Fundamentals of Quality Assurance
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IntroductionQuality has become a very important subject in the global marketplace and the levels of competition have increased a lot. The success of any organisation depends on meeting the customer’s high expectations and producing high quality goods and services. Customers prefer good quality goods and services rather than the price of goods. This essay is going to define quality and why quality is important and the evolution of Quality through the years. Key elements of quality management will be discussed in detail and why it is important that the management and employees are committed to the quality ethos and examples of how designed in quality has benefited manufactures of goods and services will also be discussed in detail. “Inspection of a process with a view to improving its quality is not the most effective solution. Rather the process should have quality designed into it.” The author agrees with this statement because inspection to measure quality which allows manufacturers to make decisions about releasing the product. According to Foss & Deceuster (2017) inspection is not considered the right procedure to produce good quality products. “Other methods are employed to enable us to prevent errors, instead of inspecting as it might be costly and ineffective. Inspection process is usually done after the product is finished and this may result in the product being sent back because of non-conforming” (Foss & Deceuster (2017) Inspection focuses on post production of goods and little attention is paid to customer satisfaction. Corrections grading is much more important in inspection. However, with quality is about managing the whole production process to achieve excellence. The main focus will be on customer orientation and satisfaction, employee empowerment through training and continuous improvement.
DefinitionQuality has no specific definition, it is very broad and everyone have their own understanding of what is meant by Quality. Quality is defined as, "the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements” (ISO 9001 2015) cited from Dale et al (2016 p.5). However, there is another definition of Quality by the International Standard for Organization which says that," Quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs". Quality has so many definitions as stated by Dale et al (2016 p.5) “understanding and then satisfying customer requirements in order to improve our business results”. in other words, it means that customer needs and satisfaction is of utmost important. According to Jaiprakash et al (2017) “Quality means customer satisfaction in terms of service, product and process”.
The Importance of QualityThe aim of most companies is to continuously produce good quality products and services. The companies invest a lot of money and they implement quality control measures in order to satisfy their customers. Quality is important because it will increase customer satisfaction and confidence. The image of the organisation or company relies on producing high quality goods, thus increasing customer base (Jaiprakash et al 2017). This was supported by Morup (1992) who stated that, “Quality is the most effective factor a company can use in the battle of the customers”. When a company implements quality, it will improve its competitiveness because it will be focusing on the customer needs. According to Schalk & van Dijk (2005) “Working on quality demands a lot of the employees' attitudes and skills: high involvement, motivation, expertise, self-critic, openness to others, persistency, a quality orientated attitude and mentality”. Quality is very important in any organisation because it will increase the reliability and reputation of the company. Communication with customer needs and expectations and systematically keeping customer relations is very important in quality, companies do this by having surveys send out to customers so they keep up to date with customer needs. It is of major importance for the company to carry out inspections during work process that at the end of producing quality products to minimise correction errors. Expanded customer base, increased revenue in market share, increased customer, enhanced repeat business. This was supported by Sargean et al (2012 cited from Dale et al (2016 p.11) who stated that “First Quality and service improvements can be directly and logically linked to enhanced revenue within one’s own company; secondly, higher quality allows companies to obtain higher margins”. Foss & Deceuster (2017) stated that, “Quality must be instilled within an organization and designed into processes and systems”. Leaders of organisations should begin with the culture of quality (Foss & Deceuster (2017). The reputation of a company is influenced by producing high quality products. Nowadays we have social media where customers can share their opinions about different companies’ products. It could be criticism of the quality of the products or good comments about the product. Markets are very competitive and good reputation of quality products will be beneficial to the company. It is very important for companies especially in the public sector to have suppliers who have achieved accreditation with quality standards, as it impacts the company’s reputation and decreases their costs as poor-quality products increase costs.
