The Essential Glossary of Quality Management Terms

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Quality management is a critical aspect of any organization's operations. It involves planning, organizing, and controlling activities and resources to ensure that products and services meet or exceed the required quality standards. There are many terms and concepts in the field of quality management, and understanding these can help organizations improve their performance and achieve their goals. This blog post will briefly define some key lean six sigma terms and quality glossary.

A

A3 thinking: A problem-solving approach based on the plan-do-check-act cycle, often written on an A3 size paper (11 x 17 inches)

A3 report: A ledger-sized sheet of paper that includes all relevant information about a problem, as well as diagrams, charts, and other visual aids to help clarify the data and improve communication

Acceptance sampling: A statistical method used to evaluate a sample of products or services to determine whether they meet the required specifications

Action plan: A plan that outlines the steps that need to be taken to achieve a specific goal or objective

Affinity diagram: A tool used to organize ideas and information into logical groups or categories

Agile methodology: A project management approach that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability

Analyze phase: The phase in the DMAIC process (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) where the data collected during the measure phase is analyzed to identify the root cause(s) of the problem

Andon: A visual management tool used in lean manufacturing to signal and respond to problems in real time

APQP: Advanced product quality planning, a methodology used to ensure that a product meets or exceeds customer requirements and expectations

ASQ: American Society for Quality, a professional organization that provides education, training, certification, and networking opportunities to quality professionals

Auditing: The process of evaluating a system, process, or organization to determine whether it complies with established standards or requirements

Autonomation: The process of automating a manufacturing process while still allowing operators to intervene and adjust the process as needed

Average: A measure of central tendency that represents the value that is most typical of a set of data

Average cycle time: The average amount of time it takes to complete a process or task

B

Balanced scorecard: A performance measurement tool that uses a combination of financial and non-financial metrics to evaluate an organization's performance

Benchmarking: The process of comparing an organization's processes, products, or services against those of other organizations considered to be best-in-class

Beta testing: The process of testing a product or service by a group of users before it is released to the general public

Black belt: A lean manufacturing term for an expert in Six Sigma methodology who is trained to lead and facilitate improvement projects

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Brainstorming: A group activity that involves generating as many ideas as possible without judging or evaluating them

Breakdown maintenance: The process of repairing a machine or equipment only after it has failed or stopped working

Business process reengineering (BPR): The process of redesigning an organization's processes to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and competitiveness

Business Value-added Activities: These activities are required to stay in business but do not add value from the customer's perspective.

C

Capacity: The maximum amount of work that a process or system can handle within a specific period

Capability: The ability of a process or system to produce conforming products or services within specified limits

Cause and effect diagram: A tool used to identify and organize the causes of a problem or issue. This is also called the Fishbone diagram or Ishikawa Diagram.

Certification: The process of verifying that an individual or organization meets a specific set of standards or requirements

Change management: The process of planning, implementing and controlling changes to an organization's processes, products, or services.

Charter: A document that outlines the purpose, goals, and objectives of a project or initiative, as well as the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the team members involved.

Control phase: The final step in the DMAIC process (define, measure, analyze, improve, control), where the solutions implemented in the improve phase are put into place on a long-term basis and monitored to ensure that the problem does not reoccur

Control chart: A graphical representation of process data over time that is used to identify patterns, trends, and special causes of variation

Control plan: A document that outlines the measures and methods that will be used to ensure that a product or process remains within specified limits

Corrective action: A specific course of action taken to correct a problem or deviation from established standards or requirements to avoid the recurrence of the problem.

Cost of quality (COQ): The total cost of all activities that are associated with ensuring that a product or service meets the required quality standards

Customer satisfaction: The degree to which a product or service meets or exceeds a customer's expectations

D

Data: The facts, figures, or information that are collected and analyzed to support decision making

Data collection: The process of gathering, organizing, and recording data for a specific purpose

Data mining: The process of extracting useful or meaningful information from a large dataset

Data visualization: The process of using graphical techniques, such as charts, graphs, and maps, to represent and communicate data in a clear and concise manner

Design for six sigma (DFSS): A methodology used to design and develop new products, processes, or services that meet or exceed customer requirements and expectations, focusing on reducing defects and variability.

Design of experiments (DOE): A statistical method used to test and evaluate multiple variables simultaneously to determine the effect of each variable on the outcome of a process or experiment

DMAIC: Define, measure, analyze, improve, control, a problem-solving approach used in Six Sigma methodology

Documentation: The process of creating, organizing, and maintaining records or documents that provide evidence of an organization's processes, products, or services

E

Effective: The degree to which a product or service meets or exceeds the intended purpose or objective

Efficiency: The relationship between the output of a process or system and the input of resources, such as time, money, or materials

Employee engagement: The degree to which employees are committed to the success of an organization and are motivated to contribute to its goals and objectives

Error proofing: The process of designing or implementing controls or systems to prevent errors or defects from occurring in a process or product. This is called Poka-yoke in Japanese.

