With the development of science and technology things have changed rapidly in the world. Development in telecommunications and transport has changed the world almost into a village and people have more information than they used to have a couple of years back. When they decide to have any product or services they have access to all the information about them including the availability of wide range in the market and their qualities. This has enhanced tremendous competition in the market and if quality of a product or service is not maintained it will not be able to compete in the market and obviously it will not sustain in the market.
To manage the quality of a product or a service managers have to be updated about the expectations of its users. Once they are aware about the expectations of the users they need to develop systems, regulations, standards or procedures to assure the satisfaction of the customer. If they fail to do so it will be considered as a flaw in the delivery system and they will not be able to live up to the expectations of the customer.
It may be difficult to develop specifications for quality because a service possess inherent characteristics but it is possible and mandatory also. Any product or service must have a system to guarantee quality service to match the expectations of the customer and sustain in the market.
The set of in-built or inherent characteristics of a product or a service to meet with the requirements, needs, expectations and obligations of its users is called quality. A high or excellent quality is achieved if the inherent characteristics are able to satisfy its users up to optimum level but it will be called a poor or low level of quality if they are not able to meet the expectations and requirements of the users. Quality can be measured in terms of degree and to understand it properly this should be analyzed that to what extent or to what degree the inherent or in-built features of the product or the service is compatible with the requirements or the expectations. In brief, the quality of a product or service depends on the ability of its inherent characteristics to comply with expectations and requirements of its users. It is a relative concept. In an organization, all the activities intended to control, direct and coordinate quality is termed as quality management and it includes formulation of quality policies, setting objectives of quality as per requirements, planning, implementation, improvement, assurance of quality and quality control also. Thus, quality control is regarded as a part only of quality management.
1.Concept of Quality Management
To control and direct the implementation of the quality policies and achievement of quality objectives a group of interacting or interrelated activities are used by organizations which is called quality management or quality management system. A process approach is used to manage, control and direct the implementation of the quality policies and achievement of quality objectives which is known as process-based QMS. For transforming inputs into outputs resources are used by each process and output of one process can be used as the input of other process, hence this output and input relationship makes the processes interactive and interrelated. Establishment of an effective and efficient QMS benefits an organization in many respects and is the milestone of the concept of the service provider and the customer working, for mutual benefit, together. The objective of QMS is to define, plan and implement quality processes, for the production of quality services and products and not to examine defects in services or products after production. The process of QMS should be completely documented to ensure the requirements of the customer and the organization. The consistent delivery of the desired service or product according to the requirement and expectation builds the confidence of the customer, can be termed as the requirement of the customer. The requirement of the organization is to provide quality service or product at a reasonable cost with optimum use of resources available like technology, materials, human and information. In short, a QMS is necessary to achieve targets set out in the strategy of an organization; it starts with the needs of the customer and ends with the fulfillment of their needs with satisfaction.
1.a. Quality in terms of businesses and services
The term business in general, means production and marketing of physical objects like tea, coffee, paper, TV, refrigerator, computers, books and many more things. But there are many businesses which exist without producing any goods rather what they produce is called services. These days contribution of this service industry to the GDP of any economy is increasing substantially. The service sector is developing day by day and a large number of business activities revolve around it.
The businesses activities are classified into three sectors:
Primary sector- This sector includes business activities like agriculture, fishing, mining, production of raw materials, etc. Secondary sector- This sector is related to manfacturing industry – production of machine, tools, steel, car, etc.
Tertiary sector- This sector includes all kinds of services provided to all including businesses as well as general public. These services are banking, insurance, transport, consultancy, etc. To compete and be successful in this competitive world of business, companies need to be efficient, responsive and produce and support quality products and services. The company with the best practices of quality control will have an advantage over others. And most importantly the secondary sector has to go hand in hand with the tertiary sector because services after sale is mandatory for many products and the quality of service determines the success or failure of those products.
1.b. Quality in terms of customer satisfaction
As discussed above the quality management starts with the needs of the customer and ends with the fulfillment of their needs with satisfaction. With the rapid changes in technology and market customer satisfaction has become a changing entity and there is a need of continuous improving process of quality management for customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction can be ensured only if the attention is paid to their voice, needs, requirements and expectations. For this the customer should be encouraged for their voice and an effective complaint system should be established and the data should be documented, monitored and processed to reduce complains and ensure satisfaction to the customer. There should be a process of making regular contacts with the customer and conducting opinion surveys and the collected data should be used to plan a quality management to provide customer satisfaction.
1.c. Measurement of quality management
To determine the efficiency and effectiveness of different processes in achieving their objectives measurement is required to be carried out. The efficiency and effectiveness of quality management system for its contribution to the organization is measured by measuring completeness and reflection of the policies applied, deployment, business coverage, adaptability by staffs etc. Different aspects of quality can be measured by businesses by measuring rate of failure or rejection of a product or service, rate of return of products or services, number of complains registered by customers, level of satisfaction of customers and loyalty of customers as repetition or renewal of purchases. This is to keep in consideration that quality is abstract and subjective as it depends on personal opinion which may vary from person to person and tangibility of all the aspects of quality are not possible. Since everyday new and advanced technologies are emerging, quality of materials are changing, new techniques for manufacturing are being introduced and new competitors are the quality management system has to be evolving. Quality management is beneficial but it is a costly affair also and the managers have to evaluate the benefits over the cost.
