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In the dynamic landscape of modern business, where competition is fierce and customer expectations are ever-evolving, organizations must prioritize quality in their products and services. Having a sound quality program crosses all aspects of business including areas we normally would not consider like our sales department.

During what was considered a standard build, a high rate of defects began to show up at a high rate that turned into a state of panic and large-scale root cause investigation. After countless hours of investigation into the manufacturing, inspection, and material specs, the trail led to the purchase order. It turns out that a custom product was sold as a standard build when sales crossed components not knowing the implications it would have on manufacturing.

This is where quality management system (QMS) programs play a pivotal role. A quality management system program is a systematic process designed to ensure that products and services meet predefined standards, customer expectations, and companywide standards that separate them from their competition. A common quality principle is known as “first time right” which is intended to address errors immediately at the source which includes every step from beginning to end.

What is a Quality Assurance Program

A quality assurance (QA) program is a comprehensive approach that encompasses all processes, methodologies, and activities aimed at delivering products or services that meet or exceed customer expectations. QA programs involve the establishment of systematic processes, guidelines, and standards to ensure consistency, reliability, and excellence throughout the product or service life cycle.

Components of a Quality Assurance Program

  1. Process Improvement: QA programs focus on optimizing and refining processes to eliminate inefficiencies and reduce the likelihood of errors. These process controls can be as simple as a checklist that reminds employees of the steps needed and a point of measurement used to track the process improvements.
  2. Standards and Compliance: QA programs establish industry-specific standards and compliance requirements. Adhering to these standards not only ensures the quality of products or services but also helps organizations meet ever-changing regulatory requirements, reducing the risk of legal issues.
  3. Testing and Inspection: Rigorous testing and inspection procedures are integral to QA programs. This includes regular product testing, code reviews, inspector competency, and system audits to identify and rectify defects or deviations from established standards before products reach the customer.
  4. Training and Development: QA programs prioritize the continuous development of personnel through training, proficiency, and competency programs. Well-trained employees are better equipped to understand and implement quality standards, contributing to the overall success of the organization.

The Positive Impacts of a Quality Assurance Program

  1. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Perhaps the most significant positive impact of QA programs is the improvement in customer satisfaction. Products or services that consistently meet or exceed customer expectations lead to increased trust, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth, ultimately contributing to business success.
  2. Operational Efficiency: QA programs streamline processes and workflows, reducing errors and inefficiencies. This results in increased operational efficiency, decreased production costs, and improved resource utilization, leading to higher profit margins.
  3. Risk Mitigation: By identifying and addressing potential issues early in the development or production phases, QA programs help mitigate risks. This proactive approach minimizes the chances of defects, recalls, or service failures, safety and bottom line.
  4. Continuous Improvement: QA programs foster a culture of continuous improvement within organizations. Regular assessments and feedback loops enable teams to adapt to changing market conditions, incorporate emerging technologies, and stay ahead of the competition.

Perceived Negative Impacts of a Quality Assurance Program

  1. Perception of Slowed Processes: The meticulous nature of QA processes can sometimes create the perception that projects take longer to complete. While this may be true to some extent, the tradeoff is a higher likelihood of delivering error-free and high-quality outcomes.
  2. Increased Costs: Implementing and maintaining a comprehensive QA program requires financial investment. Some organizations may perceive this as an additional cost, especially in the short term. However, the long-term benefits in terms of reduced defects, improved efficiency, and customer satisfaction often outweigh the initial expenses.
  3. Resistance to Change: Employees accustomed to existing processes may resist the changes introduced by QA programs. This resistance can hinder the successful implementation of QA initiatives. Effective change management strategies, including communication and training, are crucial to overcoming this challenge.
  4. Potential for Over Regulation: In some cases, organizations may inadvertently create excessively rigid QA processes, leading to over regulation. This can stifle innovation and creativity, hindering the organization’s ability to adapt to evolving market trends.
Weld Bevel 1
Weld Bevel 2: These two weld illustrations help tell the story about the incorrect weld joint and materials that were part of the sales mixup.
These two weld illustrations help tell the story about the incorrect weld joint and materials that were part of the sales mixup. Image Source: Eddie C. Pompa

Examples of High Performing Quality Programs

At the core of any good quality assurance program is the quality management system (QMS) which provides the foundation for a strong quality program that is flexible enough to accommodate industry and market changes. At the end of the day organizations want to influence their own change by improving overall quality, reducing wasteful re-works, and driving toward near perfect or zero defects within their products.

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The changes need to be continuous and in small increments that will allow the organization to pivot quickly to subtle changes coming from process improvements, innovative production tools, or improved training. The biggest driver in operating an effective QMS is one that focuses on customer needs/expectations and not just industry or regulatory requirements. When an organization focuses only on the standards or specifications they are realistically only aiming at the minimum requirements and not striving for the excellence of a sound QMS.

Instilling regular meaningful internal audits is another tool that is used to put an organization at the top of their customers’ list as a means of continued process improvements. The best audits are concise while thorough and encourage open feedback without recourse. These audits prove to be powerful when it comes time to have external auditors drop in and find a tightly run organization so investing a little in internal audits will go a long way toward reduced root cause analysis that come from industry or customer audits.

The last but not least important factor of having a sound QMS program is a strong safety culture. By having a safe work environment also means less downtime from accidents or equipment failures. This factor is often overlooked but critical to top performing organizations.


Quality management systems are indispensable for organizations striving to deliver excellence in their products and services when implemented from the start of the process and not after the fact. Bringing in more work to the shop leads to more jobs, new products, new equipment, and improved employee satisfaction from knowing customers seek their products or services over the competition.

When implemented effectively, these programs contribute in ways that are impactful to the bottom line, safety, reputation and employee satisfaction. While there may be perceived negative impacts, such as increased costs and resistance to change, the long-term benefits far outweigh these challenges. Striking the right balance and fostering a culture that values quality at every stage of the process will position organizations for sustained success in today’s competitive business environment.