Quality management can be considered to have three main components: quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product quality, but also the means to achieve it. Quality management therefore uses quality assurance and control of processes as well as products to achieve more consistent quality.
Quality Improvement can be distinguished from Quality Control in that Quality Improvement is the purposeful change of a process to improve the reliability of achieving an outcome.
Quality Control is the ongoing effort to maintain the integrity of a process to maintain the reliability of achieving an outcome.
Quality Assurance is the planned or systematic actions necessary to provide enough confidence that a product or service will satisfy the given requirements.
The basic requirements for quality objectives are quite simple:
Establish quality objectives at relevant functions and levels.
Make sure they're measurable.
Include objectives needed to meet product requirements.
Communicate to all personnel the meaning of the objectives and how each person helps to achieve them.
During management reviews, evaluate the need for changes to quality objectives.
There's a right way and a wrong way to satisfy these requirements. The wrong way seems attractive to many organizations simply because it's easy: Gather all of the department managers in a staff meeting and tell them to select some measurable quality objectives by this time next week and have charts of their objectives ready for the next management review. The resulting objectives are a hodgepodge of pet projects and tactical issues that don't have any relationship to the strategic direction of the organization. In other words, they're a waste of time and money.
The right way to select and manage quality objectives is not much more difficult than the wrong way, and the benefits will...