The Main Perspectives of Quality Management

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QUALITY MANAGEMENT PART I ‘Compare and contrast the main perspectives of quality management. What are the major similarities and differences between these perspectives?’ Introduction to Quality Management According to ISO DIS 9000:2000, quality may be defined as ‘the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements’. Within the corporate world, it is not only important that organisations conform to quality requirements in the production of goods and services but also maintain quality standards that are acceptable. This is especially true when looked at from the perspective of the customer who feels comfortable interacting with an organisation that upholds its quality standards and prides itself on it. Over time, as organisations seek out customers across global markets, the standardisation of quality became an important issue. Whilst one standard of quality might be acceptable in a country like Germany, customers present in a country such as the UK might not understand the compliance levels of that particular country. For precisely this reason, there was a dire need for standardisation of quality compliance at an international level. (Tricker, Ray (2001) ISO 9001:2000 for Small Business, pg: 13-14) History of Quality Management In 1947, the ISO was created as a department within the United Nations. By 1987, the first set of quality standards was produced by the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) giving it the name of ISO 9000. The compliance needs within the document were largely taken from the BS5750 and with further guidance notes to ensure that it complied with the requirements of the age. However, there were numerous loopholes in this document with regards to quality compliance needs since organisations didn’t necessarily need to conform to particular standards to qualify for the ISO 9000 certification. It was enough that companies document how they intend to address the gaps in their compliance requirements. This allowed organisations to go ahead and produce sub-standard goods as long as there was a mechanism in place to address the quality standards. But customers and management realised over time that this was harmful and an inaccurate depiction of the quality levels of the organisation concerned. Over the next decade, more and more changes were made to the original document and in the year 2000, they were all incorporates into a single document and given the name of ISO 9001:2000, with 2000 signifying the year of the final document. This document goes down better with the final customers and management teams of organisations and paints a more realistic picture of the levels of quality that an organisation conforms to. In addition, this document also assigned responsibility to various management staff to ensure the implementation of the quality processes across the organisation. To provide some indication of this, the initial ISO 9000 document contained 20 areas of fulfilment needs. The new, more updated version of ISO 9001:2000 contains 4 areas of fulfilment needs – management responsibility, resource management, product realisation and measurement, analysis and improvement. (Tricker, Ray (2001) ISO 9001:2000 for Small Business, pg: 18-20) Different types of quality management There are different types of quality management standards each intended for a different purpose and hence, have different perspectives. In order to understand the different perspectives, it is important to dwell into the different kinds of quality standards that organisations find themselves faced with. Some of them are listed below and explained in brief: The ISO 9001:2000 is a set of standards that is the most basic and widely acceptable quality standards across the globe. They are intended for any form of business model and ensure that quality standards are met across industry verticals. They are discussed in further detail in other areas of the paper but it is important to note that their very creation was due to the gaps in the various quality standards that were being utilised so far. To highlight this very fact, the ISO 9001:2000 contains all areas of the ISO 9000:2000, ISO 9001:1994, ISO 9002:1994 and ISO 9003:1994 – all the amendments were simplified and certified as one into ISO 9001:2000. In addition, there were certain permissible clauses that were incorporated into this new standard to allow greater flexibility to organisations. For instance, in the past, when an organisation required complying with design requirements in the production of its goods and services, they could not comply with the ISO 9002:1994 certification since their requirements weren’t taken into account at the time of drafting the document. However, with the new document, the rationale lies in the fact that with the ever changing business scenario, there is little that quality standards can constantly adapt to. Hence, it makes more sense to include what is known as an exclusion clause. This enables companies that had processes that did not necessarily fall under the requirements listed by the quality standards to use the exclusion clause and still gain acceptance into the ISO certification. In simplistic terms, the ISO certification has come to be known as an acceptable standard the world over and is also a pre-requisite for some customers. So, in order to do business effectively and with a wider audience, this new change in the ISO 9001:2000 makes very good business sense by taking away any unfair advantage that more process conforming organisations might have. (Shankar, Nitin. K., ISO 9000 for a Small Planet, Quality, Sep2002, Vol. 41 Issue 9, p27, 5p) The ISO 14001 set of quality standards is the equivalent of the UK’s BS7750 – the world’s first EMS (Environmental Management System). This is not a compulsory standard that companies much conform to. It deals with companies and their impact on the environment that surrounds them and with the environment that is not in their immediate vicinity but they can influence none the less. Most organisations have specific equipment to measure and calibrate their research work as well as their product design. In this case, the ISO 10012 standards ensure that quality levels are achieved with regards to the measurement and inspection of equipment that would be used in the design or production of final goods and services. There are a host of other quality standards but for the purpose of this document, we shall limit discussions to the above. (Brown, Tony (1993) Understanding BS5750 and other Quality Systems, pg: 144) Perspectives on the different QM Now, each of the above is driven by different perspectives – some of