Quality is baseline of customers satisfaction


1 Introduction

Howard S. Gitlow defines quality as “A predicable degree of uniformity and dependability, at low cost and suited to market”. Quality is baseline of customer's satisfaction and ultimately customer contentment is guarantee to a successful business. Organisations follow standards and guidelines produced or written by quality monitoring agencies / institutes for quality production and in order to gain big market share to compete in.

Managing quality in an organisation is all about defining and practising of systems and/or expertise to deal with and to fulfil customer demands. Management systems always exist and are needed by all businesses whether small or large businesses, service oriented or manufacturing. Jay Schlickman (2001: P10) explains quality management systems as a course of constantly monitoring, improving and streamlining an organization's production capability in terms of product and service, structure and potential to serve the ever changing needs of customers.

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Major benefit linked to Quality Management is, defining processes to produce finer products or services, rather than detecting defects in finished products or agreed services. Quality management system does not hold on to single element, Beckford (2002: p27) describes quality management as a phenomena that encompasses all key elements and those are organisational structure, responsibilities, procedures or processes, resources, customer satisfaction, continues improvement.

Quality management system ensures two major requirements which are:

  • Assurance in organisational ability to produce quality product and services consistently fulfilling customer's requirements.
  • Increasing organisation's ability to use optimal cost with effective use of current resources - human, information technology and materials.

1.1 AutoSoft Dynamics Introduction

AutoSoft Dynamics Pvt. Limited (ASD) is a software development company offers readily available customizable solutions for the niche market of Banking and the Financial Institutes. ASD consists of different department those are Development, Marketing, HR, Support and Quality Assurance with almost 80 people working in those departments.

AutoSoft Dynamics is ISO certified organisation and is contently improving quality with specialized personnel in different departments.

1.2 Research Purpose

This document is a review research focuses key role of quality management system in organisation and its operations. Analyzes how quality management benefits in achieving organisational goals? How to make efficient utilization of required resources to business process? and finally gives recommendations to improve and introduce new ways of developing quality culture and its implementation.

2 Literature Review

Management systems are necessity of every successful business regardless of its size and market sector. A good quality management system sets standards to meet customer satisfaction, provides better process control with lower wastage and economical cost and makes organisation confident of capturing big market share.

Adoption of quality management systems is a strategic decision taken by organisation and is greatly subjective to the size, objectives, routine processes and structure of an organisation and, I think quality management corresponds to change in organisation' way of thinking and performing actions. Organisation must consider some factors associated with implementation of QMS.

Plan of QMS refers to its structure, process and implementation. QMS must be designed by top management while keeping in mind of business's core functionality and must document organisation wide goals and organisation's stakeholder's satisfaction requirements. QMS in physical form is documentation of each process and procedures those are deployed and implemented in organisation and therefore deployment of QMS can be best achieved by dividing each process into its sub-process and then describing each sub-process with documents and training. Description of quality document should be accessible to each employee of the organisation so that during processes quality can be implemented. Today's modern era of information technology has given further easement in deployment of QMS with the increasing use of electronic documents. Quality control is entirely deepened on the size of and structure of a business. Continual reviews and audits must be carried out on regularly basis. ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) a non-governmental and a network of 161 country's national standard institutes, is worlds largest developer and publisher of international standards (ISO, 2010). Organisation qualify for certification and approvals when implement quality up to standard and then continually measure andreviewquality by analysing efficiency and effectiveness of each process towards attainment of objectives. Reviews or audits straighten organisational behaviours towards improvement of processes and thus plays very important role in managing change in organisations.

2.1 Why standards Matter?

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ISO (2010) explains importance of implementing standards as “Standards ensure enviable features of commodities and services such as quality, environmental responsiveness, protection, reliability, competence and interchangeability - and at an economical cost”. Standards ensure safety, efficiency and non-defective manufacturing of products or reliable services.

2.2 Quality Management Key Terms

2.2.1 Quality

Measure of conformance of a product or service to retain specification or standards (Jae & Joel, 1999: p1)

2.2.2 Quality Manual

A document specifying the quality management system of an organisation (Ray & Bruce, 2001: p16)

2.2.3 Operations

Set of all activities associated with the production or good and services. (Jae & Joel, 1999: p1)

2.2.4 Operations Management

Management of all activities directly related to the production of goods and services. (Jae & Joel, 1999: p1)

2.2.5 Business Process Re-engineering

Exercise to make innovative changes in business processes. (Jae & Joel, 1999: p1)

2.2.6 Supply Chain Management

Management of integration of functions, information and materials that flow across multiple firms (Jae & Joel, 1999: p1)

2.3 Dr. Deming's Theory of Management

Dr. W. Edwards Deming an American management consultant also called the father of Quality Management gave blistering theory of quality management that influenced restoration of Japanese economy after World War II. Major Corporation in U.S. and other countries in 1980s, adopted his theory that focused “Joy in work”. Dr. Deming emphasised the need of inserting quality stress at each process, not by inspecting product or service, once it is completed. Dr. Deming was of view that problems or defects in product or services occur as a result of faulty management and not because of carelessness of workers. (Howard S. Gitlow, 2000: P2).

