process. These specifications must be clearly and effectively communicated to the workers responsible for production quality prior to beginning the production process.
Generally, a quality control system includes inspection before, during, and after the production process. Before production begins, a quality control manager should inspect the equipment an materials needed for production to ensure they meet the quality requirements set for pre-production. Pre-production quality control involves ordering materials that meet required specifications, and also includes verifying that the materials meet the specifications before they become part of the production process. This is a vital step because it ensures that the basis of the production process is not being hampered by inferior production materials. Another important pre-production step in a quality control system is ensuring that all necessary materials are available in the amounts needed to complete production.
Inspecting the equipment used during production helps ensure that everything is working properly before the process gets started, which can help reduce costs by preventing materials waste and delays as a result of failed or malfunctioning equipment. Steps involved in inspecting equipment include checking equipment parts and fluid levels and ensuring that the machine has received the maintenance needed to keep it in proper working order. If a machine that has not been properly maintained is used for production, it may cause delays or errors that add additional cost to the production process.
Effective testing in a quality control system must include testing that is done independently of those responsible for the testing results. This can be done by assigning a person or department that is not responsible for the product to perform quality control, but may involve bringing in an outside organization to perform the testing. Using an outside organization for testing can help ensure that accountability for production problems and successes are assigned to the right party or department.
It is important to ensure that the organization conducting the testing is not accountable for the results of the testing, or results may be tainted by bias within the responsible organization. This can include relationships among people within the testing and manufacturing companies. Sometimes, it may be necessary to bring in a second organization to verify the results of tests conducted by quality control companies with long-term business relationships with the manufacturing companies they test.