them align themselves to each other and in other cases, they differentiate themselves from each other purely due to the end requirement that they have. Similarities Integration There is an overall sense of ensuring that quality standards integrate with the business functions at all levels. This is the case with all the different standards irrespective of the industry vertical. For instance, the ISO 9001:2000 encompasses the need for process measurement and process auditing – an important requirements within the ISO 10012 as well. In addition, the ISO 140001 QS (Quality Standards) can also integrate with an organisations’ ISO 9001:2001 QS requirements. This is done by organisations that take stock of their existing management systems and align them to those required by the two quality standards. Extensions The different quality standards amalgamate with each other as extensions of each other’s guidelines. For instance, an organisation that produces steel needs to ensure that it complies with design standards and instrument compliance under the ISO 10012 and at the same time, comply with ISO 14000 should they want to adhere to their environmental compliance. The good thing is that both of them work by complementing each other as opposed to duplicating their efforts with regards to the quality standards. In more generic circumstances, both ISO 10012 and ISO 140001 can be natural extensions of the ISO 9001:2001 quality standards. Integration In most cases, the implementation of quality standards is highly dependent on the level of integration and involvement that can be achieved within the organisation. When there are changes required to systems and processes, organisations will find that the easiest way to include those changes is through the people themselves. This proves to a more successful approach since it meets with as little resistance as possible to the new changes. At the same time, when changes are implemented by the front-line staff, they are more appreciative of the reasons and the rationale behind the change, making the overall transition from one process to another a lot more smoother and effortless. This is the case with all quality standards and systems and each of them encourage this methodology in contemporary business surroundings. The trick is to empower the employees and allow them to find their way by giving them broad outlines on what is required of them. The commonalities shared by the different standards are primarily because the rationale that they share are common with each ensuring that their guidelines are intended for a singular purpose, which is ensuring that quality standards across functional and cross-industry spheres improve. Differences Organisation It must be remembered that the ISO 9001:2001 quality standards ensure that organisations comply with their processes and it is not scaled across the organisation and its impact to its surroundings. On the other hand, quality standards such as the ISO 14001 ensure that an organisation takes responsibility of ensuring quality across the organisation and beyond. For instance, an organisation that manufactures leather products need to have very strict environmental controls purely because of the pollution caused by the residual products that are produced as a result of the manufacturing process. In this case, organisations need to adhere to the process that drives the production process as well as comply with disposal regulations, waste recycling, takes accountability for the environment that surrounds it and ensures that it takes proactive steps to ensure that there is a cleaner environment as a result. Hence, there are different perspectives for the two quality standards since they address different scales of the organisation. Requirements As discussed above, there are different requirements based on the varying quality standards. These are but natural since each one of them addresses separate issues. Whilst they all share a common goal at the highest level, on a more grass-root level, they are certainly different in the way they approach the quality requirements across the corporate fraternity. End benefits Whilst some of the quality standards are primarily created to ensure that they improve the level of customer service that is received, others such as the ISO 14001 is primarily targeted at the global issues of environmental degradation and pushes organisations to take responsibility for their actions at a much more wider scale. This is the case after a lot of deliberation over the years of moving towards a single quality standard that encompasses all areas of the organisation and its surrounding environment. The move towards a single standard may or may not happen in the years to come, but the pattern of consolidating the different quality standards seems to dictate that in the near future, organisations would be able to comply with fewer guidelines across different standards and be accredited to fewer certification requirements. In this case, the end benefits would still accrue to the same sources but the road to get there would be different. For instance, an organisation today needs to conform to different quality standards to be able to show its level of certification. As time goes by, this is looking to change where the same organisation need only meet the requirements stated by a single quality standard that encompasses all the areas of the previously different quality standards. Hence, they would look at implementing standards from different beneficiary perspectives but all the requirements would be met as was the case in the past. It must be noted that although there might be several differences in the perspectives of the different quality standards, each of them are at the functional levels. On a more holistic level, the rationale shared is exactly the same since each of them are consumed with the idea of improving the level of quality across organisations. This provides the overall direction to the different guidelines outlined in the quality standards and then uses this to direct them at a more functional level. (ISO Standard Provides Measurement Management System, Professional Safety; Jul2003, Vol. 48 Issue 7, p10, 1/7p)   (EU Seeks to Improve Regulations, Business & the Environment with ISO 14000 Updates; May2005, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p14, 5/9p)   (Tricker, Ray (2001) ISO 9001:2000 for Small Business, pg: 24-25) PART II ‘Critically evaluate the purpose and intent of quality systems such as ISO 9000:2000’ Purpose and Intent of ISO 9000:2000 The purpose and intent of the ISO 9000:2000 is largely hinged on the fact that there were numerous gaps in the previous quality standards that were documented. The end result was that