2.4 ISO Definitions of Quality

ISO 9000:2000 standard defines quality “The ability of a set of intrinsic characteristics to satisfy requirements”. (Ray & Bruce, 2001: P1).

ISO 8402-94 standard explains quality as “The set of characteristics of an entity that give that entity the ability to satisfy expressed and implicit needs”.

2.5 Quality Types

2.5.1 External Quality

External quality refers to the satisfaction of customers or clients. Organisations improve and maintain external quality by providing quality product and establishing customer loyalty.

2.5.2 Internal Quality

Internal quality focuses improving company's internal operations. The purpose of improving internal quality is to limit the deficiencies in organisation production procedures and to maintain discipline.

2.6 Quality Management system

2.6.1 Quality Control

ISO 9000:2000 states quality control as “part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements” (Ray & Bruce, 2001: P11). Quality control is all about supervision of workmanship associated with quality level of product by design. Quality control is practised by organisation to make sure that all actions during design and production are up to desired standards. Generally all members in organisation act like quality controller.

2.6.2 Quality Assurance

Ray & Bruce (2001: P11) Quality Assurance focused on providing confidence that requirements will be fulfilled (ISO 9000:2000). Quality assurance evaluates different disciplined approaches to monitor and evaluate projects so that standards can be met. QA assures that finished product is according to requirements given or desired by customers and mistakes should have eliminated.

2.6.3 Total Quality Management

Total quality management is a concept of using quality methods and techniques to strategic advantage within organisations. Total quality management based on six concepts and are customers (internal and external), continuous improvement, control and preventive actions with leadership and management. (Chris Hakes, 1991: p11)

Total quality management supports two key beliefs i.e. the quality is what customer says and it must be integrated in every function of business process. Total quality management can be broken down as follows:

Total: that everyone in organisation is responsible to understand and is involved in customer satisfaction.

Quality: ability of an organisation to fulfil internal or external customer's satisfaction.

Management: the leadership, infrastructure and resources that support employees. Continuous Improvement

Quality is never ending process and quality management system corresponds to continual improvement in procedures and functions of an organisation. In order to be globally competitive in today's modern manufacturing environment, companies are more focused towards reducing product development time, improve product quality, speeding delivery time to customer and controlling of any dysfunction.

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Below is graphical representation of true Quality Management System with continual improvement.

3 Methodology

This document talks about quality management system, discuss strategic objectives of operations management and defines the implementation of quality audit /practice to manage and monitor quality to standards. The research in this document is reflection of secondary data and the most approached data is from following sources;

  • SO Website
  • Electronic documents i.e. Books, Journal Articles, and Research work.

4 Limitations

Following limitations are observed while conducting research.

  • Time Constraint

5 Analysis

5.1 My Understanding of Operations Management

Many people think production means factories, equipment or machinery. But actually the field of production has expanded it scope to cover non-manufacturing or service oriented activities such as transportation, hotel management, banking and education and such broad scope has evolved new name called operations management (OM).

Operations is a process by which goods or services are created and operations management deals with the management and decisions making related to production to ensure products and services corresponds to specification, in-time and with minimum costs. (Jae & Joel, 1999: p2)

5.1.1 Operations Management Role

The role of Operations management starts with high-level business plan with long and short term strategies on the basis of careful analysis of demand for product or service. Operation manage integrates production plans with control of material that interact with manufacturing and distribution of finished product or agreed service as required in the market.

AutoSoft Dynamics (ASD) operations manager is responsible for defining business process and allocation of resources. Operations manager at ASD measures efficiency of production by analysing target performance in terms of time and resources.

5.2 Vocabulary of Strategy

5.2.1 Vision

Vision is a concept that gives future projection. Vision should be relative to business and must be realistic, meaningful to organisation and attractive. Vision should give inspiration and motivation to people in organisation.

5.2.2 Mission

Mintzberg (1994:11) defines mission as description of an organisation's fundamental purpose in the form of services and products it provides in the society. Mission reflects scope of organisation's strategy.

5.2.3 Objectives

Objectives are pure outcomes of a mission statement. Strategic objectives should fulfil SMART criteria. SMART concept gives realistic approach to objectives and is as follows: Specific

Objectives should be very precise and should give clear understanding of vision and mission of an organisation. Measurable

Objective must compliance to possible indicators those can be calculated. Achievable

Objective must be set with the consideration of available resources. It must be consistent to capabilities and opportunities of an organisation. Time Bounded

There must be a time limit in achieving projected objectives and that time frame must be realistic.

