Getting Started with Quality Management

Rodney Robbins

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One of the best places to start in creating a quality management system, is at the bottom. Don’t start writing mission statements and policies and all that high level fluff that nobody ever reads. Everybody believes in mom, baseball and apple pie, until you throw a dollar at them. Don’t start with procedures that tell who is responsible for this, and what they are authorized to do about that. I like written procedures, but they still don’t get to the heart of day to day operations. No, I believe you need to start creating your quality management system with good old fashioned, written work instructions.

Work instructions read like cookie recipes. They usually include a list of supplies (ingredients) for a particular job, plus detailed guidance on how to do the work (oven temperature and baking time). Work instructions are needed for all those mundane, daily jobs that must be done correctly, in a certain order, without mistakes or else! There are no specific requirements for written work instructions in most quality management systems like ISO 9000 2000. Not because work instructions aren’t useful, but because they vary so much from one company to the next.

Use your written work instructions to train operators, supervisors and managers. Use them for testing and for internal audits. Use your work instructions for breaking down jobs, making improvements and rolling those improvements out to all shifts and divisions. In short, use your work instructions to make sure the work that must be done, gets done right.

About the Author

Rodney Robbins is a cartoonist and author with years of front line experience as a quality manager in manufacturing, retail, restaurants and more. He has worked his way up from hourly help to the management suite at several companies and knows what it takes to be successful. Go to for bulk order pricing on his latest cartoon tip booklet.


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