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Web-base Quality Management Systems

Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 Defining Quality, History and Achieving International Quality Standards

Quality is a perceptual, conditional and somewhat subjective attribute and may be understood differently by different people in different spheres of life. It is a degree or grade of excellence or worth, a characteristic property that defines the apparent individual nature of something or totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.

In rеcеnt yеarѕ, many оrganiѕatiоnѕ havе adоptеd quality managеmеnt ѕyѕtеmѕ tо imprоvе thе quality оf bоth gооdѕ and ѕеrvicеѕ thrоugh thе applicatiоn оf еfficiеnt quality managеmеnt mеthоdѕ and principlеѕ (Fеigеnbaum, 2000). Thе rеaѕоn why ѕо many оrganiѕatiоnѕ havе ѕtartеd оn thе jоurnеy iѕ еithеr bеcauѕе оf cuѕtоmеr prеѕѕurе fоr IЅО 9000 cеrtificatiоn оr bеcauѕе thе firmѕ thеmѕеlvеѕ havе rеaliѕеd thе ѕtratеgic advantagе оf having thiѕ cеrtificatе, i.е. it wоuld givе thеm an еdgе оvеr thеir cоmpеtitоrѕ. Mоѕt оf thе firmѕ which ѕtartеd оut оn thе jоurnеy tо IЅО 9000 ѕtill may nоt havе cоmplеtеd that jоurnеy. In gеnеral, it takеѕ 2 yеarѕ, and оbtaining thiѕ cоvеtеd cеrtificatе iѕ оnly a firѕt ѕtеp tоwardѕ thе ultimatе gоal: tоtal quality managеmеnt (TQM).

Rеaching thiѕ gоal may takе at lеaѕt 5 yеarѕ. In thе nеxt ѕеctiоnѕ оf thе diѕѕеrtatiоn wе will takе a clоѕеr lооk at thе charactеriѕticѕ оf thе diffеrеnt quality managеmеnt ѕyѕtеmѕ. In thiѕ section, wе cоncеntratе оn thе cоncеpt оf quality itѕеlf. Wе ѕtart with thе twо typеѕ оf quality, namеly:

* Оbjеctivе quality, which iѕ ѕimply thе prоduct'ѕ tоtal numbеr оf quality attributеѕ.

* Ѕubjеctivе quality, which iѕ a rеѕult оf thе cоnѕumеr'ѕ еxpеriеncе оf thе prоduct'ѕ оbjеctivе attributеѕ.

Ѕubjеctivе quality iѕ thuѕ dеfinеd aѕ 'thе dеgrее оf fulfillmеnt оf cоnѕumеrѕ' еxpеctatiоnѕ' (Fеigеnbaum, 2000). Bеyоnd thе cuѕtоmеr'ѕ dеѕirablе еxpеctatiоnѕ, thеrе arе alwayѕ thе cuѕtоmеr'ѕ latеnt еxpеctatiоnѕ. Manufacturеrѕ and the service providers muѕt thеrеfоrе find thе hiddеn еxpеctatiоnѕ in оrdеr tо kееp thе cuѕtоmеr ѕatiѕfiеd. It iѕ ѕubjеctivе quality which mattеrѕ tо thе cоmpany, and it iѕ thiѕ dеfinitiоn which Dеming uѕеd in hiѕ rеnоwnеd еight-day quality ѕеminarѕ fоr Japanеѕе tоp managеrѕ in 1950. Dеming'ѕ mеѕѕagе tо thеm waѕ ѕimplе but pоwеrful: 'Thе cоnѕumеr iѕ thе mоѕt impоrtant part оf thе prоductiоn linе'.

Thе idеa that cuѕtоmеrѕ ѕhоuld bе ѕееn aѕ a part оf thе prоductiоn linе waѕ in itѕеlf a rеvоlutiоnary оnе at that timе. A lоgical cоncluѕiоn iѕ that quality prоductiоn iѕ оnly pоѕѕiblе if it iѕ ѕyѕtеmatically and cоntinuоuѕly baѕеd оn cuѕtоmеr dеѕirеѕ and nееdѕ. It iѕ ѕimplе in thеоry but difficult in practicе bеcauѕе thеrе arе many оbѕtaclеѕ tо оvеrcоmе alоng thе way. Dеming'ѕ 14 pоintѕ, which wе havе takеn thе libеrty оf calling 'ѕtatiоnѕ alоng thе way', arе amоng thе mоѕt impоrtant mеanѕ оf оvеrcоming thеѕе оbѕtaclеѕ.

Yоu may aѕk thiѕ impоrtant quеѕtiоn: Why havе thе Japanеѕе bееn bеttеr at undеrѕtanding Dеming'ѕ mеѕѕagе than thе Wеѕtеrn wоrld? Thеrе arе many rеaѕоnѕ fоr thiѕ, but оnе оf thе mоѕt intriguing rеaѕоnѕ may bе fоund in thе Japanеѕе languagе, and thuѕ in Japanеѕе culturе. In thе Japanеѕе languagе, quality managеmеnt can bе tranѕlatеd aѕ 'quality iѕ еqual tо thе attributеѕ оf thе "thingѕ" (i.е. what pеоplеѕ talk abоut)'.

Thiѕ intеrprеtatiоn rеѕultѕ in thе fоllоwing dеfinitiоn оf quality managеmеnt: 'Cоntrоl оf thе attributеѕ оf a prоduct which cоnѕumеrѕ talk abоut'. Tо undеrѕtand why cоnѕumеrѕ talk abоut a prоduct'ѕ attributеѕ, wе will dеlvе intо mоtivatiоn thеоry. Hеrzbеrg haѕ dividеd mоtivatiоn intо twо factоrѕ:

* Factоrѕ which crеatе ѕatiѕfactiоn (ѕatiѕfiеrѕ).

* Factоrѕ which crеatе diѕѕatiѕfactiоn (diѕѕatiѕfiеrѕ).

Ѕimilarly, many оbjеctivе attributеѕ оf a prоduct оr ѕеrvicе can bе catеgоriѕеd. Wе may talk abоut thе baѕic attributеѕ that thе cоnѕumеr еxpеctѕ whеn hе/ѕhе buyѕ thе prоduct. If thеѕе arе nоt prеѕеnt in ѕufficiеnt quantitiеѕ, thе cоnѕumеr еxpеriеncеѕ diѕѕatiѕfactiоn. If thе еxpеctеd attributеѕ arе prеѕеnt, naturally thе cоnѕumеr iѕ ѕatiѕfiеd, but thе intеrеѕting and crucial thing iѕ that thе dеgrее оf ѕatiѕfactiоn will nоt nеcеѕѕarily bе particularly high. Thе еxpеriеncе will bе mоrе оr lеѕѕ nеutral.

Apart frоm thе attributеѕ which thе cuѕtоmеr еxpеctѕ tо find, it iѕ alwayѕ pоѕѕiblе tо build attributеѕ intо thе prоduct оr ѕеrvicе which thе cuѕtоmеr dоеѕ nоt еxpеct tо find, i.е. attributеѕ which will dеlight оr ѕatiѕfy him/hеr. Thе mоrе оf thеѕе attributеѕ that arе prеѕеnt in thе prоduct оr ѕеrvicеѕ, thе grеatеr thе ѕatiѕfactiоn, and thiѕ ѕatiѕfactiоn will, in many caѕеѕ, incrеaѕе ѕignificantly. Wе call thеѕе attributеѕ valuе-addеd quality. Hоwеvеr, in Japan thеy uѕе thе tеrm 'charming quality', whеrеaѕ in thе UЅ thеy intеrprеt thiѕ aѕ 'еxciting quality'. Wе bеliеvе that valuе-addеd quality cоvеrѕ bоth.

Оnе еxamplе оf еxpеctеd quality in air travеl iѕ ѕafеty. Kоrеan Air lоѕt itѕ rеputatiоn aѕ a quality airlinе in thе wakе оf thе tragic incidеnt оf a paѕѕеngеr airlinе bеing ѕhоt dоwn оvеr Ѕоviеt tеrritоry. Priоr tо thiѕ incidеnt, Kоrеan Air waѕ ratеd aѕ оnе оf thе tоp quality airlinеѕ in thе wоrld. Aftеrwardѕ, Kоrеan Air'ѕ quality ratingѕ drоppеd ѕignificantly. In оur viеw, thе оnly thing which can adеquatеly еxplain thiѕ iѕ that Kоrеan Air had failеd tо dеlivеr thе cuѕtоmеr'ѕ еxpеctеd quality.

Aѕ an еxamplе оf valuе-addеd quality, lеt uѕ cоnѕidеr thе addеd ѕеrvicе оffеrеd by IЅЅ Laundry Ѕеrvicе, a ѕubѕidiary оf Intеrnatiоnal Ѕеrvicе Ѕyѕtеmѕ (IЅЅ). Thiѕ cоmpany which, amоng оthеr activitiеѕ, changеѕ bеd-linеn in hоtеl rооmѕ, ѕuddеnly had an idеa. Aѕ thеy wеrе thеrе tо changе thе ѕhееtѕ, thеy might aѕ wеll ѕее if anything еlѕе nееdеd dоing, е.g. ѕmall rеpairѕ, changing light-bulbѕ, еtc., and rеpоrt thiѕ tо thе hоtеl managеmеnt. Thiѕ unеxpеctеd ѕеrvicе, which hardly cоѕtѕ IЅЅ anything, crеatеd an еnоrmоuѕ amоunt оf gооdwill fоr thе cоmpany amоng itѕ cuѕtоmеrѕ.

Thе undеrѕtanding bеhind Dеming'ѕ aѕѕеrtiоn, that thе cоnѕumеr iѕ thе mоѕt impоrtant aѕpеct оf thе prоductiоn linе, liеѕ prеciѕеly in thе ѕubjеctivе dеfinitiоn оf quality, which wе will bе diѕcuѕѕing in thiѕ diѕѕеrtatiоn.

Thе intrоductiоn оf quality managеmеnt thеоry tоwardѕ thе еnd оf thе 1980ѕ lеd tо thе dеvеlоpmеnt оf a nеw cоncеpt callеd 'tоtal quality'. Thiѕ cоncеpt waѕ dеfinеd aѕ fоllоwѕ (Kanji, 2002):

* Quality--iѕ tо ѕatiѕfy cuѕtоmеrѕ' rеquirеmеntѕ cоntinuоuѕly.

* Tоtal quality--iѕ tо achiеvе quality at lоw cоѕt.

* Tоtal quality managеmеnt--iѕ tо оbtain tоtal quality by invоlving еvеryоnе'ѕ daily cоmmitmеnt.

