Quality Management and Its Dimensions

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Quality management can be simply described as continuous improvement in a product or service. However, to define quality effectively, eight dimensions can be used. According to Garvin (1987), there are eight classifications of quality that act as a platform for strategic quality examination. These areas are described below: The first dimension is performance which denotes a product’s basic operating features. For a car, performance could comprise of traits like comfort, speed, acceleration, etc. Since this dimension of quality targets measurable attributes, products could be graded objectively, therefore there can be said to be ease in defining quality. Reliability, which mirrors the likelihood of the product not performing to the obligatory standards within a precise period, is another dimension. The most common measures of reliability are; meantime before the first instance of product malfunctioning, the mean time between malfunctions, and the malfunction rate per unit time.

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This dimension is more appropriate in the measurement of the quality of goods that are in constant use as opposed to those that are consumed instantaneously since it requires that the product is in use for a particular period. It thus proves hard to ascertain the quality of products that are consumed immediately. Conformance is third, and it denotes the degree to which a product’s functional features and design meet the requisite standards. If a product is produced based on some given specifications, then it is assessed to ascertain if it bears the defined characteristics. This measure fails to define quality effectively since it ignores slight deviations from standards, like say, careless construction that does not result in repairs. Durability is fourth which refers to the length of use that one gets from a product before it gets replaced or repaired.

It’s a measure of a product’s lifespan and it depicts quality as easy to define since durability is directly measurable. Serviceability is fifth and it refers to the ease and speed of repair regarding a product. It takes in the concept of service quality and physical repair thus requiring the making of both subjective and objective judgments when establishing quality. Another dimension is aesthetics, a subjective appraisal of quality. It’s the sensory experience of a product by an individual. Quality in this perspective may be difficult to determine and subsequently define since it is subject to personal preference and judgment. Quality perception is a further dimension. This relates to the reputation of the argument that a consumer may not have full details concerning the attributes of a product or service. A product could have fulfilled many of the quality dimensions but regrettably, fall victim to negated customer acuity. This makes the definition of quality difficult since this dimension relies on inferences rather than facts. The last of the dimensions are features, which denotes the secondary aspects of product performance. This dimension makes the definition of quality easy since it’s based on measurable attributes.

Four components of the cost of quality

Costs of quality refer to the monetary losses to a firm that are incurred because the product was not done right at the first instance. According to Milan (2002), the cost of quality has two main components: first, the cost of conformance, and second, the cost of nonconformance. The cost of conformance is taken to mean the total of those costs that are incurred while trying to ensure that things are done right at the first attempt. These could include things like the inspections, training, and education of workers to improve their skills. These costs are usually associated with devising procedures, the definition of processes in addition to process control. This cost of a quality constituent has two elements; first are the costs linked to prevention and secondly, the appraisal expenditure.

Cost items of conformance include planning and devising processes, instructions on how to perform the task, vendor assurance, quality education and training, quality focus programs, structuring quality assurance procedures, and so on. Appraisal costs include cost such as incoming inspections, in-process inspections, final testing as well as control, trails of production, field performance tests, etc. The second category or component, the non-conformance costs are generally the costs incurred as a consequence of things not being done correctly in the first attempt. They comprise of costs of handling customer complaints, scraps, and wastes, as well as repairs and rework. These overheads are either termed as being internal or otherwise, external. The cost items of internal failures include after-sales support, in guarantee repairs, product recalls, scraps, downgraded products, liability insurance, overtimes, accidents, etc. Cost items associated with external failures include lost sale opportunities, that is, loss of customers due to things like delays or poor communication, bad debts, returned products, extended guarantee products, overdue receivables, etc.

The difference between quality for manufacturing products and quality for service

There is a difference between service quality and manufacturing product quality. Service quality can be measured via six dimensions: accuracy, courtesy, knowledge of workers, speed, and responsiveness. This perspective helps in establishing perceptions of service quality. In ensuring quality in production the following may be adopted; quality control tests especially where tastes, texture, etc are concerned, use of computer software, for instance, the sigmaquest software, or use of charts to establish if products meet quality standards. Determining the quality of services may be more difficult than in production partly because services are intangible as opposed to the products. A restaurant attendant may delay before serving a client deliberately due to the presumption that there is no tangible evidence on the same as opposed to the production process where goods have to pass quality tests.

