Defining Quality in Organizations
Quality seems to be a term that is thrown around lately without giving much consideration to what it actually means. Organizations are using quality as a unique selling point or key differential. How different can one company’s quality be when they are all talking about it? Defining quality in organizations is what truly counts and what creates the differential. Identifying quality aspects in a product include breaking it down, measuring the quality and controlling it. These steps are how companies are able to define their quality and communicate what sets it apart.
What is quality?
In management, quality is the “consistent conformance to customers’/clients’ expectations”. Other definitions include; “the absolute best”, “suitable for the purpose for which it was designed”, “flawless”. Quality, however is subjective and depends on perception and experience with an organization’s products or services
When defining quality in organizations, it is up to the organization itself to explore and identify how their customers or clients perceive and define quality so that they can meet these expectations or even change opinions. You would need to change opinions if your client/customer has a different idea of the quality of your products compared to what they truly are. The key aim is to eliminate any ‘gaps’ between perceived and actual quality through thorough investigation, corrective action and communication.
How are quality standards decided?
During the strategic planning phase of any organization, the mission, vision and objectives of the organization are established to reach long-term goals. Certain performance standards need to be identified that need to be met to achieve these goals and objectives. These performance standards determine the quality standards that need to be measured and controlled in various ways. In our next blog we will touch on different quality control methods. The performance and quality standard is a planned target to which the final performance and quality standard will be compared.
Any deviation from this standard can be easily controlled and measured by establishing them upfront.
Customers and clients of the organization are the key driving force behind the sort of standards an organization needs to uphold. Customer needs are being met by the products or services of the organization. If their needs aren’t being met adequately then the business cannot survive.
Who is responsible for quality management?
Traditionally the operations management function was responsible for ensuring quality standards were met and quality control was implemented. Now, total quality management (TQM) is a management approach which assumes that it is the responsibility of all members of the organization to ensure that quality standards are met according to customer needs and in order to achieve business objectives.
Under the system of TQM, it is up to all members of the organization to continuously work toward improving an organization’s work systems, products and services to meet desired quality.
The benefits of meeting quality expectations
Apart from the fact that good quality (whatever ‘good’ means to your customers or clients) will increase your sales and income, there are a few other benefits of meeting quality standards.
- In marketing and public relations efforts, acquisition is far more expensive than retention. Having long-term value customers comes from maintaining consistency in quality and meeting standards every time without deviation. Less money needs to be spent on returning customers because they no longer need to be ‘wooed’ by your company. Instead, they trust your products or services to be of a quality that is reliable and consistent every time – increasing your credibility and enhancing your reputation.
- Having everyone in an organization be mindful of quality management can dramatically decrease your costs. Defective products or corrective action waste unnecessary resources that the company cannot afford to lose. In the long run, poor quality products require maintenance or repair work that the customer or client may refuse to pay for.
- Apart from the obvious cost-saving benefit, quality products can reduce waste. By reducing the amount of waste generated by defective products or parts, an organization will throw away less and contribute towards maintaining a clean environment. Being a company that is mindful of decreasing waste also puts it in a position to be socially responsible and a good corporate citizen.
There are many reasons why companies pay attention to their quality and what sort of quality they wish to promise their clients/consumers. What does ‘good quality’ mean to you?
- BJ Erasmus, J. S. S. R.-K., 2013. Introduction to Business Management. 9th ed. Cape Town: Oxford.