Quality Management, Dimension and Cost of Quality, Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)

Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service is consistent. It has four main components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product and service quality, but also on the means to achieve it. Quality management, therefore, uses quality assurance and control of processes as well as products to achieve more consistent quality.


What are the 7 quality management principles?

The ISO 9000:2015 and ISO 9001:2015 standards are based on seven quality management principles that senior management can apply for organizational improvement:

  • Customer focus.
  • Engagement of people.
  • Process approach.
  • Evidence-based decision-making.
  • Relationship management.

A quality management system (QMS) is a collection of business processes focused on consistently meeting customer requirements and enhancing their satisfaction. … It is expressed as the organizational goals and aspirations, policies, processes, documented information and resources needed to implement and maintain it.


An Example of Quality Management

The most famous example of TQM is Toyota’s implementation of the Kanban system. A kanban is a physical signal that creates a chain reaction, resulting in a specific action. Toyota used this idea to implement its just-in-time (JIT) inventory process. To make its assembly line more efficient, the company decided to keep just enough inventory on hand to fill customer orders as they were generated.

Therefore, all parts of Toyota’s assembly line are assigned a physical card that has an associated inventory number. Right before a part is installed in a car, the card is removed and moved up the supply chain, effectively requesting another of the same part. This allows the company to keep its inventory lean and not overstock unnecessary assets.


Eight dimensions of product quality management can be used at a strategic level to analyze quality characteristics. The concept was defined by David A. Garvin, formerly C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (died 30 April 2017). Some of the dimensions are mutually reinforcing, whereas others are not—improvement in one may be at the expense of others. Understanding the trade-offs desired by customers among these dimensions can help build a competitive advantage.

Garvin’s eight dimensions can be summarized as follows:-

  • Performance: Performance refers to a product’s primary operating characteristics. This dimension of quality involves measurable attributes; brands can usually be ranked objectively on individual aspects of performance.
  • Features: Features are additional characteristics that enhance the appeal of the product or service to the user.
  • Reliability: Reliability is the likelihood that a product will not fail within a specific time period. This is a key element for users who need the product to work without fail.
  • Conformance: Conformance is the precision with which the product or service meets the specified standards.
  • Durability: Durability measures the length of a product’s life. When the product can be repaired, estimating durability is more complicated. The item will be used until it is no longer economical to operate it. This happens when the repair rate and the associated costs increase significantly.
  • Serviceability: Serviceability is the speed with which the product can be put into service when it breaks down, as well as the competence and the behaviour of the serviceperson.
  • Aesthetics: Aesthetics is the subjective dimension indicating the kind of response a user has to a product. It represents the individual’s personal preference.
  • Perceived Quality: Perceived Quality is the quality attributed to a good or service based on indirect measures.


Cost of quality is a methodology that allows an organization to determine the extent to which its resources are used for activities that prevent poor quality, that appraise the quality of the organization’s products or services, and that result from internal and external failures. Having such information allows an organization to determine the potential savings to be gained by implementing process improvements.

There are four costs your organization needs to examine: prevention, appraisal, internal failure, and external failure. These costs cover your entire operation, including your quality management system (QMS).

Planned costs—design, implementation, and maintenance—occurring prior to the operation of your organization’s QMS are the preventive costs.

Measuring and monitoring activities should be listed as appraisal costs. Duffy further explains these costs “are associated with the suppliers’ and customers’ evaluation of purchased materials, processes, products, and services to ensure that they conform to specifications.”


Kaizen, also known as continuous improvement, is a long-term approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality. Kaizen can be applied to any kind of work, but it is perhaps best known for being used in lean manufacturing and lean programming. If a work environment practices kaizen, continuous improvement is the responsibility of every worker, not just a selected few.

Kaizen can be roughly translated from Japanese to mean “good change.” The philosophy behind kaizen is often credited to Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Dr. Demming was invited by Japanese industrial leaders and engineers to help rebuild Japan after World War II. He was honored for his contributions by Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers.

In his book “Out of the Crisis,” Dr. Deming shared his philosophy of continuous improvement:-

(1) Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business and to provide jobs.

(2) Adopt the new philosophy.

(3) Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.

(4) End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost.

(5) Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service to improve quality and productivity and thus constantly decrease costs.

(6)Institute training on the job.

(7) Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job.

(8) Drive out fear so that everyone may work effectively for the company.

(9) Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales and production must work as a team to foresee problems of production and use of the product or service.

(10) Eliminate asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

(11) Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship.

(12) Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship.

(13) Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

(14) Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

In Western civilization, kaizen is often broken down into four steps: assess, plan, implement and evaluate. In Western workplaces, a “kaizen blitz” is synonymous with a concentrated effort to make quick changes that will help achieve a short-term goal.

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