This section was devoted to evaluate the statement, “quality manuals are a waste of time, they take too long to prepare and don’t make any difference to the quality of the product” based on research results on quality and the defining characteristics of Alabama Specialty Products, Inc.’s quality manual compared with the requirements detailed in the ISO 9000 quality standard.
Importance of quality
Quality is a fundamental component that underpins the provision of services and the design and development of products that are designed to satisfy customer needs and expectations. Organisations that implement quality within their systems have better performance expectations of the individual parts of the organisation and better profit expectations (Bayazit 2003). According to Bhuiyan and Alam (2005), quality planning enables managers to identify customer needs and expectations because the product and service attributes are clearly defined. The desired product quality attributes are achieved through a quality planning systems that functions within the organization (Green, 2005).
Voss (2005) and Dangayach and Deshmukh (2001) argue that quality control enables organisations to design and develop products that conform to the prescribed characteristics that satisfy customer needs when the product is released into the market. Das, Paul and Swierczek (2008) argue that quality control enables a manager to evaluate an organisation’s quality system based on the actual performance of a product with the prescribed ISO 9000 quality management standard for defining product quality. Devadasan, Goshteeswaran and Gokulachandran (2005) established that the performance of a product on the basis of quality goals enables managers to decide how to design and develop the right products to satisfy current and future market needs. Edvardsson (2005) emphasized that quality system enable employees to develop the right infrastructure and the right products and services by making the right decisions on the best approaches to motivate employees, allocate resources, and train employees on the right skills to use when executing assigned product development tasks to conform to the desired product quality (Grieves 2006). However, it is imperative for managers and employee to understand the meaning of quality.
What is quality?
Quality is defined as the “totality of the characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to meet the stated and implied needs” (Grieves 2006). Bayazit (2003, p.3) defines quality as “the predictable degree of uniformity and dependability at low cost and suited to the market”. Heese, Cattani, Ferrer, Gilland and Roth (2005) argue that quality is a relative term that is defined in the context of customer satisfaction. Hunton and Gold (2010) define quality in the context of the fitness for use of a component, the degree of preference of a product over competing products, and the degree of excellence and a product or entity. To meet the quality goal, it is important for an organisation to put into place enabling procedures to optimise stakeholder contributions to the organisation to satisfy the needs and expectations of customers (Hunton & Gold 2010). However, the need to discover what companies mean by quality is necessary because the general definition of quality cannot be generalized across each company.
What did companies mean by quality?
Companies view quality as a measure that provides a predictable degree of uniformity and dependability of products that are offered to suit the needs of the market at low costs (Bayazit 2003). Typically, the cost dimension of quality is pegged on affordability of products that are offered the lowest costs and that customers can afford (Bayazit 2003). To achieve the quality goals, companies invest significant amounts of money to conduct research on product quality and customer needs, carry out service call analysis of the information or data that is collected from customers to develop products and services that uniquely satisfy the customers. However, there is need to know how quality can be measured.
How did they measure?
Quality is a fundamental element that shows the level of conformance of a product to customer needs and expectations. Product and process metrics are among the different quality measurements that have been suggested. The product and process metrics characterize the products, processes, and resources used to develop a product. However, it has been noted that a gap in knowledge on how many companies choose ISO in their QM and the rationale for doing it exists.
How many companies choose ISO in their QM? Why?
Bhuiyan adn Alam (2005) note that despite ISO being an internationally recommended standard for measuring and comparing the quality of products and processes, the standard has some limitations. Some of the limitations include the limited scope of the quality standard, the high cost of implementing the quality requirements and the undefined roles of certifying bodies.
Many organisations today have invested significant resources in implementing the quality dimensions into their products by subscribing to the ISO 9000 quality standards that define the conformance requirements for products and interrelated elements in the quality management domain. Dangayach and Deshmukh (2001) argue that quality is mandatory for any organisation that wants to compete in the local and global market environments and almost every organisation has a quality management system to pursue product quality.
Implementing product quality based on the ISO 9000/9001 standard and other revised quality standards enable organisations to define the requirements for the quality management systems that emphasize on the actions and principles necessary to manage quality. The quality standard provides the necessary framework to define the processes and sequences necessary to determine the interactions that happen with the product development phases (Dangayach & Deshmukh 2001). However, a question arises on, how can we distinguish between QM and ISO 9000?
What is the difference between QM and ISO 9000?
