Quality issues, non-conformances, and customer complaints are all viewed as negative, but addressed correctly they can be turned into a competitive edge. Therefore, it is important that raising an issue is simple and can be done from the source where it is discovered. Having the same process for different types of issues and within the same system also allows for more efficient issue management and more data allows for better assumptions and conclusions to be made.
The second step towards quality improvement is of course finding out why the issue occurred, commonly referred to as root cause analysis. There are numerous well-known problem-solving methodologies to be applied such as 5 Why’s, Ishikawa diagrams, or 8D reports. They are all designed to drill down to the underlying causes of the issue and not just the symptoms which are one reason why many companies struggle in their quality work and fail to reach a sustained improvement to products and processes.
The final step of quality improvement is taking the necessary countermeasures and actions to the root causes discovered. Following up on the actions to ensure that they had the desired effect is also very important, and if not, the process can be re-iterated. Assigning actions to the relevant expertise and requesting feedback when they are completed allows for efficient action management, involves more people in the quality work, and brings solutions closer to both product and process.