5.3 Strategic Objectives

Operations management role is very critical in success of every business. It is responsibility of operations management to design and improve business processes according to the missions and objectives developed by the organisation. if organisation is not able to achieve its targeted objective than their is a need to improve business processes carried out by the company.

Strategic objective of ASD is to provide a to z solution in banking sector with latest reliable technology and error free applications. Operations manager at ASD regularly carries research with quality assurance team to improve performance of resources and procedures with continual modification of procedure documents.

5.4 Operations Strategies

Operations strategy involves setting-up policies and procedures for using the resources required to produce product or service that facilities and support organisations long terms competitive strategies. Below are the four basic strategy issues, determined during analysis of operations strategies.

5.4.1 Cost

Every market sector has a segment that buys products or use services available at low cost and for organisations to compete in this niche, it is very important, to be a low cost producer. Although, being a low cost producer does not guarantee success in profit and market share. But, as low cost products are typically commodities-like (Products available from different manufacturers with same or some variation in features) products, which customers cannot distinguish from one another and as a result, customer use cost as primary determinant for making purchase. However, this segment of market share is usually hold large influence and many companies get attracted by customers because of this single score.

5.4.2 Quality

Quality is also a very critical and sensitive factor associated with operations strategies. Quality is usually divided into two phases i.e. process quality and product quality. I used sensitive word in preceding statement, why? The reason is quality standard of a product must be set carefully by analysing targeted market. For example, quality of bicycle produced for a child should have significant difference from that of bicycle for world class cyclist.

The goal in establishing a quality strategy is to focus on the requirements of the customer. Overdesigned product with too much quality will prohibit customer's buying intention because of its high cost and on other hand under-design product will lose customers to products that offer good quality with a little more cost.

5.4.3 Speed of Delivery

Speed of delivery can be divided in to categories, market delivery and consumer delivery. Market delivery is directly proportional to the demand in market and must be analysed carefully because wrong stats may lead to decrease in market share and profit. Consumer delivery is another market niche and is considered very important in purchasing decision. Delivery time is the time required to reach to the customer and companies assume it as a competitive priority. But, less delivery time also allow companies to charge some extra cost.

5.4.4 Flexibility

Flexibility in terms of strategy refers to a company's ability to shift or transforms its processes. Flexibility is of critical importance when it comes to absorb the change in customer requirement. If a company is not flexible enough to fulfil change triggered in market, company may lose its market share and may become obsolete.

5.5 Strategic Decisions

Some Decisions are very important to an organisation, with consequences felt over many years. Other decisions are of less importance with consequences felt over a few days or may be a few hours. We can categories decisions as strategic, tactical and operational. Every organisation uses all levels of decisions, e.g. if an educational institutes focus to offer new range of post-graduate courses over a certain amount of time is strategic decisions, deciding which modules to offer under post-graduate course is tactical and deciding who will teach those contents is operational. But, philosophy of decisions varies between organisations.

Decision making is not one go task neither one man show, it's a process and usually is discussed, negotiated and agreed. Strategic decisions include:

  • Setting-up organisational goals and policies
  • Managing resources and controlling business
  • Developing people in organisation

Strategic decisions consider the overall aims of the organisation and are found in mission statement of the organisation, decides how business will achieve it objective and how business will contribute in market share and decides direction of each business function i.e. operations, marketing, HR and finance.

5.6 Business process

Hammer and Champy (1993) define business process as “a collection of activities that takes one or more kinds of inputs and creates an output that is of value to the customer”.

Business process producing goods are referred to as manufacturing process and process that deliver services are called as business workflow, service or administration process. Business process also represents a conceptual view of ay organisation's way of work and resources.

Autosoft Dynamics (ASD) is a software development company and major business process is to develop error free banking application.

5.6.1 Resources

Organisation has to have enough resources to fulfil business process and external customer requirements. Personnel an organisation hires should be competent and trained for assigned jobs. Resources are not limited to humans require to accomplish a job; the other resources could be building / workspace, utilities, equipment / machinery, transportation system and communications system.

5.7 ASD's Business Process Workflow

Workflow of a process defines the activities a business process will carry during production phase. Workflow examines necessary inputs gives detail process solution and expects a quality produce.

AutoSoft Dynamics's business process takes requirement specification and resource feasibility document as input to the development of application. Then necessary research is carried out by allocated resources to ensure quality and reliability of proposed application. That research is then reviewed by operations manager, who then gives final recommendations. Software developer (Human resource) then develop application in chunks of modules and that module is passed to QA team who further inspects reliability and quality of that module and then finally that module is integrated to final application and this way business processes produce output.

