What is Quality? What does Quality Mean? How do You Know When You Have Quality?



ISO 9001 quality systems do not give you quality and they never will. ISO9001 is not designed to create quality. ISO 9001 is just a “shelf” to store your quality processes.

Quality is an experience of the customer. Product quality perception comes from your design specifications and the manufacture standards achieved. Service quality perception comes from your service process design and the customer contact impressions.


When you use a ISO 9001 quality management system in your business it cannot give you quality and reliability. This is why ISO 9001 has such a poor reputation: it only tells you what to do to build a quality management system, it does not tell you how to design and create quality products and services.

ISO 9001 is just a framework, just a set of empty shelves. It is up to you to design and build the ideal processes and products that make your customers satisfied. ISO 9001 can never do that for you, it only stores your documents on its shelves. So, what is quality?

The late American Management guru Peter F. Drucker said, “Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for.”

Customers judge quality through their perceptions. This makes measuring customer satisfaction difficult because customers cannot clearly specify in numeric values what makes them satisfied. Yet quality is delivered when you achieve the minimum requirement of a specified performance standard. Over the years business has had to find a way to define and measure quality so that companies can make products and deliver services to definable standards their customers will accept.


Measuring Quality:

  1. Quality is specification driven – does it meet the set requirements
  2. Quality is measured at start of life – percent passing customer acceptance
  3. Quality is observable by number of rejects from customers

The quality characteristics of a product or service are known as the ‘Determinants of Quality’. These are the attributes customers look for to decide if it is a quality product or service.


Definitions of Quality:
People have found many ways to define what is quality. Some of the most popular definitions for quality are listed below. All of them are right, as they each contain a key element of what quality means to users of products and services.

  1. A degree of excellence
  2. Conformance to requirements
  3. Totality of characteristics which act to satisfy a need
  4. Fitness for use
  5. Fitness for purpose
  6. Freedom from defects
  7. Delighting customers

Reliability comes from achieving quality standards. This means the level of quality produces its equivalent reliability.


Definition of Reliability:

Reliability is the probability an item will function correctly when needed, for the period required, in the specified environment. An all encompassing definition for reliability is ‘the chance of success’. With success defined by whatever measure you wish to use.

In a manufactured product, the reliability comes from its inherent design, materials-of-construction, precision of manufacture, and the operating stresses received when used in-service. In the service industry, reliability come from robustness of service process design, strength of client support, follow-through on your promises, and staying in business over the years. The, “What is quality?” question has many implications that flow across your business, and through the lifetime of your company and its clients.

Quality is valuable, because when you have it, it brings success to the customer, and consequentially, to the business the customer buys from.


Measuring Reliability:

  1. Reliability is customer satisfaction driven – the User was successful when they used the commodity
  2. Reliability is measured at end of life – it functioned as required for the periods of time it was needed by the User
  3. Reliability is observable by number of past customers that return and service call-outs from users

You need to purposely design business systems and processes that will deliver all the quality and reliability intentions your customers want. Service and product success is decided by its Users.

That is why you need a Quality Management System, so you have the organisation structure, procedures, process and resources needed to implement the management of quality in your company. ISO 9001 gives you a framework to hold your business methods and solutions and helps you improve them. But that is all ISO 9001 can do for you.

So when you decide to adopt a ISO 9001 quality management system be sure that FIRST you design and build the ideal business processes, products and services that make your customers satisfied. ISO 9001 will only keep you making the same quality and reliability that you design into your business offers and customer solutions.


Accuracy Controlled Enterprise:

ISO 9001 is not the answer to the question, What is Quality? You can’t use ISO 9001 to design the processes that create and embed quality and reliability into your products and services. To design and build the company processes that actually put quality into your goods, products and services needs business process design techniques and tools.


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