Quality assurance/quality control programs have grown in acceptance and necessity in the last two decades. Quality Assurance (QA) is process focused; Quality Control (QC) is more of a product-focused component of QA.
As you would expect, large manufacturing corporations have been the early adopters or leaders in QA/QC, but even small companies have identified the value of a strong QMS, or Quality Management System. Many companies have a robust QMS; you really can’t afford not to, considering the high cost of errors in any industry.
Consider automotive manufacturing, where recalls of 53 million vehicles cost $22 billion in 2016, or healthcare, where medical errors cost some 400,000 people their lives, according to a 2013 study.
Thankfully, errors in bills and invoices aren’t life-threatening; still, mistakes made in the way bills are printed, folded or mailed can hurt business. Here are a few examples of the problems that mistakes in your bills can cause.
- Print resolution for an invoice is poor and makes the bill hard to read. It must be reprinted. Billing is delayed.
- An invoice is folded improperly so that a barcode is not visible in the payment envelope window. This will cause problems with the postal service.
- Your transactional partner did not include an insert about a coming rate increase in the bills it prepared for you. Now, your utility company will have to do another mailing to disseminate this important information missed initially to its customers.
Comprehensive QA/QC ensures a job done right
A comprehensive QMS protects customers from errors like these and helps ensure that the product created meets customer expectations. Clients want to know that their suppliers will do the job right so when a supplier makes too many errors, a client goes elsewhere.
Before you choose a third-party provider to handle your transactional billing, ask for details about the QA/QC measures it takes.
Here are four questions to ask your billing provider about QA/QC:
Does the company have a Quality Management System in place?
Odds are good that it does, but the effectiveness of the program will depend on how comprehensive its QA/QC efforts are.
Are Standard Operating Procedures in place?
Has the company taken the time to create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all its processes? To do this, we evaluated all of our processes, from prepress and printing to folding and inserting and then created hundreds of SOPs to guide production and ensure our processes stay consistent and on the most efficient and effective path.
Is there sampling/checking done during production?
Some companies check a job at the end of the line. Companies like ours that use the ISO 9001 (International Organization for Standardization) sampling system and draw samples of projects along the way, so that errors can be identified and adjustments can be made as early as possible to ensure the end product is 100% correct. Make sure the supplier you choose does sampling along the production path, not just at the end of the process.
Is there team involvement?
Everyone involved in our projects is expected to adhere to the SOPs we’ve written. We get buy-in from operators and production staff by listening to their concerns and suggestions and taking them into consideration as we write SOPs. We also have our project managers review all projects in process, comparing samples pulled from production with the project work order. Project managers know the requirements of each project they oversee and can quickly identify errors or inconsistencies.
Seek a QA/QC program that covers these bases
One final point is to make sure a Quality Management System follows best practices. We use the industry-recognized process improvement methodology, DMAIC, to remind us of how our program should be used to work toward continuous improvement.
Define: Look at a process and document it by preparing an SOP.
Measure: Errors are measured to quantify the effectiveness of the process.
Analyze: Study the metrics of the process to validate any changes that need to be implemented.
Improve: By analyzing the impact of the processes, an SOP can be adjusted for a higher quality result.
Control: By following the previous steps, you greatly increase the opportunity for an expected output and reduce variation throughout production.
Talking about QA/QC success
Companies that have been successful in their implementation of a Quality Management System will tell you about the positive impacts the system has had on the company. Our program, with its focus on achieving consistency, accuracy, and precision, has reduced error frequency and cost associated with error dramatically since 2014.
At Bluegrass, we have cut the rate of error frequency and cost associated with it dramatically while changing the company culture to a “quality first” mentality at every level. This has a significant benefit for our clients, who know they can rely on us.
If you have questions about Quality Assurance and how it can ensure the success of your transactional billing projects, give us a call.
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