Your Quality Audit Will Help You Ensure That You Are Meeting Your Promises And Your Customers' Expectations.
Quality, not a quality audit, can be approached from several different perspectives. One is the traditional cost/failure approach, where an acceptable percentage of failures or rejects is tolerated. A cost has been forecast for each failure/reject. And that is the cost associated with fixing the problem under warranty. From this perspective, this cost is compared to the cost of achieving fewer failures or rejects. All very correct when the only cost associated with a failure or reject is the direct cost of fixing the problem.
The flaw in this approach is one that the North American automobile industry should have discovered earlier. There is another indirect cost of accepting what might otherwise appear to be a defensible reject rate. That cost is something like an opportunity cost. It is future sales lost because customers are not willing to suffer the inconvenience associated with fixing a quality problem. They demonstrate their dissatisfaction in the most tangible way. In the case of the car companies, they migrated to imports.
Not directly a part of a quality audit, but of critical importance, is the extent to which you are prepared to forego future sales because customers don't like your approach. Customers don't like the inconvenience related to getting quality problems fixed, even if their out of pocket cost is negligible. In evaluating your quality process, keep your customers uppermost in your thinking.
Conscious of customer satisfaction needs, you can now get down to working on this audit. First of all, do you have a formal quality system? And if so, is it known to everyone for whom it is relevant? And if you don't have one, what do you think you need to do? Right, so go to it.
Assuming you have a formal quality system, you need to identify and evaluate the underlying activities. Since quality can be a huge sales feature, it is important to be sure of your ground. In evaluating the underlying activities, be sure to include all processes where a failure could possibly occur or start. When you identify a potential failure point, work on how the related process can be improved.
Your objective in doing a quality audit relates to customer satisfaction, and ongoing revenue. Satisfied customers are much less likely to take their business elsewhere.They are one of the keys to predictable future revenue. And that is a key ingredient in predicting future cash flow and earnings.
If your business shares many characteristics with the speedy oil change business your economic considerations will be unusual. The selling price of each oil change is small. Failure could result from something as small as a small oil spill on an engine when replacing the oil. Where the cost of fixing the problem is higher in unattained customer satisfaction, than in out of pocket cost. On the other hand, failure to install a filter correctly, or replace a drain plug correctly could result in extreme damage to a car engine. Very costly. So avoiding it is paramount. Hence, the importance of quality, and a quality audit.
Get a book on quality control, and use the best ideas from it. Focus much more on customer satisfaction, than most books do. Some of the best ideas will relate to testing procedures. They will serve as templates to help you analyze your own quality process. They will also serve as guides to evaluating the documentation of your quality process.
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