Product quality: methodologies, benefits and classification

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Quality is an essential measure of production that ensures that a product or service meets standards set by either the producers or the customers. Product quality involves incorporating essential features before, during and after production to meet the needs of the customer. If you work in product manufacturing, it's important that you understand that the quality of your product allows customers to recognise, trust and purchase with confidence. In this article, we define what the quality of a product is, explain why it's important and show you how to develop a product quality strategy using some common methodologies.

What is product quality?

Product quality refers to how a product serves its intended purpose, meets the needs of the customer and conforms to industry standards. Organisations define the quality of products based on the views of various groups categorised as the value-based view, the manufacturing view, the customer view, the product-based view and the transcendental view. The quality of a product usually relies on essential factors, such as the quality of the raw materials, the technologies used in the production system and employee experience and ability. Additional factors to consider include production overheads, such as transportation, water and power supply.

The main components of the quality of a product include:

  • product manufacturer satisfies the set standards and needs of customers

  • manufactured products conform and align with the intended specifications

  • manufactured products are reliable for a defined period

  • products are safe and durable

  • packaging of manufactured products prevents damage

Why is maximising the quality of a product beneficial?

The quality of a product is paramount for both customers and organisations. It influences the organisation's brand, how the customers perceive their products, the number of sales, the cost of production, and the revenue and overall success of the organisation. As many organisations are aware of this, they set high standards for their products. They endeavour to meet these standards and, at the same time, satisfy the needs of their customers.

Customers prefer to purchase high-quality products that satisfy their needs. When companies consistently produce high-quality products that meet the requirements of the customer, they're likely to have lifelong customers. If the customers' previous experiences lead them to trust the brand to meet their standards, they can confidently purchase newly developed products and varieties from the company.

Related: What is quality planning? (Definition and importance)

Classification of quality

This classification helps the production team identify conforming and non-conforming products. There are two major classifications:

  • Measured: This relates to specific features of a product, such as colour, shape, appearance, height, thickness and weight.

  • Attributed: This identifies and monitors defects at all stages of production, for example, the number of defects in a product, the number of defects in a production batch and the number of mistakes per production.

How to develop a quality strategy

The following is a guide to developing a strategy:

1. Identify the needs of the customers

Before production, it's essential that you identify the needs of the customer. The customers' requirements can serve as a guide to producing products that are unique and stand out from the competition. It's important that you set out these requirements in the product design specification for the manufacturer to follow during production. For instance, if the intended customers value the performance of a product over its price, you include this requirement in the product design specification.

2. Have a clear and ambitious product vision

Having a clear and ambitious product vision provides direction to the production team. It's important that all team members focus on the goals of the product, allowing them to prioritise its central features and purposes. At this stage, you can determine the resources for production and the quantities required, such as raw materials, labour and energy. It's crucial that you consistently check that your strategies align with the initial vision.

3. Implement an effective quality control system

A quality control or management system monitors how the company produces and delivers its products. For the organisation to consistently produce high-quality products, it's important for this system to be effective at all stages of production and throughout the organisation. If all employees are able to determine what constitutes a quality product, you can all identify defects in products and provide critical feedback.

4. Test the products after production

It's essential that manufactured products conform to the standards and specifications set out in the product design specification. Product testing can give you an idea of how the products behave in the market in terms of their acceptance and demand. It can also help you to monitor the performance of the products in both controlled and uncontrolled environments. If you observe errors or defects in the products, you can modify them before release for sale and use.

Related: How to create product plans (with steps and best practices)

Common methods to develop product strategies

Companies that consistently manufacture high-quality products frequently use one or more of the following methodologies:

Total quality management methodology

The total quality management (TQM) methodology ensures that all employees in an organisation work towards producing high-quality products and satisfying the needs of the customer. This methodology makes sure that there are no errors or defects in products before they leave the company and reach the customers. Companies that use the TQM methodology benefit in many ways, including customer acceptance of their products, an increase in sales and a reduction in spending.

The primary features of this methodology include:

  • effective leadership

  • focus on customers' needs and requirements

  • strategic management

  • the commitment of all employees

  • effective decision-making

  • effective production processes

  • consistent improvement in quality

  • good client relationship

Related: Product owner responsibilities within a development project

Theory of constraints methodology

Theory of constraints (TOC) methodology requires a manufacturing system to improve and overcome constraints. The methodology ensures the quality of products by stressing the importance of fixing issues during the production process. TOC methodology assesses quality through the production throughput and inventory and operational expenses with the aim of optimising throughput and reducing inventory and operational expenses. It mainly focuses on physical, market, paradigm and policy constraints.

Six sigma methodology

Six sigma is a statistical methodology that aims to eliminate variations in the production process or product. Typically, organisations use six sigma methodology for developmental processes or product and software design. This methodology can improve the quality of products by focusing on measurement, design, stages of the production process, product analysis and product improvement.

Lean methodology

The lean methodology focuses on reducing waste throughout the organisation and increasing profits. This methodology allows organisations to produce products to a high standard, satisfy customers' needs and remove unnecessary resources. In addition, it enables quicker development in the organisation, reduces the number of defects in products and increases gains for the organisation. Organisations that use this methodology focus on quality or value for their customers. The major principles of lean methodology are specification, identification, flow, pull and perfection.

Some of the types of waste that the lean methodology tries to reduce include:

  • Inventory: waste from raw materials, production processes and manufacturing processes

  • Overproduction: production beyond customer demand

  • Overprocessing: processing a product beyond the customers' needs

  • Asynchrony: producing at an inappropriate time

  • Motion: waste caused by the unnecessary movement of materials

  • Errors and deficiencies: products don't meet the set standards

  • Transportation errors: unnecessary raw material or product movement

  • Holdback errors: the delay between one process or activity and another

Lean six sigma methodology

Lean six sigma, also referred to as the L6S methodology, combines both the lean methodology and the six sigma methodology. The combination helps organisations to control processes and products statistically and also enhances the mode of operations. The aim is for the six sigma methodology to focus on product and process quality while the lean methodology focuses on a quick production process.

Related:

  • What does a quality engineer do? With definition and skills

  • What are research methodologies and the different types?


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