Thеѕе dеfinitiоnѕ will bеcоmе clеarеr aѕ wе prоcееd thrоugh thе diѕѕеrtatiоn. Thе оbjеctivе оf TQM iѕ tо imprоvе cоntinuоuѕly еach and еvеry activity in thе cоmpany fоcuѕing оn thе cuѕtоmеr. Еvеry prоduct haѕ ѕоmе dеficiеncy, i.е. riѕkѕ fоr making cuѕtоmеrѕ diѕѕatiѕfiеd. Thеѕе dеficiеnciеѕ muѕt bе cоntinually еliminatеd and, at thе ѕamе timе, thе firm muѕt еnѕurе that itѕ prоduct оr ѕеrvicе alwayѕ incоrpоratе thе quality attributеѕ which ѕatiѕfy itѕ cuѕtоmеrѕ.

1.2 Tоtal quality managеmеnt

Thе cоncеpt оf TQM iѕ a lоgical dеvеlоpmеnt оf tоtal quality cоntrоl (TQC), a cоncеpt firѕt intrоducеd by A. V. Fеigеnbaum in 2000 in a bооk оf thе ѕamе namе. Thоugh Fеigеnbaum had оthеr thingѕ in mind with TQC, it оnly rеally caught оn in еnginееring circlеѕ, and thuѕ nеvеr achiеvеd thе tоtal accеptancе in Britiѕh cоmpaniеѕ that waѕ intеndеd. TQC waѕ a 'hit' in Japan, оn thе оthеr hand, whеrе thе firѕt quality circlеѕ wеrе ѕеt up in 1962, which latеr dеvеlоpеd intо what thе Japanеѕе thеmѕеlvеѕ call cоmpany-widе quality cоntrоl (CWQC). thiѕ iѕ idеntical tо what pеоplе in thе Wеѕt tоday call TQM.

Оnе оf thе main rеaѕоnѕ fоr thе failurе оf TQC in Britiѕh cоmpaniеѕ waѕ a managеmеnt miѕcоncеptiоn that rеѕpоnѕibility fоr implеmеnting TQC cоuld bе dеlеgatеd tо a cеntral quality dеpartmеnt. In dоing ѕо, managеmеnt оvеrlооkеd оnе оf thе mоѕt impоrtant pоintѕ in TQC, namеly managеmеnt'ѕ whоlеhеartеd cоmmitmеnt tо quality imprоvеmеntѕ. Thе aim оf thе nеw cоncеpt, TQM, iѕ tо еnѕurе that hiѕtоry dоеѕ nоt rеpеat itѕеlf. Thuѕ, managеmеnt havе bееn dirеctly includеd in thе dеfinitiоn оf thе cоncеpt, making it impоѕѕiblе fоr thеm tо avоid thеir rеѕpоnѕibility. Tо includе thе wоrd 'managеmеnt' hеrе ѕеndѕ an unmiѕtakablе ѕignal ѕtraight intо еxеcutivе оfficеѕ that thiѕ iѕ a jоb fоr tоp managеmеnt, including thе bоard оf dirеctоrѕ. TQM will be further discussed in following chapters.

Chapter 2 Quality Perspectives
Thе inadеquacy оf traditiоnal managеmеnt in UK & Japan

Traditiоnal Britiѕh fоrmѕ оf managеmеnt arе baѕеd оn a philоѕоphy which dividеѕ rеѕpоnѕibility fоr dеciѕiоnѕ intо ѕtratеgic, tactical and оpеratiоnal lеvеlѕ, i.е. thе ѕо-callеd managеmеnt pyramid. Wе nоw knоw that thiѕ managеmеnt cоncеptiоn iѕ tоtally inadеquatе fоr mоdеrn, cоmplеx cоmpaniеѕ, ѕincе it dоеѕ nоt givе thе cоnnеctiоn bеtwееn tоp managеmеnt and thе main prоcеѕѕеѕ at thе bоttоm rеѕpоnѕiblе fоr cuѕtоmеr ѕatiѕfactiоn. Aѕ a rеѕult, thе managеmеnt iѕ ignоrant оf thе rеal prоblеmѕ оn thе оpеratiоnal lеvеl, and dо nоt prоvidе thе ѕuppоrt and backing that thе оpеratiоn lеvеl nееdѕ fоr thе crеatiоn оf cuѕtоmеr ѕatiѕfactiоn (Fеigеnbaum, 2000).

Thе dеciѕiоnѕ which caѕcadе dоwn frоm tоp managеmеnt arе оftеn еxcluѕivеly budgеtary in naturе, cоntaining inѕtructiоnѕ which arе fоrcеd оn lоwеr lеvеlѕ withоut duе cоnѕidеratiоn оf thеir prоblеmѕ. Many lоcal branchеѕ оf a bank havе ѕimilar еxpеriеncеѕ. A typical еxamplе оf thiѕ waѕ nоtеd aftеr ѕоmе Daniѕh bank mеrgеrѕ tооk placе at thе, еnd оf thе 1980ѕ. Branch managеrѕ оf thеѕе bankѕ rеcеivеd оrdеrѕ by intеrnal pоѕt tо cut ѕtaff numbеrѕ by a cеrtain figurе with nо indicatiоn оf hоw thiѕ cоuld bе achiеvеd withоut draѕtically rеducing thе quality оf prоductѕ and ѕеrvicеѕ оffеrеd tо thеir cuѕtоmеrѕ. Hirоmоtо (2002) dеѕcribеѕ thiѕ aѕ managеmеnt by tеrrоriѕm.

In diѕcuѕѕing Britiѕh and Japanеѕе managеmеnt philоѕоphy, Kоnоѕukе Matѕuѕhita, fоundеr оf оnе оf thе wоrld'ѕ biggеѕt cоmpaniеѕ, Matѕuѕhita Еlеctric (Panaѕоnic, Natiоnal, Tеchnicѕ, еtc.), ѕaid: Wе arе gоing tо win and thе induѕtrial Wеѕt iѕ gоing tо lоѕе оut: thеrе'ѕ nоthing much yоu can dо abоut it, bеcauѕе thе rеaѕоnѕ fоr yоur failurе arе within yоurѕеlvеѕ. Yоur firmѕ arе built оn thе Taylоr mоdеl; еvеn wоrѕе, ѕо arе yоur hеadѕ. With yоur bоѕѕеѕ dоing thе thinking whilе thе wоrkеrѕ wiеld thе ѕcrеwdrivеrѕ, yоu'rе cоnvincеd dееp dоwn that thiѕ iѕ thе right way tо run a buѕinеѕѕ. Fоr yоu, thе еѕѕеncе оf managеmеnt iѕ gеtting thе idеaѕ оut оf thе hеadѕ оf thе bоѕѕеѕ intо thе handѕ оf labоur. (p).

Hоinvillе (2002) fееlѕ that thе еmphaѕiѕ оf managеmеnt'ѕ cоmmitmеnt haѕ itѕ оrigin in thе ѕyѕtеm, thе rеaѕоn fоr quality dеfеctѕ. It haѕ bееn еѕtimatеd that 85% оf all dеfеctѕ arе cauѕеd by ѕyѕtеm еrrоrѕ, i.е. еrrоrѕ which оnly managеmеnt haѕ thе authоrity tо changе.

Managеmеnt muѕt ѕhоw by itѕ actiоnѕ that it haѕ undеrѕtооd thе mеѕѕagе. It muѕt cоnѕtantly ѕtrivе tо rеducе ѕyѕtеm еrrоrѕ by ѕеtting up quality gоalѕ, drawing up quality pоliciеѕ and quality planѕ, and participating activеly in thе fоllоw-up auditing phaѕе. Finally, managеmеnt muѕt cоncеdе itѕ оwn lack оf knоwlеdgе in thе quality fiеld and takе thе lеad in acquiring nеw knоwlеdgе. If managеmеnt dоеѕ all thiѕ, it will havе crеatеd a firm fоundatiоn оn which futurе quality can bе built. Cоnvеrѕеly, thеrе wоuld bе littlе pоint in building quality оn a ѕhaky fоundatiоn.

Wе havе alrеady pоintеd оut that thе cuѕtоmеr iѕ thе mоѕt impоrtant part оf thе prоductiоn linе. Dеming (2002) intrоducеd thiѕ idеa tо tоp Japanеѕе managеrѕ in 1950 by mеanѕ оf a baѕic оutlinе оf an arbitrary prоductiоn ѕyѕtеm, оr part оf a prоductiоn ѕyѕtеm. Thiѕ оutlinе, which muѕt tоday bе cоnѕidеrеd traditiоnal, ѕhоwѕ that bоth cuѕtоmеr and ѕuppliеr arе part оf thе prоductiоn ѕyѕtеm, and that infоrmatiоn fоr imprоving thiѕ cоmеѕ frоm twо ѕоurcеѕ: cоnѕumеr rеѕеarch and prоcеѕѕ tеѕtѕ. Ѕincе thiѕ оutlinе alѕо appliеѕ tо an arbitrary ѕub-ѕyѕtеm, it ѕhоwѕ that cuѕtоmеr and ѕuppliеr cоncеptѕ еmbracе much mоrе than juѕt еxtеrnal cuѕtоmеrѕ and ѕuppliеrѕ. Intеrnal cuѕtоmеrѕ and ѕuppliеrѕ, i.е. еmplоyееѕ, arе at lеaѕt aѕ impоrtant aѕ thе еxtеrnal оnеѕ. Any pеrѕоn, оr prоcеѕѕ, which fоrmѕ part оf thе prоductiоn ѕyѕtеm muѕt rеcоgniѕе that it ѕеrvеѕ a numbеr оf intеrnal cuѕtоmеrѕ, and thе quality оf thе оutput dеlivеrеd tо thеѕе cuѕtоmеrѕ iѕ crucial tо thе еnd rеѕult, i.е. thе quality оf thе оutput dеlivеrеd tо thе еxtеrnal cuѕtоmеr.

Dеming (2002) himѕеlf cоncеdеѕ that, in 1950, thiѕ waѕ a fоrmidablе challеngе fоr thе Japanеѕе tоp managеrѕ, but thеy accеptеd thе challеngе, and thе rеѕult iѕ thеrе fоr uѕ all tо ѕее tоday. In Dеming'ѕ wоrdѕ: A nеw еcоnоmic agе had bеgun.

