What is Quality? – 16 Ways of Defining Quality
Employee Monitoring Software
Quality is one of those terms, like Love, that defy definition. Through the years, Quality has been defined in many ways. Of course, the understanding of Quality varies from field to field. Quality in the service sector is viewed differently than in Manufacturing. Quality in medical devices is by necessity defined in different terms than Quality in automotive manufacture.
Below are some of the different ways Quality can be defined, but in most cases, none of the definitions can stand alone to describe the concept:
- Making it by the blueprint: does the product meet specs?
- Fitness for intended use: does the product do what it is supposed to do?
- Predictable consequences (theory of strict liability): can you predict any negative consequences?
- Domestic Regulatory requirements: responsibility for product from cradle to grave.
- Export/Import Regulatory Requirements: global economy has expanded our Quality concepts
- Customer requirements: What have customers told us they want?
- Customer expectations: What else might the customer want, but have not told us about?
- Customer delight (Kano model): What can we do to exceed customer expectations?
- Standardization (ISO, GMP, Lean standardized work): Are we doing things right every time?
- Absence of defects (zero defects, 6 sigma, ZQC, Poke Yoke): Can we eliminate all defects?
- Control and reduction of variation (SPC, Six Sigma): Can we reduce fluctuations in our process?
- Elimination of Waste (Lean Enterprise): What can we do to eliminate non-value added activities?
- Elimination of Bottlenecks (TOC): What part of our process prevents us from maximizing our throughput?
- Excellence: Today, Excellence is a synonym for Quality and it is often preferred because it does not carry any negative connotations (i.e. you can have poor quality, but not poor excellence)
- Reliability: how long will the product perform without failure?
- Authentication (against dilution, adulteration, counterfeiting, etc.): Are illegal activities affecting the reputation of our product?
I am sure this listing is not complete, but it covers the most widely used definitions of the term. I am also sure that under most circumstances no single definition is complete, but we must rely on a combination of these to fully describe Quality. Understanding the various ways that Quality has been described and how they interrelate with each other is essential to the understanding of how our products and services can be improved in our competitive world
In future articles, I will review how these different terms have been applied.
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