The following is an extract from a new
Briefcase Guide for Senior Executives from leading Food & Beverage Industry software
provider, JBA. This invaluable, free booklet provides a background to tackling quality
management issues.

Quality Management – Meeting the
Challenge includes ‘How to’ sections that outline the importance of quality
management and the structure of a certifiable QM system. Useful additions include a
function/responsibility matrix and a comprehensive flowchart on developing and executing
Internal Audits.

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

Why is quality management so
important?

As a result of a number of well-publicized scares, food and beverage safety and hygiene
have become international political issues. In addition, national and international
competition is becoming increasingly tougher. Businesses are seeking criteria that can be
used to differentiate themselves from the competition and help create a positive brand
image. In doing so, the trend is to look beyond immediate circumstances and, through
vertical 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 burning
question: 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 of
development, production, service and logistics.

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

Fig.1 The objectives of a QM system

In setting this objective there are three
prerequisites:

  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. Among
the first decisions is selection of the level with which it is to be compared. This choice
sets the standard, without setting any specific requirements. Requirements follow from the
definition of this standard.

In each case a QM system should be viewed
as being a management system – orientated to supply information to management, which
enables them to direct the business and meet overall business objectives. Leading
economics professor, the late Erich Gutenberg said: “An information system can be
regarded as optimal, if it allows an optimum decision to be made to fulfil a specific
business objective”. This requirement must also be met for a QM system. A further
aspect is continuity, to be taken as a principle for projects over extended periods. By
ensuring continuity, the system should have the characteristic of constancy.

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

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

Achieving these objectives is the challenge
for each person involved in processes governed by QM. If performance and success are to be
measurable, then quality is the benchmark. Tools are needed to fulfil these tasks. One of
these tools is the QM system.

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