Tоday it iѕ difficult tо undеrѕtand that ѕuch a ѕimplе mеѕѕagе prеѕеntеd thе Japanеѕе with ѕuch a difficult challеngе. Оur еxpеriеncе оf tоp managеrѕ iѕ that thеy accеpt thе mеѕѕagе withоut quеѕtiоn. Hоwеvеr, thiѕ dоеѕ nоt lеѕѕеn thе difficulty оf thе challеngе, bеcauѕе it impliеѕ that firmѕ' traditiоnal infоrmatiоn ѕyѕtеmѕ arе tоtally inadеquatе. A culturе muѕt bе еѕtabliѕhеd tо еnѕurе that intеrnal cuѕtоmеr rеѕеarch functiоnѕ juѕt aѕ wеll aѕ еxtеrnal. Hеrе, it iѕ impоrtant tо pоint оut that intеrnal analyѕiѕ iѕ baѕеd оn еntirеly diffеrеnt principlеѕ frоm еxtеrnal analyѕiѕ. Cоmmunicatiоn and tеam-building arе thе kеy wоrdѕ hеrе. Оbviоuѕly, thе participatiоn оf tоp managеmеnt iѕ nеcеѕѕary in building up thiѕ culturе.

It can bе ѕееn that thе 'Fоcuѕ оn thе cuѕtоmеr and thе еmplоyее' iѕ much mоrе cоmprеhеnѕivе than juѕt thе 'fоcuѕ оn thе cuѕtоmеr', which iѕ thе nоrm in ѕеrvicе managеmеnt. Thе lattеr rеfеrѕ ѕоlеly tо еxtеrnal cuѕtоmеrѕ. Thе fоrmеr, whilе including thеѕе, alѕо ѕtrеѕѕеѕ thе intеrnal cuѕtоmеr/ѕuppliеr rеlatiоnѕhip. Thiѕ rеlatiоnѕhip iѕ оnе оf thе mоѕt impоrtant innоvatiоnѕ which TQM haѕ intrоducеd.

Quality Management In Today's Era

As we have discussed above that how the management of quality is vital to the output product of any organization it has made clear that without an excellent quality management system an organization can not implement total quality management. In todays era new ways of quality management have been introduced that can make quality management a much easier and effective job for the management body.

Technology has been quiet advance in todays world and every organization is trying to get its hand on the most advance technology that can take it to a much higher level from its competitiors. A new emerging technology for managing quality in well established organizations is the use of Web-Based Quality Management Systems.

Why this technology is vital today is beacuse of organizations expanding their businesses worldwide or operating at different geoghraphical locations. It is much easier to manage the quality in an organization that is operating at one location but if it has its operations going on at different locations it is much harder to implement and manage total quality management. But these new systems have overcome this gap by providing a centralized hub to manage the quality. No matter how scattered the operations of the organizations are and how many stake holders are involved, by implementing these systems organizations need not to worry about the distance and communication gap.

Competition and cost consciousness on the one side an increasing demand for quality and reliability on the other side are contrary requirements in present production engineering. This must be considered also from the point of view of the international standards about quality management and quality assurance. The origins of quality management and quality assurance in a modern sense began in manufacturing organizations at about the beginning of the twentieth century [1],

and many of the tools for quality analysis and improvement were developed for manufacturing problems. Through the 1980s, this manufacturing emphasis dominated the profession. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, business began to recognise the importance of quality service in achieving customer satisfaction and competing in the global marketplace. In the late 1990s also the public domain and governmental departments became aware of the general importance of quality issues. In a very important sense, this recognition has expanded the definition and

concept of quality to include nearly any organisational improvement such as the reduction of manufacturing cycle time and improved worker skills. And also the public sector is now starting to take care of quality management within its structures.

In addition to industrial organisations and the manufacturing industry also service organisations build up quality systems. Ancillary services in manufacturing companies as well as "stand-alone" service organisations such as hospitals and banks are beginning to realise the benefits of a focus on quality.

A number of different industries are successively doing business around the globe and the quality systems that are availaible in the market does not mostly cater a specific industry and all of them provide different features, tools and options, so it is a complex decision to choose the best availaible solution from a wide range of variety. In this dissertation different availaible web-based quality management systems are reviewed and their shortnesses are pointed out and a model is proposed in the end that covers all gaps in the currently availaible systems.
Chapter 2: Literature Review

In this chapter literature review is carried out and analyzed that which tools and schemes are imperative for the management of quality and how they cooperate in the quality management. This will enable to know how different branches of an organization can be indulged with quality by using what sort of tools and how these tools can benifit any organization. “The approach to quality most extensively adopted by Western companies in recent years has been the application of national and international (ISO 9000 or equivalent) quality management standards. This approach is following firmly along the quality assurance path. It is more proactive than reliance on detection/inspection and allows for the use of quality tools primarily to stop non-conforming products being produced or non-conforming services being delivered in the first place. Hence there is a switch implied from detection to prevention via quality systems, procedures and a quality manual.” [18]

2.1 Quality Management Tools & Techniques

Numerous definitions and methodologies have been created to assist in managing the quality-affecting aspects of business operations. Many different techniques and concepts have evolved to improve product or service quality. Tools and techniques like charts, graphs, histograms and complex tools like Statistical Process Control, Quality Function Deployment, Failure Mode and Effect Analysis and Design of Experiments have been used for quality management for a number of years. All of these tools are very effective for quality evaluation and implementation when applied rightly and at correct situation. Juan Jose Tari and Vicente Sabater {Quality management tools} in their research on “Quality tools and Techniques” has outlined few important tools and techniques that can be luminously helping in managing and increasing organizations quality standards. The very basic tools, the management tools for quality and techniques for quality management are outlined in the table below:

Basic Quality Management Tools

Management Tools


Cause & Effect Diagram

Affinity Diagram


Check Sheet

Arrow Diagram

Design of Experiments

Control chart

Matrix Diagram



Matrix Data Analysis

Fault Tree Analysis


Process Decision

Poka Yoke

Pareto Diagram

Program Chart

Quality Costing

Scatter Diagram

Relations Diagram


Statistical Process Control

Table 1 Quality Management Tools and Techniques

Each indivisual tool has its own speciality and benifits the organization in its own manner. The implementation and benifits of few of these tools are discussed in the next section.

2.2 Quality Control, Assurance and Improvement

The scholars of quality assume that the computer is only the linking force and they put less emphasis on it, and frequently do not consider at all, the modern practices linked to quality management such as employee involvement or continuous quality improvement. Indeed, they concentrate their attention on the computer integration/automation model.” But for quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement insists on involving all these aspects. {Good one}

Quality control is defined as operational with activities aimed both at monitoring a process and eliminating causes of unsatisfactory performance for relevant stages of the quality loop to achieve economic effectiveness. Quality control is a technique to achieve, maintain and improve the quality standard of products and service. Defects or failures in constructed facilities or products can result in very large costs. {500} the emphasis on quality control is clear to achieve complete quality management and for this quality control tools are vital to be implemented. Quality improvement requires improvement of processes in process based quality improvement approach. To improve the quality hence several inspection tools can be applied to access the processes and find the ways to improve it to get better and better results. Also the basic goal of using quality control techniques is to streamline the manufacturing system by minimizing the occurrence of quality related problems. Most of the time, problems related to quality of products have many controllable sources, be it the vendors of raw materials, equipment used to process such materials, methods used for processing, the personnel involved or any other specific source as identified by the organization. {800} has suggested following significant tools for the quality management in respect of each quality component:

Quality Control

Quality Assurance

Quality Improvement

Statistical process control


Process capability analysis,

Rule-based reasoning (Expert Systems)

Factor analysis

Pareto analysis


reasoning and case-based


Cause and effect


Process mapping, design of


Failure Mode and Effect Analysis

Quality function deployment

Design of Experiments

Design of experiments

Analysis of variance

Table 1

Above mentioned tools when used in combinations as best suitable for the processes and enterprise could produce massive increase in overall performance of the organization. Few of these tools and their significance in quality managemet is illustrated below:

2.3 Statistical Process Control

The appearance of computers on the shop floor has enhanced the increased adoption of SPC. Computers have greatly reduced the efforts required by production personnel to collect and analyze data.{very good journal} “High quality products and services, far from being random or probabilistic events, are actually anticipated and managed outcomes that can contribute to organizational survival in the marketplace. This realization has encouraged organizations to embrace and implement numerous approaches, some novel and some re-discovered, aimed at achieving the objective of continuous quality improvement. One popular and widespread implementation in the name of quality management is that of statistical process control, or SPC. [19] Statistical Process Control or SPC can be used in a organization for the quality control purpose. It when applied to a process gives the stability of that process which can eventually help in identifing the root causes and take corrective actions.“The basic goal of using quality control techniques is to streamline the manufacturing system by minimizing the occurrence of quality related problems. Most of the time, problems related to quality of products have many controllable sources, be it the vendors of raw materials, equipment used to process such materials, methods used for processing, the personnel involved or any other specific source as identified by the organization.”[20]

SPC is an effective tool for controlling quality of a manufacturing process rather it can be applied to most of the processes in any organization and can aid in controlling the quality as per requirements. It identifies the sources that affects the quality of the process outputs and hence can be eradicated as identified. But there lies a problem with the use of it that is interpreting the results of SPC which can be only well understood by quality control specialists. This can create communication gaps and a lot of other misconceptions about its use. But still SPC is being used to control quality from a number of years and it has proved itself to be giving enormously positive results to the organizations.

“The popularity of SPC as a quality management practice has been fostered, in part, by a wealth of publications ascribing quality and cost benefits to it. The literature is dominated by anecdotal “success” stories, attributing higher market share, lower failure costs, higher product quality, and higher productivity to the implementation and practice of SPC (Dondero, 1991). Reports of SPC failures, on the contrary, have been few and, again, case-oriented (Dale & Shaw, 1991; Lightburn & Dale, 1992).”[22] Evans and Lindsay (1989, pp. 313-3 14), define SPC to be a methodology using control charts for assisting operators, supervisors, and managers to monitor quality of conformance and to eliminate special causes of variability of a process a technique to control quality using probability and statistics to determine and maintain the state of statistical control.[23 Hence the advantages and effectiveness can well be understood from the above discussion and its can be concluded that SPC can play a major role in controling any process and eliminating any cause that disturbs the process as its main idea is to enable the quality of conformance to be monitored and special causes of process variability to be eliminated.

2.4 Failure Mode and Effect Analysis

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis is tool that can be used to analyse the failures that can occur in the near future or after the implementation of the system and identify the effects that it would cause to the system. “Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is known to be a systematic procedure for the analysis of a system to identify the potential failure modes, their causes and effects on system performance. The analysis is successfully performed preferably early in the development cycle so that removal or mitigation of the failure mode is most cost effective. This analysis can be initiated as soon as the system is defined: FMEA timing is essential.” [24] 1 below shows some random forms as an example of FMEA version 1, 2 & 3 charts.

