In the vernacular, quality can mean a high degree of excellence (“a quality product”), a degree of excellence or the lack of it (“work of average quality”), or a property of something (“the addictive quality of alcohol”). [The third meaning echoes Aristotle, who defined quality as that by virtue of which a thing is such and such. Cited by: cite book
last = Reese
first = William L.
title = Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion
publisher = Prometheus Books
year = 1996
isbn = 9781573926218
] Distinct from the vernacular, the subject of this article is the business interpretation of quality.

Variations of a business definition

Business has tried to define quality in a producer-consumer context, with the following variations:

# ISO 9000: "Degree to which a set of inherent characteristic fulfills requirements." [cite book
last = TC 176/SC
title = ISO 9000:2005, Quality management systems -- Fundamentals and vocabulary
publisher = International Organization for Standardization
date = 2005
] The standard defines "requirement" as need or expectation.
# Six Sigma: "Number of defects per million opportunities." [cite web
last = Motorola University
title = What is Six Sigma?
publisher = Motorola, Inc.
url = http://www.motorola.com/content.jsp?globalObjectId=3088
accessdate = 2008-07-20
] The metric is tied in with a methodology and a management system.
# Philip B. Crosby: "Conformance to requirements." [cite book
first = Philip
last = Crosby
title = Quality is Free
publisher = McGraw-Hill
year = 1979
location = New York
isbn = 0070145121
] Citation
last = American Society for Quality
title = Glossary - Entry: Quality
url = http://www.asq.org/glossary/q.html
accessdate = 2008-07-20
] The difficulty with this is that the requirements may not fully represent customer expectations; Crosby treats this as a separate problem.
# Joseph M. Juran: "Fitness for use." Fitness is defined by the customer.
# Noriaki Kano and others, presenting a two-dimensional model of quality: "must-be quality" and "attractive quality." [cite journal
last = Kano
first = Noriaki
title = Attractive quality and must-be quality
journal = The Journal of the Japanese Society for Quality Control
pages = 39-48
date = 1984-04-01
] The former is near to the "fitness for use" and the latter is what the customer would love, but has not yet thought about. Supporters characterize this model more succinctly as: "Products and services that meet or exceed customers' expectations."
# Robert Pirsig: "The result of care." [.cite book
last = Pirsig
first = Robert M.
title = Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values
publisher = Morrow
year = 1974
location = New York, N.Y.
isbn = 0688002307
Cited by: cite journal
last = Jones
first = D.R.
title = Exploring quality: what Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" can teach us about technical communication
journal = IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
volume = 32
issue = 3
pages = 154-158
publisher = IEEE
date = September 1989
# Genichi Taguchi, with two definitions:
#:a. "Uniformity around a target value." [cite book
last = Taguchi
first = G.
title = Taguchi on Robust Technology Development
publisher = ASME Press
year = 1992
isbn = 978-9992910269
] The idea is to lower the standard deviation in outcomes, and to keep the range of outcomes to a certain number of standard deviations, with rare exceptions.
#:b. "The loss a product imposes on society after it is shipped." [.cite book
last = Ealey
first = Lance A.
title = Quality by design: Taguchi methods and U.S. industry
publisher = ASI Press
year = 1988
location = Dearborn, Mich.
isbn = 9781556239700
Cited by: Citation
last = Sriraman
first = Vedaraman
title = A primer on the Taguchi system of quality engineering
url = http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JOTS/Summer-Fall-1996/PDF/9-2-Sriraman-article.pdf
accessdate = 2008-07-20
] This definition of quality is based on a more comprehensive view of the production system.
# American Society for Quality: "a subjective term for which each person has his or her own definition. In technical usage, quality can have two meanings:
#:a. the characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs;
#:b. a product or service free of deficiencies."
# Peter Drucker: "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." [cite book
last = Drucker
first = Peter
title = Innovation and entrepreneurship
publisher = Harper & Row
year = 1985
isbn = 9780060913601

The common element of the business definitions is that the quality of a product or service refers to the perception of the degree to which the product or service meets the customer's expectations. Quality has no specific meaning unless related to a specific function and/or object. Quality is a perceptual, conditional and somewhat subjective attribute.

Improvement of quality

Many techniques and concepts, often overlapping, have evolved to improve product or service quality, including: col-begin
*statistical process control (SPC)
*Zero Defects
*Six Sigma
*Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
*quality circles
*requirements analysis
*total quality management (TQM)
*theory of constraints (TOC)
*quality management systems
*business process management (BPM)
*capability maturity models
*verification and validation
*business process reengineering
*life cycle management
*standardization (ISO 9000 and others)
*continuous improvement.
W. Edwards Deming, concentrating on "the efficient production of the quality that the market expects," [ cite book
last = Edwards Deming
first = W.
year = 1986
title = Out of the Crisis
location = Cambridge, Mass.
publisher = Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study
id = ISBN 0-911379-01-0
] linked quality and management: "Costs go down and productivity goes up as improvement of quality is accomplished by better management of design, engineering, testing and by improvement of processes." [cite book
last = Walton
first = Mary
coauthors = W. Edwards Deming
title = The Deming management method
publisher = Perigee
year = 1988
pages = 88
isbn = 0399550003

Market sector perspectives

In the manufacturing industry it is commonly stated that “Quality drives productivity.” Improved productivity is a source of greater revenues, employment opportunities and technological advances. However, this has not been the case historically, and in the early 19th century it was recognised that some markets,such as those in Asia, preferred cheaper products to those of quality [p.169, Rochfort Scott, Hamerton] Most discussions of quality refer to a finished part, wherever it is in the process. Inspection, which is what quality insurance usually means, is historical, since the work is done. The best way to think about quality is in process control. If the process is under control, inspection is not necessary.

However, there is one characteristic of modern quality that is universal. In the past, when we tried to improve quality, typically defined as producing fewer defective parts, we did so at the expense of increased cost, increased task time, longer cycle time, etc. We could not get fewer defective parts and lower cost and shorter cycle times, and so on. However, when modern quality techniques are applied correctly to business, engineering, manufacturing or assembly processes, all aspects of quality - customer satisfaction "and" fewer defects/errors "and" cycle time "and" task time/productivity "and" total cost, etc.- must all improve or, if one of these aspects does not improve, it must at least stay stable and not decline. So modern quality has the characteristic that it creates AND-based benefits, not OR-based benefits.

The most progressive view of quality is that it is defined entirely by the customer or end user and is based upon that person's evaluation of his or her entire customer experience. The customer experience is the aggregate of all the touch points that customers have with the company's product and services, and is by definition a combination of these. For example, any time one buys a product one forms an impression based on how it was sold, how it was delivered, how it performed, how well it was supported etc.

Citations and notes


* Boone, Louis E. & Kurtz, David L., Contemporary Business 2006, Thomson South-Western, 2006
* Rochfort Scott, Charles & Hamerton, Robert Jacob, "Rambles in Egypt and Candia: With Details of the Military Power and Resources of Those Countries, and Observations on the Government, Policy, and Commercial System of Mohammed Ali", Volume I, H. Colburn, London, 1837

ee also

* ISO 9000
* Metaphysics of Quality
* Qualitative
* Quality control
* Quality investing
* Quality Management
* Quality of Life
* Six Sigma
* Software quality
* Theory of Constraints
* Total Quality Management
* Video quality
* W. Edwards Deming
* [http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/glossary/quality.htm Analytic Quality Glossary:Quality]

Finding related topics

* List of economics topics
* List of information technology management topics
* List of production topics

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