Unit 17 Quality Management in Business

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Introduction


Aim

The aim of this unit is to enable learners to understand the concept of quality and quality management and define it in the context of business and service operations.

Unit abstract

‘Quality’ has a wide range of meanings and is a term that can be used in a variety of contexts, so it is hard to define. ‘Total Quality Management’ seeks to ensure that all processes relating to the production of goods and services are of the highest quality. Quality control is concerned with maintaining quality standards by monitoring and taking action when actual quality falls below those standards. ‘Quality assurance’ is a term used where a supplier guarantees the quality of goods and allows the customer access during the production period. Customer satisfaction is at the heart of quality management but this, in itself, implies a different concept of quality. Customers are becoming more sophisticated and more demanding, requiring superior performance from the goods or services and quicker responses from the suppliers. Quality has been defined as ‘fitness for purpose’ but needs to be aimed at the needs of the consumer, driven by what the consumer wants and will pay for.
Learners must ensure that their evidence relates to the hospitality industry.

Learning outcomes


1 Understand the different approaches to quality management appropriate to commercial operations

Define quality: identifying customer needs and providing systems to meet/exceed expectations, notion of self-assessment to establish the current position of an organisation
Inspection and assurance: mass production and mass inspection, the early years of quality control, quality systems and accreditation, the race for awards eg BS 5750, ISO 9002, EN 29000, EFQM, Qest, Chartermark, Citizen’s Charter, Investors in People, the middle years of quality assurance
Approaches: the works of eg Deming, Juran, Feigenbaum, Crosby, Ishikawa; Quality planning, quality control and continuous quality improvement through teams and facilitators, measurements as an aid to rational decision making, self assessment, costs and benefits of quality, communication channels, macro issues of theory and prescription
Similarities and differences: structures of schemes, applications, costs, implementation periods, use of documentation, application of standards, identification of actions required, assessment methodology, orientation towards customer/staff or organisation, effectiveness as a means to improve service quality

2 Understand the benefits of quality management in a business and services context

Customer satisfaction: the voice of the customer, customer needs and expectations, understanding the customer, responding to customer demand, meeting or exceeding expectations, value for money, added value and repeat custom
Continuous improvement: from customer needs to customer needs and expectations, quality gaps, internal and external customers, moving quality into the service sector and its associated problems, the mature years of continuous quality improvement
Added values: lower costs, reduced waste, saving time, reducing need for support activities, customer loyalty
Improved customer information: opening times, location, price lists, promotional material, raising awareness, creating true image, targeting all groups, value for money

3 Understand a range of quality controls and how service to the customer can be improved

Measurement of quality: systems documentation, procedures for all operations, evaluating own procedures, comparisons with past performance/future plans (business aims and objectives), competitors, industry standards, priorities for action, benchmarking, emphasis of approach eg Statistical Quality Control, quality circles, TQM, six-sigma
User and non-user surveys:profile of users and non-users, regularity of visits, facilities used, likes, dislikes, preferences, suggestions, expectations/perceptions of service, barriers to access, action required, encouraging and converting non-users
Consultation: questionnaires (distributed internally/externally), suggestion schemes, complaints procedures, focus groups, open meetings, direct approach to group leaders and groups
Complaints: distribution of forms (send out/collect), internal/external, framing questions, customer friendly/IT friendly, easy to analyse, areas for improvement, response time, period for remedial action, communication with complainants, measurement of customer satisfaction

4 Be able to apply the principles of quality management to improve the performance of an organisation

Self-assessment: validity of self-assessment, egg subjective, bias, one dimensional; judgement based on current practice, comparison eg with past performance of organisation, against competition, against benchmarks for future; comparisons with similar organisations/industry standards
Communication and record keeping: importance of communication across whole organisation (vertical/horizontal), establishing agreement through consultation, notifying actions required, currency, accuracy and relevance of records kept, comparison with historical data, similar organisations elsewhere, industry standards, record keeping
Staff consultation: setting the scene, explaining rationale (objective of quality scheme), processes involved, requirements and commitment from staff, communication and reporting mechanisms, keeping team updated and engaged, implementation, feedback and review
Service improvements: application of concepts, documentation, administrative processes for communication, applying standards, monitoring, action on improvements, performance indicators, response times, feedback and review

Resources


Essential requirements

 Examples of quality management manuals, policies and strategies will support learners’ work. Case studies at this level will need careful preparation and management. There are numerous examples of case studies focusing on business excellence in the public domain, frequently through appropriate journals. Learners must be encouraged to read the trade and specialist press and associated websites regularly.

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