For FMEA to be effective its is very important to use this tool in the early development phase as catching errors and fixing them in earlier stages is more effectual and less costly. FMEA can be implemented to the highest level of block diagram to the functions of the of the discrete components. Also FMEA can be used again and again as the design is developed. “The FMEA is an iterative process that is updated as the design develops. Design changes will require that relevant parts of the FMEA be reviewed and updated.” [24] Hence FMEA could play an imperative role in going for the process changing for improvement. The change planned for the process for improving it can be verified by the application of this technique.

2.5 Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

QFD has been used along with the integration of other effective tools to achieve quality in processes and products, reducing cycle times and improving performance. {600} found out that in the span of the first seven years, between 1977 and 1984, the Toyota Auto body plant employed QFD and claimed that with its use:

* Manufacturing startup and pre-production costs were reduced by 60%.

* The product development cycle (that is, time to market) was reduced by 33% with a corresponding improvement in quality because of the reduction in the number of engineering changes.

Quality function deployment QFD is based on the concept of companywide quality control. The company wide quality control philosophy is characterised by customer orientation, cross functional management and process rather than product orientation. Also the roots of Japanese companywide quality control are the same concepts of statistical quality control and total quality control as originated in the USA.

2.6 Quality Improvement A Need or A Neccessity

In the technological advanced manufacturing industry today, organziations are trying their level best to imorove their quality standards yet reducing their cycle times and time to reach the market. This pushes them to adopt the latest availaible technologies to manage and inject quality into their products and processes, so that the production time is not effected by increasing concern of quality management. Nowadays there is a tough competition in every . Aberdeen Group has done an extensive research on Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence and it says that the best in class organzaitions are “ensuring that continuois improvement programs yeild the expected results help to unlock hidden capabilities as well as allows for greater flexibility in altering schedule to meet shifting demands. It is essential that executives are provided visibility across plants, product lines and demand when making decisions on delivery, discounts and staffing. Many companies can manufacture the same product in mutiple facilities and are continually evaluating the most cost effective loaction to manufacture based on a mutitude of factors. Finally, establishing key performance indicators mapped to corporate goals allows shop floor process across different plants to be standardized and alligned to the goals of senior management.” [27] The focus is on ensuring continuous improvement programs and establishing key performance indicating targets that eventually supports corporate goals. Also what is part of best in class manufaturers strategic goals is to provide visibility across the plants, production lines and demands, This would help the exectives of the organzaition to understand monitor the performanc of ongoing processes. In the survey carried out by aberdeen group following percentage was calculated of the best in class organizations of the top three strategic actions taken by them:

The above research indication shows the top three strategic actions of the Best-In-Class organizations and all of these actions are quality related. This very well proves that for the organizations that wants to be included in the best in class list or that wants to stay in best in class list must improve their quality standards as per the market and industries requirements. Hence quality improvement could be termed as the necessity of today's era and to survive in today's market an organization needs to update it quality management systems. All the indicators from research above points towards the advancements in quality management and that lead us to the topic of quality management systems of today that is Web-based quality management.


Quality Management Systems

From time to time quality gurus and scholars have only been focusing and trying to develope appropriate control charts for processes, but now due to the advancements in technology and shifting towards real time quality management, focus is now moved towards human and machine interaction, information/data handling and to involve these factors in the quality management aswell for a company wide quality control. “Entering the 21st century, globalization, outsourcing, and reduced product development time raised new issues in quality management. Currently, the argument is being made that the activities of quality management should be coordinated to deal with quality problems in real time, and quality-related information over the entire product life cycle should be accurately transferred to the proper place at the right time.” [26] (Mehra and Agrawal 2003)

3.1 Elements Important in Quality Management Systems

Quality management should be integrated into business processes involving all organizations in the supply chain to measure, analyze, and continually improve products, services, and processes to achieve satisfaction of intermediate and final customers in the marketplace (Robinson and Malhotra 2005).{Web Qms} This means that all the business processes should be a part of quality management system rather than focusing on one or two business operations. The days have passed now in which quality was just the part of the production process, quality tools and techniques were just developed for it and were only used by production plant operators or managers. Quality of the product now depends upon all the business processes and operations of the organization.

3.2 Information Technology & Total Quality Management

Scott Morton [9] highlights that IT is making possible fundamental changes in the way production, coordination and management work is done. As far as production work is concerned, physical production, information production (clerical work), and knowledge production (design/engineering) are affected by IT. As far as co-ordination work is concerned, communication networks reduce the effect of physical distance, change the time dimension and increase organizational memory. As far as management work is concerned, better direction is allowed by timely internal and external information exchange and better control is supported by the possibility of measuring the organization's performance following whatever set of critical success factors have been defined as relevant. This advancement in IT has brought new software's that offers the computerized quality management tools and has eased up the quality control tasks. Different ways for improving quality, cost reductions and increase in production are tried to find out by various industries to attain continuous improvement in business performance. Frank,Angel, and Barrie (1999) establishes some facts that say that all the interventions of TQM short cycle times, self directive work teams, manufacturing resources planning, total production, business process re-engineering relies on information technology. Furthermore IT act as a means to get response mechanism to the users measuring production and valuable information, improved communication and implementation of advanced quality management tools. In early days of IT advancement its role was limited to administration of office support but now it has evolved and plays its role towards more strategic management.

Zadrozny and Ferrazzi (1992) claim that the information systems function plays a key role in the TQM initiative through the strategic, human resources, and technology areas. Murray (1991) claims that IT is increasingly being used to measure, understand, and improve an organization's level of sustainable quality. Clearly, IT can help to facilitate the application of statistical process control (SPC), design of experiments, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), quality function deployment (QFD) and self assessment against a business excellence model. IT can be vital in the development of real-time collection of data in terms of customer satisfaction, internal process controls, critical business systems, and other measurement systems which are necessary to support TQM. Konstadt (1990) argues that sophisticated communications and computational tools and data storage systems are the key to success with TQM. He goes on to make the point that IT can be an enabler in the drive for continuous improvement, even when the basic processes and management worker relationships remain traditional.

3.3 Quality Management Systems Getting Web-Based

“Operating units of multidivisional firms are particularly vulnerable to influence due to their corporate dependence. Divisions may depend on corporate offices for resources such as operating capital and staff assistance. Because divisions are not independent entities, they must comply with corporate initiatives to implement new practices, including those related to quality management.”[4]

Today's world is considered to be global village and multinational companies have their operations and manufacturing plants in different geographical locations all over the world. To assure and control the quality factor there is a need of access to an up to date data, information and ongoing tasks. To cater this issue there is a call for a tool that can be accessed from anywhere and which can provide the up to date information to each department, in order to manage the quality throughout the organization effectively and efficiently.

“It is understood that for many organizations the status quo is not good enough in terms of taking best advantage of the wealth of data being collected and stored. There is an acknowledgement that greater integration of analytical techniques is needed.”[5] Management of the quality relies completely on the full information of the ongoing processes and tasks, and if that information is shared among the whole organization or the regarding staff of the organization, quality can be managed effectively and management can make decisions basing on the facts and data, hence it can produce good results for the organization.

“There are signs that manufacturers are showing more interest in mining real-time data and real-time data requires a technology infrastructure that allows that data to be shared across the enterprise to let the management make appropriate decisions” [6]

“Many companies have found through long experience, that effective data acquisition and analysis increases productivity, improves quality and results in more efficient and profitable manufacturing operations. Using data to on form decision making is one of the most important premises of Six Sigma and foundation of success for companies using this strategy. Reliable data acquisition, storage and analysis are required by law in pharmaceuticals and many other industries.”[5] A web based approach can provide the important data and results of any process at one centralized location which can be accessed by the regarding members of the organization to improve the processes, remove the defects and improvise the quality factor.

“Real-time data analysis is a critical component of any strategy for improving overall operations. However, that wringing the greatest value from real-time data requires a technology infrastructure that allows that data to be shared across the enterprise.” [6] Typically the framework that is being offered by most of the web based quality management systems is such that the application is hosted by the application provider. Application providers allocate a memory space to the client and the data base server is also maintained by the application side. Clients access the application using the web browser over the internet via web server. The frame work of such an application is explained by the 2

3.4 Benefits Of Web-based Quality Management Systems

Various tools are known to be used by several industries to analyze their data and improve their processes and products such as run charts, check sheets, histograms, cause and effect diagrams, Pareto charts and some complex tools like Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA), Quality Function Deployment (QFD), Statistical Process Control (SPC) and other simpler tools like charts, graphs and histograms. Often systems like document control, task management and complaints management are also used by the companies to implement the required quality standards and to meet certain standards.

“Industrial users have reported significant benefits from these tools. Successful users have achieved typically a 15-45% improvement in quality, and reduction in cost and time to market. In addition, there are intangible benefits. Their use not only rationalizes the products and associated processes but also rationalizes the product development process itself.” [10]

3.4.1 Accessible around the world anywhere anytime

The main aim and objective of this application to be web based is that it can be accessed from anywhere and anytime without the need of special installations and hardware via any web browser over the internet. With the sharing of information to all the departments at all the locations there would be a better chance for the quality improvement of the processes and hence of the final product as well.

3.4.2 Increase Teamwork

Teamwork can be achieved by sharing the information and important data with the concerning staff members who can collectively work on the quality management and can find out ways to improve it. Different operations and departments of an organizations being at different geographical locations would be very difficult for it to work collectively on the quality issue and monitoring the whole processes and situations. Web based application can provide the plate form to the concerning staff to work as a team and share their views about the situation.

Different functions of diverse disciplines which are geographically distributed can make their individual contributions simultaneously. Users may use different web browsers to connect to the FMEA web server at the same time to make simultaneous contributions from different points of view. [3]

3.4.3 Easy Management for Higher Level Staff

By the implementation of a web based quality management system it would put an ease to the higher level management staff to monitor the ongoing processes and projects and their live data and make the effective decisions on the bases of that live data.

3.4.4 Removal of Communication Gap

A web-based application can efficiently reduce the communication gaps between the departments of the organization. This can help in implementing the quality in the whole organization and taking along the whole organization towards the desired strategic objectives and aims.


Products Availaible In the Market

4.1 Different Range of Products

There are a number of quality management products available in the market. But systems that have the feature of being web-based are very few. Most of these available web based systems just provide the document control functions to implement the ISO standards and there is no feature that can provides the platform for using the traditional techniques like FMEA, QFD, etc.

Many of the quality management systems vary with the respect of features they provide to the organizations. Quality means different to different industries and quality is managed differently in different industries. Manufacturing industry makes huge investments in achieving quality standards and processes to improve the processes of manufacturing its products. Companies providing services tend to improvise quality by improving their customer service and other services.

