7 Basic Quality Tools: Quality Management, Control and Improvement Tools

7 Basic Quality Management Tools To Monitor Quality Initiatives:

In the software world, you must have heard the word “Quality”. Here, “Quality” is related to product, application, project deliverables or document quality etc.

Quality can be measured in terms of performance, reliability, ease of use etc.

Any system, software or a component that meets the given requirements and satisfies the end user’s need and expectations is a quality product.

7 Quality Tools

Quality Management System

A Quality Management System (QMS) is a systematic process for achieving quality objectives for every organization. QMS has organizational goals, processes, and policies which continuously focus on meeting customer requirements and improving their satisfaction.

Quality Management System has the following objectives:

  • Improving internal processes
  • Lower cost
  • Reusability
  • Optimum utilization of resources
  • Helps in achieving organization goal.
  • Data management
  • Continuously improved customer satisfaction

Note: The list is not limited to the above points rather it has a wide range of objects that depend upon the organization.

Quality Management ensures the quality of products and services. It is most crucial for all business and organization as if the customer has received the quality product then you are meeting their expectation which leads to customer loyalty.

With this, there are chances for the customer to feel that they are receiving quality products which constantly keeps improved in the new and ever-changing technology era.

In today’s article, we will learn about the Quality Management Tools that will help in achieving different organization goals and objectives. Many organizations are using quality management tools to monitor quality initiatives.

There are various Quality Management Tools which will be used for solving different problems or issues.

List of the 7 Basic Quality Tools

Enlisted below are the top Quality Management, Control and Improvement Tools that are available in the market.

Let's Start!!

#1) Flowchart

We all are familiar with “Flowchart” since our school or college days. A flowchart is a diagram which represents a workflow process, algorithm, or a step by step process connected by arrows in different directions.

These flowcharts are used for the representation of organizational structures, Login System, document work process flow, billing transaction flow etc.

Flowchart allows identifying the actual flow of events in a system. It is the step of the process that will provide information or picture of what the process looks like and throw some light on the quality issues. Flowchart helps in identifying where exactly the quality issue is in the process.

Here, every step is an action and result of it produces an output which is again used as an input to the next step.

Given below is an Example of sample login process into a system or application, where only if both the username and password are correct, it goes to the next flow or else it will display an error message and ask the user to enter valid credentials.

Flowchart

The crucial factor in designing a flowchart is to assume steps instead of the actual process step. In the flowchart, all the steps are co-relating with each other and the output of the first step is used as an input to the next step. If the input is incorrect to the initial step, then it is obvious that the final output will also be incorrect, irrelevant to the process.

Also Read => 5 diagrams that Testers need to learn

#2) Check Sheet

The Check sheet is used to collect data and information in an easy format. It increases accuracy in the data collection process with easy method and format. It significantly reduces efforts for data collection as well. This data collection is based on actual facts and figures rather than any imaginary numbers and item.

This data collection methodology produces some sort of output and this output is in a different data format that is always easy for analysis.

The Check Sheet is typically a list of questions or problems, in a document or spreadsheet. Check sheet helps the organization to identify the problems that prevent to deliver a quality product. This list of problems or question needs to be resolved.

The Check sheet is used during the review process, before production validation or in any other project management activity. It is used to ensure that the necessary pre-requisite has been completed and all the required steps have been carried out before committing to the business user about the document or deliverable.

The check sheet is updated by recording “marks” or “checks” on it. In the below Example, the Human Resource Department tracks the number of questions raised on each day under different categories.

Thus the below table shows the total number of questions raised in the Human Department by different category like Health Insurance, Sick Time, Paid Time off etc. It also provides information on the total number of questions raised on each day in a week.

Check Sheet

[image source]

Based on the highest number of questions raised on each category, the Human Resource department can ensure that such information reaches all the employees so that the efforts for raising similar questions get reduced.

#3) Cause-Effect Diagram

Cause-Effect is also known as Fish-bone diagram as the shape is somewhat similar to the side view of a fish skeleton. During problem-solving, everyone in the team has a different opinion about the root cause of the issue or problem.

Fish-bone diagram captures all causes, ideas and uses brainstorming method to identify the strongest root cause. Cause-Effect diagram records causes of specific problems or issues related to the processor system. You will get many different causes for a specific problem.

To start with the fishbone, you need to state your problem as a question, that too in terms of “why”. This will help in brainstorming as each question should have an answer. In the end, the entire team should agree on the problem statement and then place this question at the “head” of the fish-bone.

The rest of the fishbone then consists of one line that is drawn horizontally across the page attaching the problem statement at the head and a vertical line drawn as branches or bone.

These branches cover different categories as mentioned below:


  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Material
  4. Equipment
  5. Procedure
  6. Policies

The list given above is not limited rather you can add or modify as per your project requirement.

Cause Effect Diagram

Once Fish-bone is completed with all branches and categories, the team will understand the root causes of the problem and then set the priorities of the causes to resolve.

Learn here how to create and use Cause-Effect Diagram.

#4) Pareto Chart

A Pareto Chart is a Bar graph as well as a Line graph that graphically summarizes the group of data. The data may be related to cost, time, defects etc. Here, bars in a graph represent the values in descending order i.e. the longest bar at the left side and the shortest bar is on the right side and the cumulative total is represented by Lines.

