Improving operational quality is an important issue for companies and an essential condition for improving the quality of products and services.
This article will clarify the definition of the term «business quality improvement» and explain specific ways to improve business quality.
What is Business Quality Improvement?
The term «business quality improvement» is ambiguous in some definitions, but here we define it as meeting the following three challenges.
- Reduce errors in work (improve accuracy)
- Increase the number of items processed in a given time (improve productivity)
- Eliminate variations in quality among personnel (stabilization of work quality)
As for the first, it may need no explanation, but it is obvious that if the accuracy of work improves, the quality of the product or service will also improve. However, if the work takes longer to improve accuracy, productivity will decrease and costs may increase.
Therefore, it is necessary to maintain accuracy while addressing the second point of improving productivity. Of course, it would be ideal if we could improve both accuracy and productivity while keeping costs down.
The third factor is to minimize quality variations that may occur between new workers and experienced workers, who naturally have different levels of work proficiency. Depending on the type of business, eliminating variations due to conditions, such as time of day or season, may also be considered.
Meeting these challenges will directly lead to improved product, service quality and customer satisfaction. So how can we improve the quality of our operations based on these three points?
Three Ways to Improve Business Quality
1. Visualization and Quantification
The first thing we want to do to improve the quality of our operations is to visualize and quantify them.
Visualization refers here to the process of visibly identifying the overall flow of operations, problems, and issues by representing the current status of operations in a diagram or other form. In addition, quantification involves measuring and numerically analyzing necessary data, such as the lead time required from the start of work to its completion. In this process it is important to clarify not only the current figures but also the target figures, so that the issues can be tackled more smoothly.
2. Standardization and Optimization
On the other hand, to improve the variation in work quality, it is first necessary to standardize the work.
For example, the following situations could easily lead to inconsistency in quality and stagnation of the task:
- Only certain people being able to handle a process
- Each person working in their own way
Therefore, it is necessary to standardize work procedures and precautions by creating manuals so that anyone can perform the tasks. Of course, when standardizing it is important to identify the best procedures at that point in time.
After standardization is implemented, it is important to measure and verify the results through visualization and quantification as described in step 1. Furthermore, the created manuals and processes must be constantly optimized to best suit changes in the work environment and social conditions.
3. Paperless & Automated
Now, an extension of the points I have mentioned so far is the paperless and automated nature of operations.
For example, digitizing paper-based work can reduce costs associated with storing and managing paper documents. In addition, if the accumulated data is properly managed on a computer, it saves time and effort to search for past documents. Such ease of management and improved search convenience are major points that lead to increased business efficiency and improved business quality.
On the other hand, automation of work using RPA tools, for example, eliminates work quality variation. While human workers inevitably vary in accuracy depending on the person in charge of the work and the degree of fatigue, RPA allows robots to perform the work and maintain consistent work quality. RPA, on the other hand, can maintain the quality of work without variation because it is performed by robots. Such ease of management and improved search convenience are major points that lead to increased business efficiency and improved business quality.
In addition, there is software called a workflow system that can be used to automate the entire workflow. In the next section, we will explain the relationship between workflow systems and business quality improvement, along with specific examples.
A Workflow System to Support Improvement of Business Quality
Workflow systems are software that allows easy visualization of business processes on a PC.
The software automates the workflow and the handover of tasks according to the process diagram that has been created. The workflow system stores data such as business communication and time spent on processing, making it easy to quantify the work required for measurement and verification. This, together with the fact that work proceeds automatically and is easily visualized, is a great help in standardizing work.
In addition, workflow systems can be used to make various daily operations paperless, such as applications, approvals, and requests for approval, estimates, contracts, and invoices.
For example, in the case of in the case of Vital Information Inc., which introduced Questetra BPM Suite to automate and digitize order approval operations, the company was able to cut paper printing costs and storage space by eliminating the paper documents associated with approximately 500 applications per year. In the same case study, the company also reported that the administrative department eliminated printing and filing of documents for storage, saving approximately 20 hours of work per month.
Incidentally, Questetra BPM Suite that we offer is a cloud-based workflow system.
The features of cloud computing include immediate availability after application, and the ability to easily access and work with the same system as your office from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection.
Questetra BPM Suite, which strongly supports the improvement of business quality, is available for free trial. Why don’t you take this opportunity to experience the process of business quality improvement with Questetra BPM Suite?