“Most formal design tools require intensive data inputs, often from a number of disciplines. Teamwork is the only way to achieve such data requirements. To put it in another way, the use of formal quality tools requires teamwork on the one hand and facilitates teamwork on the other. Most design tools also involve a fair amount of paperwork and therefore may be time-consuming to use.”[8]

4.2 Products Available In the Market

Improvement in quality requires intense research and hard analysis of the data. Access to data often involves a time-consuming collaboration between the individuals who know the definition of the data they need and those individuals who understand the data and the approach to extracting the required data set. Quality Control activities within an organization are rarely a single individual operating in isolation. Instead, these activities are programs that require collaboration among many individuals instead many departments within an organization. Following few systems are reviewed and their functionality is understood by interacting with the suppliers and application providers:

4.3 WebSTATISTICA Server system

WebStatistica is a very powerful tool that is developed and provided by StatSoft. It is being used by over one thousand companies around the globe. Companies using it have reported to have a competitive edge over other companies. Statistica is a very complex system that provides a number of packages and tools that can be used in combination in accordance with the requirements of the company. Recently StatSoft has launched a new way of using the enterprise system by making it available over the web. Its features are discusses below:

4.3.1 Web-Based

The system has been developed in a way that it can be accessed via internet through a web browsing application for example Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. With this application user does not need to install the package first on the machine it's needed to be used on rather just the browser will load the whole application. This makes it a hardware platform free application which can be used from any machine that has an internet connection and a web browser available. From the browser user can access very light and simple dialog boxes through which the required data can be reviewed and analyzed. Different tools are available through which these interface can be customized as per the requirements of the user.

4.3.2 Two Options for Web-enablement

There are two options that Statistica offers for the system to be accessed via internet:

a) Web Viewer

b) Complete Access

In the Web Viewer option user can only access the reports generation tools whereas the second options gives the full control to the user which enables the user to interactively manipulate the available data and analytical tools. With this option the application can be accessed from any machine and full advantage of all the tools can be gained. It enables users to easily and quickly access data and powerful analytical tools from virtually any computer in the world as long as it is connected to the Web. General features of Statistica software are shown in the screenshot below:

4.3.3 Packages Available

Statistica offers a wide range of products to cater the individual needs of any organization, from basic WebStatistica server system up to an enterprise level quality control system. An organization can deploy and choose from the number of packages and solutions that StatSoft offers to meet its requirements and as per its business needs. The packages include Data miner, well-designed statistical process control system, monitoring and alerting system. The tools that these packages include are Design of Experiments, Six sigma DMAIC tool kit, Macro recording, efficient report generation, connectivity enablement with different database formats, real time charting and data updating.

Hence an organization can implement as many tools and features as it requires to smoothly run its operations and monitor quality issues. It can also be customized to the specific needs of the organization.

Felix Grant says while reviewing the software ” Extensive automation and centralization of data handling are available with this system which, along with simplified dashboard style monitoring of complex multivariate processes, allow a highly flexible graded information delivery with subtle command and control. With data analytic product an ever more vital currency in industrial governance, this system provides a means to develop standardized and reliable methods independent of operator expertise. Supporting this structure is the Monitoring and Alerting Server (MAS) which allows a whole gamut of those centrally stored analytics to be simultaneously and continuously running, each one represented on a dashboard as an icon signaling its current status. Alarm actions can be automated, and clicking on an icon generates expanded information in more traditional Statistica form. After a short familiarization this is a remarkably rich and intuitive arrangement, mimicking the natural human system of shifting attention focus very effectively.” [28]

4.3.4 Working

Simple working of the system can be elaborated as such when the user logs into the system, the user can then select a data source (a data set or a live database connection), user can review and amend the data in the interactive spreadsheet data editor, then choose the analysis that he needs to be perform. This can be simply done by using the standard menu system, then decide on the variables and specify optional analysis parameters, and interactively review the output.

4.3.5 Benefits

* Promotes Team Work

A designated WebStatistica Knowledge Portal application could also be the part of a system which will enable the users to efficiently and securely distribute organized sets of output documents over the Web. It will offer support for workgroups of users, each with different access privileges, and hence access to different parts of the database of output documents and options to broadcast documents updated on the Web server in real time. This enablement will definitely cater towards the team work capability in any department. It will enable the employees to learn from past experiences by analyzing the previous reports/documents when countering the same situation that has occurred in the past.

* Platform for Six Sigma

Statistica serves also acts as an analytic software platform for Six Sigma programs and implementations of any size. Six Sigma's emphasis on measurement and analysis requires a full-featured statistical analysis software system. WebSTATISTICA provides all necessary data management, analysis, and graphics capabilities to empower the Six Sigma Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts with the analytic tools to explore data, determine the most important factors, and perform data-driven decision-making.

* Flexible, customizable alarm notification system

Broad selections of options are offered for specifying user-defined criteria that define an out-of-control condition like runs test violation, individual observation outside specification limits, etc. The alarm notification system could be extensively used to monitor the critical processes and customized alarms could be set that can trigger certain actions or notify the liable personal.

4.3.6 Tools and Features Provided by Stat Soft Systems:

WebStatistica provides a wide range of tools that can be integrated with the Web server, which will make the analytical tools available online to meet the company's requirements. Some of the tools provided by the StatSoft that can be used with Statistica are:

* Process and Product Optimization

o Design of Experiments (Doe)

o ANOVA - Variance Components

o Response Profiling and Desirability Functions

* Statistical Process Control (SPC)

o Quality Monitoring

o Pareto Analysis

o Capability Analysis

* Six Sigma

o Continuous Quality Improvement

o Data-Driven Decision Making

o Cause and Effect Analysis

* Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)

o R&R Analysis

o Gauge linearity

o Gauge stability

* Process Prediction and Modeling

o Prediction

o Root Cause Detection

o QC Data Mining

o Predictive Quality Control

* Reliability

o Reliability and hazard functions

o Failure time analysis

o Expected operating life

* ISO 9000, TS 16949 and other standards

o Quality Control Charts


o Document Management

o Validation and Verification

* Data Access, Analysis and Reporting Systems

o Integration with Virtually any Data Repositories

o Collaboration, Security and Permissions

o Centralized Administration

o Automated Analysis and Reporting

o Web-enablement

StatSoft claims to offer a very effective report generation feature with very customizable view with the option of graphs and charts. A screen shot of the graphical reports is shown below:

4.3.7 Competitive Advantages

* All in one system.

* It can be connected with external applications like MS Word, MS Excel etc.

* Simple Interface for Data Entry; Real-time Charting & open-ended alarms including cause/action prompts for shop floor Operators.

* User friendly interfaces for Database Access Facilities (Interactive Queries)

* Different User Interfaces for Different Types of Users

* A high performance database with wizard-driven system administration tools and a built-in security system

4.4 e-Net SPC

This system is a web based statistical process control system for quality control. It is web based SPC software package providing a cost effective solution for the information distribution to the whole organization and even customers and suppliers. Web-based statistical process control software package allows data and analysis reporting unparalleled in the marketplace. E-Net SPC is designed to be used on a company Intranet system, or on an Internet web page.

4.4.1 Features:

* Access Control

Datasets are restricted to a selected set of users, so that data confidentiality may be maintained.

* Customized Analysis and View Options

The analysis on the datasets could be performed in a customized and desirable way. Previously opened datasets which were opened in different formats could be customized and the options that can be amended include:

* Chart type

* Subgroup size

* Statistically calculated or user-defined control limits

* Query on selected date or subgroup ranges

* Chart size

* Fully Programmable Interface

This software can give an enormous advantage by integrating it with another application like Shop Floor Pro, which facilitates this existing software to get the real time data directly from the gages. This would enable the system to collect the quality data directly from the gages installed in the equipments and apply the data analysis tools on that data and improve quality. Quality can be monitored and controlled in real time by doing so.

4.4.2 Tools Provided:

Variable and attribute analytical tools:

* Run Charts

* Individual-X and Moving Range

* Scatter Diagram (Regression)

* Pareto

* Process Capability and Histograms

* Attribute Charts (NP, C, U, and P Charts)

* Moving Average and Range Charts

* Moving Average and Sigma Charts

* Box and Whiskers

* Bulls eye Charts

* Repeatability Charts

* Reproducibility Charts

Range of analysis features

* Fixed or calculated control limits

* Non-normal curve fitting and capability analysis

* Ability to divide control charts into regions with separate control parameters for each region

* User-defined Chart Symbols

* Rainbow charts

* Zoom Capability, for focusing in on a sub-section of the chart

* User-Defined Axis Scaling

The system is a good piece of software that can be used if any organization is willing to just use statistical process control as its major tool for quality control reason being its tools and features revolves around just statistical process control.

4.5 Assurx's CATSWeb

Assurx's CATSWeb is a very customizable software solution that helps in systemizing the management of quality and other related issues. It helps the companies to centralize their knowledge portal, share the information and manage the quality related matters via that portal. The whole organization participates in this system and all the departments can be involved whether located at different geographical locations or same, which can eventually help in managing the quality enterprise widely. Its main focus is on compliance performance and improving quality by collecting and sharing information from everywhere in an organization and then that information and analysis performed on the information could be shared across the board.

CATSWeb Enterprise-wide Quality and Compliance Management System

“CATS web corrective action system from Assurx's is a Web based quality system that helps organizations solve manufacturing defects, maintain ISO 9000 and food and drug Administration (FDA), good manufacturing practice standards and track problems and issues from occurrence through disposition and corrective actions. CATSWeb can be accessed from any computer running any operating systems with Web browser anytime an internet connection is available.” [9]

CATSWeb provides an enterprise wide solution for the management of quality throughout the organization. It takes along all the departments in an organization which can be included in the management of quality from customer services to manufacturing and from finance to change management. This system when deployed can give a very positive effect to over all organizations performance.

Business Week Magazine has commented about this product in the magazine which states that “CATSWeb enables clients to manage various issues from detection to corrective action to trend analysis, as well as helps collect, organize, analyze, and share information to manage quality and compliance performance in an enterprise.” [29]

4.5.1 Benefits

This system can be used to implement the ISO, FDA and GPM standards, manage all the quality related activities in a company. CATSWeb is a totally web based application that provides both user and administrative controls. It provides a fully graphical user interface (GUI). The system also provides integrated records management for compliance with corporate and regulatory record retention policies. It includes some predefined ready to use forms that can be easily customized and used as per the requirements. The number of users does not make a difference to the system it can be as low as ten and as big as one thousand. Furthermore it is also not specific about the client browser version or operating system. This system is equipped with all the necessary tools for the analysis and reviewing of the data which can help the management to make right decisions at the right moment.

The interface of the system is very user friendly and it requires very little training for the new users to get familiar with it. After a little while of usage as it is self explanatory it can be easily be learnt extensively. Other advantages include its integration support with external applications of reporting tools like Crystal Reports and other business objects like Cognos, Brio etc. The best feature that it offers is its further integration with external systems that already runs in the organizations like ERP, MES and other self designed databases and applications from where it can access the data and perform analysis on them.

