DEFINING QUALITY

The definition of quality depends on the point of view of the people defining it. Most consumers have a difficult time defining quality, but they know it when they see it. For example, although you probably have an opinion as to which manufacturer of athletic shoes provides the highest quality, it would probably be difficult for you to define your quality standard in precise terms. Also, your friends may have different opinions regarding which athletic shoes are of highest quality. The difficulty in defining quality exists regardless of product, and this is true for both manufacturing and service organizations. Think about how difficult it may be to define quality for products such as airline services, child day-care facilities, college classes, or even OM textbooks. Further complicating the issue is that the meaning of quality has changed over time.

Today, there is no single, universal definition of quality. Some people view quality as “performance to standards.” Others view it as “meeting the customer's needs” or “satisfying the customer.” Let's look at some of the more common definitions of quality.

  • Conformance to specifications measures how well the product or service meets the targets and tolerances determined by its designers. For example, the dimensions of a machine part may be specified by its design engineers as 3 ± 0.05 inches. This would mean that the target dimension is 3 inches, but the dimensions can vary between 2.95 and 3.05 inches. Similarly, ...

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