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Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service consistently functions well. It has four main components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product and service quality, but also on the means to achieve it.

Quality also refers to the following: Ability to meet or exceed customer expectations, Fit for purpose (with zero defects), Conformance to specification, Free from deficiencies, Do it right first time and every time thereafter, Supply what the customer desires, Value for money, Features that meet the needs of the customer

Topic 1: Quality Assurance

Quality assurance (QA) is the term used in both manufacturing and service industries to describe the systematic efforts taken to assure that the products delivered to customers meet with the contractual and other agreed upon performance, design, reliability, and maintainability expectations of that customer. The core purpose of Quality Assurance is to prevent mistakes and defects in the development and production of both manufactured products, such as automobiles and shoes, and delivered services, such as automotive repair and athletic shoe design. Assuring quality and therefore avoiding problems and delays when delivering products or services to customers is what ISO 9000 defines as that "part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled". This defect prevention aspect of quality assurance differs from the defect detection aspect of quality control and has been referred to as a shift left since it focuses on quality efforts earlier in product development and production (i.e., a shift to the left of a linear process diagram reading left to right) and on avoiding defects in the first place rather than correcting them after the fact.

The terms "quality assurance" and "quality control" are often used interchangeably to refer to ways of ensuring the quality of a service or product. For instance, the term "assurance" is often used in a context such as: Implementation of inspection and structured testing as a measure of quality assurance in a television set software project at Philips Semiconductors is described where inspection and structured testing are the measurement phase of a quality assurance strategy referred to as the DMAIC model (define, measure, analyze, improve, control). DMAIC is a data-driven quality strategy used to improve processes. The term "control" is the fifth phase of this strategy.

Quality assurance comprises administrative and procedural activities implemented in a quality system so that requirements and goals for a product, service or activity will be accomplished. It is the systematic measurement, comparison with a standard, and monitoring of processes in an associated feedback loop that confers error prevention. This can be contrasted with quality control, which is focused on process output.

Quality assurance includes two principles: "fit for purpose" (the product should be suitable for the intended purpose); and "right first time" (mistakes should be eliminated). QA includes management of the quality of raw materials, assemblies, products and components, services related to production, and management, production and inspection processes. The two principles also manifest before the background of developing (engineering) a novel technical product: The task of engineering is to make it work once, while the task of quality assurance is to make it work all the time.

Historically, defining what suitable product or service quality means has been a more difficult process, determined in many ways, from the subjective user-based approach that contains "the different weights that individuals normally attach to quality characteristics," to the value-based approach which finds consumers linking quality to price and making overall conclusions of quality based on such a relationship.

Topic 2. Quality Control

Quality control (QC) is a process by which entities review the quality of all factors involved in production. ISO 9000 defines quality control as "a part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements".

This approach places emphasis on three aspects (enshrined in standards such as ISO 9001):

  • Elements, such as controls, job management, defined and well managed processes, performance and integrity criteria, and identification of records.
  • Competence, such as knowledge, skills, experience, and qualifications
  • Soft elements, such as personnel, integrity, confidence, organizational culture, motivation, team spirit, and quality relationships.

Inspection is a major component of quality control, where physical product is examined visually (or the end results of a service are analyzed). Product inspectors will be provided with lists and descriptions of unacceptable product defects such as cracks or surface blemishes, for example.

Topic 3. Quality Management

Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service consistently functions well. It has four main components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product and service quality, but also on the means to achieve it.

Quality management, therefore, uses quality assurance and control of processes as well as products to achieve more consistent quality. Quality control is also part of quality management. What a customer wants and is willing to pay for it, determines quality. It is a written or unwritten commitment to a known or unknown consumer in the market. Quality can be defined as how well the product performs its intended function.

Topic 4. Customer Focus

The primary focus of quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations.
Sustained success is achieved when an organization attracts and retains the confidence of customers and other interested parties on whom it depends. Every aspect of customer interaction provides an opportunity to create more value for the customer. Understanding current and future needs of customers and other interested parties contributes to sustained success of an organization.
Topic 5. Engagement of people
Competent, empowered and engaged people at all levels throughout the organization are essential to enhance its capability to create and deliver value.
To manage an organization effectively and efficiently, it is important to involve all people at all levels and to respect them as individuals.
Recognition, empowerment and enhancement of competence facilitate the engagement of people in achieving the organization’s quality objectives.
Topic 6. Improvement
Successful organizations have an ongoing focus on improvement. Improvement is essential for an organization to maintain current levels of performance, to react to changes in its internal and external conditions and to create new opportunities.
Topic 7. Evidence based decision making
Further information: decision making
Decisions based on the analysis and evaluation of data and information are more likely to produce desired results.
Decision making can be a complex process, and it always involves some uncertainty. It often involves multiple types and sources of inputs, as well as their interpretation, which can be subjective. It is important to understand cause-and-effect relationships and potential unintended consequences.
Facts, evidence and data analysis lead to greater objectivity and confidence in decision making.

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