Quality management

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Quality is a dynamic state associated with product, services, people, processes and environments that meet customer needs and expectations and help product superior value. Quality management is the branch of management that strives for the highest possible quality of a product, production process, service or organization. Quality management is not a defined area, but comes back in all parts of the management of a company. Quality management is not just focused on product and service quality but also on the means to achieve it.


The origins of quality management is connected with the production and quality of products. It is an upcoming and booming type of management, and evolves over the years, influenced by the method of management of organizations. Quality management started already in The Middle Ages. Work completed were evaluated and inspected by skilled worker to ensure the quality standards were met in all aspects of the finished product. This is still the purpose of quality management nowadays. In the 1920s, the quality management systems, how we know them know, were born. But the focus was still on the end product. As companies expanded their business, they got more and more difficulties with applying the control standards. In 1940’s, change and development were brought forth by industry leaders and experts like Deming, Dodge, Juran and Roming. This is the beginning of Total Quality Management (TQM) as we know it today. Focus changed from only the end product, to quality checks of the whole process by production personnel. TQM is the first, real quality management system.

Japan, that had bad quality standards, heard of TQM and hired experts to apply it in the Japanese production. After a couple of years, Japan set the standards for TQM as they had become experts their selves. Later, by the 1980s, the Western culture tried to catch up with the higher TQM guidelines, after the spotted the successes of Japan.

In 1987 ISO 9000 was published by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. This should help organizations to meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product or service. In meantime, ISO 9001: 2015 already exists.

Today, companies all over the globe compete for the hundreds of Excellence Awards now given. The purpose of quality management, however, still remains the same as it has, all through history – to ensure that customers receive an excellent, quality product.

Quality management anno 2018, requires a lot of quality managers. The content of the job is changing all the time with the changing norms. [1]

Why use quality management?

Quality management had become an essential part of all businesses. It is home in every business. Quality management is the process of controlling, ensuring, and improving quality, in both business operations and productivity. Satisfied customers mostly have the feeling that they are receiving a high-quality product, that is constantly improved to keep up with the ever-changing times. That is why quality management is so crucial to the success of a business. High quality means success, and happy customers will return. [2]

Quality management System

What is a quality management system?

A quality management system (QMS) is a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organization’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and improve its effectiveness and efficiency on a continuous basis. Quality management systems serve many purposes, including:

- Improving processes

- Reducing waste

- Lowering costs

- Facilitating and identifying training opportunities

- Engaging staff

- Setting organization-wide direction[3]


Implementing a quality management system affects every aspects of the organization’s performance. But there are two overaching benefits to the design and implementation of documented quality management systems:

1. Meeting the customer’s requirements, which helps to keep confidence in the organization, which leads to more customers, more sales, and more business

2. Meeting the organization’s requirements, which ensure compliance with the regulations and provision of products and services in the most cost- and resource-efficient manner, creating room for expansion, growth, and profit.[4]

Elements and requirements

Quality management systems are created to meet an organization’s unique needs, but some general elements all systems have in common:

- The organization’s quality policy and quality objectives

- Quality manual

- Procedure, instructions and records [5]

Different Quality Management Systems to improve Quality

There are a couple of different methods to improve quality of an organization.


ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, is a non-governmental international organization with membership of 162 national standards bodies. It brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

The standards make things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to endure quality, safety and efficiency. They facilitate international trade. The standards ensure that the products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. They help to reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity.

The standards are developed by people that need them, through a consensus process. They include experts from all over the world, and different sectors.

There are standards for everything you use, for products and services in medical sector, manufacturing, food, chemical etc. [6]

The latest ISO certification an organisation can get is ISO 9001: 2015. This is to prove their ability to consistently provide products and services that meet the needs of their customers and other relevant stakeholders. [7] Gaining ISO 9001 certification will enable your organisation to continually improve your processes and manage your key business risks through the use of carefully themed assessments. The certificate helps you with cost reductions, productivity improvement, customer loyalty, win new business and supply chain security. ISO 9001 promotes the use of process approach when developing, implementing and improving the effectiveness of a Quality Management System. [8]


QFD — quality function deployment

Quality function deployment (QFD) is a method developed in Japan beginning in 1966 to help transform the voice of the customer [VOC] into engineering characteristics for a product[9]. It includes matrix product planning, decision matrices, and customer-driven engineering. Quality is measured of customer satisfaction with a product or service. It uses seven management and planning tools to identify and prioritize customer's expectations quickly and effectively.[10] The typical framework is called "the house of quality". In teams, the design engineers and marketers first establish critical customer attributes for the product. These attributes are the rows of the central matrix of the house of quality. In the example underneath, six attributes have been singled out for analysis. The second step is establishing the critical design parameters that drive system performance (in the example: number of teeth, lubricant, tooth thickness, manufacturing precision). The third step is to fill in the body of the central matrix. Each cell stands for a link between the design parameter and customer attribute. This results in a relationship matrix.[11]


