Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Quality assurance: A lot of disappointments but also new challenging opportunities

Quality assurance, QA, is to provide the customer with factual information concerning how well an organization can fulfil the requirements of an order or contract, and thus QA is to create and reinforce confidence and enhance satisfaction among the customers. QA is essentially a communication issue. In the ISO 9000 standardization QA aspects are focused on in the ISO 9001 standard.

Even QA should be realized in a way that is most efficient and suitable in the light of the business requirements and taking into account the competitive aspects of the market-place. That is also the real opportunity in using ISO 9001 standard. However, ISO 9001 standard-text considers only effectiveness of the QA but not at all efficiency aspects. In real business cases, however, the company itself must take also efficiency seriously into consideration. That means particularly the "How" -issues in ISO 9001 realization.

In QA between two parties the most natural and sound approach is to utilize QA agreements and related QA plans, for which ISO 9001 serves as a general model. Historically QA has been grounded in the requirements of major customers (e.g. defence, nuclear energy, automotive, etc. industries).

Certification or registration refers to indicating with a certificate that a product is or will be in accordance with a specific requirement (standard or specification). A certificate relates primarily to a product case and through that also to those activities of business processes determined to assure the specific product features. Certifications concerning product QA typically adhere to the standard QA model ISO 9001. The general kind of certification of quality management does not inform anything about the quality of a product or the business performance of an organization. Certification is closely linked with market and customer communication. A third party certification of a quality management system apart from a particular product and customer is questionable from the business benefits' point of view. Recently third party certification has lost remarkably its credibility and also certification business has decreased in several countries.

External certification in connection with ISO 9000 standards - if it is really needed - is only one of the means for QA and it can be a by-plot of a company's strategic quality approach. Only roughly one quarter of the companies using ISO 9000 standards are certified and many of them may have no intention of ever being certified. These companies want to utilize the standards internally in order to improve their business performance and to use them as general agenda for QA in contractual situations. Certifications have simply been granted with too big (and even an erroneous and deleterious) role in the media.

In fact, there are also different options for certification. A certification can be performed by the first party (the company itself, i.e. self-certification or self-declaration), the second party (customers), or the third party (a service company specialized in certifying services). The most genuine and natural way to proceed is self-certification, which has gained interest due to the flaws associated with third party certifying. However, self-certification always requires a strong personal and professional commitment and visibility to professional quality from the top business leadership of an organization. This is why certifying performed by an external third party may be a sign of weak, ineffective, and old-fashioned quality management and outsourcing this important management responsibility. When realized seriously the self-certification may provide for remarkable strengths compared with the third-party certification. Certifications provided by customers are especially recommended and a company should strive towards gaining certifications from their key referring customers. With regard to third-party certifications - should this become necessary in the light of marketing efforts - it is worthwhile to examine them by restricting them only to questions pertaining to safety, health, environmental protection, and product liability. Serious critisism can be directed at certifications made by third parties due to the fact that these often entail an emphasis on the business objectives of the company doing the certifying (certification body). This entails the commercialization of certification.

One cannot distinguish from the competitors only by leaning on general third party certifications. On the other hand, product features (including both goods and services) which take into account customers' needs and expectations do offer an opportunity to provide also superior QA services to the customer. Thus quality assurance can be seen as a value-adding part (i.e. a service-element) in company's products-offerings. The new e-business technology creates completely new cutting-edge solutions (e.g. "e-certificate") for quality assurance. E-certificate consists of Internet site(s) or portal solution providing for assurance that an item conforms to a standard or specification indicated by the certificate. It gives also an opportunity to personalize and create partnership-dedicated efficient real time and multimedia solutions with extranet technology.

1 Comments:

Blogger Ngo said...

Hi

I like this post very much. It help me to solve some my work under my director’s requirements.

Apart from that, below article also is the same meaning

ISO 9001 Standard

Tks again and nice keep posting
Rgs

18 November, 2009 03:06  

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