A definition of quality assurance is:

The processes that ensure production quality meets the requirements of customers

This is an approach that aims to achieve quality by organising every process to get the product 'right first time' and prevent mistakes ever happening. This is also known as a 'zero defect' approach.

In quality assurance, there is more emphasis on 'self-checking', rather than checking by inspectors.

Advantages of quality assurance include:

  • Costs are reduced because there is less wastage and re-working of faulty products as the product is checked at every stage
  • It can help improve worker motivation as workers have more ownership and recognition for their work (see Herzberg)
  • It can help break down 'us and them' barriers between workers and managers as it eliminates the feeling of being checked up on
  • With all staff responsible for quality, this can help the firm gain marketing advantages arising from its consistent level of quality

Total Quality Management ("TQM")

This is a specific approach to quality assurance that aims to develop a quality culture throughout the firm. In TQM, organisations consist of 'quality chains' in which each person or team treats the receiver of their work as if they were an external customer and adopts a target of 'right first time' or zero defects.

Quality Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a general approach to business improvement based on best practice in the industry, or in another similar industry.

Benchmarking enables a business to identify where it falls short of current best practice and determine what action is needed to either match or exceed best practice.

Done properly, benchmarking can provide a useful quality improvement target for a business.

This can be a helpful approach for services as well as for products – for example a fast food business selling fish and chips could decide that it wanted to aim to equal McDonalds' speed of meeting customer orders for takeaway food.

A financial services firm might want its call centre staff to answer 95% of telephone calls within six rings, if this is the practice of the best in the industry.

In some cases, firms can use internal benchmarking in which best practice may be set with reference to another department, or by a similar factory in a different location.

Featured
Exam coaching workshops

AQA BUSS4 Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops

Join Jim Riley and the tutor2u BUSS4 team for an intensive day designed to prepare students for the challenges of BUSS4 in June 2015. Each of the five workshop sessions introduces and builds effective essay planning and writing technique. We do this in the context of looking at both Manufacturing in the UK (Section A) and core topics for Section B including leadership, change management, technology, strategic choice and globalisation.

Learn more ›

You might also like

Reference material

Study notes

Quality Control

Study notes

Quality - Measurement

Teaching & learning products

AQA BUSS4 Revision Guide

The latest edition of Jim Riley's concise 20 page guide to key topics for BUSS4 - essential support for your BUSS4 exam

£4.00

Edexcel GCSE Business Studies Unit 3 Worked Answers (2013-2014)

Fully worked A Grade answers to recent Edexcel GCSE Business Studies Unit 3 exam papers with detailed examiner commentary on how good technique scores top marks

£5.00