Quality management means many things

Everyone has a different view of what quality management means, and everyone is probably correct, writes Bill Coetzee. Quality is as contagious as a smile.

How could the simple words, quality management, have so many variant meanings? The American Society for Quality (ASQ) writes in its handbook, ‘The Certified Manager of Quality/Organisational Excellence,’ that quality is always relative to circumstances and perceptions.

Quality of tangible products, differ from quality service. Quality is also relative to time and situations. The quality car of some years ago, may not compete with new models.

The quality of its performance may rely heavily on the quality of its maintenance, and fuel, and the training of its driver.

Quality is also a perception of a buyer or user, that could change from before buying, on delivery, after delivery,during use, after use, and after replacement.

Various meanings of quality

  • Quality means conformance to requirements
  • Quality means fitness for use
  • Quality means meeting customer expectations
  • Quality means exceeding customer expectations
  • Quality is superior compared to competitors.

Quality management is a culture and a lifestyle

Quality is relative to time, place, and functions. However is can be measured, and managed, and its effects are visible on the bottom line.
Quality is relative to time, place, and functions. However is can be measured, and managed, and its effects are visible on the bottom line.

Quality management is not limited to checking a product or service, but includes everything from market research, positioning, design, control points, and surveys.

And it involves systems, procedures, audits, improvements, and the inevitable filing cabinet. Getting the system to works for us, instead of working for a system, requires quality management to become a way of life, or quality culture.

Like health, safety, and environmental impact management, we should also manage the quality of our lives at work and at home.

The ultimate aspiration of all people is to lead quality lives. Once we manage some aspects of our work and life well, it is contagious to do the same in our sport, leisure, and relationships.

Ideally, quality management should be contagious to our colleagues too. When we suffer the consequences of low quality, we should have recourse to colleagues who inspire us with a quality smile.

Like all of Sheq management, quality management is sensitive to leadership example. It works well form the top down, but a strong quality culture on the shop floor could improve management quality.

Managers are as sensitive to consistent demonstrations of quality, as workers are.

  • Bill Coetzee is the Principal Consultant for Cygma Sheq Gauteng. Contact him in Johannesburg on 073 475 4763, or b.coetzee@cygmasheq.co.za
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