You are on page 1of 4

Q-01: Basics of Quality

Lesson-2: What is Quality? /Ver 1.0

Page 9 of 44

Lesson 2: What, Why & How of Quality

Lesson Structure
1. Quality

What is Quality?
ISO Definition
Three Important Components of Quality
Quality in Different Areas of Society

2. Why Quality?

2.1 The Business Perspective

2.2 The Customer Perspective

3. How to Deliver Quality?


Traditional Approach
Modern Approaches
International Standards
Other Methodologies for Quality

1. Quality
One of the most important issues that businesses have focused on in the last 20-30
years has been quality. As markets have become much more competitive - quality
has become widely regarded as a key ingredient for success in business. In this
lesson, we introduce what is meant by quality, why quality is important and how
quality can be delivered.
1.1 What is Quality?
In order to understand the concept of quality, let us take a few examples from our
daily life.
How do feel when any one of the following happens with you:
You receive a dish different to what you ordered at a restaurant
You are unable to open the shampoo sachet while taking bath
You are not delivered the pizza at your home within the promised 30 minutes
The refrigerator seller doesnt care for the faults after delivering the product
AC in a train is either too cool or is not adequate
A staff in a bank is unreasonably rude to you
The electric iron you bought gives you a shock
The pen you bought does not write smoothly
The expensive gift items that you bought have scratches over them.
Naturally, your immediate response would be that of being dis-satisfied or
sometimes highly dis-satisfied or even having been cheated by the supplier of goods
or services.
This is a feeling of not having received quality.

Tel: +91-172-5009911, E-mail:

Q-01: Basics of Quality

Lesson-2: What is Quality? /Ver 1.0

Page 10 of 44

Or in other words, all the above instances can be termed as quality failures.
If this is not quality, then what is quality?
Different people have defined quality differently. Some of the important definitions
on quality could be:

"Conformance to requirements"
"Fitness for use"
"Value for money"
Peace of mind
Safety, etc.

You will be surprised if we tell you that all the above definitions are correct & valid.
The reason for having so many different definitions of quality is that a customer will
define it differently depending on his needs or the type of product.
For example, in case of an automotive component, conformance to requirements as
given in the drawing is essential, whereas in case of expensive machinery, fitness
for use or reliability is more important. Similarly, if you are looking for a pen that
writes smoothly but does not cost much, you are looking for value for money. In
case of an electric iron, you may be more concerned for the safety issues. When
you buy a product to solve a repetitive problem, the definition of quality will be
peace of mind.
So depending upon the need or requirement at hand, the customer will emphasize
differently and hence the difference in the definition of quality.
From the above, we can conclude two things:
1. Quality is defined by the customer, and
2. It is something which meets the customers needs
In other words, an appropriate definition of Quality may be: Customer Satisfaction
1.2 ISO Definition
ISO, an international body for formulating standards has defined quality as:
Degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements.
Degree: refers to a level to which a product or service satisfies. So, depending upon
the level of satisfaction, a product may be termed as excellent, good or poor quality
Inherent characteristics: those features that are a part of the product and are
responsible to achieve satisfaction.
refer to the needs of customer, needs of organization & those of other interested
parties (e.g. regulatory bodies, suppliers, employees, community & environment).
the expectations that may be stated, generally implied or obligatory.

Tel: +91-172-5009911, E-mail:

Q-01: Basics of Quality

Lesson-2: What is Quality? /Ver 1.0

Page 11 of 44

Some examples of inherent product characteristics that will fulfill requirements are:
Product / Service


Ceiling Fan

Air delivery


Acceleration & speed


Internet service

Fast connectivity



Size & shape of blades
Motor rating
Engine capacity
Engine torque & rpm
Air bags
Anti-brake Locking system
Room size
Furniture & layout

ISO definition provides a much broader & comprehensive concept on Quality as it not
only refers to meeting the customer needs but also takes care of the needs of other
stakeholders involved in different stages of realizing the product. The satisfaction of
owners, employees, suppliers, community & environment is also considered
important in this definition.
Further, it also distinguishes between excellent, good or bad quality products.
Use of the term inherent characteristics makes sure that parameters appropriate to
customer needs are identified & provided for in the product. This includes the right
designing of product and meeting the designed specifications.
Another interesting feature of this definition is that the word product has not been
used here. It implies that the definition is applicable for all entities, may it be a
product, a service or a combination of both.
1.3 Three Important Components of Quality
All products & services need to have the following three components to satisfy the
quality requirements. In other words, the following three components describe the
three main categories of customer needs:

Product or service features


Product features are the inherent characteristics that will make the product
functional, usable, valuable, and may provide aesthetics.
Cost is the price that customer pays to obtain that product. The less a customer pays
or more the features he gets as compared to the cost, the happier he shall be.
Timely availability of the product or service is also an important factor for customer
satisfaction. Sometimes the timely delivery is so important to the customer that a

Tel: +91-172-5009911, E-mail:

Q-01: Basics of Quality

Lesson-2: What is Quality? /Ver 1.0

Page 12 of 44

late delivery is no longer of any value to him, e.g. a late delivery of train ticket by an
agent after the train has left.
The challenge for a product or service provider is to understand customer needs &
expectations in terms of the above 3 components and deliver them in such a manner
that they not only meet but exceed their expectations.
1.4 Quality in Different Areas of Society
The table below lists several different areas in our society and indicates some the
above 3 components that might be considered to be related to quality in each.



On-time, comfortable, low-cost service.

Health Care

Correct diagnoses, minimum wait time, low cost, security.

Food Services
Postal Service

Good Taste, free from contamination, fast delivery, good

Fast delivery, correct delivery, cost containment.


Proper preparation for future, on-time knowledge delivery.


Properly made, defect-free, cost effective.


Rapid deployment, decreased wages, no graft.




Clearer, faster, cheaper service.

Payoff on time, reasonable cost.

Tel: +91-172-5009911, E-mail: