The Bottom Line
Quality is about:
Increasing revenue and profit by doing things right
Reducing and avoiding waste
Gaining and retaining customers
When your customers say "Wow!", when they have a great experience from your products and services, then you are best positioned to be meeting your business goals. In fact, one often speaks about "meeting or exceeding" our business goals, and to do so you should strive to "meet or exceed" the customers' expectations. The two are tightly connected. It's all about maximizing the customer experience, with consideration given, of course, to the multitude of constraints that any business faces.
What is Quality?
There are many definitions of Quality, but I like the simplicity of "Meeting stated or implied needs". Implied needs might include service levels and defect rates. Joseph Juran defines quality as meaning “fitness for use”, while according to Philip Crosby, it means “conformance to requirements". All these definitions connect us back to the Customer, and what the customer wants.
Who is responsible for Quality?
In any organization, every single person is responsible for the quality of their work, and for considering the needs of their customers. Company management is responsible for understanding this, helping each employee understand this, and, most importantly, enabling and empowering each employee to achieve this.
Who ultimately measures Quality?
Measurement of quality is complex, consisting not only of metrics such as defect rates, but also about how easy it is to work with you, with your products, and with your services. Your customers measure your quality and the ease of doing business with you, and vote with their wallets. Thus, we come back to the need for customer-focus, not only pre-sale, but post-sale, too.
How does Quality Management fit in?
The purpose of Quality Management is to enable sustainable business growth by ensuring that all business processes are designed to meet business goals and to enhance the customer experience, and to minimize waste while doing so. A Quality Management System (QMS) is simply the set of procedures that define how you work in order to achieve the goals of the organization. The ISO9001:2015 standard for Quality Management Systems gives a perfect structure for the QMS, including showing how Leadership, from the top, enables it all to happen smoothly. The bottom line is directly related to and affected by the QMS, so you must make sure it is effective.
The successful business will be focused on the Customer, since at the end of the day the customers will decide if your products and services are of benefit to their bottom line or not. Customer focus entails understanding the customer requirements, environment, constraints and challenges, and implementing processes at all levels to assure that quality is built in. When you do so, you are then able to design your products and services such they bring maximum benefit to the customers whom you are trying to serve.