Corporate Quality

Figure X3 An Executive Dashboard The quality philosophy of modern organizations is to provide products and services of the highest quality and of the greatest possible value to their customers.

Quality is defined as a set of attributes that meets or exceeds customers’ expectations. In other words a quality product or service is one that meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Literally, a company's quality goal could be to exceed its customer’s expectations by shipping product a day early —possibly before the customer has room to accept it.

  • To a consumer product company, quality statement may be “our customers shall be assured of consistently superior products.”
  • A bulk food product supplier may go on to say “The products shall be safe, homogeneous, and of consistent quality, adhering to strict quality specifications.”
  • A retailer might chirps “… shall insure that established company acceptable quality levels are maintained.”

Quality-control Systems

Quality-control systems involve training employees in quality-control methods, setting targets for employee participation, establishing benchmarking guidelines, and assigning and measuring Six Sigma goals.

  • Benchmarking means the process of persistently measuring products, services, and practices against tough competitors or other organizations recognized as industry leaders.
  • Six Sigma specifically means a highly ambitious quality standard that specifies a goal of no more than 3.4 defects per million parts. However, it has deviated from that precise meaning to refer to a whole set of control procedures that emphasize the relentless pursuit of higher quality and lower costs.

The discipline is based on a methodology referred to as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, pronounced de-MAY-ick), which provides a structured way for organizations to approach and solve problems.

Companies such as General Electric, ITT Industries, Dow Chemical, ABB Ltd., and 3M have saved millions of dollars by rooting out inefficiencies and waste through Six Sigma processes.

Quality control systems specify standards for employee participation, teamwork, and problem solving. There are five major building blocks to an effective quality control system.

They are intended to provide guidance in assembling a system by carefully considering the goals, hazards, and solutions in these five areas:

  1. Training management and employees in quality control principles that are applicable to the business is essential.
  2. Implementation of a quality control system should be accomplished in incremental steps rather than a detailed complete program. Identify the many obstacles to effective installation and functioning of a system.
  3. Recognize that many types of quality control problems are solved through use of engineering principles not necessarily related to conventional quality control techniques. Include engineering solutions as a portion of the program.
  1. Intuition and experience play an important role in quality control, and provisions for both individual and team effort should be formalized to encourage continuous use of these nonstatistical and nonengineering tools.
  2. Statistical quality control techniques are readily handled by use of computer programs. The rewards from the use of computerized statistical quality control techniques are well worth the time and cost of their installation, but the associated risks of computer misuse are enormous.
  1. Richard L. Daft and Norman B. Macintosh, “The Nature and Use of Formal Control Systems for Management Control and Strategy Implementation,” Journal of Management 10 (1984), 43 – 66