Quality Control (QC) Process Definition and How-To

Updated June 24, 2022

When providing goods and services to customers, it's important to meet their expectations with consistent quality standards. One of the best ways to maintain a reliable business reputation and provide consumers with high-quality products is to have a thorough quality control (QC) process.

In this article, we explain the basics of the QC process, how to create an effective QC process in your workplace and the benefits of doing so.

What is the QC process?

The QC process, or quality control process, refers to the steps involved with upholding consistent standards and specifications for the products and services you provide to consumers. Any business can have a QC process, regardless of the type of goods or services it offers. The QC process involves identifying standards for quality, regularly reviewing products to ensure they meet those benchmarks and removing any products that don't meet quality expectations. It also involves ensuring that the people creating goods or offering services have the necessary skills and training to provide an excellent experience.

Read more: What Is Quality Control?

Benefits of having a QC process

To uphold consistent quality standards, you can develop QC processes for companies, departments and even individual products. Here are some of the benefits of using a QC process in the workplace:

  • Developing a reputation: When you have a QC process in place, you can establish an industry reputation for producing consistent products that meet a certain quality standard.

  • Establishing stakeholder trust: Quality control is an important aspect of functional business operations. Having a functioning QC process builds trust with stakeholders and business leaders by providing a clear path toward achieving goals.

  • Improving customer relationships: By implementing and upholding a QC process, you output functional, durable products to consumers. This can help you develop positive relationships with consumers and create a lasting base of dedicated returning customers who trust the quality of your products.

  • Creating automation: A good QA process makes it easier to delegate tasks and automate business responsibilities. When you have a system to check the quality of products at each step in the supply chain, you can help company operations function without direct supervision.

Related: Quality Management: What It Is and Why It's Important

How to create a QC process

Use these instructions as guidelines to develop a quality control process that upholds superior outcomes for products and procedures:

1. Review industry standards

Research common quality standards for the item or service for which you're creating the QC process. By understanding consumer expectations and knowing the quality levels competitors have to offer, you can develop reasonable goals and expectations. Remember that high-end products are likely to be better quality than budget products, so look for direct competitors in a similar price range for the most relevant quality control standards. Consider doing market research with focus groups to determine the quality range that consumers find acceptable for your specific offerings.

2. Choose the most important measures

When developing a QC process, it's common to use multiple factors to assess a product's quality level. For QC procedures to be effective, make sure you understand which factors are most important for the business's goals. This helps you develop realistic priorities when making manufacturing or design improvements.

For example, consider the QC process for the manufacturing department of Oilslick Raincoats. Some of the priority factors the team considers when designing their process include durability, fabric quality and sizing, because these elements have a significant influence on customer satisfaction. The team also considers the color match of the fabrics, but having a perfect color match is less important to customers than having a durable garment that fits correctly, so color has lower priority in the QC process.

Related: Example of a Quality Management System (With Definition and Types)

3. Set detailed expectations

Next, clearly explain each quality standard. Establishing detailed expectations makes it easy for everyone on staff to work together to achieve quality goals and implement QC processes. Develop a document that everyone can access and reference if they have questions about quality control. Include specific numbers and descriptions as often as possible to provide direct guidelines for success that everyone can follow.

For example, fast response time to emails is an important quality metric for a customer service department. The QC process could include instructions to respond to all messages within 24 hours as a specific quality requirement.

Related: Guide to Quality Assurance and Quality Control: Definition, Purpose and How QA is Implemented

4. Align processes with outcomes

Develop instructions for workflows that coordinate with your quality expectations. Determine what protocols result in the best quality outcomes that consistently meet your standards, then write them down as company procedures. Select equipment and tools that enable staff to accomplish goals. Consider testing different operational methods to find the best practices for each aspect of quality control. If multiple team members have different methods for completing a task, see which technique produces the best quality in the most efficient manner.

5. Develop training materials

To have an excellent QC process, it's important to prepare detailed training materials so that all incoming staff members understand quality expectations. Compile onboarding documents, handbooks and blueprints that explain how to manufacture products, deliver services and complete quality checks. Describe the steps in the quality control process and explain what to do when a product doesn't meet the standards. This creates consistent QC results for the company as people change positions and as teams expand.

6. Review and document data

Collect and analyze information about quality standards. Include details like the percentage of products meeting quality expectations, average customer satisfaction scores, product return rates and the level of variation in product specifications. Gathering data provides you with insights about the effectiveness of your QC process plan, which you can use to adjust workflows and give feedback to staff. Use analytics tools and spreadsheets to sort and process information automatically or develop visual representations of QC outcomes.

7. Gather and apply feedback

Ask both consumers and staff for feedback about how to improve product quality. While analyzing data is useful, seeking opinions can give you an additional perspective on ways to enhance your QC processes. As consumer tastes and opinions change, you can use feedback to learn more about how they define quality experiences. Use their advice to refine quality standards or find new ways to improve.

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