Literature Review – Quality Management Systems

According to various authors, quality improvement and management has become a subject of great importance in organisations. Quality Management focuses on the overall process of a system rather than just concentrating on results, it is the determination and implementation of the quality policy with regard to the organisation. Many organisations throughout the world have started to realize the potential it holds for them and have therefore adopted new philosophies focused on quality management rather than just being focused on the end results. Some organisations already implementing the ISO 9001 Quality Management System are wondering is it worth maintaining and what significance does it hold for the company? Empirical studies have shown that Quality Management does indeed have a positive effect on the various business functions (Piskar & Dolinsek, 2006) and therefore calls for a deeper look. The empirical studies were undertaken through questionnaires during 2002 in Slovenia. 212 Companies that were already implementing the ISO 9001 system were asked to participate in this study. The results obtained from this study were analysed and compared by the various authors. In conclusion all the authors were in favor of the Quality Management System (Piskar & Dolinsek, 2006).

A Quality Management System guarantees that all activities regarding to quality are planned. What is a management system? It is the matter of organizing elements to   achieve a specific goal. A Quality Management System consists basically of an organizational structure, responsibilities, procedures, processes and resources for implementing quality management. More focus will be given on processes and procedures later on in this study. The objective of a Quality Management System is for the continuous improvement of quality in an organization and therefore it is implied that a Quality Management System reaches all parts of an organisation, it is not just isolated to one area of the business. A good Quality Management System can provide the following benefits: greater efficiency, reduced cost, better performance, less unplanned work, fewer disputes, improved visibility, reduced risk, problems show up earlier, better quality, improved customer confidence, portable and reusable products and better control over contracted products. Currently there are two different ways to define a Quality Management System. One can either choose the home grown approach or choose from an existing model such as ISO 9000, SEI-CMM and MB-NQA, these models can then be adapted to fit the organisation (Kelkar, 2008). Some of the advantages in having a documented Quality Management System are: it is reviewable, it can be revisited for improvement, serves as training material, serves as reference material, it enables repeatability and uniformity across instances/locations. The level of detail to which a particular practice should be documented depends on the practice itself. A quality policy forms part of a Quality Management System and is usually the main focus around which the rest of the Quality Management System is formed. Prior to certification, audits are performed on the Quality Management System to ensure that implementation is satisfactory and that it complies with the contracted requirements. Audits can be performed by first, second or third party auditors. First party audits are basically performed in house by people working for the organisation, but not on that particular project. Second party audits are performed by the customer, this way the customer can evaluate your organisation in order to see if it meets their specific requirements. This shifts the power to the customer. Third party audits are conducted by certification agencies for example if the organisation is doing the ISO 9000 certification. A Quality Management System has several uses namely: a means to communicate the vision, values, mission, policies and objectives of the organisation, a means of showing how the system has been designed, a means of showing linkages between processes, a means of showing who is responsible for what, an aid to training new people, a tool in the analysis of potential improvements and a means of demonstrating compliance with external standards and regulations.

Plenty of research and studies have been conducted on the growth of quality management and standards throughout the world. Over the past 10 years the number of companies becoming ISO 9001 certified has increased dramatically (Siazarbitoria, 2006). It should be noted that for these quality standards, although globally spread, the initial growth started in the European Union, which was the focus of the ISO   reports in 2003. To compare the results obtained from the ISO (2003) reports a certification intensity has been compiled, which illustrates the “percentage of ISO 9000 certificates from each country and its percentage of contribution to the European GDP” as stated in (Siazarbitoria, 2006). Figure 1 illustrates the certification intensity distribution over Europe.

Once a Quality Management System is implemented successfully, it is monitored closely and improved over time. This is all part of the continuous improvement process which in turn leads to the another objective for an organisation: Total Quality Management. According to Deming Total Quality Management is not possible, since reaching it means that everything is perfect, which will never be the case, but it is rather meant as a philosophy which to employ in an organisation. Never the less, organisations strive for Total Quality Management through a philosophy which focuses on customer satisfaction, problem prevention rather than detection, teamwork, leadership, management responsibility, continuous improvement, control of business processes. Quality Management Systems and Total Quality Management can be combined, but they are not dependant on each other and therefore a company can implement a Quality Management System without adopting the whole Total Quality Management philosophy. From here on out the reference to Total Quality Management refers to the philosophy an organisation adopts and not the impossible objective of TQM as stated by Deming. A full consensus is yet to be reached on the exact content and definition of a Total Quality Management System (Yong & Wilkinson, 2001), although it is agreed that Total Quality Management   is not possible within an organisation without a commitment from the top management (Kelkar, 2008).