there was a dire need for a set of guidelines that reached out to all areas of an organisations in today’s contemporary business scenario and addressed all issues that weren’t in the past, and finally, addressing them with flexible options. The ISO 9000:2000 was finally incorporated into ISO 9001:2000 since it took into account a host of other quality standards mentioned earlier in the paper. There are a variety of objectives that the ISO 9001:2000 aims to satisfy. In the past, the guidelines and requirements of documents were primarily addressed at the manufacturing organisations and the processes along the production cycles. This was a hindrance to the growing service sector as more and more organisations began to have virtual processes that weren’t associated with the physical production of goods. Take for example, the travel trade. It was quite a challenge to ensure that organisations within this industry were able to conform to the guidelines in order to obtain ISO 9000 certification simply because of the lack of alignment between the requirements and the processes within such organisations. This new document is aimed at ensuring that this gap is closed and organisations with any business model can find themselves relating their processes to the needs of the document. In the ISO 9000 document, there were 20 individual areas that contained criteria that were to be met. This not only proved to be cumbersome and extremely time consuming, but these elements were not linked with each other. This provided stand alone views of an organisations capability to confirm to quality but there was the lack of a holistic picture. The new document ensures that the various areas that require compliance are integrated together so as to ensure a level of consistency across the organisation and create a process that drives the implementation of quality across all areas of the organisation. Additionally, the new document ensures that responsibilities are allocated to various management staff to ensure the implementation and coordination of quality processes. To aid this, the ISO 9001:2000 also provides a process management model that enables management staff to follow the quality guidelines according to a process. There is also a tracking process that allows the continuous monitoring of the progress on the quality process. This provides direction to the management teams and allows them to ensure that there is transparency in the implementation process and there are checks at every stage of the quality project. There was also the complaint of too many modules to conform to and the lengthy documentation procedures clubbed with the lack of education and training on how to present the process requirements to auditors in the past. This issue has also been addressed with the new guidelines and there are specific areas that educate management teams on how to create the final documents that need to be presented to the auditors for certification. In addition, it also ensures that there is an increased level of flexibility in creating the final documents by ensuring that it relies on the rationality and not on the bureaucratic needs of the guideline. The ISO 9001:2000 also pushes organisations to ensure that it has the infrastructure to be able to organise or reorganise its systems and process to ensure that it meets compliance requirements. This is done through continuous checks and measures on the working environment and if it meets the required guidelines, the checks on compliance needs from the customer perspective and any other quality controlled areas such as research and development etc. The new guidelines also include a system by which organisations require to submit a formal review of how they can meet with customer expectations. This is an important audit phases since it keeps organisations on their toes all the time by ensuring that they are always striving towards a singular purpose of meeting their customer needs. To be able to meet the objectives that the customer’s expect of these organisations, they would need to communicate extensively with their customers, understand their satisfaction levels through continuous feedback, implement a system whereby they can incorporate that feedback to filter into areas for process and system improvements and finally, ensure a regular review of how happy the customers are with their enthusiasm to strive towards continuous improvement and providing them with improved quality goods and services. There is also the mechanism within the guidelines to ensure that the organisation can learn from the process capability studies that serve as templates to work from, it encourages various forms of design control which are loosely based on the rationale associated with project management and at the same time, it includes explanations of design requirements. The new document also found that with the advent of technology, there are numerous changes in the actual process of procurement and purchasing of raw materials and resources for the production of goods as well as a support function to other areas of the organisation. As opposed to traditional purchasing methods, the contemporary procurement processes revolve around sourcing the most economical supplier of goods from across the globe to be able to supply the organisation with value for money for the goods that they are looking to source. For instance, should an automotive company in China look to process cold rolled steel as a part of its resource requirement, in the past, it would have looked at either its domestic industry or the neighbouring countries. In any case, it was reliant on the steel trade to be able to dispense information to it on which are the most cost effective suppliers that it would be able to use. However, over time, the same automotive company now has the option of sourcing its steel from the most competitively priced steel supplier from across the globe. This happens through technological advances and primarily through the Internet. The guidelines look to incorporate precisely this change in the supply and purchasing chain in the business arena. It manages to improve the definition of what really can be classified as procurement and purchasing and ensures that the definition is aligned to the contemporary needs and functions of today’s enterprises. Another important phase of the process chain in most organisations is the final delivery of goods from the premises of the organisation. Unlike previous documents, the ISO 9001:2000 looks to incorporate the quality at the time of delivery to the customer. In the past, there was far too much stress on the process that would is involved in the production of finished goods. The rationale was that as long as the