5.7.1 Supportive Tools & Systems

AutoSoft Dynamics has introduced an application “Bug Tracker” which helps quality assurance team to post quality matter to development team. Development team then discuss that matter QA if further investigation is required or else fulfil QA's requirement and then application module is redelivered to QA team. Who gains verifies and conducts quality checks and then finally integrates to final application.

5.8 Quality Audit and Review

For any QMS to be effective, regular audit and reviews must be carried out so that, adherence of actual functions to documented procedure could be make sure. The main purpose of audit should be to establish facts to improve quality not to find only defects and reviews must ensure that enhanced customer satisfaction is met.

My analysis or recommendation to ASD's quality review is that the “Bug Tracker” application can be used as a review of quality work done by development and testing department. Based on reports developed by that application quality measures can be determined and better functions can be introduced.

5.9 Importance of Continuous Improvement

For any organisation to develop and learn new techniques and to compete in this modern era, continuous improvement is a necessity. Beckharda (1969, p. 9) defines organisational improvement as, "an effort, planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's processes, using behavioural-science knowledge."

Managing change in organisation is all about defining and practicing of procedures and/or expertise to deal with changes in current business environment to develop and achieve organisational goals. Change management is an organized technique towards implementing change, either at individual level or an organizational level. Core aspects of change management are:

  • Adapting to change
  • Controlling change
  • Effecting change

By Moran and Brighton (2001) “The process of continually renewing an organization's direction, structure and capabilities to serve the ever changing needs of external and internal customers.

Above explanation is very authentic evidence supporting importance of improvement in an organisation. My view point is that QMS is all about improving thing consistently. QMS ensures every possible improvement regardless of department or activity. QMS is not only designed to improve quality in production but, also to improve ethics, health & safety and documentation necessary to carried out all early mentioned activities.

My opinion is that QMS is the appealing contender in making an organisation achieving its objects and mission among others.

6 Evaluation

I have evaluated that AutoSoft Dynamics is lacking unit testing environment that must be introduced within development environment. Because software module is passed to QA without unit testing or internal team testing and chances are always there that functional errors may exist.

But, why there is a need of unit testing? Well, I have concluded that quality is all about improving all phases of a business process and efficient utilization of resource. Unable to perform internal testing is means, that QA first will focus functional errors and then will go for customer centric quality testing and, if there is a functional error even a minor mistake of calculation will again initiate a complete development process that will waste time and other precious resources.

The other problem that i have discovered is QA team is lacking of effective testing plans and that's why unable to perform full functional test.

7 Recommendation

In order to eliminate functional test and introducing internal team testing culture I have research and find out and effective application that can provide development team with an automated unit testing and effective testing plans to QA team.

My recommendation is to introduce “QA Test” software developed to carry out rigorous tests must be used by development team. QA Test gives development centric improvement and enhancement options that could help development department better functionalize specific module before delivering it to Test department so that, functional bugs / errors can be removed before delivering to QA and customer centric requirement can be achieved in a timely fashion.

8 Feasibility

Because of limited time and resources, I will not be able to provide a complete feasibility report but still I think my recommendation is feasible in terms of cost and time.

Feasible in terms of cost is because usually development teams have a specialized person only to perform unit or internal team testing and is expensive resource. Although “QA Test” requires licence to be purchased but that is one time cost and can be used as per requirements

Feasible in terms of time is that “QA Test” application gives much reliable automation testing and can be used to test different aspects of software module. With the use of this application unit testing can be carried out very easily at initial stage and functional errors can be removed and handled prior handing over to QA where more customer requirements are matched.

9 References

  • AutoSoft Dynamics (2010). Available at http://www.autosoftdynamics.com. [Accessed: 22 April, 2010]
  • Jay J. S. (2003). ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Systems Design. Artech House Publishers (January 2003). ISBN: 1-58053-526-7
  • Beckford. J. (2002). Quality: A critical Introduction. 1st Routledge. ISBN: 0415259193
  • Howard S. G. (2000). Quality Management Systems: A Practical Guide. 1st ed. CRC Press. ISBN: 1574442619
  • Ray T., Bruce S.(2001). ISO 9000:2001 in Brief. Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd. ISBN: 0750648147
  • ISO (2005). Quality management systems -- Fundamentals and vocabulary. Available at http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=29280 [Accessed: 23 April, 2010]
  • Jae S., Joel G. S. (1999). Operations Management. 1st Ed. ISBN: 0764105108
  • ISO (2007), International organization for standardization, available at: http://www.iso.org [Accessed: 24 April 2010]
  • Chris H. (1991). Total Quality Management: The Key to Business Improvement. 1st Ed. Springer publishers. ISBN: 0412357305
  • Beckhard, R. (1969). Organization development: Strategies and models. Addison-Wesley. ISBN: 0201004488