Quality Assurance - History & Environment


This is the text of an article published by Peter Griffin

Quality Assurance - History & Environment

Customers have always required Quality goods and services from their suppliers. Traditionally, this has been achieved by Inspection & Testing (or what I will term: Quality Control). Under this system, goods and services are produced and subsequently examined to ascertain if they are suitable to be sold to a customer. This system has drawbacks:

If a reject is discovered it is expensive: as all of the value has already been added!
Inspection following production is the most inconvenient time to identify a reject.

Modern thinking demands that we establish a more cost-effective method of ensuring that the customer receives Quality........ i.e. Quality Assurance. This involves:

examining the processes,
ensuring that they are understood,
ensuring that they are performed consistently,
and identifying a few critical checks along the way
to ensure that a reject is not being produced.

If this approach is successful, we no longer need Quality it is impossible to produce a reject!

Growth of Standards

Quality means different things to different people. A cup of coffee may be good quality to Joe, but awful to George. Specifying a standard of quality for Company A may also be totally unsuitable for Company B.......... but what a dull world it would be if there were no variations.

In 1979, the first national standard for Quality Systems was produced in the UK. This did not include precise specifications. It contained a set of elements which (from extensive research) had been found to exist in all companies who managed to achieve consistency, and continually satisfied their customers. For example, it stated:

there should be a system to ensure suppliers are clearly advised of purchasing requirements
orders received from customers should be examined to ensure that they could be met

This concept continues today; with ISO9000 series being internationally accepted as the model for quality systems. As this system is generic, and can be adapted to suit each company's requirements, it provides a set of measurable parameters by which management systems within different organizations can be compared. Enter ISO9000 Registration!!!

Editor's Notes

Peter Griffin is managing consultant of P Griffin & Associates (PGA); one of the leading quality management consultancies operating in Europe and the USA.

P Griffin & Associates have assisted 260 companies (ranging from 3 employees to multi-national corporations) to achieve improvements in quality and ISO9000 Registration.

While the majority of companies fail to achieve ISO9000 certification at the first attempt, 98% of PGA's quality assurance clients have achieved first-time success.

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Last Updated November 19, 1995
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