2 min read

By: Adebayo B. Olanrewaju 

What is Quality? 

The term ‘Quality’ can be described in many different ways. These include: 

  1. The degree of excellence of a product or service.
  2. It is a state of being free from defects, deficiencies and significant variations.
  3. It is brought about by strict and consistent commitment to certain standards that achieve uniformity of a product in order to satisfy specific customer or user requirements.
  4. ISO 8402:1986 standard refers to quality as "the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs."

All of the definitions have something in common: Customer. The degree of excellence of a product or service can only be through the eyes of the customers, by understanding what the customer calls “excellence”. 

Defects in a product or service are unwanted part of the product or service as defined by the customer. For quality to be achieved, consistent adherence to product or service requirements must be ensured. These requirements dictate the features and characteristics of the products or service. 

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Differences between Quality and Grade 

The two terms, Quality and Grade are often confused. Although they imply establishing and/or meeting certain specified standards but they are not interchangeable. 

  • Quality

 Quality refers to the degree to which the product or outcome meets the customer or end-user specified requirements. It is the assessment on how well the output aligns with their needs and expectations. We can rightly say that quality is “in the eye of the beholder”. 

That means that even if a product or service seem to be of high quality in the eyes of the producer or service-provider, that does not necessarily equate high quality on the part of the customer or end-user. 

  • Grade

Grade is simply a classification assigned to a product or service that has the same functional use but different technical characteristics. 

Grade is often determined by means of some set of pre-determined measurements and demonstration of compliance to those measurements. For instance, chairs are graded based on their technical characteristics. 

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Regardless of their grade, they all can be used for the same function: sitting. This shows same functional use but different characteristics. One may purchase high grade chairs, however, if one of the chairs is damaged, it would considered low in quality because it has become useless, since the requirements have not been met.

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About the Author

Adebayo is a thought leader in continuous process improvement and manufacturing excellence. He is a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt (CSSMBB) Professional and Management Systems Lead Auditor (ISO 9001, 45001, ISO 22000/FSSC 22000 etc.) with strong experience leading various continuous improvement initiative in top manufacturing organizations. 

You can reach him here.

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