F

Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA): A systematic method used to identify and evaluate a product's or process's potential failure modes and the effects of those failures on the overall system. Related term: Risk Priority Number (RPN)

Flowchart: A diagram that represents the steps or tasks in a process, as well as the relationships between those steps or tasks

Focus group: A group of individuals who are selected and brought together to discuss a specific topic or issue

Force field analysis: A tool used to identify the forces that are driving or resisting change in a system or process

G

Gantt chart: A graphical representation of the planned and actual progress of a project, typically showing the tasks, resources, and dependencies involved in the project.

Gemba: A Japanese term that means "the real place" or "the place where the work is done," often used in lean manufacturing to refer to the factory floor or the place where value is created

Genchi genbutsu: Literally translated as "go see for yourself." In quality management, this refers to visiting a company's production facilities to observe how it actually makes things happen

Goal: A specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objective or target that an organization or individual strives to achieve

Governance: The policies, processes, and practices that are used to manage and control an organization or system

Green belt: A lean manufacturing term for a Six Sigma practitioner who has been trained in the basics of the methodology and is capable of leading and facilitating small improvement projects

H

Hoshin planning: A strategic planning and deployment method that aligns an organization's goals and objectives with its business plans and operational activities

House of quality: A tool used in new product development to identify the relationships between customer requirements, product characteristics, and technical requirements

Hypothesis: A testable statement or prediction that is made based on limited evidence or data and that can be confirmed or rejected through further testing or observation

I

Implementation: The process of putting a plan, solution, or strategy into action

Improvement: The process of making changes to a product, process, or system to increase its effectiveness, efficiency, or quality

Inspection: The process of evaluating a product or service to determine whether it meets the specified standards or requirements

J

Just in Time (JIT): An approach to production scheduling that emphasizes delivering products at just the right time to meet demand

Jidoka - automation with a human touch. See also Autonomation.

K

Kaikaku - radical change or innovation.

Kaizen: A Japanese term that means "continuous improvement," often used in lean manufacturing to refer to the process of making small, incremental improvements to processes, products, or services on an ongoing basis.

Kanban: A Japanese term that refers to a visual signal or symbol used to indicate what needs to be worked on next. Kanban boards are used to track the flow of materials throughout a manufacturing facility.

Key performance indicator (KPI): A metric that is used to measure the performance of an organization, process, or individual against specific goals or objectives

L

Lean manufacturing: A methodology that focuses on reducing waste and increasing value by eliminating or minimizing activities that do not add value to the end product or service

Learning organization: An organization that fosters continuous learning and development and can adapt and change in response to new information or challenges.

Level loading: The process of balancing the workload of a process or system over time to ensure that it operates at a consistent and optimal level

Limit: A maximum or minimum value that is used to define the acceptable range of a process or product characteristic

Lower specification limit (LSL): the minimum value or threshold that a product or process characteristic can have without being considered defective or out of specification.

M

Maintenance: The process of preserving, repairing, or replacing equipment, machinery, or facilities to ensure that they continue to operate at their intended level of performance

Management review: A systematic evaluation of an organization's processes, products, or services to determine whether they are meeting the intended goals and objectives and to identify opportunities for improvement

Matrix organization: An organizational structure that combines functional and project-based structures and that allows for cross-functional collaboration and coordination

Metric: A measure or indicator that is used to evaluate the performance of a process, product, or system against specific goals or standards

Mission: A statement that defines the purpose or reason for the existence of an organization and that guides its decision-making and actions

Mistake-proofing: See error proofing

Muda: In Japanese, Muda means "waste" or "loss." Muda occurs when resources are wasted because they were not put to use efficiently.

Mura: Mura is the waste of unevenness or inconsistency.

Muri: Muri means overburdening, beyond one's power, excessive, or unreasonable.

N

Nemawashi - A Japanese word for informal consultation or consensus-building.

Non-value-added Activities: Activities that do not contribute directly to the creation of value for customers, such as administrative tasks, training, and meetings

O

Objective: A specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goal or target that an organization or individual strives to achieve

OEE (overall equipment effectiveness): A metric that is used to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of a manufacturing process, typically by calculating the percentage of planned production time that is productive

Operational definition: A clear and specific description of a term, concept, or measurement that is used in a study or experiment

Opportunity cost: The value of the next best alternative that is foregone as a result of choosing a particular course of action

Organizational culture: The shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that define an organization and shape its interactions with its employees, customers, and other stakeholders

Outcome: The result or impact of a particular course of action or decision

Outlier: A data point that is significantly different from the other points in a dataset

P

Pareto analysis: A tool used to prioritize a set of issues or problems by identifying the most significant ones that contribute to the majority of the overall impact or effect

Performance measurement: The process of collecting, analyzing, and reporting data on the performance of an organization, process, or individual against specific goals or standards

Poka-yoke: A method of preventing errors through the use of simple checks and procedures that have been designed to eliminate human error

Preventive Action: An action taken before a problem occurs to prevent the problem from happening

Process: A series of steps or activities that are carried out to achieve a specific result or outcome

Process capability: The ability of a process to produce conforming products or services within specified limits.

