The following is an extract from a newBriefcase Guide for Senior Executives from leading Food & Beverage Industry softwareprovider, JBA. This invaluable, free booklet provides a background to tackling qualitymanagement issues.

Quality Management - Meeting theChallenge includes 'How to' sections that outline the importance of qualitymanagement and the structure of a certifiable QM system. Useful additions include afunction/responsibility matrix and a comprehensive flowchart on developing and executingInternal Audits.

Additional contributions are provided byJBA solution partners, Bradley Ward and QSA.

Why is quality management soimportant?
As a result of a number of well-publicized scares, food and beverage safety and hygienehave become international political issues. In addition, national and internationalcompetition is becoming increasingly tougher. Businesses are seeking criteria that can beused to differentiate themselves from the competition and help create a positive brandimage. In doing so, the trend is to look beyond immediate circumstances and, throughvertical and horizontal cooperation, to build closer links with their trading partners,and at the same time work on a broader front. Above all of this, however, is one burningquestion: How can food and beverage businesses guarantee, assure, and improve quality?This question is ultimately aimed at the product, but is also strongly linked to areas ofdevelopment, production, service and logistics.

ISO 9000 is the standard, which not onlyaffects senior management, but impacts on every level of a business. Its effect can bepositive, if it is looked at not as a measuring stick but as a challenge. Businesses musthave clear objectives when they begin the process of addressing QM. The first decision tobe made is whether they want their QM system to do just enough to meet the minimumstandards required or whether they prefer to employ a more comprehensive system, i.e. amanagement tool.

Fig.1 The objectives of a QM system

In setting this objective there are threeprerequisites:

  1. the intention to do something different and not just to rename existing systems and procedures. When introducing a data processing system a common mistake often occurs in trying to reproduce the existing organizational structure in the new system, instead of using the opportunity to rethink and question everything
  2. the desire for change, or more strongly for wholesale change
  3. the categorical imperative: from now on, from today.

The requirements
Each business draws up its own catalog of requirements to be met by its QM system. Amongthe first decisions is selection of the level with which it is to be compared. This choicesets the standard, without setting any specific requirements. Requirements follow from thedefinition of this standard.

In each case a QM system should be viewedas being a management system - orientated to supply information to management, whichenables them to direct the business and meet overall business objectives. Leadingeconomics professor, the late Erich Gutenberg said: "An information system can beregarded as optimal, if it allows an optimum decision to be made to fulfil a specificbusiness objective". This requirement must also be met for a QM system. A furtheraspect is continuity, to be taken as a principle for projects over extended periods. Byensuring continuity, the system should have the characteristic of constancy.

The requirement for quality extends acrossall processes, areas and functions. This means the degree of integration is quite simplythe criterion for assessment. What is integration, and how far can it go? The requirementfor standardization gives the answer to this question. To comply with a standard which hasbeen developed and set internally shows a certain level of commitment to QM and allows alevel of freedom not afforded by externally determined standards.

The challenge
The introduction of a QM system or Total Quality Management (TQM) presupposes the settingof clear objectives, which if successfully achieved will help ensure the future success ofthe business.

Achieving these objectives is the challengefor each person involved in processes governed by QM. If performance and success are to bemeasurable, then quality is the benchmark. Tools are needed to fulfil these tasks. One ofthese tools is the QM system.

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