Quality Management Systems: Concept and Dimensions

Introduction

This paper contains a research study on the concept of quality management systems (QMS). It highlights its main dimensions and shows its importance to organizational performance. Key tenets of this report also demonstrate how organizations could implement the QMS approach and emphasize the importance of having quality policies in an organization. However, before delving deeper into these details, it is pertinent to understand the origin and evolution of the QMS concept.

Evolution of QMS

The QMS concept started as a term coined by the Naval Air Systems Command Unit to describe unique Asian-styled quality control measures for different organizational processes (American Society for Quality, 2016). At its inception, it included the principles and practices of behavioral sciences, economic theories, process analysis, and the analysis of quantitative and non-quantitative data (Rocha-Lona, Garza-Reyes, & Kumar, 2013). The evolution of the QMS concept has occurred through five different periods that spread from the 1920s to date.

In the 1920s, many facets of the United States (US) economy started adopting the concept of QMS, as a management philosophy (American Society for Quality, 2016). However, this process created a problem among workers who were affected by the change because they lacked the power to influence the conditions and functions of their work. Such problems led to the Hawthorne experiment, which showed how managers could increase the productivity of workers through their increased participation in organizational processes (Rocha-Lona et al., 2013).

In the 1930s, researchers, such as Walter Shewhart, started to develop scientific management principles of quality management (American Society for Quality, 2016). In the 1950s, QMS entered a new phase where other researchers started to teach these new methods of quality control to different groups of professionals. For example, Edwards Deming taught statistical management tools to Japanese Engineers (Rocha-Lona et al., 2013).

Some people consider this period at the start of the QMS movement (Sebastianelli & Tamimi, 2002). Other researchers that were actively involved in the promotion of the concept during this period included Joseph M. Juran, Armand V. Feigenbaum, and Philip B. Crosby (Rocha-Lona et al., 2013). They taught different concepts of promoting quality and paved the way for promoting quality improvements in different companies.

In the late 1960s, Japanese companies started inculcating the concept of quality improvements in their business management practice (American Society for Quality, 2016). The incorporation of the QMS concept in Japanese business practice largely explains why the country is a leader in this regard. Today, pundits largely consider the QMS concept a broad and systemic approach for managing quality issues in an organization (Rocha-Lona et al., 2013).

Dimensions of Quality and their impact on an organization

The consensus among researchers is that eight main dimensions of quality influence an organization’s performance. They include

Performance: This dimension of quality refers to an attribute of a product or service, that would be instrumental to its operating characteristics. Mostly, these attributes are measurable; however, in cases where they are intangible, researchers use objective assessment methods of performance (Garvin, 1987). Performance affects organizations by varying their resource requirements for production.

Features: This dimension of quality refers to auxiliary attributes of a product, or service (Garvin, 2016). Stated differently, it refers to additional characteristics of a product, or service, that make it appealing to customers. Features could affect the functionality of an organization’s outputs.

Reliability: The reliability of a product, or service, is more of a guarantee to a customer that a specified product, or service chain, would not break down within a specified period. This dimension of quality is important to customers who are particular about the workings of a product. Organizations that produce reliable products benefit from improved competitiveness, as customers shun their rivals who produce inferior products (Garvin, 2016).

Conformance: There are different quality standards set by different local and international quality agencies. Conformance is a dimension of quality that refers to the precision with which specific products and services meet the quality standards laid out by the quality organizations (BridgeValley Community & Technical College, 2016). This quality dimension could lead to a redefinition of organizational processes to conform to the set standards of operation.

Durability: The durability of a product refers to its shelf life. However, when products are subject to repair, the concept of durability often varies. In other words, it becomes difficult to estimate the durability of a product this way. By understanding the concept of durability, it is easy for users to understand when to sell a product because there is a time when the repair costs could surpass the value of using the same product. This dimension of quality could affect the kinds of raw materials and operational processes that organizations use in making goods (Garvin, 1987).

Serviceability: This dimension of quality refers to the ease at which users could repair a product when it breaks down (Sebastianelli & Tamimi, 2002). It also refers to the competence and character of the person, or organization, which will service the product. This dimension of quality could affect the business relationships of an organization because it could have to collaborate with other organizations to offer after-sale services, or introduce a new department within the organization to offer the same services.

Aesthetics: Aesthetics are individualistic. This aspect of quality control refers to a user’s personal experience with a product, or service, particularly, in the sense of how it looks or feels. Organizations often strive to outwit each other based on this quality dimension because they want to provide the most appealing products, or services (Garvin, 1987). Therefore, this dimension of quality may improve a company’s competitiveness.

Perceived Quality: The Indirect measures of a good, or service, could easily determine how people rate the quality of a product or service. This is the basis for the determination of a product’s perceived quality. Here, it is important to point out that perceived quality may not necessarily highlight the “real” quality of a product or service. Nonetheless, organizations that produce products that have a perceived low quality are bound to suffer from low sales.

Importance of Having Quality Policies within an Organization

It is important to have a quality management policy within an organization because it promotes different aspects of a company’s processes and business relations. For example, many customers today require organizations to have a quality management policy, as a surety that the services they would get from the organization would meet high-quality standards (BridgeValley Community & Technical College, 2016).

Alternatively, they need the same quality statement as a surety that the company would deliver a product, or service, within a specified time and according to a predetermined quality. This is why many prequalification questionnaires have a quality management statement. Nonetheless, it is not a legal requirement for businesses to have a quality management statement, but best business management practices demonstrate the importance of having an internal quality control and use of resources to serve the same purpose (BridgeValley Community & Technical College, 2016).

Businesses could enjoy the multiple benefits of having a quality management policy. Such benefits include increased customer loyalty, repeat businesses, flexible responses to market opportunities, improved ability to create value for customers, and improved competitive advantages through improved organizational capabilities (Rocha-Lona et al., 2013).

Integrating QMS into a Business System Approach

There are different approaches to implementing QMS. The main strategies include the QSM implementation approach, the guru approach, the organization model approach, the Japanese total quality approach, and the award criteria approach (American Society for Quality, 2016). The award criteria approach focuses on using quality management to meet the criteria for winning an award. Although some researchers question its effectiveness, most of them say it has led to significant quality improvements in organizations (American Society for Quality, 2016).

The Japanese total quality approach uses strategies employed by Deming Prizewinning companies to implement QMS. The Florida Power and Light Company used this strategy to implement QSM, successfully (American Society for Quality, 2016). Lastly, the organizational model approach involves organizations learning from industry leaders on the implementation of QSM. Success stories include companies, which received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards in the 1980s (American Society for Quality, 2016).

Conclusion

This paper has highlighted the importance of QSM in organizational processes and the improvement of product quality and service delivery. Policy implementation is an important tool in the implementation of this management policy, but the realization of some of its benefits, as described in this paper, requires the full commitment of the organization’s leadership to make it work. Nonetheless, although it is vital to have a QSM policy in organizations, there is no one solution for implementing QSM approaches in organizational processes.

References

American Society for Quality. (2016). Total Quality Management Implementation and Systems.

BridgeValley Community & Technical College. (2016). Introduction to Quality Management Systems ISO 9001 and Beyond.

Garvin, D.A. (1987). Competing on the eight dimensions of quality.

Garvin, D. (2016). Dimensions of Quality.

Rocha-Lona, L., Garza-Reyes, J., & Kumar, V. (2013). Building Quality Management Systems: Selecting the Right Methods and Tools. New York, NY: CRC Press.

Sebastianelli, R., & Tamimi, N. (2002). How product quality dimensions relate to defining quality. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 19(4), 442 – 453.