This feature of integration with external applications and databases can be very facilitating for the organizations as it would not require transferring the existing data from previous databases/applications and moving it to the newly implemented system which could be troubling often. The data from existing ERP systems can easily be added to this system by just adding the link of the data to the CATSWeb forms.

The international quality standards which are considered to be a benchmark for the companies to grow and achieve quality in their products stress hard on recognition of non-conforming products and processes and corrective actions taken against them. CATSWeb provides and makes it really easy for the organizations who have implemented this system to take into account this important issue in quality management. This system “is a comprehensive, real-time automated quality system that is designed to track and manage issues and actions, from identification through disposition and corrective action.” [30]

Some other benefits of CATSWeb System are:

* Centralized CAPA Processing

* Reduced problems

* Prevent recurrences of work

* Prioritize Resources

* Reduce Costs

* Decrease Cycle Times

* Compliance with FDA, ISO, SOX, EMEA, NRC, etc.

4.5.2 Features

A screen shot of the outlook of Assurx's CATSWeb is shown below:

Table 2

* Audit Management

Audit Management has always been a strong impact on the quality management systems reason being that it evaluates an organizations quality system and its effectiveness, therefore the system like CATSWeb which purely focuses on business processes automation and documentation needs to provide a very powerful auditing method that can audit the existing and this system as well and it surely does as Shawn Pifer, director of program integration technical information systems for United Space Alliance, says “he was looking for a system that has features of integrating existing in-house solutions, information systems and processes, electronic signature controls and audit trail functionality "[30]

* Manufacturing Quality:

Unlike the WebStatistica system CATSWeb does not provide features for controlling or monitoring the manufacturing processes rather it is good at keeping in order and managing the information and documents invoicing, reports etc. I helps in project management, prototype issue management, audit trails and corrective and preventive actions. It very well manages and keeps CAPA up to date so that such actions can be eliminated for future occurrences. It also records the production timings and helps to initiate the reduction of time to the market. Other manufacturing related options are:

o Engineering Change Orders

o Prototype Issue Management

o Auto Notification, Escalation

o Ad-Hoc Query & Reporting

o Audit Trail, E-Signatures

* Procedures Management

Procedures in an organization play very important part for managing quality matters. Work instructions and procedures of doing tasks are required by international quality standards to be in the written form and part of quality manual. CATSWeb provides the feature of document repository, change and revision management, review and approval routing, training notifications and searching facility for documents and metadata. Customer and supplier should be an active participant in quality management systems because improvement in products quality cannot be just achieved by controlling the manufacturing or production processes rather the materials coming in from suppliers should be inspected and the customer's requirements and needs should be understood completely. Links with both suppliers and customers are fundamental in obtaining high quality performance. Quality is achieved not only through plant activities but also through incoming materials and components. Often, purchased materials and components are the main source of quality problems. [31]

* Supplier Quality:

The supplier quality feature manages the supplier audit, incoming problems with the materials. It also keeps records related to the short fall and timings of material arrival. It involves the suppliers in the system and collaboratively work with the them to apply corrective and preventive actions.

· Customer Complaint Management:

It records and maintains the data regarding complaints from the customer, customer returns, product complaints, suggestions from the customer. By applying the analysis on this data reoccurrences can of defects can be reduced and can increase the customer satisfaction.

· Change and Project Management

If an organization is going implementing a change project it provides features to handle the upcoming change, it assigns and manage the tasks required to undertake. Also helps in implementing the change across the organization.

* Financial Services Compliance Management

Additional options are also available to integrate with the system like Financial Services Compliance Management. Banks and other financial institutions use this service to manage quality assurance. It manages the compliance and operational risk by monitoring, verifications and validations. Also carries out fraud management and securities regulations controls management.

4.6 Statit e-QC

Statit Software has developed a very flexible solutions name as Statit e-QC, an effervescent Web-based application for quality management. Statit e-QC comes with a lot of diverse and customizable tools. With the wide range of tools it yet is a very easy to use system which is easily accessible over the web also very powerful in managing the quality in profundity.

The software system that Statit is offering well balanced mechanism to manage, analyze and control a company's quality. “Statit software provides statistical process control (SPC) and statistical quality control (SQC), data analysis software and services. The company's enterprise SPC products and data analysis provide manufacturing operations the capability to monitor, control and improve the quality of operations. The application is said to enhance real-time visibility into production processes, increase yields and improve flexibility to meet changing customer demands. Implementation of Statit's software can add another layer of quality assurance to any manufacturing process.” [32]

4.6.1 Benefits

In today's world what organizations are looking for is a cost effective solution for managing its quality related matters efficiently and effectively. The system should be the challenge is to provide a software solution that is cost-effective, configurable to meet a wide range of information needs and skill levels. Implementing a web-based SPC system significantly reduces overall cost; this Web-based system need only be installed on +the server, placing minimal requirements on the end-user workstation. This makes maintaining and updating the system much simpler. With web-based applications, updates are applied to one central location, allowing all users to benefit immediately from the update, without requiring the user to take any action, and without wasting the user's precious time with downloading/installing updates.

It has a lot many benefits from which any company can take advantages such as it is “A Web-based process improvement reporting solution, containing more than 20 enhancements including: integration of analysis within corporate intranets and other reporting systems; customizable output layouts for customization for different sites and locations; usage and activity reporting; configurable security levels; and group and individual login accounts.” [33] Web-based applications run on a web server rather than on the user's system. This allows the vast majority of the application's memory and system requirements to be handled by the server. By residing and running off the web servers, memory requirements are very low for the application's users. This can save even small companies thousands of dollars in computer equipment.

With Statit e-QC's reporting is very efficient, data tips are a standard feature in Statit e-QC that allow the user to simply mouse over data tips on the chart to display additional information on the period, lot, etc and generate reports of any format with the click of mouse. Statit e-QC also allows writing comments; corrective actions or assignable causes directly on the charts and with proper permissions, write that information back to the database, CAPA system or applications.

An effective way of measuring quality is by measuring quality with statistically valid, objective, sustainable and defendable techniques. Statit e-QC enables provides ways to explore comparisons, perform in-depth statistical analysis, establish thresholds and monitor continuous improvement efforts.

* Analyze and control variances in business and production processes.

* Provide metrics for Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, or other continuous improvement programs.

* Hundreds of Statistical Process Control, advanced statistics and business analytics available.

4.6.2 Features

The system offers wide range of statistical analysis tools for data handling and process control to improve quality. It provides major tools like Design of Experiments to create optimized procedures, attribute charts (p-charts, np-charts-charts & u-charts) for percentage of conforming and nonconforming products, variable charts (X-bar charts, R chart, median chart) and other various customizable setting options for the system like Web settings, Rules Testing, Text Reports etc.

Other important features provided by e-QC are:

* Analytical Capabilities

o SPC Capabilities

o Flexibility

o Statistical Analysis

* Alarms

o Defining Alarms

o Handling Alarms

* Automated Reports

o Scheduling Reports

o e-Mail Notification

The dashboard interface integrated by the Statit e-QC is very interactive. It with the help of color coding highlights the processes going out of set limits and shows the warnings at the process monitoring dashboard. A screenshot of this feature is shown below:

4.7 Other Web-based Quality Management Tools:

Similarly there are few more tools also available in the market other than the ones discussed above, but these systems provides less tools to manage quality management.

4.7.1 Relex FMEA/FMECA and Relex FRACAS

It is a web based tool that is designed to handle Failure Mode and Effects Analyses. It allows to quickly and easily analyzing the potential failure modes of any system and the resulting effects of those failures. Supporting a variety of formats, Relex FMEA is equally adept at performing process, design functional, and piece-part level FMEAs. Failure Reporting, Analysis, and Corrective Action Systems (FRACAS) provide a framework for controlling corrective action processes. The FRACAS process may also be referred to as DRACAS (Data Reporting, Analysis, and Corrective Action System), or PRACA (Problem Reporting, Analysis, and Corrective Action System), as well as CA (Corrective Action) systems. FRACAS is a comprehensive closed-loop corrective action system which enables to collect, quantify, and control a wide range of incoming incident reports, such as test data, field data, or repair data. A FRACAS aims to control the process to ensure that product reliability and quality objectives are met. Relex FRACAS provides a comprehensive framework which supports a broad range of process management methods based on individual needs and requirements.

4.7.2 Intelex Quality Management System

Intelex Quality Management System includes a comprehensive list of modules that enables a user to streamline a single quality process or an entire Quality Management System. Not only can a user choose from a full list of QMS modules, but they also have the ability to conceptualize and build their own web-forms.


* Audits Management

* Corrective/ Preventive Actions

* Customer-Relationship Management

* Document Control

* Supplier Management

* Product Defect Tracking

* Maintenance, Measurement, and Monitoring

* Management Review Tracking

* Permits and Related Activities

* Internal and External Communications

* Training Management


Systems Analysis

5.1 Customer Satisfaction Level of Discussed Products

Web-based Quality Management Systems is considered to be relatively new approach of managing quality. There are a number of software products that offers to manage quality of an organization but a very few offer the system with the enablement of web access. The systems that have been discussed above have been selected very carefully as they offer the most features, tools and techniques to manage quality of any organization along with the feature of a web access through a browser or an intranet and these products are considered to be the best in class. But to analyze the competency of these products a small survey has been conducted. In this survey three to five employees from the organizations that are using these systems filled out the questioner. This questioner is prepared to evaluate the customer satisfaction level of the organizations regarding the product they are using. This helped in making a comparison of these products. These products have all very different approaches towards quality management, some focus on purely data analysis and processes monitoring while others have their spotlight towards the business process automation, document controlling systems and aiding in achieving international quality standards. This makes it difficult to compare these products so the best way that is d out is to compare the satisfaction level of users of these systems and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of these systems. This will point out in the appropriateness of these systems towards quality management.

Before we go into the analysis of the data collected from the survey let's see what these systems should possess according to some quality gurus. Watson et al [34] says that these computerized systems should provide an easy access to the information to the higher management staff to make critical business decisions. Furthermore he also pointed out a few important and major characteristics that these systems must possess, that are:

* These systems must be user-friendly and should not require exhaustive training.

* Should be customizable for individual users.

* Should provide with the live and up to date data, analysis and reporting.

* Should give access to wide range of internal and external valuable data.

* Could be used directly by higher management not just the plant floor operators.

* Should be able to present graphical, tabular and/or textual information.

* Should extract, compress, filter and integrate critical data.

