Introduction to Quality

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Quality and its relevant aspects were introduced formally and systematically in the business environment post-second world war. In the early 1950s, quality management practices developed rapidly in Japanese businesses and became a national preoccupation by the 1960s. These practices were observed in the world through Japanese imports of products to USA and Europe by the 1970s. Japanese imports were identified to be relatively inexpensive and of higher quality in comparisons to domestic products in USA and Europe. Further, it was realized that Japanese businesses, especially those involved in manufacturing sector were advised and influenced by quality theories explored by quality experts like W. Edwards Deming, Juran, etc. With rising competition, American and European businesses have gradually introduced programmes and initiatives related to quality. In 1987, the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) 9000 was published as an internationally recognised standard for quality management systems[1]. It comprises a number of standards that specify the requirements for the documentation, implementation and maintenance of a quality system[2].

There are several meanings and definitions of quality explored and practiced in business environment (Please refer to the slides for the meaning and definition of quality). These meanings and definitions reflect the following select features of quality:

  1. Quality means that products and services are made as per the customer requirements and satisfaction
  2. The price at which products/services are offered should be reflective of quality
  3. Quality focuses on specifications and standardizations in production or distribution of products and services
  4. Quality focuses on reduction of losses to producers caused by provision of bad quality products/services. For example, high consumer complaints, less production or productivity and increased rejection of rework
  5. Quality refers to building morale and maintaining relationships in business internally (across departments and hierarchies) and externally (across stakeholders)
  6. Quality examines building and maintaining goodwill and reputation of the business in the long-run
  7. Quality and productivity are assumed to go hand-in-hand
  8. Quality focuses on design, product, process, systems, service
  9. Quality is also associated with improved market share and profits in the long-run

The above mentioned features can be further studied in terms of certain ideologies and theories explored and practiced by quality experts like W. Edwards Deming, Juran and Philip B. Crosby.

Quality Theory – W. Edwards Deming

W. Edwards Deming was an American statistician, who stated that quality should be aimed at the needs of the consumer present and future. He visited and worked in Japan to set up the census of the Japanese population and introduced Statistical Process Control (SPC) to Japanese engineers. During his stay and work with Japanese companies, he introduced fourteen points of quality for a business’ management also known as “Deming’s 14-Points” for management (Please refer to the slides for the 14-points). The summarised version of these 14 points is listed below[3]:

  1. Constancy of purpose – Continuous improvements of products and services leading to optimum allocation of resources in the long-run
  2. The new philosophy – Businesses need to adopt to changing times and needs and accordingly cannot continue with traditional practises
  3. Cease dependence on mass inspection – Integrate inspection as a way of life in a business and acquire support from statistical evidence
  4. End lowest tender contracts – End practise of awarding to employees basis of price tags (sales targets met in a day, etc.); Reduce the number of suppliers and eliminate those who do not qualify with statistical (timely delivery of orders, defects in raw materials, etc.) or any other evidence of quality
  5. Improve every process – Constantly improving every process for planning, production and service in the business right from design of the product, incoming materials, maintenance, improvement of machines, supervision, training, retraining, etc
  6. Institute training on the job – Instituting modern methods of training that enable development of new skills or retaining existing skills for everyone in the business
  7. Institute leadership – Responsibility of managers and supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality and encourage proactive managerial behaviour within the organisation
  8. Drive out fear – Enable two-way communication among employees across hierarchies or business units that enables everyone to work effectively and productively
  9. Break down barriers – Barriers between departments and staff areas to tackle problems that may be encountered with products or service
  10. Eliminate exhortations – Eliminate the use of slogans, posters and exhortations for the work force, demanding Zero Defects and new levels of productivity, without providing methods. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships; the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system, and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. Eliminate arbitrary numerical targets – Eliminate work standards that prescribe quotas for the work force and numerical goals for people in management. Substitute aids and helpful leadership in order to achieve continual improvement of quality and productivity
  12. Permit pride of workmanship – Implies abolition of annual merit ratings or appraisal performance and instead enabled responsibility and accountability among managers, supervisors, foremen, etc
  13. Encourage education – Improvement in processes is possible if people in business unit are encouraged with self-improvement through education
  14. Top management commitment and action – Top management is responsible to implement the principles and display commitment to quality and productivity.