Jang and Lin (2008) argue that ISO 9000 and QM are distinctly important quality management systems that define in detail what to document in the areas of policies, procedures, and work instructions to enable the product manufacturer or service provider to continuously review conformance to specifications, time, pricing, and customer satisfaction. However, Feng, Terziovski and Samson (2007) notes that ISO 9000 differs from the QM because in that ISO 9000 is a family of quality standards that provides a framework for compliance to general processes and procedures, reduction in product rejection rates, rework, customer complaints and to increase morale for the employees. In each case, the ISO 9000 quality standard and QM are used to ensure quality dimensions of quality in context of product design, process, system, and service areas. According to Jang and Lin (2008), quality manuals are specific to a specific organisations and the ISO 9000 standard is an international quality management standard that can be adopted by any industry or organization. However, managers need to be aware of what to include in the quality manuals.
What should be in the quality manuals?
A quality should be defined by the principal elements of the quality system that are clearly and logically organised in a table of contents with keywords that distinguish each element from the other (Schmenner & Tatikonda 2005). For instance, Alabama specialty products Inc.’s quality manual have defined a quality manual whose content include the activities, scope, quality management system and the requirements for compliance, policies, management responsibility, product realization, details on Measurement, analysis and improvement, and documentation of all activities. The quality manual provides a detailed description of the quality assurance elements, quality control, and quality management strategies for organizational managers and employees to use for compliance.
What/who is the QM for?
Quality manuals are designed and customised by organisational managers and those assigned with the responsibility of ensuring the organisation’s processes are quality compliant (Saaksvuori & Immonen 2005). The specific focus of the quality manual describes the set up necessary to implement the quality objectives that an organisation intends to achieve through the management of human resources, the operational and functional structure of the quality management system, the management of technical resources as illustrated in the case study.
Your case study
Alabama Specialty Products, Inc. specialises in the design and manufacturing of corrosion monitoring equipment. The company has a quality management system and uses a quality manual that conforms to the ISO 9001: 2008 quality management system standard. The quality manual defines the responsibilities of the management, but does not indicate the change control procedures and the responsibility of publishing the quality manual revision materials, the control sheets, the distribution lists, terms and definitions in the quality manual, and details of the quality control documentation (Olsen 2014). In addition, the logical organisation of the quality elements in the company’s quality manual demonstrates the requirements that are defined by AS9100C:2009 and ISO 9001:2008 quality standards. Customer satisfaction, design and development of products, documentation, effectiveness, effeminacy, and the infrastructure are defined in the quality manual.
What does the company’s QM include? (Does not include?)
A critical analysis of the company’s quality manual shows that several elements that are defined in the quality manual do not provide the details necessary for product development (Olsen 2014). The principal elements of a quality manual such as quality control procedures, quality policy and objectives, the quality management systems, the roles and responsibilities of the management, product realization, resource management, and the measurement, analysis, and improvement paradigms are not explained in detail (Hornecker 2010). However, the objectives are not specific to each product development procedures but are general and leading to the question on: do employees follow the quality manual?
Do they follow their QM?
It has been established that compliance to policy depends on “continuous self-appraisal and attention to detail” (Hornecker 2010). There is no evidence of self-appraisal among employees and the processes lead to a waste of time as asserted in the manual that “(Olsen 2014) quality plans for product realization have been prepared in the form of collaborative processes involving many functions and departments” (Olsen 2014). Evidence shows that employees follow some sections of the quality while other employees do not because some “uncontrolled hard copy manuals are up-to-date at issue and are only issued to outside organizations” (Olsen 2014).
More specifically, employees argue that the quality manual does not specify exactly how to implement each aspect of quality in product development because some product specifications are developed in accordance with the specification requirements. This is evidence in the general statement which asserts that “documented procedures have been established and maintained to monitor and measure the characteristics of the product to verify that requirements for the product are met” (Olsen 2014). However, no specifications are provided for each product. For instance, the objectives specified in the quality manual state that a satisfaction score of 95% should be achieved when a survey is conducted among customers. However, the generality of the quality policy and objectives does not guarantee high quality products and requires that quality be the personal responsibility of the worker. The overall picture is that employees do not follow the quality manual; making is a waste of time to develop.
Is the QM ensuring the quality? Or the TQM systems ensure the quality?
The quality manual was designed to enable employees and the management to implement quality in the product development systems and not the total quality management systems. While the TQM provides a tested framework for quality management, the quality manual overrides the TQM systems because every quality element such as management and employee responsibilities is defined in the quality manual (Kinicki & Williams 2010). However, “executive management ensures that the quality policy is communicated to all employees as it is included in the new employee orientation and training on the QMS” (Kinicki & Williams 2010). Employees need to be taught the requirements detailed in the quality manual in order to be compliant.
In conclusion, the quality manual provides a detailed description of the quality assurance elements, quality control, and quality management strategies and emphasizes the need for a QM and the ISO 9000 standard. However, Alabama Specialty Products, Inc.’s QM provides general directions on how to assure product quality but does not provide detailed description of the compliance requirements for each product, making its use a waste of time.
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