Kaizen 改善

Japanese for change for the better; the common English term is continuous improvement. It is based on the believe that any aspect of an operation can be improved and that the people most closely associated with an operation are in the best position to identify the changes that should be made.[12] Kaizen works by reducing waste and eliminating work processes that are overly difficult. Employees should contribute to those improvements and therefor rewarded. [13] The Toyota Production System is known for using Kaizen. TPS is an integrated socio-technical system, developed by Toyota, that comprises its management philosophy and practices. The priority points are reducing waste and achieving the best possible efficiency. It is developped in the 20th century and has benefited from many years of continuous improvement to increase the production speed and efficiency. [14]

TQM — total quality management

Total quality management is a management strategy aimed at embedding awareness of quality in all organizational processes. First promoted in Japan with the Deming prize which was adopted and adapted in USA as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and in Europe as the European Foundation for Quality Management award (each with their own variations). Total quality Management Total Quality Management is an approach to doing business that attempts to maximize an organization’s competitiveness through the continual improvement of the quality of its products, services, people, processes, and environments. TQM has a couple of key elements: - Strategically based: TQM oganizations have strategic plans that contain a vision, mission, objectives and activities. The plan is designed to give the organization a sustainable competitive advantage on the market place

- Customer focus: The customer is the driver internally and externally, determines the level of quality.

- Total employee involvement: All employees should participate to meet the goals. Self-managed teams are one form of empowerment.

- Process-centered: in TQM there is a focus on process thinking. A process is a series of steps that take inputs from suppliers (internal or external) and transforms them into outputs that are delivered to customers. Steps to carry out the process are defined, and performance measures are continuously monitored in order to detect unexpected variation.

- Integrated system: an organization consist of many different functional specialities, often vertically organized. TQM focusses on horizontal processes that interconnect these functions.

- Continual improvement: for continual improvement, an organization should be both analytical and creative to become more competitive and more effective in meeting the expectations

- Fact-based decision making: there is a need for data on performance measures. The organization should continuously collect and analyse data to improve decision making accuracy, achieve consensus, and allow predictions based on past history.

- Communications: there is a need of effective communication to maintain and motivate employees at all levels. Communications involves strategies, method, and timelines. [15]

Six Sigma — 6σ

This quality management strategy aims to improve the quality of processes by minimizing and eventually removing the errors and variations. It was used by Motorola and General Electric, where it gained its popularity.[16] Sigma stands in the statistics for the variation towards the mean. After being 3,4 times wrong per million try-outs, the Six Sigma-level is reached. For a production company, this means per 1 million products, only 3,4 product do not fit the norms. Six sigma provides a process which helps in improving the overall processes and systems by identifying and eventually removing the hurdles which might stop the organization to reach the levels of perfection. It uses a scientific method to solve the problem. The steps taken in the process are known as DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control.


PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. It is also known as the Deming- or Shewart-cycle. It is a method to bring the organization in a continious spiral of improvement. By carefully following the four steps of the PDCA circle, you tackle problems, questions and opportunities in a well thought-out, structured way. PDCA tries to eliminate the problems before they hit the client. The different stages of PCDA:


- Plan: analyzing the problem, define what to solve, where to begin, what is the current situation, what are the opportunities etc.

- Do: suggest a solution, start working on it, what is changing, etc

- Check: evaluate the proposed solution, compare with the expected outcome, check wether everything happened as planned, check and measure if that is the case

- Act: reject or accept the tested solution, standardize, stabilize what works or restart the cycle, take action based on what you learned in the previous phase; if the change was successful, integrate them into other applications; if not: go through the cycle again with a different plan, what should be adjusted, how can it be improved the next time?

PDCA can be seen as a circle. After the decision-making in the final phase, Act, the improvement process does not stand still. Improving is never ending. Adjustments to the original plan or new plans are required. They follow the PDCA system again.


Usually the Deming circle is pictured on a hill. This symbolizes the dynamics that accompany PDCA. Whoever knows how to implement PDCA in accordance with the rules of art increases the problem-solving capacity of the employees and the organization, the quality improves, the organization meets the increasing expectations.

"The improved condition must not be diluted"

Without a wedge under the circle, the ball rolls off the hill: in other words, the improved condition can not be diluted. Standardization ensures this. A standard input is needed to make the new solution sustainable, to maintain the successfully improved condition, to secure it.