The C&C Company’s Quality Improvement Strategy
The C&C company, established in Sunderland, gained a solid reputation among construction companies and architects for the high quality of their products. C&C specialized in the “designer market” for polished metal, which implies providing furniture fitting for shops and offices. The company is considered to be a large one, among other competitors, considering that some customers do not see other options but C&C company’s products. The design and quality of the products, in this case, are satisfying ones. However, there is a set of difficulties and issues that shall be managed by means of quality management for organizational excellence. It is so because they are concerned about the approach the company currently operates, rather than the core technology of the product, economic nuances, or advertising methods. C&C company performs direct sales to the UK market which is the most recent improvement in the matter of the company’s expansion. The new segment triggered difficulties that had not been met by the company before.
The primary issue is the delivery of the product, as it deteriorates the situation in two ways: by directly damaging the goods during their delivery and causing delays that make customers constantly complain. As a result, the company’s representative has to manage the difficulties by spending their time coping with the consequences and providing discounts to the unsatisfied buyers, which is financially irrational for C&C. The other issue is the necessity to utilize cheaper raw materials to make the price more attractive that can potentially harm the well-established reputation. In this business report, the analysis of theory and practice related to the outlined case will be presented, based on Quality Control (QA), Total Quality Management (TQM), and Quality Continuous Improvement provisions. Strategies for companywide quality improvement and solutions to the existed problems will be offered within the discussion of the mentioned frameworks and the conclusion and recommendations provided.
Quality Control and Quality Assurance
Background for Quality Control and Its Cost
Before considering the existing, in the case, issues related to quality control in detail, it is essential to define what QC is, to ensure the correct understanding of its importance and, later, the significance of the improvement strategies. QC is the complex of procedures, tactics, and approaches used to ensure the system’s healthy functioning that is intended to comply with the existing standards and satisfy customers’ needs and expectations. QC is applied to five major constituents, which are products, services, people, processes, and environments. The essential characteristic of quality is that it tends to be changed over time, leading to the necessity for a company to adjust the QC approaches utilized to comply with the new requirements.
Cost of quality (COQ) is another definition, which is vital for understanding how the system of QC and QA operates, its necessity, and the way it is useful for the C&C company, with respect to the case. There are two types of expenditures related to quality: unavoidable costs and avoidable costs. The first type implies ones required for the functioning of the system of QC, such as expenditures on equipment and labor hours for defects prevention, in processes of inspecting, sampling, and sorting. The second one is the undesirable costs, such as expenditures on labor for re-work, extra materials, complaint processing, and losses from unhappy customers, because of defects and product failures.
The lack of quality results in an inadequate performance of an organization and its low financial efficiency, as the cost of non-conformance of products with standards, is usually higher than the cost of conformance. Prevention and appraisal expenditures comprise the cost of conformance. The first ones imply planning and implementation of a quality program, product design costs, process costs, training, and information costs. Simultaneously, the second one mean expenditures on inspection, equipment, and staff. Prevention and appraisal costs in their initial increase will result in failure costs decreasing later.
Means of Quality Control and Quality Assurance
Means of Quality Control
A set of techniques and methods is used to enable a company’s quality control department to fulfill its function. Data recording is one of the methods that imply the written evidence that certain parts of the good’s manufacturing were finished successfully and other related documentation. Processing of performance data, its analysis, and correlation to the data for other periods can be conducted to track the improvement or the deterioration of the quality of products. Usage of statistics is vital for detecting the existing issues and generally appropriate, according to standards’ requirements, but still suspicious deviations that might be left unrevealed by other quality control means. Then, physical tests can be performed for raw materials before their issuance to a workshop, for instance, and for the products being manufactured at each stage to ensure their high quality. Self-inspection is also a valuable method of detecting the challenges, difficulties, and deviations that are risk factors for the quality of products.
Next, QC shall be based, also, on the development of basic quality manuals, with respect to the existing specialized standards for quality. Product testing, conducted on a regular basis, assists in compliance with requirements established for the manufactured goods and is necessary for proving the quality of the product for consumers. Finally, the suitable examination is also due to basic quality planning that would define objectives to be attained, specifically documented procedures and practices that shall be applied. A quality plan also includes a documented procedure for changes and modifications, such as change control and methods of measuring the achievement of the quality objectives.
