The definition of Quality

January 14, 2021

Written by PS

Classic Car

The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.” or
A distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something
These are two of the definitions you will find by searching on a search engine. But what is Quality?

While there are many definitions you can find, depending on who you ask or where you search for, the answer to this question may be easier than what you expect.

Quality is what the user/customer perceives as quality, the set of characteristics of the product or service that satisfies his expectations.

The origin of the word Quality comes from the Latin word “QUALITAS”, which means “character/nature, essential/distinguishing quality/characteristic” which is related to and comes from the Latin word “QUALIS”, which means “of what kind, sort, condition, description, nature”. In other words, at the origin, the word Quality meant the characteristic of a product/service and it was not the degree of excellence of a product as it is used sometimes nowadays. There several definitions which are maintaining the original meaning of this word.

But the original meaning is not the subject of this article, but what we think when we hear the word “Quality“.

As a professional, I think about all the processes involved in producing a high quality (i.e. characteristics of the product) product or service, about management systems like the Quality Management System. I think about meeting the requirements of the customers and quality standards, such as ISO 9001: 2015, IATF 16949:2016 or AS9100:2016.

As a customer or user of products and services, I think about the characteristics (i.e. quality) of the product or services which meet (or exceed) my expectations. Now from this perspective, what good quality means for me, is different than what good quality means for another customer or user, as my expectations are different from those of somebody else.

Let’s look quickly at an example.
If you are looking to buy a car, how you would describe a good quality car? You will definitely look at the characteristics of that car which you consider important to you, and which may be less important for me. When you find a car that meets those characteristics, you will consider that car a good quality car. But is it?
It is definitely for you, but not necessarily it is for me.

VW Beetle Old

This is where the standards like ISO 9001:2015, IATF 16949:2016 or AS9100:2016 come into place, by defining general recognized and validated requirements about how various products (like the cars) are built or services are offered. And companies that are following these standards and are certified to these standards provide a level of confidence to the user or their customer that the product they build or the service they offer is a good quality product or service.


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