Quality Improvement Management: Methods & Process

Instructor: Anthony Aparicio

Tony taught Business and Aeronautics courses for eight years; he holds a Master's degree in Management and is completing a PhD in Organizational Psychology

Quality improvement management is an area where leaders attempt to create an environment where everyone is looking for ways to make things better. The Plan-Do-Check-Act process is commonly used to improve systems and employee performance.

Quality Improvement Management

Quality improvement should be the goal of every organization. Sometimes, companies begin to find a way to get things done and find that it is easier to keep doing the same thing. Leaders and managers at all levels need to help employees to remember that things can always be made better and that it is everyone's role to find new solutions.

For companies that have been doing the same thing for a long time, change can be a scary process because it means learning new things and giving up what you are comfortable doing. The resistance to change is made stronger because many think that it is what they are currently doing that made the company successful in the first place. As such, it should continue to make them successful in the future. Unfortunately, this line of thinking can ruin modern businesses.

What they are not taking into account is that business today is based on flexibility and being able to adapt to an ever-changing global environment. The internet, international commerce, travel and communication methods have made it nearly impossible to remain profitable by doing the same thing for a long time.

Methods of Quality Improvement Management

One of the terms that you will likely come across if you are interested in starting a culture of change in your company is Kaizen, which is a Japanese word that literally means 'change is good' (Kaizen Institute, 2015). Although the practice started in Japan, the concept of continuous improvement has spread across the globe.

The basic concepts of Kaizen include:

  • Working together as a team to improve daily processes
  • Improving processes will increase product and service quality
  • Decisions should be made by using factual information rather than by a gut feeling
  • Managers need to investigate problems themselves to gather information
  • A series of small changes over time can lead to large benefits (Kaizen Institute, 2015).

Quality Improvement Process

Plan-Do-Check-Act Process

As you can see from the image of the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle above, it is a circular process meaning that it is never really complete.

  1. The planning phase is used to determine the root cause of a problem or a process that can potentially be improved.
  2. In the do phase of the cycle the individual will use a problem-solving method to come to a potential solution or way to improve the process.
  3. The check phase is used to test your idea and see if it is actually working.
  4. The act phase allows the individual to implement the solution (as long as it is effective), have others begin to use the new standard, and look for new ways to improve.


Now that you have read over the concepts and steps for quality improvement management, we can go through a hypothetical example and see how each step is used.

One part of your current job is to figure out what date a contractor has to complete his work based on the start date and number of days allowed for a project. For example, a flooring contractor has to remove the existing flooring and lay new tile and carpet in a large building. The contractor begins on April 5 and has 75 days to complete the work. You need to figure out what day he will he need to be finished.

PLAN: The old way of accomplishing this task is to take a calendar and count each of the boxes until you reach 75 and then mark the date. That way is time-consuming and many people have made errors using this process. You know there must be a better way!

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