Means of Quality Assurance
Quality assurance is the aspect of quality management that compliments QC. It is usually perceived as a complex approach to preventing potential mistakes, defects, and deviations that may occur in the process of manufacturing. In addition, it is also a method to manage problems related to delivering products or services to customers. Basically, QA is different from QC, as it includes specific activities that emphasize the prevention of potential risks. QA process can be characterized as the union of four constituents. They are planning, which is establishing objectives and determination of processes, doing, which is the development and testing of processes, checking, which is the monitoring of processes, and acting, which means implementation of actions. While QC is focused on products, QA is sufficient for the process in a proactive form. The activities that are included in QA are quality audit, process defining, tool identification and selection, and training about quality standards and processes.
In this case, the set of standards called the ISO 9000 is appropriate for C&C to comply with. Quality assurance strategy shall include quality systems deployment, advanced quality planning, comprehensive quality manuals, non-production operations, usage of quality costs, and failure and effects analysis. The goal of compliance with ISO 9000 is to achieve the customers’ satisfaction, which will positively influence the efficiency of the company and its potential for competing with other producers of similar goods on the market.
Total Quality Management
Total Quality Management is the other vital, of the case, framework. It can be defined as the approach used to maximize a business’ level of competitiveness, with the assistance of continuous improvement in quality. It is vital the managing the company and quality activities integrate into the organization’s strategy. TQM framework consists of planning, which implies the development of policies, establishing a performance measure framework, understanding the design of quality management systems, and managing the Human resource, teamwork, communications, and innovations. The main principles of TQM are the following: focus on customers, right first time, communicate and educate, think long term, act short term, measure and record quality, and involve every employee. With respect to the C&C company’s opportunity to compete with others in the UK market, it will allow the business to foster teamwork and make it more sensitive to customers’ needs. It will also assist in easier adoption of changes, and enable employees from different departments to communicate and interact. The general advantage of implementing the TQM framework is making C&C a stronger competitor in the new market.
Learning about the existing systems of product manufacturing in the organization leads to process improvement, then to quality improvement, and finally, to the satisfaction of customers, shareholders, and employees. The success of the TQM for C&C will depend on the results of the allocation and utilization of resources for the improvement in QA and QA. The top management of the company has the role of ensuring the efficiency of methods, which will be taken based on problem-solving and decision-making that will be discussed in the following paragraphs. The middle-level management shall be focused on facilitation through providing assistance and guidance to lower-level management responsible for the strategies, which will be outlined further, and implementation. TQM is a concern of every department, and the consideration to conduct training sessions for the staff might be vital for creating an understanding of how to achieve the planned results. It is advisable to follow ISO 9000 steps to TQM implementation. The assessment of improvements from actions taken, and acting against any deviations in the initial stages, shall also be conducted.
To address concerns about the long-term operating of the company on the market and constant improvement of the business’ efficiency and its products’ quality, a process called “Continuous Improvement” is applicable. It implies methods of instrumental improvement making in order to contribute to the general level of productivity, teamwork efficiency, and employee engagement. Implementation of Continuous Improvement methods is also capable of reducing quality costs and increasing the competitiveness of the company through the optimization of the already established processes. The means of Continuous Improvement are to be implemented to assist the C&C company in surviving in the UK market and improving the profit from the sector.
There is a basis for addressing internal and external problems, which lead to the inappropriate quality of products and customers’ dissatisfaction. The following sequence of actions is essential for obtaining the primary information: record data, use it, analyze it, and take into consideration the results. A common Continuous Improvement plan involves understanding the process, for instance, with the help of flow charts, eliminating the detected errors, reducing variation and deviations in processes, and extending the planning to become one of the regular company’s approaches.
Problem Solving and Decision Making
It is necessary to provide an insight into problem-solving approaches, to complement the mentioned above frameworks with a set of solid methods to address existing, within them, issues. Problem-solving is the actions intended to manage a situation when factual outcomes do not match the expectations, and the size of disparity between the two is the severity of a problem. The necessary for addressing an issue, approaches do not emphasize direct coping with difficulty, but rather making improvements in the workplace, products, and services to prevent problems in the future. The basic principle of problem-solving is to recognize the issue, describe it, collect relevant information, identify and verify the root cause, implement countermeasures and monitor, and take prevention strategies into consideration. Especially significant this approach is for the type of issues that have a tendency to recur.
