Quality as a Process
Some of these 14 points are very simple in concept and nowadays they are widely accepted by quality improvement practitioners. Many people have now realized that the objective of quality improvement is not to screen out bad products but to build-up knowledge from the production process to reduce defects completely. Even in recent times most people have blurred ideas about quality and some of them still like to equate quality with expense. However, we know that it is possible to pay a high price for an inferior product or service and at the same time one can easily obtain high quality goods and services at a lower price.
However, there is no doubt in our minds that the quality has now been used as a modem competitive weapon and to manage it we must understand it clearly. Modern concept of quality is defined as conformance to requirements and requirements are defined as the task to be accomplished in meeting customer needs. Quality cannot be inspected into the products or services, the customer’s satisfaction must be designed into the whole system. The conformance check then makes sure that things go according to plan. In general total quality management is defined as follows:
Quality–is to satisfy customer’s requirements continually. Total quality–is to achieve quality at low cost. Total quality management–is to obtain total quality by involving everyone’s daily commitment. The ability to fulfill the customer requirement is essential not only between two companies but with the same company. There exists in every organization, every department, every section and even every small unit a series of customers and suppliers. The secretary of a department is a supplier to the head of the department. She has to meet her customer’s requirements (Edson & Shannahan, 1991)
Quality is a continuous process that can be broken anywhere in the system of supply and customer service. By letting every person know how their activities help fulfill customer’s requirements, the organization can motivate their employees and suppliers to provide quality consistently. They must also realize that throughout the organization they will have both internal customers and suppliers similar to those outside the organization.
In general a process helps to change a set of inputs (i. e. resource, equipment, material and methods etc.) into desired outputs in the form of products or services. It is obvious that for certain aspects of an organization there will be various processes taking place, for example an organization may be involved in budgetary processes, accounting processes, salary and wage processes, costing processes, production processes, etc. Each process in every organization can be described by a proper investigation of the inputs and outputs of that organization. This will help to determine the action to be taken for the improvement of quality (Boznak, 1989).
The people who recently visited various quality companies in Japan and USA will tell that the central philosophy of all these companies is ‘Kaizen’ or loosely translated from the Japanese ‘continuous improvement’ and the quest for quality is a continuous cycle (Alic, 1988). The process on which continuous improvement is based is generally known as the Deming wheel. However, this wheel shows a continuous movement in a certain direction as shown in Fig. 1. The idea behind this is that the input which generates activities with measurable output is processes and the perfection of the process is the ultimate objective.
In Deming’s wheel the plan defines the process which ensures documentation and sets measurable objectives against it. The do executes the process and collects the information required. The check analyses the information in suitable format. The act obtains corrective action using total quality management techniques and methods and assesses future plans. At the end of each cycle the process is either standardized or targets are adjusted based on the analysis and the cycle continues. The link between customer/supplier with process improvement can be seen in Fig. 2 above.