Function of Process Approach in Quality Management

The word "process" is defined in ISO 9000:2000 clause 3.4.1 as "a set of interrelated or interacting activities that transforms inputs into outputs." Inputs to a process are generally outputs of other processes. Processes in an organization are generally planned and carried out under controlled conditions to add value.

The process approach is a powerful way of organizing and managing how work activities create value. While a more traditional structure organizes and manages work activities vertically by function, with quality problems frequently occurring at the boundaries of the functional departments, the process approach organizes and manages work horizontally the way work activities create customer value.

Although the process approach may be unsettling at first glance for some, those familiar with quality management will see in it such familiar concepts as the quality management system, management responsibility, resource management, product realization, measurement, analysis, and improvement.

It is based on:

  • Identifying processes and clearly defining responsibilities
  • Consistently describing processes
  • Measuring performance
  • Improving activities
  • Managing and making decisions

The process approach directly links process inputs that come from suppliers to the outputs of the process that go to customers. This horizontal linkage between suppliers and customers is an excellent way to manage and continually improve both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the process.

The important elements of a process approach are:

  • Define the process to achieve the needed results
  • Identify and quantify the inputs and outputs of the process
  • Identify where the process interacts with the various organizational functions
  • Estimate potential risks, outcomes and impact
  • Set key responsibility
  • Determine key stakeholders of the process
  • Process resources

A Process approach plays a vital role for any company striving towards continuous improvement.

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