Quality can be defined as the, 'Totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs' (ISO 9000). In essence, the quality is a reflection of the overall product design.
Why is a quality system needed?
There can be a number of reasons; however, a couple that stand out are
• firstly, to have a demonstrable system for accountability purposes, and
• secondly, for supporting management decisions.
Operationally, managers will also be able to show how their quality system compares with others and will be able to participate in supportive networks more effectively. This can include offering contributions on the way their system functions and also to more readily receive ideas from other operators with a comparable system. All this will positively impact on the practice of continual improvement.
(Benchmarking can provide an important contribution to the continual improvement process.)
Organisations which have effective quality systems are on the whole more successful, which is especially important in today's very competitive market.
Total Quality Management (TQM) is one concept of quality systems that is used by business to identify, and then meet, the requirements of customers/clients. Whilst British Standards provide a 'standard' definition for TQM, other definitions may be more succinct by stating it as, "a systematic way of guaranteeing that all activities within an organisation happen the way they have been planned in order to meet the defined needs of customers and clients." Everyone in an organisation is actually involved in a continuous improvement process to satisfy the concept of TQM. (Armstrong, M. (1993), A Handbook of Management Techniques, 199)
Customer satisfaction and continuous improvements are the main focus within definitions of TQM. Performance Quality Standards follow along these lines and are an ideal complement to, if not component of, the TQM concept.
The positive impact that quality practices have on customer satisfaction has been well demonstrated and this should also be one of the reasons for introducing Performance Quality Standards for outdoor facilities. (Nilsson, L. et al, (2001), 'The impact of quality practices on customer satisfaction and business results: product versus service organizations', Journal of Quality Management, Issue 6, 5-27)
The regular checking of customer satisfaction and responding to results and feedback is an important part of continual improvementThis is an area that is particularly important for the success of Performance Quality Standards.
Quality must be measurable because if you do not measure in an objective way you will not know how well, both effectively and efficiently, you are really doing. The British Standard for TQM (BS 7850) emphasises the need to carry out measurements of performance and subsequent analysis of the data, and this is precisely the framework that Performance Quality Standards follows.
This procedure of measuring and analysing, in accordance with the defined Performance Quality Standards, provides a manager with an ideal vehicle to successfully achieve this component part of an overall quality system.