Quality management is a method for ensuring that all the activities necessary to design, develop and implement a product or service are effective and efficient with respect to the system and its performance. Quality management can be considered to have three main components: quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only onproduct quality, but also the means to achieve it. Quality management therefore uses quality assurance and control of processes as well as products to achieve more consistent quality.
Quality management evolution
Quality management is not a recent phenomenon. Advanced civilizations that supported the arts and crafts allowed clients to choose goods meeting higher quality standards thannormal goods. In societies where art and craft (and craftsmanship) were valued, one of the responsibilities of a master craftsman (and similarly for artists) was to lead their studio, train and supervise the work of their craftsmen and apprentices. The master craftsman set standards, reviewed the work of others and ordered rework and revision as necessary. One of the limitations of the craft approachwas that relatively few goods could be produced, on the other hand an advantage was that each item produced could be individually shaped to suit the client. This craft based approach to quality and the practices used were major inputs when quality management was created as a management science.
During the industrial revolution, the importance of craftsmen was diminished as mass production andrepetitive work practices were instituted. The aim was to produce large numbers of the same goods. The first proponent in the US for this approach was Eli Whitney who proposed (interchangeable) parts manufacture for muskets, hence producing the identical components and creating a musket assembly line. The next step forward was promoted by several people including Frederick Winslow Taylor amechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. He is sometimes called "the father of scientific management." He was one of the intellectual leaders of the Efficiency Movement and part of his approach laid a further foundation for quality management, including aspects like standardization and adopting improved practices. Henry Ford also was important in bringing process and qualitymanagement practices into operation in his assembly lines. In Germany, Karl Friedrich Benz, often called the inventor of the motor car, was pursuing similar assembly and production practices, although real mass production was properly initiated in Volkswagen after world war two. From this period onwards, north American companies focused predominantly upon production against lower cost with increasedefficiency.
Walter A. Shewhart made a major step in the evolution towards quality management by creating a method for quality control for production, using statistical methods, first proposed in 1924. This became the foundation for his ongoing work on statistical quality control. W. Edwards Deming later applied statistical process control methods in the United States during World War II, therebysuccessfully improving quality in the manufacture of munitions and other strategically important products.
Quality leadership from a national perspective has changed over the past five to six decades. After the second world war, Japan decided to make quality improvement a national imperative as part of rebuilding their economy, and sought the help of Shewhart, Deming and Juran, amongst others. W.Edwards Deming championed Shewhart's ideas in Japan from 1950 onwards. He is probably best known for his management philosophy establishing quality, productivity, and competitive position. He has formulated 14 points of attention for managers, which are a high level abstraction of many of his deep insights. They should be interpreted by learning and understanding the deeper insights and...