26Quality Defined – Quality Management and Assurance

26.1 Defining Quality

What is ‘quality’? We often use the word quality to imply that something is the ‘best’ of its kind, for example, we may say a six‐star hotel provides quality accommodation, but this is a rather vague use of the term. Consider that as consumers we expect that whatever we spend our money on should be of ‘good quality’. This means that the producer of the goods, or supplier of the services, has to find a more specific definition of ‘quality’ against which the standard of the product can be measured. Now, since we cannot all afford a six‐star hotel, yet we say we expect our purchases to be of good quality, we really mean that we perceive a product or service to be of good quality if it provides what we believe to be good value for money. Thus, we see that quality defines how well the product conforms to our expectations. In turn, our expectations are based on how much we paid for the item and the specification supplied by the provider. We, the customer, have the responsibility of deciding how much money we are willing to pay and the supplier has the responsibility of ensuring that whatever is supplied conforms to specification. We can therefore define quality as how well a supplied product or service conforms to the customers' expectations and the suppliers' specifications. Implied in this definition is the principle that the customers' expectations are related to price and the suppliers' specifications related ...

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