2. Schemes for quality management
There are schemes in practice for quality management. Different organizations practice different quality management schemes. We are going to discuss four quality management schemes which seem more practical and common and its adaptability is without any doubt.
2.a. Four quality management schemes
I. Installation qualification scheme (IQS): The first scheme is installation qualification scheme which means that the quality of a product depends mostly on the installation of ancillary systems and process equipments so they should be installed in accordance to the specifications approved by the manufacturer and recommendations made by him are followed considerably.
II. Operational qualification scheme (OQS): The second scheme is operational qualification scheme which means that the quality of a product also depends on the operations to control the quality standards and level of actions taken to ensure the desired outcome.
III. Performance qualification scheme (PQS): The third scheme is performance qualification scheme which means that the quality of a product also depends on the level of performance under the anticipated or non-anticipated conditions to ensure the quality of the product which meets the desired requirements.
IV Process validation scheme: The fourth scheme is process validation scheme which means that the quality of a product also depends on the regular validation of the processes in the fast changing environment whether it is compatible enough to ensure the quality of the product or the services as per latest demands and requirements.
Besides these four schemes there is a protocol for process validation which means the process validating test of parameters, characteristics of product, condition of manufacturing machines and equipments and other similar factors. Then lastly comes the verification process to confirm by examination and objective evidences that the predetermined requirements has been achieved and the mission accomplished as per the expectations of the customer.
International ISO 9000 quality system is being used to ensure quality standards, cost efficiency and customer satisfaction. It sets the guidelines for maintaining through different model as ISO 9001, 9002, 9003 or 9004. The model selection varies according to the type of product or service, its process of production and above all the requirement of the customer.
ISO-9000 – Management and assurance of quality standards.
ISO-9001 – Quality standard for development, design, installation, service and production.
ISO – 9002 – Quality standard to detect and prevent any non-conformity during the process of installation, implementation and production.
ISO-9003 – Quality standard to control and detect, in contractual situation, the disposition of a product during test or inspection.
ISO-9004 – Quality standard for non-contractual situation describing elements required to develop and implement quality management.
2.b. The importance of communications and record keeping in quality management schemes
Communication plays a very important role in quality management system or in other words it is the integral part of this system. Communication within the organization and outside the organization is required for quality management. The quality management plan is processed within an organization with inclusion of the entire team and not only the managers. Proper communication with the entire team helps avoiding the general apathy among them. Each member of the team must be convinced about the benefits of quality control strategy and plan to implement it successfully. Similarly external communication, specially communication with the customer, is the base of quality management system. Communicating effectively with them only can provide the required information about the quality management. They are the only one who avail the product or the service and their satisfaction level is the key factor to determine the quality of the product and the service.
Organizations communicate with their customers in various ways. Most effective way of communicating with them is to attend to their complains attentively. Another way is to conduct surveys among both users and non-users.
Record keeping is important for almost everything for an organization for its proper functioning and quality management is not an exception. The record of the information collected during both internal and external communication helps in formulating and implementing plans for quality control. Without recorded data it is quite impossible to take inferences for making plans for quality control.
2.c. Similarities and differences between quality management schemes
Quality management schemes are similar in their objectives because they all aim to control and improve quality. They all provide detailed guidelines for execution of quality control system and also mention the process of prevention and detection to check the quality of a product or a service. They differ in their respective enforcement field. One is meant to manage quality at the installation level while other is concerned with the production level of the quality. Next one provides guidelines for disposition and so on.
3. ODA and London Olympics 2012
Olympic games are being organized in London in 2012 which requires very high standards as it is an international event attracting the attention of entire globe. To ensure its success Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) was established to ensure the delivery of the Olympic Games and Paralympics Games in London in the year 2006 by the London Olympic Games and Paralympics Games Act and a budget of £6.1 billion has been allocated to ODA for delivering the Games and other legacy benefits associated to it. Lately the chief executive of the ODA handed over the Olympic Park to the organizing committee of the London Games 2012. It is high time to evaluate the quality of its delivery of product and services. Though the ODA didn’t have any competitor to compare the quality of its products and services with, its own set targets and international standards are the parameters to evaluate the gaps in it.
The budget of £6.1 billion raised substantially to £7.1bn which is a considerable amount to declare it over budgeted. Secondly, the job is not completed on time and as the CEO declares himself that 95% work is done, it puts a big question mark with only few days left for the games to begin. Even 5% of the total work is a tremendous task to accomplish in time. Lack of proper planning and transparency and involved risks and challenge of timely completion of the project distracted contractors in the beginning and thanks to recession that the ODA could negotiate with them. Its venues like velodrome, main stadium, Zaha Hadid are controversial for its construction, design and cost. The ODA also compromised by ruling out some of the expensive designs planned in the beginning to save the cost. It also reduced the size of the some of the venues for the same. Its deal with many contractors collapsed for some or other reasons. The ODA is facing criticism for failing to achieve the target of sustainability and employment. The target of providing 20% of the required energy by renewable sources also failed when its strategy of wind energy collapsed. The delivery of the ODA also failed in providing transport in London and so critics define it a mess and its efficiency is left over the sensibility, patience and ability to follow the instructions, of the people.