Evolution of QualityDale (2007) reported that the evolution of quality was developed by Feigenbaum, Juran and Deming cited from Loughlin (2008). According to Foss & Deceuster (2017), “Quality did not exist in the 18th century. In most manufacturing companies before the 1920s they employed inspectors to make decisions whether to accept products or reject it” .In the 1940s Juran, Deming and Feigenbaum in Japan were recognized as the pioneers for quality. Quality became known in the western countries in the 1980s. The National Quality Campaign was launched in England in 1983”[9.10]. The International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) 9000 is now recognized for quality management systems internationally. Foss & Deceuster (2017) reported that,” Leaders in the pharmaceutical industry must recognize that as quality systems have evolved so too have the expectations and responsibilities that they must fulfil, to understand its origins”. According to Dale (2007) the few stages of Total Quality Management were identified as Inspection, Quality Control, Quality Assurance and Total Quality Management. “Inspection is defined as measuring, examining, testing and gauging one or more characteristics of a product, or service and comparing it with specified requirements to determine conformity (BS 4778,1987; ISO 8402, 1986)” citied from Young & Wilkinson (2002). In the 18th century it was the only way used to detect the quality of the products or services, before the products where manufactured or placed in the markets. Quality control is designed to detect the problem of the product or service before it goes in the next stage of manufacturing, it is known as the control stage in the manufacturing cycle. This reduces product defects and re-work, and also the company reputation of producing high quality goods is met. Industries have a quality control department so that the product quality is investigated and thus producing high quality goods. Quality assurance is a prevention-based simple which improves product and service quality and increase productivity by focusing on product, services and process design, as citied in Dale et al (2016 p.19). Quality assurance is about “doing it right the first time” and making sure you’re doing things the right way. Quality assurance focuses on process improvement, critical problem-solving tasks, product design improvements and advanced Quality Planning. “Total Quality Management (TQM) as defined in ISO 8402:1994; is the management approach of an organization centred on quality based on the participation of all its members and aiming at long term success through customers satisfaction of all members of the organization and to society” citied from Juran & Godfrey (1998).
Quality EthosIt is important that management and employees are committed to the quality ethos. It is beneficial for the companies when managers develop a culture of quality. This will enable the employees not to make mistakes and companies will not spend time and money trying to correct errors and omissions. Srinivasan & Kurey (2014) found out that management should note that the company should value the following factors: leadership emphasis, message credibility, peer involvement an employee ownership. For employees to be quality minded, it is the utmost importance for senior management to be quality minded, without sincere manifestation of interest at the top, little will happen below. [Juran] It is the duty of management to educate their employees about reducing the costs and producing defect-free products (Srinivasan & Kurey 2014). Quality initiatives will be generated when employees are empowered and encouraged. They should be guidelines and protocols for the employees to follow and they also need support in their decision making. Employees need to be educated about the company’s expectations, it is very important for employees to recognize and observe quality actions and to be encouraged to ask questions if they are not sure or competent to carry out certain company duties. Skills training for employees is highly encouraged in order for the company to grow and have a good reputation for producing good quality products.
Key Elements of Quality ManagementThe key elements of quality management include, ethics, integrity, trust, training, teamwork, leadership, recognition and communication. The management of a company should be able to identify relevant tools and techniques which are familiar to the employees to produce quality products. Most relevant professional systems should be put in a place and staff training is very important (Isouard (1999). In business employees, should know the right and wrongs in the company. They have to follow business code of ethics. This was supported by Dale et al (2016) who stated that management have a role to play by developing and deploying organizational vision, mission, philosophy, values, strategies and objectives and communicating with the employees the reason behind them with the underlying logic. Foundation of TQM consists of integrity, ethics and trust. Integrity, a sense of honesty and truthfulness regarding motivation of one’s actions, values, methods, measures and principles. This is what external and internal customers expect to receive. Trust is a by-product of integrity and ethical standard. It builds a cooperative environment for TQM. Empowerment and participation from employees is encouraged by having trust in a working environment. [2,7] The most important element of building blocks in TQM consists of Leadership, Teamwork and Training. Leadership is about motivating the employees and enthusing them to reach stated goals and aim higher. A leader takes charge, lead the process, makes strategic and clear directions that is understood by all, and instil values to guide them. A leader should possess good understanding, and commitment to be able to lead employees, that’s how TQM will be successful in the business. [2,7] Dale et al (2016 p. 24) stated that, “Teamwork is one of the key features of involvement, and without it, difficulty will be found and gaining the commitment and participation of people throughout the organization”. There are 3 types of teams namely "Quality improvement teams", "Problem solving teams" and "Natural work teams" which are adapted by the TQM organizations as they possess different skills and this contributes to business growth, more process improvement techniques.  