Quality Management: Tools, Methods, and Standards

Cover of Quality Management: Tools, Methods, and Standards


Table of contents

(18 chapters)

The foundations of quality management have been laid throughout the history of civilization. Since the dawn of industrialization, as a consequence of an increasing division of labor, the approach has evolved dramatically in terms of analytical tools and organizational practices. This evolution is outlined in this chapter. Starting from an overview of the different possible meanings of quality, the phases characterizing modern quality management (e.g., quality control, quality assurance, etc.) are described. Geopolitical and macroeconomic considerations are factored in to account for an uneven development across countries (e.g., Japan vs US). A general trajectory is traced as the scope of quality has constantly broadened to encompass not only the product, but also interorganizational processes and the impact on the environment and the society of the company activities. Against this backdrop, the current phase is seen as a polarization between a “classic” engineering approach and a more holistic view, questioning the same boundaries of the discipline.


The importance of organizational-stakeholder relationships has been an interesting subject in the organizational literature.

In this chapter, the evolution of the concept of stakeholder and how crucial is the company’s interaction and cooperation with them to achieve common goals has been studied. Initially stakeholder was considered a synonym of shareholder but throughout the years the category has expanded including managers, employees, suppliers, and other key actors, until the current meaning: stakeholder is “any group or individuals who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives” (Freeman, 1994). Hence for running successful businesses, the companies need to acknowledge the existing stakeholders and provide them expected benefits, proportionally to their relevance, which is based on their power, legitimacy, and urgency. The chapter concludes by showing us the main principles that identify the management duties to all stakeholders and the necessity of increasing their involvement in decision-making processes.

Companies are nowadays called to manage increasingly larger and more complex quantities of data. Making good predictions and estimating a possible risky situation in advance is therefore more important than ever. The statistical tools are a key element to support quality management and production process analyses, allowing managers to anticipate, in various ways, the situations that will arise. After a general introduction to statistics, this chapter discusses the main statistical techniques used to describe, visualize, and analyze data, with particular attention to the methods that allow to verify the quality and consistency of the conclusions (i.e., confidence intervals and hypothesis verification). Finally, some advanced and widespread quality management statistical tools are presented: quality control charts, historical series, and stochastic control.

The balanced scorecard (BSC) is the most popular toll for business performance management. It can be used by managers belonging to every kind of (public or private) organization to keep track of the execution of activities and to monitor the consequences arising from the improvements projects. The (financial, customer, internal business processes, and learning/growth) perspectives of the BSC allow to plan and control the company strategy in a holistic way. Starting from its theoretical bases, this chapter describes the BSC measurement perspectives and how to build a strategy map. The chapter closes with some suggestions for ensuring the success of the BSC.

Quality function deployment (QFD) is a method developed in Japan to help transform the voice of the customer into product characteristics and to control quality in the development/production phases. It minimizes the risk that products or services are far from the costumers’ needs and promotes company integration and quality management. Starting with the description of the “House of Quality,” the chapter explains how to build a QFD. Strengths and weaknesses of the methodology are also presented to the reader.

This chapter introduces benchmarking as a multifaceted concept based on action-oriented approach that goes beyond the simple study of a process or the search for a performance measure; through the measurement, analysis, and comparison with the best internal or external references benchmarking encourages the organization to identify areas for improvement and activate the corresponding actions. The experiences of the last 30 years brought out different types of benchmarking, defined and used in relation to the different dimensions of analysis and objectives of a benchmarking project. The analysis provides guidelines for the understanding and implementation of a benchmarking project, and emphasizes that there are no formal rules to identify the most suitable configuration of all, but different business objectives simply pave the way for methods and structures more consistent with the expected results.

Customer satisfaction is a term used to explain how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation.

Customer satisfaction is defined as the number/percentage of customers whose experience with products/services exceeds identified satisfaction goals.

This chapter explains how to develop customer satisfaction analyses (from the preliminary study to the analysis of the results) and some methods to represents the major findings.

The failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) is a technique used to identify and prevent various problems related to systems, designs, and processes. The main purpose of the technique is to increase the level of service offered to the customer, eliminate or reduce costs, increase safety, enhance corporate image through a detailed and stable quality management, and monitoring system.

After presenting the FMEA main characteristics, this chapters explains how to apply the FMEA to a process and how to create a FMEA worksheet. It also highlights strengths and weaknesses of this tool.


The core idea behind lean is maximizing customer value and companies’ competitiveness through the streamlining and optimization of its main processes. Lean means creating more value with fewer resources. Thanks to its positive impact on companies’ overall performance, the lean concept is widely adopted across various industries and many organizations. Before being an operational tool, it is a management culture to be disseminated at all levels and applied with patience and conviction. Lean is about continuously improving work processes, purposes, and people. Instead of trying to hold total control of work processes and keep the spotlight, lean management encourages shared responsibility and shared leadership. Lean management was not created in a moment and still is evolving gradually, thanks to the desire of people for continuous improvement.