Summary of Deming’s 14-points to quality

  • Deming focused on customer needs and changing the workings of a business with regards to those needs
  • He introduced Statistical Process Control (SPC) that includes a set of statistical tools such as descriptive statistics (mean, variance, etc) to detect whether the processes in a business are in control or there are less variations within the processes. For example, a breakfast cereal packaging line may be designed to fill each cereal box with 500 grams of product, but some boxes will have slightly more than 500 grams, and some will have slightly less, producing a distribution of net weights. If the production process itself changes, say due to machines that are old or beginning to wear out, then this distribution can shift or lead to additional variations
  • Another characteristic of Deming’s 14-point is the concept of Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. PDSA cycle means, firstly, a plan is developed for improving quality of or at a process. Secondly, the plan is executed on a small scale. Thirdly, the plan is tested and evaluated through feedback for making adjustments and finally, the plan is made permanent during or after adjustments
  • Deming advocated a system of profound knowledge within a business. He advocated a new approach to management where there is appreciation for the system, there is knowledge without variation and there is awareness and knowledge about the workings of the systems.

Quality Theory – Juran’s Trilogy

Joseph Juran considered that quality is a fitness for use or purpose. Similar to Deming, he believed that the product features should meet the customer needs and provided a systematic approach to quality processes in a business[4]. His quality theory is known as the “Juran’s Quality Trilogy” that consisted of quality planning, followed by quality control and quality improvement (Please refer to the slides for details). He also developed ten steps of quality improvement process through the quality trilogy and those are:

  1. Building awareness of the need and opportunity for improvement
  2. Setting goals for improvement
  3. Organizing to reach the goals
  4. Providing training throughout the organization
  5. Carrying out projects to solve problems
  6. Reporting progress
  7. Giving recognition
  8. Communicating results
  9. Keeping score
  10. Maintaining momentum by making annual improvement part of the regular system and processes of the company

Summary of Juran’s Quality Trilogy

  • Product features that met customer needs
  • Quality is always planned
  • Introduced the concept of calculating costs of poor quality. Poor quality refers to non-value added activities, wastes, errors or failures to meet customer needs and requirements
  • Encouraged alterations in processes without adding additional conditions or parameters
  • Questioned or debated the need for ‘Customer Care Services’, ‘Warranties’
  • Introduced Quality by Design (QbD). QbD is related to building a product and process based on a relevant scientific understanding and simply by testing and inspection (as suggested by Deming). Note: Details of QbD will be studied later in class.

Differences and Similarities Between Deming’s and Juran’s Theories

Differences Between Deming’s and Juran’s Theories

  • Deming’s philosophy on quality was a comprehensive theory whereas Juran’s philosophy was an analytical and practical approach
  • Deming focused on description (use of SPC) and systematic view of a business whereas Juran focused on managing quality and quality functions
  • Deming was a philosopher who provided a different view or perspective, whereas Juran was a practitioner who desired to teach business practices

Similarities Between Deming’s and Juran’s Theories

  • Deming’s argument on variations and Juran’s argument on quality planning, both focus on improvement in processes. Both philosophies are related to “Quality Circle”
  • Deming and Juran observed that for a business to succeed, quality management efforts need the long-term commitment and involvement of top management
  • Rejected reliance on slogans to motivate workers mainly because the performance depended upon the business’ systems and not the operators
  • Both have concerns regarding current practices like incentive pay that are based on faulty or outmoded premises
  • Placed great importance on planning as decisions made “upstream” or at top management effect the final results
  • Both focused on customer-needs and rely heavily on market research though Juran’s approach is engineering-driven that translated customers’ vision of quality into what can be produced

Quality Circle

Quality circle is a participative management technique in which small teams of employees are voluntarily formed to define and solve a quality or performance related problem. The teams are typically formed within the framework of a quality system practised in a business and represent different responsibilities and duties related to a problem. The quality circle is based on the joint concepts of Deming and Juran, which involves period discussions on work-related problems and suggestions for improved production. Some problem solving techniques considered in a quality circle include:

  • Team work or brainstorming
  • Data collection
  • Pareto principle (80/20 rule: 20% of defects caused 80% of the problems or 80% of stock comes from 20% of your suppliers or 20% of the staff will cause 80% of problems or 20% of workers will generate 80% of your production – to focus on the 20%)
  • Ishikawa diagram (Fishbone diagram) – These are causal diagrams in which causes are usually grouped into major categories to identify (effects or) sources of variations. The categories broadly include:

    Example of Fishbone Diagram

    •  People that are involved in the process
    • Methods that signifies the approaches considered in the business processes and also includes policies, procedures, rules and regulations
    • Machines utilized to accomplish the job
    • Materials used to produce the final product
    • Measurements that are representative of the data generated from the process to evaluate its quality
    • Environment in which the business processes operates
  • Cumulative line diagram or cumulative frequency distribution charts that shows how much or what percentage, of the problem comes from the largest categories

[2] Evolution of Quality, Department for Business Innovation & Skills, UK http://www.businessballs.com/dtiresources/quality_management_history.pdf

[4] In the Beginning, There Were Deming and Juran, By Phil Landesberg http://curiouscat.net/pdfs/management/inthebeginning.pdf