Product quality helps determine whether a product succeeds or fails. Understanding the importance of quality control is especially important because it ensures that products meet customer expectations and help improve time to market. Effective quality control measures allow businesses to streamline their product development processes, gain a competitive edge and build a loyal customer base.
Understanding Quality Control in Product Management
Quality control is a set of procedures designed to ensure that a manufactured product meets the requirements of the customer and that there are no significant variations in a product.
Product managers use quality control to ensure that products meet customer expectations and business goals by setting benchmarks, testing products, and reviewing manufacturing processes.
By implementing rigorous quality control measures, businesses can ensure that products are dependable and meet customer needs. Doing so builds consumer trust and sets them apart from the competition.
There is also a direct link between quality control and time to market. A robust quality control strategy helps organizations identify potential issues early in the product’s development process. Doing so can help to reduce the time to market.
The Role of Quality Control in the Product Development Life Cycle
The Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC) describes all of the stages a product goes through while it is being developed and brought to market. It breaks into five stages, which typically include:
- Development: The product is designed and assembled.
- Introduction: Involves growing the customer base, creating a pricing and distribution strategy, and building the brand.
- Growth: Involves gaining profit from products, experiencing a growing demand for a product from customers, and a product experiencing its first competitors.
- Maturity: Typically involves product sales peaking, growth stabilizing, and the market becoming saturated. At this stage, companies need to innovate to stay ahead of the competition.
- Decline: In the final stage, in which products experience a decline in sales, companies need to either reinvent their product or ramp down.
Quality control should be carried out at each stage of the PDLC to ensure that any issues can be dealt with quickly. This prevents issues from one stage of the PDLC from affecting the next stage of the cycle, which would likely slow down the time to market.
Common Misconceptions about Quality Control
Many businesses mistakenly believe quality control slows product development and is too expensive. However, effective quality control can speed up the time to market as it helps to identify issues with the product soon after they appear. This process prevents minor problems from spiraling into bigger, more costly ones, saving businesses money in the long run.
Strategies for Implementing Effective Quality Control
Technology, such as ETQ Reliance, can help automate the quality control process by tracking the product life cycle from manufacturing to customer delivery.
Inconsistencies or errors during the production process are flagged and dealt with quickly, which saves money and helps to improve the product’s quality.
Case Study: A Success Story of Quality Control Implementation
Webtec, a specialist hydraulic measurement and control product manufacturing company, has been experiencing significant quality issues and product failures since 2010. These failures occurred soon after customers received the products, costing upwards of $100 million per year, but the company had no insight into what was causing them.
Before implementing a quality management system (QMS), the company had mainly been using spreadsheets and databases to address quality issues. This system was time-consuming, making it challenging to identify the issues, where they came from, and how they affected customers.
Using ETQ Reliance helped the team consolidate data into one centralized location. This solution provided a deeper insight into the supply chain and helped Webtec evaluate suppliers’ components, monitor supplier compliance, and make its quality processes more efficient. That allowed the company to reduce the cost of quality by more than one-third (35%) and increased the company’s overall revenue and customer satisfaction.
Future Trends in Quality Control and Time to Market
Some key upcoming trends in quality control that Product Managers should be aware of include:
- Data analytics and machine learning to analyze data: This process helps managers identify patterns, predict problems, and address them before they occur.
- Sensors and cameras to identify variations in the manufacturing process: Tracking these variations can help to identify and address product defects early.
- Robots for repetitive tasks requiring high precision and accuracy: Reduce the likelihood of human error, freeing workers to focus on other, more important tasks.
Quality Control as a Key to Faster Time to Market
The right quality control strategy is essential when it comes to reducing time to market. Identifying issues early in the product development life cycle helps to resolve them quickly and effectively. It also helps to reduce the likelihood of product defects, which increases customer satisfaction and means that customers are more likely to return in the future.
Product Managers looking to improve their organization’s quality control strategy can invest in improving their quality control processes by investing in QMS software like ETQ reliance. If you think ETQ Reliance could benefit your organization, consult one of our experts today to learn more about how it works and how it can improve your quality control.