Training is the most important element in every business because it provides the knowledge and skill required to perform a specific role/ task and for the employees to be highly productive. This was supported by Dale et al (2016), who suggested that employees should be educated and trained to ensure that they have an understanding of quality management concept, skills, competencies and attitudes suits the continuous improvement philosophy. It is very important that all employees receive and acquire adequate levels of education. Communication is the binding mortar and key component and a vital link between all the TQM elements. Communication is important in the organization, between employer, employees and customers. Both verbal and written means of communication should be clear and concise. Sharing the correct information is very important in every organisation (Dale et al 2016). Management should put in place means of communication for example notice boards, emails office memorandums. Determining customer needs and expectations and converting these into requirements to achieve customer satisfaction. Management ensures that customer requirements are defined throughout all stages of product realization. Performance against these requirements is reviewed in defined intervals with the aim to increase customer satisfaction. The roof and the final element in the entire system is Recognition. The manager/ supervisor’s job is to recognize employees for their work. It is about recognizing the effort and the work a team or individual put in to the organization. It is very important as it lifts the employees moral and self-esteem and keep them motivated as they feel that they’re important and their work is being noticed and appreciated. The employees will always be enthusiastic about their work and will always come out with new ideas and improving the process. They will always be doing more than 100% at their own initiative without the need of a driving force. Recognition can be done in different ways for example, an award, a certificate, pay rise or a lunch voucher or even lead to promotion. EXAMPLES OF DESIGNED-IN-QUALITY AND HOW THEY HAVE BENEFITED MANUFACTURES OF GOODS AND SERVICES Quality of the design is very important for the organisations, as it enables achievement of required product features, and conformance enables achievement and reduces number of product deficiencies or recalls. Customer needs comes first and the design must reflect good quality products. “Quality cannot be tested into products: it should be built-in or should by design”. Deming (1986) cited from Foss & Deceuster (2017). Manufactures aim to deliver products that will satisfy the customers and the products will be acceptable to customers for their intended use (Lasky & Boser 1997). Design in quality benefits manufactures because its main focus is on developing products and improving the system to sustain and improve products (Morup 1992) this was supported by Zhang &Mao (2017) who reported that designed-in-quality is a cost & time efficient approach for manufactures and that high and reproductive quality products will be manufactured. Creating customer value is fundamental and the manufactures will benefit by creating superior customer value. For example, Toyota motor company is well known for producing high quality vehicles. This is because they have a good approach towards quality control and quality assurance. They are motivated by customer satisfaction and they have a good reputation in the motor industry. Foss & Deceuster (2017) reported that “Designed –in-quality involves the thorough understanding of the product and the process by which it is developed and manufactured, as well as a knowledge of the risks involved in its manufacture and how best to mitigate them". Companies will have reduced costs and will achieve greater success rates if they employ the designed-in-quality approach. “Quality can be the driving force to empower results in other parameters. Hence the quality has to be built in the product as well as services through proper planning so that forthcoming failure can be avoided”. This was supported by Juran who believed that quality could be planned (cited from Sangshetti et al 2017).
ConclusionTo conclude this assignment, we have learnt about Quality and how there’s no specific definition to quality as it means differently to every individual. Quality has evolved throughout the years from Inspection to the current role of TQM which stresses the need for companies to manage quality at every stage of production. In this century companies are now ISO Certified, and they have regulations they follow and use the standards to create their own procedures so that they’re compliant, e.g. Quality System Manual. Key elements of Quality were also discussed in detail. Quality is important for the business as there is a customer at the end of the process who requires high quality products, and the reputation of the business. Poor quality can result is product recalls which can be very costly for a business or a patient life might be at risk if the product is used for patient care. Quality is about doing it right and continuous improvement.
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