A quality product or service is one that is 'fit for purpose'. In other words, it does what it is supposed to. You can take that a step further, however. As well as doing what it is supposed to, it must also suit the customer in terms of standard, cost, delivery and so on. Consequently, we are taking as our quality definition, 'meeting customers’ needs'.
Dawn Cranswick asserts that there are a number of key quality indicators that can be used to measure quality and about which there is broad agreement (although as with any management discipline there are areas of disagreement as to importance).
Within your business it is imperative that TQM is driven down through the business from the Managing Director, who must show constant visible support to the concepts of TQM. You must, therefore, have a clearly defined quality policy to show commitment and give an indication of the importance you place upon quality within your company.
TQM (Total Quality Management) involves all the people working within your business. No-one can be excluded. All the managers within the business must demonstrate a total commitment to the concepts of TQM because if any scepticism is seen by the rest of the workforce, commitment to TQM will not happen. If the culture change then fails it will be very difficult to raise TQM as an issue in the future. It may be useful at an early stage to identify the driving and restraining forces within the business.
Maximising your ability to deliver a quality product or service is clearly dependent upon your ability to get the most from the people with whom you work, whether they are staff, sub-contractors or casual labour.
Two-way communication is essential in any business. How do you know what your customers want if you do not ask them? You cannot afford to assume you know people’s requirements - you are unlikely to think of everything.
We are starting to tread upon the ground of quality costing now, by measuring and analysing waste and scrap. This is a two-pronged approach; improving quality is as important as reducing costs. Indeed the one (cost reduction) should occur naturally as a result of the other (quality improvement).
An important element in managing quality is ensuring that there is proper control of the processes involved in producing the product or providing the service. This requires set methods and procedures to ensure consistency.
Written task specifications, or work instructions, are used to set down the steps involved in completing a task in such a way that anyone could follow them, whether that person is familiar with an organisation or not. They are not always necessary and might perhaps be more likely to exist in a manufacturing environment; although it is possible to write work instructions for any task, including answering the phone.
The practice of 'costing quality' enables you to improve the quality of your product or service whilst reducing the costs of running your business - consider what you learned when you looked at measuring and analysing waste and scrap.