processes are in perfect working order and free from defect, the organisation would be able to produce high quality goods. This however, needn’t always be the case. There could be instances when the quality of inputs or resources used in the production chain is of poor quality and this would ultimately result in the production of poor quality goods no matter how stringent the processes were in the middle of the production cycle. Hence, the changes have been incorporated into the new guidelines and now, not only does it lay focus on the actual process that is required for the production of the goods, but also ensures that the finished products meets all the quality needs that are in sync with the demands and expectations of the end customer. As an extension to the above, the guidelines also ensure that service level requirements do not end with the production of good quality product but also include the post production and post sales services that are customer facing. The rationale behind this is that no matter how good the products or service offerings are, should an organisation fail to service the customer well after the sale is met, there is little chance of the customer remaining satisfied. This is how modern day organisations look at their business processes as well. The cycle ends with the return of customers to them for more of their goods and services as opposed to earlier business models where the accent was laid on delivery of goods and services. The document also utilises the requirements of the ISO 10012 which is a guideline that deals with ‘Quality Assurance requirements for measuring equipment’. This is particularly handy when it comes to the manufacturing process or where precision tools are required in research and development in various industries. This in turn, provides a more realistic measure of the actual state of the quality process prevalent within an organisation since the ISO 10012 requirements clearly dictate requirements to conduct process measurements and audits at regular intervals to ensure an accurate measurement and tracking system. Interestingly, there is also a need for organisations to ensure that continually revalidate their products or services even after they have passed the quality compliance needs. This is to ensure a level of consistency over a period of time and encourage an ethos within an organisation where everyone is constantly conscious of maintaining quality at the highest standards. To do this effectively, and as mentioned earlier, it is important that customers drive the quality needs of the organisations and so they would be the best source to validate the level of quality repeatedly. This system has been documented thereby making it impossible for organisations to cheat the system. In previous documents and guidelines, there was a lot of emphasis on what the gaps where within the processes chain or with quality compliance needs, but little or no mention of what the preventive actions were to ensure that organisations do not get to a stage where quality becomes an issue. Hence, there was a need for proactive steps for organisations to take to stay away from quality failures. This new document reveals just that for organisations by ensuring that they can take proactive steps to ensure that they prevent quality mishaps and at the same time, shows them how to address faults in their system through corrective measures. These areas were not covered substantially in previous documents making it difficult for organisations to put their processes right once they had in fact, gone wrong. (Tricker, Ray (2001) ISO 9001:2000 for Small Business, pg: 23-24) The rationale in modern day businesses is that in order to maintain the highest levels of quality, they would need to constantly strive for more than they need to achieve. In addition to this, organisations would also need to ensure that they continually improve what they have and raise their benchmarks after every success. The new document strives to encourage exactly this. It pushes organisations towards the process of continuous improvement. Lastly, the document ensures that all its requirements are in sync with the overall management systems that are in place within an organisation and attempts to work around them by keeping the management objectives as a key focus area. To sum this up, there are 8 main areas within the business functions that have been targeted in the new ISO 9001:2000 guidelines. These are: Customers The document understands the over-riding importance of the customer in today’s businesses, so much so that most business models need to be developed and adapted around the customers that they propose to influence. Hence, these guidelines are extremely customer focussed and are driven by customer expectations of quality from the organisation. Leadership To provide any organisation with direction, it requires leadership and initiative to move it as a singular entity towards a common purpose. Involvement Quality controls require enormous motivational needs from within the organisation and the best way to do this is to ensure that as many employees are involved so that the value is well understood and implementation becomes easier in the longer run. Process Systems can be easily understood and monitored when they are broken down into manageable processes. Systems As mentioned above, systems are imperative to an organisation to ensure that there is a certain order and at the same time, it lends purpose to the organisation by giving it focus. The last 3 areas are continuous improvement which ensures that organisations are constantly striving towards improvements, a fact based approach towards decision-making which requires leaders to take decision on hard evidence as opposed to guess-work and lastly, that all relationships with suppliers should be beneficial to everyone to ensure a long lasting relationship. (Shankar, Nitin. K., ISO 9000 for a Small Planet, Quality, Sep2002, Vol. 41 Issue 9, p27, 5p) (Hoyle, David (1998) ISO 9000 Pocket Guide, pg: 2-29) BIBLIOGRAPHY

Tricker, Ray (2001) ISO 9001:2000 for Small Business, GB, pg: 13-83
Shankar, Nitin. K., ISO 9000 for a Small Planet, Quality, Sep2002, Vol. 41 Issue 9, p27, 5p
ISO Standard Provides Measurement Management System, Professional Safety; Jul2003, Vol. 48 Issue 7, p10, 1/7p
EU Seeks to Improve Regulations, Business & the Environment with ISO 14000 Updates; May2005, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p14, 5/9p
Brown, Tony (1993) Understanding BS5750 and other Quality Systems, GB, Cambridge University Press, pg: 144
Hoyle, David (1998) ISO 9000 Pocket Guide, GB, martin the Printers Ltd., Berwick-upon-Tweed, pg: 2-29

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