Another clear approach towards the quality management systems by Juran and Gryna [35] is that the quality information system should be an organized method of collecting, storing, analyzing and reporting information on quality to assist decision makers at all levels. This conception requires inputs from a variety of functional areas and recognizes that information consists not only of data but also of other knowledge needed for decision making. Required inputs include: market research information on quality, product design test data, information on design evaluation for quality, information on purchased parts and materials, process data, final inspection data, field performance data and results of audits.

Keeping these definitions into consideration above described systems were selected which meets the maximum requirements described by these quality gurus. The questioner was prepared to collect data regarding mainly the following aspects of quality management system:

§ User experience with the system

§ Effective tools provided by the system

§ Systems help in overall performance increase.

§ Data/Information handling.

§ Options provided by the system.

5.2 Analysis of Data Collected

Analysis is done considering the important aspects of the quality management systems. The tables below show the responses from the users and an average or median is calculated and in some cases the best appropriate response is selected. The first two questions in the questioner focus on how well the system covers the areas of the organization and how it makes the processes more visible. Following table shows the data gathered from the users of the system along with the systems name:



Assurx's CATSWeb

e-Net SPC

Statit e-QC

Areas in which these systems help the most

Manufacturing Processes, Centralized Quality Administration

Quality Standards Achievement, Document Control, Information Sharing

Process Control and monitoring with limited tools

Data Gathering, Process Monitoring & controlling, Manufacturing Processes & Reporting

Provide tools for process monitoring & Visibility

Yes, Automated Data Gathering from processes

No, Business Process Documentation

Yes, Extension option with automated data gathering

Yes, Enterprise wide processes visibility

Table 3 Systems Area Expertise and Tools Provided

The above table shows that all of these systems are offering different approaches towards quality management. WebStatistica is offering tools and techniques that focus mainly on manufacturing processes. These tools mainly aim to monitor these processes and control their unusual behavior. For that the best tool this system provides is the Statistical Process Control system which is very effective for measuring process variability. And by using this techniques whenever a process goes out of certain set limits notifications are generated to the assigned users who can then take measures accordingly so that its repetition does not happen. Users in this system can logon to their own pc and get the live feed of data gathered and see how the processes are performing. This is a very effective piece of tool to monitor and control processes. A plus point that comes with this system is that it has an optional feature of gathering data directly from the gauges installed on the machines, hence does not require manual data inputs. This can surely make it more easy for the administration to keep focus just on the outputs and analysis of data. Whereas the second system i-e Assurx's CATSWeb has its centre of attention towards the business processes automation, it does not offer any tools for data collection nor does it provide any options for manufacturing processes monitoring or control whereas what it offers is also important part of a quality management systems should offer that is tools for quality management of business processes. It enables an organization to keep in line its documents regarding business processes going on in whole enterprise. It is more of an information sharing portal that can play a major role in achieving high quality. It collects, organizes, shares and analysis information from across the organization to improve quality management and compliance performance.

The third system e-Net SPC is a very simple yet useful system if an organization is just looking to add a Statistical Process Control system to its already existing quality management system. Reason being it only provides one tools that is SPC. This tool even with not that much of options can do lot more to help an organization improve its processes yet it's not a complete system. Its plus point is that it has an optional feature of automated data gathering. Data from the processes can directly be fed into the system.

The last system that is under discussion here is Statit's e-QC. This system is almost a complete product that can be very effective for quality management. Like WebStatistica it also offers tools like SPC for process controlling and monitoring but where it take the lead is its provision of further options with this tool that is its customizability attribute. The alarms from the system unusual behavior and the ways to alert the users could be customized in different ways. This is a one solution that can data mine, analyze data and increase the overall visibility of processes enterprise wide. The organizations that have their locations around the globe can easily manage their individual locations by customizing their own setup of the system for different locations.

In the table below questions were asked regarding systems coping with the International Quality Standards, tools and techniques used by the employees, data handling and tools provided in relation and comments for systems improvement. The responses collected and best selected answers are arranged in the table below:



Assurx's CATSWeb


Statit e-QC

Aid in achievement of International Quality Standards

Limited, ISO with only Document Control Option



Yes, Limited help

Tools & Techniques used from the system

SPC, Data Mining, QC Charts, DOE, ANOVA, T-TEST

Root Cause Analysis, Information & Documents Control Tools, FDA's 21 CFR Part 11 requirements Check

SPC, Data Handling Tools,

SPC, DOE, Control Charts, DMAIC, p n & np charts

Improvement Suggestions

More process management tools

Integration of Data Analysis tools

Just suitable for SPC implementation, No other options


Data Handling & Related Tools Offered





It can be find out from the table above that all these systems offer to manage quality of an organization and the tools and features used by the employees of different organizations. Data handling and tools provided for it vary in all these systems. Employees of organizations using WebStatistica and Statit e-QC systems are satisfied with their data handling and tools and techniques provided in relation. Companies around the globe are running and investing loads of money for achieving certifications from international quality standards certifying bodies and most of these systems does not cater these standards and does not offer tools to aid the companies in achieving desired standards.

In the next section of the questioner the questions focus on the over all process improvement of the organizations performance after the implementation of this system and the tools and features that these systems provide. The questions in this section are close ended and are statements about the systems for which answers are chosen from seven options which range from strongly agree to strongly disagree. An average is calculated from of the answers given by the employees of the organizations. The data gathered from these questions is illustrated in the tabular form below:



Assurx's CATSWeb

e-Net SPC

Statit e-QC

Overall performance has increased

Strongly Agree



Strongly Agree

System provides enough tools to manage quality


Somewhat Disagree


Strongly Agree

Administration of the system is manageable


Strongly Agree



System provides enough tools for business process automation

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Agree

Strongly Disagree


System provides an enterprise wide view of the product & processes

Strongly Agree


Somewhat Agree


System is reliable/dependable for quality management


Somewhat Agree

Don't know

Strongly Agree

Systems has made decision making easy for management

Strongly Agree



Strongly Agree

Enterprise wide Quality Management is handled by the system

Somewhat Disagree


Strongly Disagree


Table 4 Features Comparison

Furthermore in the questioner another important part has been included to evaluate the vital role of data gathering and its analysis tools provided. For quality management and applying the tools and techniques on the data gathered from the processes around the organization it is very important to use certain tools and techniques to gather results and make amendments and changes accordingly to improve and inject quality effectively in the product as well as processes. Also there are other important aspects are needed to be considered while looking into a QMS system like what sort of tools is it providing for reporting and how well is the report generation, is the system extendable with the other systems already installed in the organization like MRP, ERP etc, Is the system customizable according to the needs of any organization etc. These kind of questions were asked from the users of these system to gain their satisfaction level regarding the options and features provided by the system, in a tabular form and response was expected to be in the form of rating from one to ten (Ten being the maximum satisfaction level). The responses are analyzed and illustrated in the table below:



Assurx's CATSWeb

e-Net SPC

Statit e-QC






Data Collection





User-friendly Interface















System Requirements





Extendable/Integrate able





Enterprise wide quality management





Helping towards Continuous Improvement





Overall Systems Satisfaction Rating





Total Score





Table 5 Tools Rating

The responses above regarding the features and options provided by the systems are collected from the users of these systems. This shows how they feel about the working and performance of the system according to their nature of work. These scores are the average of all the responses collected from the users. The total score in the last row hence shows a calculated from these responses in order to get an exact number for satisfaction level. These results are also based upon the options and features provided by the system and were not focused on the systems performance or working. Following graph illustrates and compares the responses collected:

The graph above shows that the users of Statit e-QC have responded with higher rating as compared to the other systems if the total score is considered. Its number is closer to the WebStatistica system which is 4 points less. But WebStatistica has greater response in security and customizability than Statit e-QC. On the lower end of the scores are Assurx's CATSWeb and then e-Net SPC with a lot less positive response then the former two systems. This section of the questioner covers all the characteristics that a quality management system should have and it can be seen that some of the systems have achieved higher positive response than others in one characteristic and in others they have gained lower positive response. The pattern of the line in the graph shows high variability. Each line represents a system and against every statement its pattern shows great change. The reason for this unbalanced response is that all of these systems have their higher and lower ends; some are good at one end of the system while the others are better in other aspects. Implementing a new quality management system in an organization could be very tough job and it brings about loads of change. And to chose which system best suits the organizations requirements is even harder as the systems are mostly trying to cover every bit but in the end when its installed and employees start using it, it reveals certain loose ends, such scenarios could easily be seen with the information systems.

As discussed and illustrated above with the help of the analysis of responses from the users of these systems it could be evidently said that there is a wide variety of options provided by these systems but none provides all of them. Some systems offer data analysis tools while others provide information control and document control mechanisms. Some present automated data collection option while others give the matrices for performance measurement. All of these systems are offering different services from other systems and are taking quality management in different perspective. The comparison of these systems features and options are elaborated in tabular form below.



Assurx's CATSWeb

e-Net SPC

Statit e-QC

User Friendly Interface


Automated Data Collection




Effective Report Generation

Alarm Notifications



Data Analytical Tools


Tools for Business Process Automation (Document Control etc)


Extendable/Integrate able

( With wide range of products)

Provides secure communication

Supplier & Customer Involvement


Different access for different Users

Could be accessed via web browser

(2 Options)

Accepts wide range of data formats

For services providing organizations

For manufacturing organizations

Table 7 Tools and Options Comparison

5.3 Findings from above Discussion and Interviews

Scholars who consider information technology in relation to quality management underline the facilitation of data collection and storage and the improvement of data reliability. They claim that computerized information systems have to be integrated into every facet of process operation: purchasing, inventory, production and customer service. They do not consider information technologies in relation to quality management practices. {Good One}

The comparison table above shows that there is a wide variability in the options and features offered by these systems. Almost all have user friendly interface, except CATSWeb all of them offer automated data collection option, effective report generation, alarm notifications for process variability, customizability and data analytical tools. But none of them offers business process automation tools except Assurx's CATSWeb. Other differences further down in the table are also of the same variability. This means that there is no one system that can meet the requirements of all nature of businesses and not one system can fit into every business category. This is the major loophole that is found in these systems. The efficiency and effectiveness of these systems cannot be questioned but only if they are used in the right kind of business environment for which these systems can perform as expected. Furthermore another important drawback that could be seen is that almost all of these systems focus on just one or two entities of an enterprise. If we take WebStatistica it has its perfection at controlling the processes and monitoring them, and these processes and actually the plant floor processes. It clearly neglects the other business operations that are as important as actual manufacturing processes like customer services, document control, corporate management etc. In today's fast passed world these expensive systems are installed for many reasons mainly to increase performance, increase output and product and process quality. But to achieve all these goals quality needs to be injected or improved of all the business operations in an organization and not just the manufacturing operations. It is not the responsibility of just the manufacturing department to produce quality products but it take the whole organization and departments to achieve that goal.

