How do I get management to care about Quality?

For top managers or small business owners without a background in quality management, “quality” can mean products that customers don’t reject. After all, Quality Control’s job is to make sure that only good products go out the door. But there’s a huge difference between QC (quality control of products) and a QMS (a quality management system that identifies, controls, and improves the processes that produce those products).

So how do you get management to pay attention to quality? By showing them what it is costing to NOT have a well-functioning QMS. Present hard “cost of quality” data. Facts, figures, graphs – whatever they typically pay attention to. Then compare that to a vision of what could be.

Sales – document contracts lost because of no ISO 9001 certification vs. contracts available to ISO certified companies.

QC – calculate labor and material costs for replacement parts, percentage of product returned for rework, and labor spent in rework, instead of money-making production.

Planning – document the additional material and labor costs incured as a result of incomplete specifications at job inception, or use of wrong product specifications.

Training – calculate time spent in retraining and additional inspections due to lack of controlled processes and employee awareness.

If that doesn't work, look at overall job cost vs. competitor quotes for the same task -- are you competative? If not, why not? Whatever the issue, a documented quality management system like that defined in ISO 9001, will help you identify the issues, and set measurable objectives for addressing them.