Quality improvement in a hospital

To upscale the quality in a hospital, I would focus on major areas such as patient turnaround as well as drug inventory management. To gauge the quality of the patient turn around, I would measure the time taken for the patient to be “seen” by the doctors, and if there was misdiagnosis at any given level. For drug inventory management, I would track the drug quantity levels in the stores concerning hospital usage. This would help establish the quick-moving drugs and consequently eradicate drug shortages.

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Quality function deployment and its purpose

Quality function deployment is a systematic procedure for encouraging a business entity to put their focus on their customers. The main goal of QFD is to transform the often prejudiced quality criterion into an objective criterion that is quantifiable and measurable and that which can be used to design the product (Mizuno and Akao, 1994). One of the problems of QFD is that it calls for the involvement of a range of individuals at different times. Another problem with QFD is rushing straight to design solutions instead of beginning by pondering on what the design has to perform, that is, the QFD teams tend to overlook the function sphere. One advantage of QFD is that it reduces the communication obstacle in assessing the needs of the customer. Another benefit is that it establishes a link between the future of a product, the process requirement, as well as customer, wants. It also strengthens the quality culture. Firms that use QDF have experienced a reduction in time used in product development. For instance, US car manufacturers in the 1980s required five years to bring a product to the market. Honda took two and a half years to do the same. Toyota did it in three years as well, in both cases, the reduction in the time being attributed to the application of QDF (Dale et al, 2003).

The root causes of gaps and deficiencies in service

Some of the root causes of deficiencies in service quality include: disparity about what customers expect and the management’s perception of these expectations, the difference between the specifications for service delivery that the management requires and the real service delivered by the staff, and lastly, gaps may result from a mismatch between the real service delivery and the customers’ suggestions on what to expect of the service.

The internal customers of an organization from a quality perspective

Internal customers are the organization’s employees who obtain products somewhere in the organization as inputs to their work in the very organization. Production of quality goods in one department gives the next department in the cycle a quality foundation to which they can append value. Richard & Barbara (2000) argue that if the desires of the customer (internal) are met in the entire production process, then there can be an assurance of quality in the final product. Thus the focus on the internal customer is vital in maintaining quality in production. A practical example of the application of this focus can be traced in Polaroid. The internal focus was seen to bring in short-term gains albeit; it could not sustain the firm’s long-term competitive advantage (Praveen, 2005).

Deming’s vs. Juran’s philosophies of quality

Juran and Deming are the two main influential thinkers in quality management theory. One of the similarities between Deming and Juran’s approaches to quality is that they both emphasized organizing, planning as well as controlling. Juran stressed consumer satisfaction to a larger degree than his counterpart, Deming. Juran and Deming differ where Deming targets to drive out employee’s fear of being dismissed from work while Juran argues that fear at some level is important in the organization. Juran also set focus on management and technical methods as opposed to employee satisfaction advocated by Deming. Also, Juran’s programs are meant to fit a company’s strategic path with minimum risk while in contrast, Deming proposes a cultural shift.

Deming and Juran’s philosophies converge where they both supported the importance of education and training of employees to improve the system of quality by controlling variance in production. Both of these gurus also advocated for top management involvement in the organization. They also associated a lack of quality with management fault (Daryl S, 2002).


Dale, H.et al. (2003). Total quality management. New Delhi: Pearson Education India.

Daryl, S. (2002). Competitive business, caring business: an integral business perspective for the 21st century. New York: Cosimo Inc.

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Garvin, D. (1987). Competing on the Eight Dimensions of Quality. Harvard Business Review, 101-109.

Milan, K. ed. (2002). Management Consulting: A guide to profession. Geneva: International Labour Office.

Mizuno, S. & Akao, Y. Ed. (1994). QFD: The Customer-Driven Approach to Quality Planning and Development, Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization.

Praveen, G. (2005). The six sigma performance handbook: a statistical guide to optimizing results. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Richard, J., & Barbara, R. (2000). Internal marketing: directions for management. London: Routledge.

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