One view of “Quality” is that it is a byproduct, or outcome, of a system that reflects the suitability and effectiveness of an organization’s processes and the interactions between processes. This means to increase quality, organizations need to improve processes to do it consistently and to scale. Processes include business functions, design processes (starting with requirements elicitation), manufacturing processes, service processes, customer processes, supplier processes, and anything that transforms inputs into outputs. “Quality” as an outcome can be measured as conformance to requirements or expectations (both customer requirements regarding functionalities, but also regulatory requirements and standards).

Improvement of a system and its outcomes is facilitated by structure, which is defined by processes. Without structure and process, process behavior is typically not stable and is therefore difficult to predict and improve. Consider Statistical Process Control (SPC). SPC applies to the behavior of any business processes, not just manufacturing processes. For improvement of a process to occur, we measure the process and work to reduce special cause variation in order to stabilize the process behavior. Once stable, the process can be improved.

Perhaps not everything lends itself to a defined process (e.g., “creativity”), but these aspects of development do not exist in isolation and can be contained within a set of interrelated processes. This is particularly true if a system needs to scale with growth.

Systems or sets of interrelated processes should include a mechanism for feedback to continually assess/reassess whether the processes are suitable and effective. This includes the goals of the organization and its stakeholders and the context of the organization.

Quality system standards exist as guidelines built on lessons of the past codified as current best practices. Examples include ISO 9001, ISO 13485 (medical device), AS9100 (aerospace), IATF 16949 (automotive), ISO 12207 (software) and the IEEE SWEBOK, and others. The foundation of these standards is based on process and risk management. They do not prescribe methods; rather, they encourage structure that is suitable and effective for the context and goals of an organization.

“Quality” and Six Sigma both approach quality in a process-centric manner as conformance-to-requirements. “Quality” and Lean share in common the goal of identifying and reducing waste and improving value-added structure.

Overview of Quality, what is quality (definition), how quality can be controlled / achieved, examples of how is Quality achieved in manufacturing, how is quality related to Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing, how is quality related to process standardization… (reduce waste and better metrics, corrective actions, auditing processes)

what are the benefits of quality and how it relates to efficiency / productivity / predictability / standardization / defect prevention or reduction / etc. (i.e. motivators for top management to invest in quality)

inspection, quality cost management (4 contributors to cost -> internal failures, e.g. making parts also reworking, anyuthing that doesn’t allow product to go smoothly…. if something leaves company and goes to customer then that’s external quality, their time to return and get new product, spending analysis and corrective action…. also appraisal, inspection, don;t make it to customer… also cost of prevention, spending some time designing a fixture that can’t make a bad part… when balance this with cost to inspect then overall win in the long term) -> quality related to overall benefits.

System built to reduce failure. It reduces those possibilities and reduces cost for company and faster path to customer satisfaction.

Clifford Long
Clifford Long

Clifford is a Quality Professional and Statistician with experience in implementing and improving quality management systems. He enjoys supporting companies in improving processes.