Quality management leaders in every organization are expected to perform so many tasks daily, from problem-solving to improving process efficiency to tracking quality metrics to much, much more. It’s a lot— but there is good news. There are a variety of Quality management Tools that can make these tasks a lot easier. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that organizational standards are maintained at each stage of the product lifecycle.
Quality Management Tools have gobbled up a substantial market share. As per Grand View Research, the global Quality Management Software market is sized at $8.25 billion as of 2020. By 2028, this market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 9.7%.
What are Quality Management Tools?
Quality Management Tools are technology-driven products that help organize, collect, analyze, interpret and understand data representing the products, services, and employees. The tools further help maintain quality standards of the products and services that the organizations manufacture to abide by the industry standards of quality and assurance.
The quality management tools that we will discuss in our guide are useful for quality assurance professionals, regardless of the size of your organization.
The list of tools in this article is organized into four sections: problem-solving, improving processes, capturing metrics, and data/task organization.
Ready to dive in a build your QA Toolkit? Then let’s begin.
1. Cause-and-effect diagram
The cause-and-effect diagram is a graphical representation that helps you understand, sort, display, and identify the cause behind a specific event or problem. You can use this tool by identifying the problem, defining the process that needs to be examined, brainstorming the further causes with the team members, and structuring it to analyze the solution.
2. Andon board
Andon board is an alerting system that informs operators about any product or service line issues as soon as it occurs. All you have to do is press the Andon board’s cord when problems occur. Identify the problem through lights, sounds, and numbers and act on it immediately.
3. Tree diagrams
A tree diagram is a tool that defines tasks and subtasks in a hierarchy that are needed to be completed. It starts with a task with its branches as subtasks and clarifies quality assurance managers about what needs to be done next. To use this tool, develop particular tasks and actions as solutions and analyze the process to derive possible solutions.
4. Kaizen’s value stream mapping
Kaizen’s value stream mapping is a flowchart tool that documents each step in the process, identifies issues, and proposes solutions for the same. To use this tool, map each step in the process, create timelines, and document everything precisely to brainstorm potential issues and solutions.
5. Five Whys
The five whys is a quality control technique that solves problems effectively. With this tool, you can find the reason behind a particular situation by asking a sequence of five ‘why’ questions. To use this tool, ask five different whys and note down the causes to address the root cause of the problem.
A storyboard is a visual representation tool automatically sketches a video’s progression to bring your ideas to life. It graphically represents how the animation, film, or video will take place, one shot after another. To use this diagram, take the scenes you want to address and make a list of shots, sketch the scenes, fill in words and other details and wait for the graphical representation to occur. Then, any video issues can be ruled out by understanding how each element will look shot after shot.
Process Improvement Tools
7. Control chart
A control chart is a graphical representation that help you study a process change in a specific time period. With this tool, you plot data in a timely order and compare it with the central line (average) upper control limit and lower control limit. Control charts help you understand the degree to which a firm’s products differ from the specified standard and help in correcting them.
8. Scatter diagram
A scatter diagram is a graphical representation showing the relationship between two numerical variables. It links the component of the process and the fault in its quality on the two axes. With the help of a scatter diagram, you can optimize processes by paring the numerical data into dependent and independent variables and determining the relationship between the two to identify problems and solutions.
9. Flow chart
The flowchart identifies the quality cost by analyzing the data frequencies and identifies the output and input branches involved. It helps improve processes after you identify all steps in the process sequentially. You can use this tool by defining the major concerns and branching out the sub-tasks to understand the situation better.
10. Vendor audit checklist
A quality audit checklist is used for quality management by tracking questions and answers during a quality audit. The quality record helps in continuous process improvement. You can use this tool to determine the focus of your audit, prepare for the same, and finally perform it. Report the results in the findings report and conduct corrective actions to solve issues.
11. Process decision program chart
The process decision program chart is a management planning tool that organizes and identifies everything that can go wrong in a developing plan. To use this tool, one needs to draw a tree diagram, brainstorm the issues, review the problems and brainstorm the solutions to organize everything in the tree to make decisions accordingly.
12. Nominal Group Technique
The nominal group technique is a quality management tool that structures small-group discussions to reach a conclusion. This tool gathers information from a moderator who asks individuals certain things, and ideas are prioritized based on each group member. Then, the suggestions/ideas are implemented for process improvement.
Metrics Capturing Tools
13. Check sheet
A check sheet is a structured form used to collect and analyze data for different purposes. To use this tool, decide the problem you want to assess, collect the data needed, and design the form. To improve the procedure, use the form after labeling all the blank spaces to identify event patterns, defects, problems, and more.
14. Pareto chart
A Pareto chart is a six sigma tool that helps in quality management through a bar graph representation to show how much a particular input contributes towards an output. You can use this tool to determine causes, measurements, and timeframe to analyze data and build the chart.
15. Matrix diagram
Matrix diagrams are quality tools that analyze data within an organizational structure and define the relationship between them. The tool can collect different data types, select a matrix type, compare the data, and draw conclusions from the same.
Data/Task Organization Tools
A histogram is a tool that helps in quality control by representing a data set precisely. The bar-chart type representation graphs how often continuous data occurs, enabling you to analyze it thoroughly. You can use a histogram by collecting at least 50 data sets of a particular process and plot them on the x and y axis to get a visual representation and comparison of data.
17. Affinity diagrams
An affinity diagram is a quality control tool to organize several ideas into their natural relationships after a brainstorming session. You can use this tool to organize, consolidate, segregate and generate information related to the process, its faults, and potential solutions. All you have to do to use this tool is to identify the objective, group categories, and additional factors to each category to analyze the data.
The stratification quality assurance tool is used to sort data, information, objects, and more into different groups based on different factors. This helps you understand the data’s meaning, reveals patterns contributing to quality errors, and enables you to fix them accordingly.
19. Prioritisation matrices
Prioritization matrices, as the name suggests, evaluate several options and prioritize them according to importance. To use this tool, you have to establish weighted criteria and evaluate all options against the criteria to figure out your top priority of solution or issue to look after.
20. Activity network/arrow diagram
Arrow diagrams create a visual representation of the various steps in a process that is needed to complete a particular task. It reveals the causes needed for the tasks and helps quality assurance managers determine the task sequence and separate tasks accordingly.
21. Mind Mapping
A mind map is a diagram that organizes large amounts of information into a visual hierarchy and shows relationships among different pieces altogether. To use this tool, you need to define a core idea under which you figure out sub-core ideas as branches which will help you brainstorm about the process and its improvement.
22. Eisenhower Matrix
The time management tool, Eisenhower Matrix, helps prioritize tasks according to their delivery date. It segregates urgent tasks from less important ones and enables QA managers to use this tool by putting different tasks into different quadrants based on their urgency.
While we understand that this might be an overwhelming list of quality tools you can use to maintain quality standards, we assure you that this list is all you need to improve your quality management game as a quality management professional.
Use the data/task organization tools to segregate each piece of information precisely, then go onto the problem-solving tools if you are facing an issue within a process or a step.
Use process improvement tools to better the existing process after solving the problem, and finally capture metrics through the metrics capturing tools for implying them to the process for better results.
Are you ready to start using these top-quality management tools? What features of these tools are most beneficial to you and your business?