Process flowchart: A diagram that represents the steps or tasks in a process, as well as the relationships between those steps or tasks

Process mapping: The process of documenting, analyzing, and improving the flow of information, materials, or people within a process or system

Process improvement: The process of making changes to a process or system to increase its effectiveness, efficiency, or quality

Process performance: The degree to which a process meets or exceeds the intended goals or objectives

Productivity: The relationship between the output of a process or system and the input of resources, such as time, money, or materials

Project charter: A document that outlines the scope, objectives, and stakeholders of a project, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the project team

Project management: The process of planning, organizing, and controlling the resources and activities of a project to achieve its specific goals and objectives

Q

Quality: The degree to which a product or service meets or exceeds the intended purpose or objective

Quality assurance (QA): The process of ensuring that a product or service meets the specified standards or requirements

Quality control (QC): The process of inspecting, testing, or evaluating a product or service to ensure that it meets the specified standards or requirements

Quality management: The process of planning, organizing, and controlling the activities and resources of an organization to ensure that its products or services meet or exceed the required quality standards.

Quality policy: A written statement describing how a company intends to implement and manage quality

Quality plan: A detailed description of how a company plans to improve its processes and procedures to ensure that they consistently produce high-quality products or services

Quality system: The policies, processes, and procedures used to manage and control the quality of an organization's products or services. This is also called Quality Management System (QMS)

R

RACI matrix: A tool used to clarify and communicate the roles and responsibilities of individuals or teams within a project or process

Reducing setup time: The process of reducing the time required to change over or set up a machine, process, or system from one product or operation to another. Also, see Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)

Reliability: The ability of a product or system to function consistently and dependably over time

Requirements: The specific needs, specifications, or constraints that must be satisfied by a product, process, or system

Risk Priority Number (RPN): An estimate of the relative risk associated with each potential problem or failure. It is calculated by multiplying severity, likelihood and detection numbers.

Robust: The ability of a product or system to perform consistently and effectively under varying conditions or circumstances

Root cause analysis: The process of identifying the underlying or fundamental cause of a problem or issue, as opposed to the symptoms or surface-level causes

S

Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED): The process of exchanging dies in less than 10 minutes (single digit) to reduce downtime and improve productivity

SIPOC diagram: A tool used to map and document the suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, and customers of a process or system

Six Sigma: A methodology that uses data and statistical analysis to identify and eliminate defects or variations in a process or product. A Six Sigma process produces less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO).

Standard: A specific requirement, guideline, or criterion that is used to evaluate the performance of a product, process, or system

Statistical process control (SPC): The use of statistical tools and techniques to monitor and control the performance of a process or system to improve its quality and consistency.

Strategic planning: The process of defining an organization's goals, objectives, and strategies and of allocating the resources and activities needed to achieve those goals

Sustainability: The ability of a system or process to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

Systems engineering: A discipline that focuses on the design and management of complex systems, processes, or products

T

Takt time: The rate of customer demand.

Target: A specific objective or goal that an organization, process or individual strives to achieve

Theory of constraints (TOC): A management philosophy that focuses on identifying and removing the constraints or bottlenecks that limit the performance of a process or system

Total productive maintenance (TPM): A maintenance strategy that involves all employees in the maintenance and improvement of equipment, machinery, or facilities

Total quality management (TQM): A management philosophy that focuses on achieving continuous improvement in the quality of products, services, or processes through the involvement and participation of all employees

U

Upper specification limit (USL): the maximum value or threshold that a product or process characteristic can have without being considered defective or out of specification.

V

Value: The benefit or utility that is derived from a product, service, or process

Value-added activities: Activities that add value to a product or service

Value stream mapping: A tool used to visualize and analyze the flow of materials, information, and activities in a process or system, from the beginning to the end, to identify opportunities for improvement.

Variation: The difference or deviation from the expected or average value of a process or product characteristic

W

Waste: Any activity, process, or resource that does not add value to the end product or service or that creates excess or unnecessary costs

Work breakdown structure (WBS): A tool used to decompose a project or process into smaller, more manageable units or tasks

World Class Manufacturing (WCM): A set of principles and practices that are used to improve the performance, efficiency, and quality of manufacturing processes and systems.

X

X-bar chart: a statistical control chart used to monitor the process mean or average over time.

Y

Yield: the percentage or proportion of units or items that meet the required quality standards and specifications.

Z

Zero defects: the goal of achieving perfect quality, with no defects or errors in products or processes.


In conclusion, quality management is a complex and multifaceted field that involves many different terms and concepts. Understanding these can help organizations improve performance, reduce waste, and increase customer satisfaction.


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