The left vertical line or axis represents the frequency of occurrences; this occurrence may be related to cost, defects or any other unit of measure. The right vertical axis represents the cumulative percentage of the total number of occurrences.

To construct a Pareto Chart, a different range of data is divided into groups and called a segment or categories. Consider the below sample Pareto Chart that is drawn for credit card application.

Assume that the credit card application has been delayed and you want to investigate the process associated with it and identify the root cause of the delay.

To draw the Pareto Chart, you need to categorize a group of data as shown below:

  • No signature
  • Address not updated.
  • Non-legible handwriting.
  • Already a registered customer.
  • Any other reason

Pareto Chart1

[image source]

In the above graph, the left side axis shows the number of frequency or the number of occurrences of each category. The right side axis represents the cumulative percentage and the horizontal line represents the category name.

Based on the frequency and occurrences, the Pareto Chart that is constructed will provide information related to what is the largest concern area for our business.

In our Example, “No Signature” is a category that is highly occurred and if you focus on resolving this issue, you will improve your process significantly. It is known as the “Pareto principle” and is also known as “80:20 rule”. It means 80% of the defects found are due to 20% of the modules in the application.

In the above graph, most of the problem is caused as there was no signature present on the application. Thus, if the project team spends effort on this 20% of the modules then you will significantly get quality improvement in the system.

Learn more about Defect Clustering and Pareto Principle.

#5) Control Charts

Control charts that are also known as Statistical Process Control are used to determine if the business processes are in a state of control. The Control Chart is a graph that shows how the process changes over time.

If the analysis of the control chart indicates that the processes are stable and there is a little variation and is under control then there are no changes required for the process control parameter.

If the processes are not under control then control chart helps to determine the sources of variation. It means that corrective action is necessary for the process control parameter.

Control Charts is also known as Run Charts. It is a graph that use to plot your process data in a time order sequence. As given in the below graph, Control Chart has one central line, one upper control limit, and one lower control limit. The central line always used for an average of processes.

The upper and lower control limit indicates the variation and it is determined using historical data.

Control Chart

 [image source]

The variation may be large sometimes and is easily noticeable and at few occasions, it is very small and is hardly identified by visual. Using the control chart and the points plotted, you can identify if the process variation is under control or out of control.

The points that fall within the control limits indicate that the controlled process and points which fall out of the control limits are unpredictable or out of control process.

#6) Histogram

A histogram is a graphical representation in a bar chart that shows pattern falls within different conditions. It is a distribution of numerical data and it provides necessary information about shape and dispersion or spread of a set of sample data.

The numerical information can be of any type such as marks received during the exam, the number of new employees joined within a particular month, the number of complaints received per category etc. The Histogram shows the intensity of a particular problem and displays data in a visual format.

In order to construct Histogram, it is necessary to divide the range of values into specific intervals such as an interval of 5, 10, 15 etc. Such interval is called as “bin” and these bins are consecutive, adjacent. The size of each interval is equal and these intervals are not overlapping with each other.

Now, count how many values, points etc., fall within each interval and plot a bar chart accordingly.

In the below sample Histogram, horizontal X-axis represents “points” obtained by the students in a class and Y-axis represents the “number of students”. The points or marks received by the students are divided into an equal interval of 10 points and are obtained at a total of 10 intervals on the graph.

The histogram is created based on the marks of each student that fall within different intervals as shown in the below graph.

Histogram

[image source]

Histograms are different than bar chart and the difference is that A Histogram represents continuous and adjacent data and of equal intervals. There is no gap between the two bars in a graph, whereas, in bar charts, there is a gap between the two bars.

In quality terms, the histogram is used to identify the cause of a problem in the system and effective graphical representation in numerical format to the stakeholders. Such graphical representation can be easily understandable by the project management team and any third party team which is not actually involved in the project.

The histogram is used to demonstrate that the quality is improving as the graph shows the actual numerical data.

Here are the best tools for creating stunning line graphs for your reports!

#7) Scatter Diagram

Scatter Diagram is a graphical representation which shows the relation between two variables. It is a quality management tool, in which data is represented as a point and each point plotted on the graph indicates the value on the horizontal and vertical axis.

Out of these two variables, one variable is independent and the second variable is dependent on the first variable. It is also known as a “Scatter Plot” or “Scatter Graph”.

Scatter Diagram helps to identify the cause and effect in the system and the variable usually represents all possible cause and effect. Scatter Diagram is also used to identify the correlation between these two variables.

If the variables are correlated, then the points will fall along a line or small curve. Correlation may be positive which means, the points are plotted as a rising, it may be negative i.e. the points are falling or there may be no correlation between those points or variables.

Scatter Diagram

Consider the above plotted Scatter Diagram which represents the data related to Orientation Training and satisfaction score of the volunteers who attended the training. The diagram shows the relationship between volunteer satisfaction Score and volunteer orientation training.

Conclusion

We have explored all the basic Quality Management and Improvement Tools here in this article.

Each Quality Tool has unique characteristics and benefits for a specific situation and these tools can be used for problem-solving based on the situation. However, all the quality control tools cannot be used for problem-solving.

Every project manager wishes to deliver the project with high quality and these seven basic quality management tools will help them in achieving quality.

Get Ready to Experience absolute Quality!!