3.a. The information made available to customers and the importance given to effective marketing – An assessment
As we see in the above example the ODA failed in attracting contractors in the beginning though it had a tremendous project involving billions of pounds mainly because of two reasons – firstly, the contractors could not get the sufficient information of the projects for its analysis in making a decision and coming to a conclusion and secondly, effective marketing was not done by the ODA to an extent to attract the interest of the contractors. It was quite surprising that an event like Olympic Games capable of influencing the GDP of the organizing nation failed to get prople associated to it.
3.b. The benefit of user and non-user surveys in determining customer needs – An evaluation
User surveys is conducted among the people who use a product or a service and it helps in understanding of the requirement, need and expectation of the valued customers. On the basis of these survey results quality management system is formulated to improve the existing facilities and services
Non User Survey is conducted among the people who don’t use a particular product or service to understand the reason of their avoidance so that quality management team could make a strategy to include new customers by making improvements in the product or service as per the desire, need and expectation of the non-users.
3.c. The methods of consultation employed to encourage participation by under-represented groups – An examination
To encourage participation of under-represented groups several methods can be used. Some od them are as follows :
Form surveys : Under-represented groups should be encouraged to participate in a form survey and the form should be designed to identify quickly the nature of their replies. Analysing these forms the problems, requirements, expectations can be revealed.
Telephone surveys: Telephone survey is another tool to measure the expectations and perceptions of under-represented groups.
Interviews: Personal interviews can also be conducted by selecting the interviewees from this group randomly.
Group interviews: Group interviews or group discussions can also be recognized to analyse the situation.
Mail surveys: Selecting sample from the target group a set of questions requiring short answers can be sent to them with pre-paid envelops for their response.
Electronic surveys: This technique is similar to the mail surveys, here the questionnaires are sent through e-mail.
3.d. The value of complaints procedures and analysis of how each is used to improve quality – An investigation
Organizations implement some or other complaints procedures to ensure satisfaction of customers about their product or service. This also gives them opportunity to know about the shortcomings of the product and the service. The rate of complaints registered against a particular product or a service gives the information about the quality of the product or the service. These data can be used for planning and implementing quality management processes.
4. Recommendations and implementation
On the basis of analysis and audit done for the quality management system implemented by the ODA following recommendations can be made and had they been implemented in time the result would have been different. Though the time has passed and the Olympic Park has already been handed over to Olympic organizing committee these recommendations can be valuable for any similar project of the same stature and importance.
4.a. The role of self assessment in order to determine an organization’s Quality management Systems
For achieving sustainable success an organization’s self assessment is regarded as a comprehensive process which requires systematic review. This is described according to ISO 9004. It is used to recognize and identify policies and practices valuable for the organization and also to encourage innovative ideas and improve delivery. The best part of self assessment practice is that they are inexpensive and easy to administer as well as give quick benefits. They also require comparatively less time. Hence the importance of self assessment in determining and formulating an organization’s quality management system is tremendous in comparison to its cost.
4.b. Explanation of the stages of staff consultation necessary for effective implementation of a quality scheme
Irrespective of the size or type of an organization people associated with it are required to talk with each other to exchange views and ideas, exchange instructions and discuss plans for growth and development. Communication and consultation with staffs can be considered as the lifeline of any organization for its success and also for implementation of any strategic plan including quality schemes. The communication and consultation should be encouraged at all levels and for proper implementation of quality management systems the senior managers should not hesitate consulting and communicating with a ground level staff because they are the people who will convert their vision into reality and they must be convinced for this not just ordered because this may lead to their apathy and the result may get affected.
4.c. Proposal for new systems or modifications to existing systems that could improve service quality
If we analyze the situation in context of the ODA it can be easily understood that the things could have been managed in a better manner to deliver quality to its users. Budget should have been managed in a proper manner and all the strategies could have been made to spare the project from being over budgeted. For attracting contractors and suppliers more information needed to be furnished and more transparency was required. The ODA should have manage to deliver all the venues as per its initial plans and not by changing the plans to reduce the budget. Above all timely completion of the project should have been given priority and id should have not been handed over with so called five percent finishing work left. The ODA had the opportunity to upgrade the transport system of London but on the contrary it landed up making it a mess. For the environment, it was planned to use twenty percent of the energy from the renewable resources but the ODA could not meet that target as well. Last but not the least the ODA must have achieved the target of employment and sustainability.
Summing up it can be is concluded that quality management system is the lifeline of any organization and it can sustain only if it achieved its predetermined targets. No any organization can survive without satisfying its customers and no any customer can be satisfied with inferior quality of a product or a service. For quality management system we can conclude it in the steps of The Plan, The Check and The Act. Plan includes policy, planning, design, development, provision to control product and service, etc. Check includes review, verification and validation of design and development, product and service validation, customer satisfaction, internal audit and data analysis. Act means to act with positivity to achieve the determined target of quality management system.