The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

Jun 29, 2011

How to plan for quality?

The first step in a quality improvement programme is planning which in itself also consists of five major steps which are discussed below.

1) Product or service selection. The first step in planning for quality is to identify and select the product or service that needs improvement. This topic has been exhaustively discussed in an earlier article.

2) Output definition. Output is a product or service that you produce regularly and pass on to another person or department that uses it. Activities we do which are not passed on are results not output. It must be something you do yourself not what you supervise or delegate to others to do. It is essential not only to know our output but more importantly to know our customers and their requirements.

3) Identify the customer-supplier chain. In quality management, a customer can be both internal and external. the user of you output is your customer who may modify your output before passing it on to another person or department for further modification on and on like that until the final product or service ends up in the hand of the end user.

4) Negotiate the customer requirements. In order for a product to be usable and beneficial to your customer, there may be specific requirements which make the output useful to them. Some of these requirements may be obvious or stated, some may be unstated while others may be unrealistic. Knowledge of these requirements is essential and clearly important before you can negotiate them. Except a product satisfies their requirements the product will not provide customer satisfaction.

Apart from this, knowledge of customer objective is also crucial so that the product or service can be made to fit that objective (custom made). Developing a quality product requires understanding the overall purpose of our customer's need for the product by answering questions such as (a) how will it be used? (b) who will be using it? (c) what will be the ultimate use and who will be the end user?

Next all the requirements should be discussed in a specific and measurable way. Areas of discussion will include quantity (how many), time (date, time, frequency), costs (budget, allowed expenses), size (dimensions), efficiency (to what degree). It is important to be objective in negotiation, ensure you separate the person from the product or service, focus on interests not positions, establish precise goals not generalities and work together to create options that satisfy all.

5) Translate customer requirements into supplier specifications. Supplier specifications describe the precise technical directions for production. This is stated in terms meaningful to the output producer. The fact that it is based on customer requirements will reduce errors and ensure a higher chance of doing it right the first time. T Bar is a useful method for displaying customer requirements and supplier specifications. The translation of customer requirements into supplier specifications is the job of the supplier. Unreasonable customer requirements must be negotiated with the customer and supplier to ensure quality output.