Quality control (QC) is one of the few departments that plays a dual role for companies, helping them land new customers by ensuring product quality while avoiding any potential issues associated with delivering sub-par products. For rising business professionals, QC is one of the most critical yet overlooked career verticals to pursue.
If you’re interested in a career in QC, this article will explain the basics and how the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Engineering Management program from Henderson State University (HSU) can support your career search.
What Is Quality Control and Improvement?
Investopedia defines QC as the processes with which a company maintains and improves product quality. QC is a company’s way of constantly striving for perfection regarding its products or services. With QC, companies can realistically chase perfection by creating benchmarks for quality and performance and tracking their performance over time. The three main steps in the QC process are:
- Create a detailed production process and training employees in their specified roles
- Create benchmarks for product quality
- Test products and check for statistically significant variations
By having measurable standards, companies can ensure that each product they make is up to a certain level of quality. This approach makes it easier to identify when product quality is slipping and brainstorm solutions to enhance quality. Tools like customer service evaluations, questionnaires, surveys, inspections and audits can all play a role in the QC process.
The Importance of Quality Control in Business
For many companies, QC is about consistently delivering a high-quality product to customers. For example, strict QC processes allow McDonald’s to ensure that its burgers taste the same at all locations. Quality control is also how Apple knows all its iPhones will be identical. There are dozens of benefits to prioritizing QC. Insight Quality highlights the following as the most common benefits:
- Improved company reputation: By instituting strict QC requirements, companies can develop a reputation of high quality that resonates with customers.
- Compliance with relevant standards and regulations: Maintaining product quality can keep companies out of trouble with regulators.
- Higher-quality products: Tracking and measuring the production process makes it easier for companies to eliminate bottlenecks, identify pitfalls in production and improve product quality over time.
- Increased customer satisfaction: Better products lead to happier customers who are more likely to stay loyal to the company.
- Better brand recognition: A strong focus on product quality helps companies differentiate themselves from competitors and charge a premium price.
QC is also a preventative measure in some industries to ensure that products don’t harm customers. For example, automobile manufacturers typically have strict requirements during production to ensure cars do not start falling apart once they hit the highway.
During the production process, automobile manufacturers must track, inspect and reinspect all phases of production to ensure that they’re not putting consumers at risk. The same goes for industries like food service, airlines, hospitals and pharmaceuticals.
Effective Quality Control Measures and Strategies
One of the most fascinating parts of QC is that there is not one universal strategy that all companies use. In this sense, QC is very different from departments like accounting, where all companies follow the same basic rules (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). Instead, each industry and company has a unique set of QC procedures that work best for them. Here there are a few QC strategies that are more common than others, according to Smartsheet:
- Rapid-cycle quality improvement: This method allows for quick integration of changes over short cycles.
- Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a data-driven framework to eliminate waste.
- Toyota production system or lean production: This approach emphasizes eliminating waste or non-value-added processes.
- Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA): This process improvement framework is fundamental to continual improvement. This strategy promotes small changes and rapid adaptations and improvements.
Preparing for a Career in Quality Control
Rising professionals must prepare for two constants when it comes to QC. First, QC will always be an essential part of any major business. Second, the best practices and strategies for QC are highly likely to change over time as technology changes.
For these reasons, one of the best ways for rising graduates to set themselves up for success is to pursue an advanced degree, such as an MBA. Securing an MBA tells companies and hiring managers that you’ve learned about all aspects of the business world. Additionally, many MBA programs offer specializations in engineering management, which is ideal for those pursuing a career in QC.
In particular, HSU’s online MBA in Engineering Management program equips graduates with the necessary QC knowledge to thrive professionally. It achieves this by offering a range of courses that prepare students to excel in the workplace, including:
- Quality Control and Improvement
- Logistics and Supply Chain Management
- Project Management
Equipped with the knowledge from these courses, as well as the general business background provided by the MBA, program graduates have a significant advantage in the workplace. Students can complete this program fully online in as few as 14 months.