What is Quality Management?

If we are to define What is Quality Management, we must start with an understanding of the word Quality.

So how would you describe Quality?

-          Top of the range?

-          Best of Brand?

-          Best in class?

There is an easier definition and it is one that has served me well in all my years in Quality Management.

Quality is the meeting of requirements.

This means; The quality of a product or service is the ability of that product or service to meet the requirements placed on it.

So, where do these requirements come from? The requirements on a product or service will come from the stakeholders, those people who have a vested interest in the product or service. The Customers, the law with their legal requirements, the environmental bodies with their environmental regulations, the owners of the business, - even competitors have a stake in the quality of your product or service.

What Is Quality Management

So, what is Quality Management?

Quality Management is the system, procedures, methods and techniques that an organisation puts in place to ensure that the requirements placed on it are met.

History of Quality Management

Apparently, during the second world war, battles were lost due when the wrong replacement parts being delivered to repair the army vehicles – which remained non-functional. The American Military responded to this by developed a Standard or a document that put together the jobs that were necessary in order to have a good Quality Management System.

This document was adopted by many countries, one of the most famous being the British Standards and their version, the BS5750. In 1984, the International Standards Organisation took the BS5750 and developed the ISO9000 Series of documents. Their aim was to have a worldwide standard for the definition of a Quality Management System.

Since then, these ISO9000 documents have been upgraded every 4th or 8th year. Many supplements or industry-specific versions have been published, such as:

  • TL9000: Telecommunications Industry
  • AS9100: Aerospace
  • ISO/TS 16949: Automobile
  • ISO/TS 29001: Oil Refineries
  • ISO/IEC9003: Computers
  • TickIT

While initially the aim was to set up Quality Management Systems that controlled the amount of mistakes or errors being made, the school of thought quickly moved over into the concepts of PREVENTING the mistakes ever being made. Logically this was the more cost-effective approach, rather than waiting until the damage was done.

Since then, developments are towards including Risk reduction and Contingency planning.

Theories in Quality Management

While there are so many who have written on the concepts on What is Quality Management, the two most famous that set about defining the school of Quality Management, they were Juran and Deming.

Henry Ford in his Detroit car manufacturing companies placed a Quality Management approach in his organisation which lead to great developments in concepts of Quality Management. His approach was quickly followed by people such as Taguchi, Shingo, Ishikawa and more.

The ISO9000 system approach was a concept that really furthered the whole approach to "What is Quality Management" immensely, yet many believed it to be very limited in its approach.

The EQA (European Quality Association) developed the EFQM (European Foundation of Quality Management) award which was based on the American Malcolm Baldridge Award. This award is given to companies based on their application describing how they manage their organisations according to 9 elements. They look at how healthy the balance is between an organisation’s processes and the results from those processes. The organisation applying for the award, rate themselves as to their systematic approach to these processes and the degree of implementation across the organisation.

Quality Management Survival

Quality Management will always survive but how, will depend on the ability to move with changes in the global markets, consumer trends, the influences of economic pressures.

One very basic assumption in every organisation is critical and key to survival – Quality Management is not a discipline or organisational function, it is an integral part of every job; from Forklift driver to CEO!


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