What is Quality?


The aim of any business is a long profitability. Over a considerable length of time, earning are achieved by pleasing the customers with good service and products while keeping production costs at a minimum. To do this, something needs to be taken care and that is referred as Quality.There are many definitions to quality and so far there in no single definition of quality which explains it fully. In fact, there is a saying that id anybody can give a complete definition of quality, he will become a lot richer.

Webster’s International Dictionary offers the following as its first two definitions of the noun quality:

  • peculiar or essential character;
  • A distinctive inherent feature; property, virtue.
  • degree of excellence; degree of conformance to standard;
  • inherent or intrinsic excellence of character or type; superiority in kind.

A few of the Internationally accepted standard definitions of quality are given below but remember that quality is riddled with “jargon”. You must create and communicate in your own organisation a “common language” as the only jargon that matters is the terminology that staff and colleagues will understand. Here are a few definitions of quality:

“Meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations at a price that represents value to them”- Harrington.
“Fitness for purpose of use”-Juran.

“The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implemented needs- BS4778:1987 (ISO8402: 1987, Quality Vocabulary Part I, International Terms).

“The total composites product and service characteristics of marketing, engineering, manufacture and maintenance through which the product and service in use will meet the expectations by the customer”- Feigenbaum.

The final measure of package quality is the intact delivery to a consumer of a flawless package that meets every functional requirement.

“ At 60miles per hour, the loudest noise is the clock”, says Rolls Royce. That tells more than a tired claim like “quality”. So quality is more a matter of understanding than just limiting in words to define it. It is the way of meeting consumers’ requirements. It applies not only to consumers called external customers but also to various departments dependent on other department called internal customers. It concerns complete supply chain management.

Quality can also be defined by the following equation to some extent:
Q = f (F,C)
Where Q is the quality, F is the functions of the product and C is the cost ot the product.

It can further explained as:
Q↑ = F↑
Q↑ =C↑
Q↑ =F↑/ C↑

Ideally speaking, one would look for the value addition and that can be best achieved by following
Q↑= F↑/C↓

There are many ways of explaining Quality but none of the ways explains it fully. One way is to control the things in such a way so that people keep smiling like J and do not make faces like K L

Once people understand quality, they like to practice it. To practice it, it needs some kind of methods. Statistics is the mathematical way of measuring various quality parameters and then taking decisions. Various people have shown the ways of practising quality using statistics and various management methods. Some of these stalwarts are:

  • Walter A. Shewhart
  • W. Edwards Deming
  • Kaoru Ishikawa
  • Joseph M. Juran

These people are known as Quality Gurus or Quality Innovators. They have given us the following tools & techniques to practice the quality concept:

  • Check Sheet
  • Parrot Chart
  • Cause and Effect Diagram (Also known as Fish Bone Chart)
  • Histogram
  • Scatter Diagram
  • Control Charts

Control chart viewpoint of quality can be briefly stated with help of the following principles:

  • Measured quality of manufactured product is always subject to a certain amount f variation as the result of chance.
  • Some “constant system of chance causes” is inherent in any particular scheme of production and inspection.
  • Variation with in his stable pattern.
  • The reasons for variation outside this stable pattern may be discovered and corrected.

These simple principles provide the foundation of statistical process control and which is the backbone of quality. Shewhart says: “The ultimate object is not only to detect trouble but also to find it, and such discovery naturally involves classifications. The engineer who is successful in dividing his data initially into rational subgroups based upon rational hypotheses is therefore inherently better off in the ling run than one who is not thus successful.”

Deming has the concept of Total Quality Management popularly called TQM. Total quality management is management style that focuses on providing an environment in which everyone in the company or organisation works to please the customers. Employees are given the tools, a hassle free setting and the authority to do what is right. Each person is empowered to produce quality and to please the customer. Employee teams are formed, and they work to minimize variability, solve problems and improve everything about the company.

The company focus is on pleasing both the external and internal customers, the external customers are end produce users, those people who buy the services and products, the internal customers are persons within the company, production persons who receive the services and products of other personnel. To paraphrase the Deming philosophy: if everyone does the right thing, the right way, the first time, every time, the costs will be lower and the productivity higher. If your products or services continue to get better, you maintain your competitive edges, keep your old customers and bring in new customers. If you as a company seriously work at always doing the right thing, the right way, the first thing, every time, you eliminate reworks and rejects. Your customers are satisfied consumers. Costs are reduced. Profits are higher than your competition’s; you must always strive to be better or you lose advantage. Customers define quality. Therefore, quality is often described as “meeting customer requirement”. Dr. W. Edwards Deming has stated that just meeting customer expectations is not enough; we must exceed our customers’ expectations. We must ‘delight’ our customer. A delightful key is “never irritate your customer.” Quality is customer driven.

Realization of quality paves the way of many innovations which many times could be big commercial success helping businesses to survive as today’s quality decided tomorrow’s existence. It is the survival of the fittest theory. To do this , certain tools have been developed mentioned earlier in this write up.

There are some more thought to quality explained below:

  • Quality can be achieved through vendor focus.
  • Outcome of any exercise should be shared.
  • Achievement should be awarded.
  • Advantages, after affects of quality should be explained, as people explained, as people like to work more once they know what is happening.

Many business houses are realizing the importance of quality. There are many active organisations for advancing the understanding of quality which can be understood that many awards/ certifications are given for good quality works. Some of them are:

  • Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award
  • George M.Low Award (Nasa Excellence Award)
  • The Deming Prize
  • ISo9000 Certification

Coming back to quality, Bruce Holmegren V says’ the final measure of package is the intact delivery to a consumer of a flawless package that meets every functional requirement’.

Nothing happens until you make it happen, and leaders in organizations are those who make it happen. Making this happen many a times leads t quality burnout. Quality burnout can be prevented when the organization accepts that quality is a journey, not a destination. Te journey is a constant, never ending focus on small incremental improvements. It is not a “foot at a time” but an “inch by inch” approach to excellence. Leaders for this have to be like wild geese fly in formation. Flying as a flock enables geese to travel 173% farther than if each goose flew solo.

Nowadays many statistical software packages are available which can be used to implement various quality concepts. One of them is Minitab. Some of these softwares can also be tailor-made to the specific needs of the industry.

We summarize quality saying that it is like ideology which focuses on the happiness of all its customers and achieves this with the help of various statistical & management tools so that businesses continue to grow keeping the competition far away.


  • Webster’s Third International Dictionary, Merrian Webster Company, 1971.
  • Eugene L. Grant and Richard S. Leavenworth, Statistical Quality Control(The McGraw Hill Companies, inc. 1996), P.6.
  • A. Shewhart, Economic Control of Quality of manufactured Product( Litton Education Publications, Inc. 1931), P. 299
  • IPW Panel Reveals Key Steps Leading to Package Quality, Packaging v.30( August1985), p.49-53
  • Thomas J. Barry, Management Excellence through Quality (ASQC Quality Press,1991)
  • Total Quality Management(Chapman & Hall, 1994)
  • Gary Sutton, Tight Ships don’t Sink (Prentice Hall, 1993)
  • A. Zaidi, SPC Concepts, Methodologies and Tools (Prentice Hall of India, 1995)
  • J.S. Milton Introduction to Statistics( D.C. Heath and Company, 1986)


Leave a Reply