Decision-making is the part of the complex approach intended to solve a problem or improve the way the company operates. It is the process of selecting one course of action from among two or more alternatives. There are several methods of decision making, based on six basic steps, which are: identify the situation, gather the facts, consider alternatives, choose the best alternative, implement, and monitor. One of the common models is called the “Deming Wheel,” and it represents the following approach: “plan,” which implies an identification of customer needs and expectations, strategic planning, and setting of policies and objectives. Then, “do,” which implies testing a potential solution with a pilot project and gathering data. The next step is “check,” which implies analyzing the results and determining was the solution tested was a success. Finally, it is “active,” which means implementing a solution and further looking for other potential improvements. The effects of problem-solving complimented with decision-making will result in the appropriate addressing of C&C company’s problems.
Strategies for Improvement, Recommendations, and Conclusion
Strategies for Improvement and Recommendations
It is possible to examine all of the issues presented in the case with respect to frameworks and approaches discussed above, as managing problems requires a complex process that requires solid theoretical background. To begin with, there is an issue with complaints about dented or scratched handles. It could happen in several ways, such as inappropriate treatment of products by a delivery company. Moreover, it might happen because of the unperfect technology of manufacturing, which is also associated with the level of quality of materials used, as they might not be appropriate for established methods of producing goods. In addition, the absence of an independent inspection of finished products could result in the defected handles issuing. The production department might not perform an assessment that would be accurate enough to claim that “they left the factory in good condition and must have been damaged on site.” Finally, there is a problem with constant delays because of the way local transport companies operate and relatively small but numerous orders.
It is vital to apply to QC framework to address the concerns regarding the quality of products. It is advisable to familiarize employees responsible for the development of technology of manufacturing and standard operating procedures for testing, with the latter quality manuals that provide criteria for assessment of materials. C&C company do not use to working with new, cheaper resources, which might cause the discrepancy between factual results of physical tests of particular materials’ properties and the recommended ones. Therefore, adjustment of the technology of manufacturing, and methods of evaluating the materials, is advisable. For this purpose, it is vital to apply to principles of QC, decision making, and continuous improvement. In addition, according to QA and ISO 9000 provisions, it is beneficial to conduct an external audit of the supplier of new materials to verify their quality and an internal audit of the production department. It is significant to find the root cause of the problem and find a solution in accordance with the mentioned above principles.
Then, in the event there is more than one company that performs the delivery of goods to customers, it might be significant to perform a set of actions, according to QA policies. All the potential transporters shall be examined via questionnaire, and possible, based on reviews available, to determine the sufficient company to work with. Moreover, it is possible to consider a long-term solution for a problem with delays, to build a storage area in place, close to potential customers, to ensure the rapid delivery of the purchased goods. This strategy shall be examined in accordance with QA policies, principles of problem-solving, decision-making, and continuous improvement. It is vital to assess the solution’s potential profitability and make the appropriate decision based on expected benefits versus costs required for the project. However, if the company is intended to stay in the UK market, such an intervention may become a solution to problems with the damaging of products during transportation and delays.
Finally, based on the mentioned above principles, further decisions shall be considered and implemented if approved from the perspective of potential financial profitability and the level of competitiveness of the C&C company. Low cost (10% was saved) was achieved by using cheaper materials, which might deteriorate the reputation of the company over time, as the low-quality product is always recognizable after a while. Simultaneously, it might be the most significant reason for the numerous complaints of defects, which make the mentioned saving less profitable, and therefore, the sector becomes less attractive. It might be advisable to consider returning to the regular materials and rely on long-term effects from selling the high-quality fittings, such as reputation building.
C&C company is a perspective manufacturer of furniture fittings, door handles, hinges, and other products necessary for shops and offices. The latter expansion of the business’ directs sales to UK hardware retail companies, which become almost half of sales value. However, the company faces a set of issues, with the delays, with respect to delivery, and with numerous complaints about sub-quality products, with defects. The implementations of QC and QA policies can assist in ensuring that specifications for materials comply with the existing standards, the technology for manufacturing is verified, and the supplier is trustful. In addition, it might be beneficial to determine the most appropriate, in terms of safety of products and the consistency of delivery, company, to ship goods with the assistance of which.
On the other side, the improvement strategies might be more solid, financially demanding, and potentially effective. The building of a warehouse, or renting a storage area, might solve the existing problem with delivery and damaging of finished products, as the place where goods will be stored will decrease the time for their shipping to customers, and might enable the partnership with other companies that offer delivery services. Finally, the usage of cheap materials can be considered to be the incorrect method of the level of competitiveness increasing. The costs of insufficient quality might deteriorate the profitability of the sector in the long term. Therefore, it is advisable to consider returning to the traditional materials based on problem-solving and decision-making policies.