Business Process Re-engineering is often compared with Total Quality Management where the difference lies in that Total Quality Management is a more gradual change and improve on what is already there. In the case of   Business Process Re-Engineering the company seek a major and rapid break-through. Many authors describe Total Quality Management as a dying management philosophy (Yong & Wilkinson, 2001), but is still holds some merit according to other authors. Today (2010) Total Quality Management is rather broken up into smaller parts and companies adopt whichever part applies to them such as ISO 9000 Quality Management systems, TPM, JIT, Deming’s Cycle (PDCA), etc. One of the main reasons for Total Quality Management being criticized is because many people try and fail to implement a Quality Management philosophy. It is not something that can be entered into lightly, since its implementation will ask a lot of hard work and patience.

Processes and procedures are ever present in our everyday life and many of us don’t even realize it. Sometimes it is more noticeable, like when you follow instructions the bake a cake, and other times it has become such a habit, like brushing your teeth, you don’t even notice it. So what exactly is a process and a procedure? A process describes what we do in what sequence (Cunat & Graig, 2000), for instance when baking a cake the process would be to mix the dry ingredients, then to mix the wet ingredients, then to mix the dry and wet together, then scoop it into a cake pan and finally place it in the oven. A procedure on the other hand explain to one how to do a task (Cunat & Graig, 2000), for instance when baking a cake one of the procedures would be to sift the dry ingredients together and to use a whisk rather than a spoon to mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients to ensure the batch is smooth throughout. A Quality Management System consists of different areas, including processes and procedures.

A process consists of a sequence of actions that transforms an input into value-added output. A process map is the visual representation of a process in such a way that the flow of work/activities can be clearly seen. According to Anjard 1996, processes were not usually documented, continually improved, standardized or managed in the 1990’s, but today (2010) with the increased popularity in Quality Management Systems process mapping has started to become more customary and even required in some organisations. A process map gives a better idea of the bigger picture and assists in the identification of areas requiring improvement. It highlights the main steps to achieve a desired output and facilitates process improvement where necessary to achieve higher quality. Several advantages can result from process improvement, such as: less rework, increased productivity, improved quality and decreased costs. According to Gitlow 2005, it is important that processes should have feedback loops. A feedback loop relates information back to another stage in the process with the intention that decisions are made based on the analysis of the information. A process without a feedback loop is destined to decline and crumble, since there is no feedback data from which the process can be improved or even reinvented over time. Every process can be studied, classified, documented, standardized, improved and innovated (Gitlow, Oppenheim, Oppenheim, & Levine, 2005).

Processes should be used when the responsible person in a process knows how to do the activities, but want to achieve a desired result.

Process maps should be developed from the top down, in other words the highest level tasks should be mapped first to give a better idea of the scope of the process within the system (Anjard, 1996). Different flowcharts are available for process mapping such as system flowcharts and layout flowcharts. Some of the benefits of flowcharts are: it assists in communication between departments and people, since it is an universal form of communication, helps with the planning phase of projects, gives one the bigger picture of a system, gets rid of clatter, which can shift ones focus in the wrong direction, defines responsibilities, reveals the relationships between different processes, improves the logical layout and sequencing of a process, helps to identify errors in the system and it documents the process.

Procedures is more of a how to guide and is mostly utilised by people new to the process and the tasks thereof. Procedures does illustrate how the described task fits into to bigger picture.


  • Anderson, J. C., Rungtusanatham, M., & Schroeder, R. G. (1994). The theory of quality management underlying the deming management method. Academy of Managment review Vol. 19 , 472-509.
  • Anjard, R. P. (1996). Process Mapping: One of three, newn special quality tools for management, quality and all other professionals. Microelectron Reliab. Vol. 36 No. 2 , 223-225.
  • Beer, M. (2003). Why Total Quality Management Programs Do Not Persist: The Role of Management Quality and Implications for Leading a TQM Transformation. Decision Science Vol. 34 , 623-642.
  • Cunat, T., & Graig, M. (2000). Writing Processes and Procedures using Audience analysis and the ISO 9000 document hierarchy. MN.
  • Gitlow, H. S., Oppenheim, A. J., Oppenheim, R., & Levine, D. M. (2005). Quality Management. Singapore: McGraw Hill.
  • Kalwankar, A. (Producer), & Kelkar, P. S. (Director). (2008). Lecture — 35 Quality Management Systems [Motion Picture]. Bombay, India.
  • Piskar, F., & Dolinsek, S. (2006). Implementation of the ISO 9001: from QMS to business model. Industrial Management and Data Systems Vol. 106 , 1333-1343.
  • Siazarbitoria, I. H. (2006). How Quality Management Models Influence Company Results — Conclusions of an Empirical Study Based on the Delphi Method. Total Quality Management Vol. 17 , 775-794.
  • Yeung, C. L., & Chan, L. Y. (1998). Quality Management System Development: Some implications form case studies. Computers ind. Engng Vol. 35 , 221-224.
  • Yong, J., & Wilkinson, A. (2001). Rethinking total quality management. TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT Vol. 12 , 247-258.

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