Six sigma is a structured methodology that uses mathematical and statistical tools to increase productivity and business efficiency. In order to apply it, it is necessary to have a very broad knowledge in the fields of mathematics, management, and sector to which the process or the product under consideration (mechanical, electronic, chemical, etc.) refers. It is based on guidelines with a rigid and formalized approach to deal with misunderstandings and minimize subjectivity as much as possible.

This chapter will provide the basic information regarding the birth of the methodology and the composition of the work team; moreover, the procedure define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) will be presented and some tools will be described in order to obtain the improvements desired for the product or the process.


It can be said that the mapping of processes is an intrinsic need of organizations, precisely because they are composed of a multiplicity of individuals. As soon as the number of people in an organization is higher than one, the need arises to define clearly who does what and how, and to be able to measure the effectiveness of the defined processes. This chapter aims to clarify and provide the reader with a possible method for doing this. The authors illustrate the main steps to successfully manage a process mapping project, using objective methods to guide the identification of the most important goals and processes of an organization. After the analysis and the definition, it becomes important to be able to communicate processes in a clear way. It is therefore proposed as a method for the graphical representation of the processes, more intuitive and immediate compared to the classic textual description and alternative to other techniques of BPMN.


This chapter aims at presenting the ISO 9000 standards and their crucial role in the regulation of the quality management process in a company. To achieve this goal not only have the standards been deeply scrutinized but also evidences of their importance and consequences of their application have been collected after a deep period of study and research.

The chapter begins with a quick review of the standards history, followed by a consistent part that describes the process of standardization and who releases the certifications. The following part is devoted to the analysis of the structure of the standards and the principles in which their content is based. The chapter ends highlighting the areas influenced by the quality standards and the benefits that they bring to the companies.

In conlusion, this section of the book is dedicated to a normative topic that is in continuous evolution and that influences a lot the quality management system.


ISO 14001 standard is the environmental certification developed by the International Organization for Standardization to describe the requirements for a certifiable Environmental Management System (EMS). The standard is included in the ISO 14000 series, developed because of the need for improved environmental quality. The current version of the ISO 14001 is the ISO 14001:2015; the purpose of the revision was to structure all the ISO standard (e.g., ISO9001) similarly and facilitate management systems’ integration.

The literature highlights that many drivers encourage companies to obtain the certification (e.g., need for an improved image of the company, pressure from customers, and ethical reasons), but there are also some barriers to its implementation (e.g., risk of spreading confidential information, reduction in productivity, and cost of the certification). However, the certification is connected to better performances indicated by the increase in process productivity and control, the reduction in resources’ consumption and waste, and the improved quality of products/processes.


The new standard ISO 45001 is expected to give a significant boost to the growth of the number of companies that have adopted and certified an occupational health and safety (OHS) management system. The structure of the new standard reflects the Annex SL, thus facilitating the organizations in aligning and integrating their management systems. The requirements of the standard lead companies, across the Deming Cycle, to the continual improvement of OHS performance starting from the essential process of leadership and commitment, through the implementation of the key processes of planning (context analysis, risk assessment, operational planning, and control), of the support processes (communication and participation, competence and awareness of resources, and documentation management) and, finally, the processes of performance evaluation (monitoring, auditing, and management review). The advantages are a full control of compliance obligations, a significant reduction in the injury indexes, a reduction in the associated costs, and an improvement in corporate image.


In the context of the globalization of markets and free trade, the importance of the Internet in the systems of negotiation, communication, and data exchange grows, which puts the problem of information security at the forefront. Actions and improvement activities on the management of confidential information are becoming increasingly important in organizations.

However, information is not just stored in computers; information can be on paper, on a disc, and in the minds of those who work for the organization. Information becomes part of the heritage, and it must be preserved throughout its entire life cycle.

Nowadays, the mere use of some information defence technology is no longer enough; therefore, it becomes essential to implement an efficient Information Security Management System (ISMS) to guarantee a competitive advantage compared to competitors. ISO/IEC 27001 standard outlines the structure for implementing an ISMS and helps organizations manage and protect information assets.


Social Accountability 8000 (SA 8000) is one of the first auditable social standards aimed at promoting labor rights for workers around the world. This certification is currently considered the most important in the field of corporate social responsibility.

According to SA 8000, the organization that seeks certification – besides respecting national, international, and industry regulations – shall consider the requirements defined in the standard.

After describing the SA 8000 requirements, the chapters describe strengths and weaknesses of this standard. The chapter closes with a literature review of the studies that jointly analyzes SA 8000 with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 showing the opportunities of an integrated quality management system.

Cover of Quality Management: Tools, Methods, and Standards
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