Quality inspections can be a nerve wracking experience for business owners with limited resources. However, there are basic ways to improve the results of any formal quality review.
Preparation for a quality inspection shouldn’t begin a few days before because this will only cause confusion and mistakes. Instead, preparation should begin up a few weeks in advance with management explaining to personnel why and how the inspection will take place. There should also be regular reminders of the upcoming inspection. This will give management and employees ample time to clean, organize and perform their own internal quality inspections. In fact, an official internal audit is one of the best ways to identify, reduce and manage quality problems.
Internal audits allow management to preemptively take action and resolve past or existing quality problems. During this time, management does not have to solve all problems, but they can discuss and plan how they are going to tackle major quality problems. For example, there is a widely used conveyor belt in a manufacturing facility that keeps damaging products, but management doesn’t have the budget to replace the system. For now, they can make minor engineering adjustments and instruct employees how to minimize the product damage. However, they can also chose an appropriate contractor to replace the system in the future. All internal quality control actions should be documented for the external inspector. A self-initiated audit exhibits responsibility and transparency, which will most likely impress the quality inspector.
One of the best ways for a company to demonstrate their commitment to quality is through consistent employee training. All training efforts and details should be documented. This means that training event documentation will include an employee sign-in sheet, trainer outline and copy of the handout. On the other hand, employee quality training will also need standardized procedures. For example, ISO 9000 Quality Management System (QMS) is a globally recognized quality control system for companies. The QMS program uses standard quality procedures (SQPs) to document every positions’ scope, duties and responsibilities. SQPs are a very effective way of increasing employee productivity, competency and consistency.
The actual external auditor may either be flexible or they may be rather rigid. Therefore, management should be prepared for either personality types. Flexible auditors often work with companies to solve quality control problems on the spot. For example, if a previously unreported quality issue suddenly gets noticed, flexible auditors will allow management to immediately rectify the problem on the spot. However, inflexible auditors will meticulously document the situation and even interview available employees. Therefore, employees should be instructed to honestly answer questions without too many details. This is because talkative employees may unwittingly share sensitive information.
In the end, quality inspections are an important way of ensuring product or service excellence. Preparation, internal audits and employee training will ensure a problem free quality inspection.