If a product or service is of good quality, it means that it is of a high standard. Quality can come from how well a product is made, the use of high-quality raw materials, and ensuring that products will last a long time and work well, eg a watch should tell the time correctly. Post-sales service should also be of good quality. For example, businesses should deal with faults quickly and efficiently.
Businesses have two ways of managing quality – quality control and quality assurance.
Quality control is the process of inspecting products and services to ensure that what customers receive is of a high standard. There are many different ways that businesses conduct quality control. For example:
These methods reduce the number of faulty or sub-standard products that reach customers. However, a disadvantage is that these methods only identify faults at the end of production, when they may be more expensive to fix than if they were found immediately. This is because the whole product may need to be removed and rebuilt in order to fix the fault.
Quality assurance is a process of carrying out quality checks at specific stages during the production process. This ensures that faults and sub-standard products are found sooner rather than at the end of the production process.
Quality assurance makes quality the responsibility of the employees involved in the production process. This can mean that businesses need to develop a good business culture where the attitudes and behaviours of employees within the business ensure that they are focused on producing high-quality products. Businesses usually employ managers to oversee quality assurance. The managers also make employees aware of their quality responsibilities and what is expected of them.
Training staff and employing highly-skilled people can come at a cost. This means the quality assurance process can be expensive for businesses, and often the added costs are reflected in what customers are charged.
|Quality control||Quality assurance|
|Focuses on identifying faulty goods||Focuses on improving the production process|
|Identifies and fixes problems and faults||Establishes a good system for quality management|
|Quality is the responsibility of one individual or a specific team of individuals||Quality is the responsibility of everyone involved in the manufacturing process|
|The product is at the heart of quality control||The production process is at the heart of quality assurance|