Quality Control Tips for Small Businesses


Quality Control Tips for Small Businesses

Quality control is what it sounds like—it’s a process that a business uses to ensure they maintain the quality of their products or improve that quality. Quality control means that both the management and employees need to be equally invested in the products and the business.

Central to quality control in any business is the designation of controls. Controls standardize production, and they also set reactions that are to be used for quality issues. These processes leave less room for errors and they create a clear path for employees to know what they’re supposed to be doing at all times.

Quality control can present a challenge for small businesses for different reasons, and as such, they’re less likely to have defined processes like larger organizations might have.

Reasons for the challenge include the fact that small businesses are often family-owned, and when you run a small business, you may be dealing with the day-to-day in a way that prevents you from being able to look at models for management and strategy. You may also have less money for employee training.

The following are some quality control tips for small businesses to develop these processes.

Define What Quality Is
Before you can create processes for quality control, you need to have an internal definition of what quality is. This is going to vary between businesses and industries.

In your business, quality may be determined by how well your products meet certain specifications. For other businesses, quality might be more related to how satisfied customers are when using your product.

Depending on your industry, you may be able to follow a quality management system like ISO 9001, which is a set of rules that outline how a business will both create and deliver their products.

When you follow a quality management system, you can then use adherence to a certification body to audit your processes.

Quality Needs to Be Ingrained in Your Culture
It doesn’t matter how much your management is dedicated to quality if your employees aren’t on board. Quality needs to be intrinsically ingrained in your culture.

Your whole team needs to understand what represents quality and how to get to a quality product.

Quality needs to be consistently reinforced, so all employees and stakeholders are in-line.

What this means, however, is that it needs to be a two-way conversation. You need to reinforce quality to your employees but also regularly ask for their feedback.

While quality control is about following standards, it’s also about being willing to innovate and make changes when necessary, so long as they’ll represent improvements.

If you micromanage your employees too much, they’re likely to be less innovative and empowered to make decisions.

Understand the Process
Again, quality control is very much a process. It is built on the need to test products and ensure they meet the necessary specs or requirements. The quality control process can change over time to meet consumer demand through the creation of better products.

For employees, the quality control process tends to start with testing materials. Then, there are steps taken at different times throughout manufacturing not only to identify problems but also to make sure those problems don’t continue to happen in the future.

For small businesses, a good way to approach the process might be creating a graphic representation or a chart.

If you’re a very small business, you can keep QC simple. Write down the standardized process and train your employees to follow it.

Regularly Review Your Results
Sometimes small businesses might make the mistake of thinking once they set their QC process, that’s it and they’re done. The reality is that QC is an evolving, living set of standards. You want to review your results on a regular basis and gather feedback from your employees but also your customers.

You want to be able to align your QC with true results, and without feedback, you won’t be able to do that.

Once you start meeting your QC standards and employees seem well-trained on the basics, move forward with improvements.

Finally, your QC should be aligned with employee training every step of the way. Well-trained employees are your best asset as a small business.

As a small business, a lot of your competitors may not focus significantly on QC, so this is a unique place where you can set yourself apart if you formalize it. Use it as an opportunity to develop a competitive advantage.

Meet The Author:

Susan Melony

Susan Melony

Susan is an avid writer, traveler, and overall enthusiast.

Courtesy of NASE.org