Quality characteristics
Any feature or characteristic of a product or service that is needed to satisfy customer
needs or achieve fitness for use is a quality characteristic. When dealing with products the
characteristics are almost always technical characteristics, whereas service quality charac-
teristics have a human dimension. Some typical quality characteristics are given below:
Basic concepts 15
Product characteristics
Accessibility Disposability Odour Security Testability
Availability Emittance Operability Size Traceability
Appearance Flammability Portability Susceptibility Toxicity
Adaptability Flexibility Producibility Storability Transportability
Cleanliness Functionality Reliability Strength Vulnerability
Consumption Interchangeability Reparability Taste Weight
Durability Maintainability Safety
Service quality characteristics
Accessibility Comfort Dependability Flexibility Responsiveness
Accuracy Competence Efficiency Honesty Reliability
Courtesy Credibility Effectiveness Promptness Security
These are the characteristics that need to be specified and their achievement controlled,
assured, improved, managed and demonstrated. These are the characteristics that form
the subject matter of the product requirements referred to in ISO/TS 16949. When the
value of these characteristics is quantified or qualified they are termed product require-
ments. We used to use the term quality requirements but this caused a division in
thinking that resulted in people regarding quality requirements as the domain of the
quality personnel and technical requirements being the domain of the technical person-
nel. All requirements are quality requirements – they express needs or expectations that
are intended to be fulfilled by a process output that possesses inherent characteristics.
We can therefore drop the word quality. If a modifying word is needed in front of the
word requirements it should be a word that signifies the subject of the requirements.
Transportation system requirements would be requirements for a transportation system,
audio speaker design requirements would be requirements for the design of an audio
speaker, component test requirements would be requirements for testing components
and management training requirements would be requirement for training managers.
The requirements of ISO 9000 and its derivatives such as ISO/TS 16949 are often
referred to as quality requirements as distinct from other types of requirements but
this is misleading. ISO 9000 is no more a quality requirement than is ISO 1000 on SI
units, ISO 2365 for Ammonium nitrate or ISO 246 for Rolling Bearings. The require-
ments of ISO 9001 are quality management system requirements – requirements for a
quality management system and the requirements of ISO/TS 16949 are requirements
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