These software systems for quality management and many other available in the market can be categorized into two following categories that could be (a) Software systems that provide complex data analysis tools and (b) Software systems that focus on business process automation and Document Management Tools. Both sorts of quality management systems provide major tools that can align any organizations quality up to the required standards. But after reviewing the web-based quality management systems it has been concluded that individually these systems provide just one or very few tools and functionalities or they just focus on one or two aspects of business operations. Hence to implement the concept of total quality management there is not one single tool that can align an organizations quality totally.

Keeping into mind which system is best suitable for which nature of business it can be concluded that WebStatistica will give best results if installed in an organization that has manufacturing operations and has loads of complex data to manipulate statistically. WebStatistica offers major tools and techniques that can be used to control processes going out of proportion. But for an organization that has its business purely of services providing nature, whose business majorly relies on the quality of services it offers to it clients it would not be good system to install in such sort of organization. Same is the case with Statit e-QC and e-Net SPC which only provides one tool for quality management that is Statistical Process Control. In the case of Assurx's CATSWeb, the system is an information portal where information from all the departments of the organizations can be shared. It has its specialties for all the business operations including corrective and preventive actions (CAPA) which can be used by manufacturing department following good quality practices. It also includes supplier, customer, audit management, corporate management, and performance measuring dashboards for the organization. It also provides metrics and KPI indices for performance measurement, but what it lacks is the tools to analyze critical data for decision making. It does not provide and statistical tools for the complex data.

“Assurx's CATSWeb provides browser interface, unlimited customized forms and applications, scalability and security, universal e-mail integration, flexible and robust integration with other information systems and generalized terminology and provides best business process automation."[9]

The combination of systems like WebStatistica and Assurx's CATSWeb can provide the best web based system for the management of quality. CATSWeb provides an option for integration with other systems, so can be integrated with WebStatistica. Such a system would provide the organization a very effective and efficient way of implementing, managing and controlling quality issues and manage the quality of whole enterprise or organization with operations around at different geographical locations. Currently in the market there is not a single system available like this proposed system. Such a system can very well manage the internal and external quality of whole enterprise.


Recommendations and Conceptual Model

In every organisation, effective quality management has to be a total, companywide effort that is aimed at the avoidance of problems through the

* planning and engineering of processes, methods and products,

* identification of problems that inevitably will arise and the correction of these

* problems and

* continuous improvement of quality performance.[36]

This should be the methodology applied by the systems to provide enterprise wide quality management. Planning and engineering of product, processes and methods provides a systematic way of doing required work to produce quality products. By injecting quality to the processes less defects outcome can be achieved which eventually increases the production efficiency.

From the discussion above it has been concluded that there is a need of a system in the market that takes the concept of total quality management and a system needs to be designed that considers the quality management of every business operation in the organization. It should handle the quality issue right from the point of customer places an order for a product or service till the time it's delivered and gets the feedback from the customer. “The new practices which strengthen linkages with suppliers and customers require bi-directional and early information exchange between organizations regarding quality. In particular, suppliers are required to make information regarding the quality of their processes and the quality of materials and components supplied readily available [35]. This information can replace inspections of incoming materials and components and force suppliers to improve their quality, thereby also increasing the general quality level.”

Furthermore in the regard of customer it should be kept in mind that whatever the product is offered by the organization or a service offered is meant for the customers to take the advantage, hence their needs and requirements should be studies and kept in goals for throughout the development phase of that product or service. “Tight linkage with customers is vital to obtain complete and precise information on their needs and on the company capacity to satisfy these needs. The Information exchange takes place through the customers' involvement right from the product development process. In this way, many problems are faced before production takes place.” [37]

A concept of system is presented by taking into consideration the discussion and analysis done from the research in the previous chapters of this dissertation. The loopholes and drawbacks in the existing systems have been investigated as mentioned above and the proposed system is designed to overcome the downsides in the current quality management systems. This proposed system is designed on the approach of total quality management so that it can cover the drawbacks of currently available system. This means that the system should cover each and every department of the organization and should aid in improving the quality of the whole enterprise processes, services provided and the final product.

This conceptual system is a propositional system that basically highlights the lacking in current available systems. Since the main aim of this dissertation was to the review the current systems it was not possible to actually develop this complete system and review its working. This concept was proposed to actually introduce what further could be done in the field of quality management systems that can aid in the field of quality management to the organizations and what future possibilities and horizons are there to investigate and research for the systems providers. Due to limitation of time and finances only a framework is developed and discussed here.

Quality management has three basic components as discussed in the literature review:

* Quality Control

* Quality Assurance

* Quality Control

If these three components are managed well then quality is managed in best possible way known. The model that is proposed here is based on the platform put together with the tools and mechanism to manage these components of quality management. Since the above discussed and other systems in the market all have one major drawback that is lacking of enterprise-wide scope of quality management. Most of the system does claim that they manage the quality of the whole enterprise but they still miss or does not offer some important segments of business operations quality management. It is attempted to overcome this down side of current quality management system and a model is presented that is widely customizable and would fit into all nature of businesses from service providing organizations to manufacturing industry. The framework of the conceptual proposed system is presented in .

The system is presented in integrate able form and has following four parts that could be integrated as per the quality management requirements of the organizations:

* Knowledge Sharing Portal

* Quality Centre Application Server

* Workflow Quality Management Portal

* Customer & Supplier Quality Management Portal

The package comes with the basic knowledge sharing portal as significance of knowledge and information sharing has been discussed in previous chapters, it acts as a basic source for quality management for the whole enterprise. The sections illustrated in the framework of the system are further illustrated below:

Knowledge Sharing Portal

Knowledge Sharing Portal acts a platform for sharing information from across the organization. Employees from all the departments can access to valuable, precise and timely information from the three databases that are:

Internal Database: It stores the data and information regarding internal business processes, inter-departmental communication, work flow, data collected from sensors and gauges and other quality related information.

External Database: It keeps the information and data that comes from external entities like customer complaint portal, supplier portal and other quality related external entities.

Quality Centre Database: It manages the data that is created from the application of tools and techniques of quality control, monitoring and improvement and keeps the results and reports generated for future analysis and sharing among departments.

Quality Centre Application Server

The Quality Centre Application Server keeps all the supported tools and techniques supported for the quality control, assurance, monitoring and improvement. The Quality Centre Application Server is supposed to offer all the major and vital tools for comprehensive quality management.

Workflow Quality Management Portal

For the purpose of quality assurance Workflow Quality Management Portal has been proposed to be a separate entity from Quality Centre Application Server as it is supposed to offer a platform for assuring standardized workflow of the business processes. It would offer a customized service for keeping a check and conditions on smooth flow of processes.

Customer and Supplier Quality Management Portal

Customer and Supplier involvement is vital for total quality management, this is the reason a separate portal for customer and suppliers is proposed in this system. This portal would gather information regarding customer satisfaction and feedback, purchasing and delivery information of suppliers.


Communication mechanism between the user and the system is supposed to be the same as of any typical web based quality management system. Its interface would be browser based and would be accessible from any computers web browser via internet. Purpose of the different parts of the proposed system has been illustrated above. User would communicate with the system via Knowledge Sharing Portal in three of the following ways:

* Monitor: Use the monitoring feature to monitor the processes and control them. A dashboard will be added to the interface for process monitoring.

* Request: Request to apply tools and techniques on available data.

* View: View the previously analyzed data and reports.

Based on the ranks and department of the users, different privileges and roles for access to the system would be allotted to them. This system is supposed to equip user with the facilities of monitoring the processes, live data from the sensors and gages could also be monitored. Then request the Quality Centre Application Server for any available tool or technique to be applied on the available data and information. Reports and previously analyzed data and information could be used for the quality assurance and quality improvement aspects.


The system would be offered in fully customizable option. It would be very flexible quality management system for quality control and continuous improvement of processes. A completely customizable process management system built in with wide range of quality tools and integrateable features. The system is supposed to be offered in a way that it could suit organizations doing all sort of businesses. The basic system is supposed to have only Knowledge Sharing Portal that would equip the organization with information and data sharing, which could act as a backbone for quality management. Furthermore it depends on the organizations and their requirements for quality management to integrate the rest of three sections of the proposed system into the Knowledge Sharing Portal. Also Quality Centre Application Server will offered with the basic quality management tools and techniques and all the complex and statistical analysis tools would be optional to be integrated into the server.

Innovative Feature

Another innovative feature could also be introduced into the system that is mini application of the proposed system for cell phones. The application development for cell phones has become very advance and GPRS technologies are also quite advance these days. Since this system is accessible via internet so a user should not need to access the system from the pc rather it should also be available to the cell phone. So that user can monitor and control his process and quality related issues could be resolved from anywhere and anytime. In this way a user can log into the mobile application of this system and monitor its processes working and manipulate the data and view the reports. Alerts for the processes going out of limits can be sent directly to the user on his cell phone. Such kind of advancement in the quality management system would bring new definitions to the scalability and an exceptionally portable form of quality management system can be introduced in the market.


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A sample questioner is attached in the appendix that was sent via email and was filled out by the telephonic conversations with the surveyed people.

Dear Participants,

I'm doing a research project on Web-based Quality Management Systems. I would like to welcome you to take part in questionnaires. I assure you that the data collected from these questionnaires will only be used for academic research and name or identity of you and your organization will not be disclosed. The main purpose of this data is to measure organizations satisfaction towards the Quality Management System being used, systems performance and how it helps towards achieving the goals.

Name of the Organization:

1) Which Quality Management System is your organization using?

2) In what areas do you think this system helps the most?

3) Does the system increases the visibility of the processes and offer tools to control these processes?

4) How would you agree with the following terms about the quality management system?


Strongly disagree


Somewhat Disagree

Don't know




Strongly Agree

Overall performance has increased

System provides enough tools to manage quality

Administration of the system is manageable

System provides enough tools for business process automation

System provides an enterprise wide view of the product & processes

System is reliable/dependable for quality management

Systems has made decision making easy for management

5) Rate the features/terms of the system below?


Rating (min - max)


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Data Collection

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

User-friendly Interface

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

System Requirements

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Extendable/Integrate able

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Enterprise wide quality management (TQM)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Helping towards Continuous Improvement

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

6) Which data analysis tools are you using from this system?

7) How well does the system handles organizations data and provides related tools to analyze the data?


Very Well



Very Poor

8) Has the system helped the organization to achieve certain international standards for quality?

Yes No

If yes please specify:

9) Does the system needs any improvements in any area?

Yes NO

If yes please elaborate:

How would you say your organization's satisfaction level is for this product? Rate (1-

Thank you for your help in completing these questionnaires.