Quality management

1. Definition
Quality management is generally regarded as a subsection of management controlling. The aims are to optimize existing and future work processes and business processes. Quality management considers factors such as material and time resources, upholding of product/service quality and potentials for its further development.

If you consider communication controlling as being divided into three areas (effect, efficiency and process controls), quality management for communication is part of process control and is designed to check and improve work processes in communications management.

The main measure in quality management is an audit to review existing methods, processes or standards in terms of set goals or compatibility with specified external standards. An audit is so to speak a standardized revision process based on concrete specifications.

2. Applications
Quality management pursues primary and secondary goals, the most important of which are:

  • Optimize communication structures
  • Standardize action/working processes
  • Develop and set forth standards for products or services.

These result in secondary goals, such as

  • Implement solution strategies professionally and replicably
  • Preserve and/or increase customer satisfaction
  • Motivate workforce
  • Improve results.

Quality management for communication processes appears to hold interest both for independent agencies and for communication departments in organizations. Following intensive debate in the 1990s on a national and international scale (GPRA, IPRA), certification obligations and a heavier emphasis on customer judgment in the concept of quality management for communication and communication service providers, a number of different quality dimensions have now been identified, which should be analyzed and taken account of in the management process:

  • Potential and structure quality: perception and evaluation of the service provider's structures (size, market position, contacts, staff qualifications, infrastructure)
  • Process quality: Evaluation of processes taking place during service performance (consulting, PR programs, measures, campaigns)
  • Quality of results: review and evaluation of results obtained and perceived at the various levels in terms of Output, Outcome and Outflow (e.g. media response > perception of PR > change > (purchasing) action).

Multidimensional notion of quality: Foundation for sufficient quality management (vgl. Nothhaft 2002)

This area can be classified further into material, personal and interpersonal quality dimensions. In the field of communications in particular, quality is hence defined in multiple dimensions (see graphic in Nothhaft 2002).

3. Implementation
Quality management confronts communication departments and services with major challenges: to meet the actual framework provided by the conventional systems, criteria and methods must be devised as a basis for defining the quality of communication and associated process and to set standards. In addition, the introduction, implementation and further development of the quality management system must be communicated internally and supported on a permanent basis.

In theory, almost all quality management systems (QMS) can be used. Current concepts are "Total Quality Management" and, which have superseded systems such as the "Zero Error Concept" and "Six-Sigma". Two systems appear suitable for communications: The Consultancy Management Standard (ICCO CMS) favored by the International ommunications Consultancy Organisation, and general quality standards pursuant to ISO 9001:2000 – the certification standard of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and its specific presentation. The latter is a process standard system application to all organizations, and is not a quality management system explicitly for communications agencies like the ICCO CMS.

The time and cost of quality management differs significantly depending on the depth of application, insights desired, and system deployed. Continuous in-process quality management encounters limitations if the system is not adapted to suit the organization's requirements.

4. Indicators

5. Service providers

6. Links

7. Further Reading

8. Case studies

Please send us short texts from your projects on this topic in the same structure as the existing case studies, and more information (pdf or links) on the methods employed in as much detail as possible.
Contact: redaktioncommunicationcontrolling.de

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