Definition of Quality
How do you define quality in a product or service? Generally speaking, quality is the capacity of a product or service to meet or exceed customer requirements or expectations. In this lesson, we will discuss the various definitions and dimensions of quality and why quality’s important to operations and supply chains.
Joe is in the market for a new car, and what defines quality in a car for him is made up of many different factors. Overall, he wants his car to satisfy his stated needs and be free from any deficiencies. Joe has spent over one month researching his car options and has determined that he has two different perspectives on quality.
Although there is a general definition of quality, the term can mean different things to people. For example, quality can be examined from either the perspective of value or of conformance. A value perspective of quality is based on how a specific characteristic of a product or service matches the needs of the customer. For example, Joe is looking for a good quality automobile that is considered a good value, which, in this case, means that it’s viewed as having an acceptable price.
Joe can also view quality from a conformance perspective, which is when quality is judged based on how a product was made or a service was performed as expected. For example, Joe will not consider the luxury brand UMW because he thinks the car has poor value. Joe’s father owned a UMW and it was always in the repair shop. The car did not perform as expected because his dad could not depend on the car for transportation.
In addition to quality perspectives, there are eight dimensions of quality that are important to consumers and businesses in the area of operations and supply chain management. Keep in mind that the perspectives and dimensions of quality can be applied to both product and services. For this lesson, we will examine the dimensions through a product example.
Eight Dimensions of Quality
Joe believes he has chosen the perfect new car to travel to work in every day – a red sports car called the City Pony. Let’s see how the Pony stands up to the eight dimensions of quality.
The first dimension is performance, and it relates to the manner or quality of how a product functions. In Joe’s car choice, he expects that the Pony will perform well from an engine and acceleration perspective. After the test drive, he believes that the Pony has a high performance quality. Performance can be an issue of contention between suppliers and customers, especially if specific requirements are not agreed upon. If the performance of a product is subpar then it can end up hurting the company’s reputation and overall profits.
The second dimension of quality is concerned with features, which are the added benefits that are specified or required for use. Joe expects the Pony to contain accessory features like power doors and windows, 17-inch tires, and a high technology sound system. From an operations and supply chain perspective, it is important to ensure that the features (which in this case are auto packages) are specified during production. Features can sometimes be overlooked for other product dimensions, but they are just as important to the end consumer.
Reliability is the third dimension of quality and it focuses on whether the product consistently performs in relation to its specifications. The Pony will have reliability if there are a large number of miles between visits to the service department. Reliability is closely related to performance, and failure or defect rates must be minimized in production.
The car’s durability is another dimension of quality. It determines how the product will last under specific conditions. Joe’s Pony car comes with a warranty that reflects the element of durability. In addition, procurement contracts usually call for specified instructions for the product to reach stated levels of durability during use.
Conformance refers to whether the product conforms to the production specifications or standards. This element of quality depends upon the quality of the design and production functions. In Joe’s case, it would refer to how well the Pony conforms to industry standards.
Joe also is concerned with the aesthetics dimension of quality for his new car; he insists on beautiful styling and layout for his Pony. Aesthetics refer to how a product looks, feels, smells, sounds, and tastes. Aesthetics is an important dimension to a company’s brand identity. If Joe finds defects in the aesthetics of the car, he will instantly rule out the purchase. It’s important for a company to have in place quality checks in production and design to ensure a product that is free from aesthetic defects and pleasing to the eye.
The Pony vehicle also needs to have excellent serviceability. For Joe, this means that it is easy to repair and maintain. Expensive repairs and defects will cause a loss in customers and in brand equity. The car manufacturer has to make sure that production quality takes into account the importance of eliminating defects and product problems.
The final quality dimension is perceived quality, and it’s based upon the customer’s perception of the quality of the product. Even though the Pony is a high-quality product, Joe started to have buyer’s remorse and concern about poor quality due to the fact that one of the extra installation accessories caused constant problems. The aftermarket DVD and entertainment system has caused Joe daily headaches. This can be problematic for a company that has great care with their production quality and parts because an unrelated variable (in this case, the aftermarket installer) can ruin the image of quality for the car.
Quality is the capacity of a product or service to meet or exceed customer requirements or expectations. Although there is a general definition of quality, the term can mean different things to people. For example, it can be viewed from a value perspective, which is based on how a specific characteristic of a product or service matches the needs of the customer. Or quality can be viewed from a conformance perspective, which is when quality is judged based on how a product was made or a service was performed as expected.
There are eight dimensions of quality.
- Performance, which relates to the manner or quality of how a product functions
- Features, which are the added benefits that are specified or required for use
- Reliability, which focuses on whether the product consistently performs in relation to the specifications
- Durability, which determines how the product will last under specific conditions
- Conformance, which refers to whether the product conforms to the production specifications or standards
- Aesthetics, which is how a product looks, feels, smells, sounds, and tastes
- Serviceability, which means that it is easy to repair and maintain
- Perceived quality, which is based upon the customer’s perception of the quality of the product
Once you are finished with this lesson, you should be able to:
- Describe the two types of quality perspectives
- Name and explain the eight dimensions of quality