Instruments of Quality Management

There are a multitude of instruments for quality management. From these we have chosen the most important ones and structured them in the following manner:

  1. Planning techniques
  2. Control techniques
  3. Improvement- and problem solving techniques
  4. Quality techniques in the service sector

Some of these techniques can be used for both planning and controlling as well as improvements and problem solving. Therefore we have allocated them to the category that reflects their main use.


Benchmarking: systematic and continuous process to measure and compare organizations with the best within their own business sector or outside of it with the objective of gathering information in order to improve one’s organizational processes. , ,

DOE: Design of Experiments: method to improve processes by reducing the number of necessary controls and thereby contributing to a more economic production process.

FMEA: Failure Mode and Effects Analysis: method whose systematic use allows the identification or investigation of  the causes of failures and the effects of both product and process failures. Based on this analysis recommendations for the minimization of failure effects are developed.

QFD: Quality Function Deployment: method to identify customer’s wishes and to guarantee that these are taken into account during product development and planning. This reduces the product development cycles, increases quality and reduces cost.


SPC: Statistical Process Control: instrument to guarantee the product quality by means of process controls. Special attention is given to the prediction of errors rather than the control of finished products:

– By measuring the aptitude of the processes to faultless production.

– By correcting deviations with the objective to stabilize processes.

Capability Indices:

o Capability Indices of machines: instrument to evaluate the capability of machines by comparing actual deviations with the specification tolerances set.

§ Cm: controls whether deviations of machines are within the specification limits

§ Cmk: controls not only whether the deviations of the machines are within specification limits but also how large the variation around the nominal point is.

o Capability Indices of processes: instrument to evaluate the capability of processes in regard to a specific parameter over a period of time by comparing actual deviations with specification limits:

§ Cp: controls whether deviations of processes are within the specification limits

§ Cpk: controls not only whether the deviations of processes are within specification limits but also how large the variation around the nominal point is.

Quality-Audit: methodological and independent investigation to verify whether activities and their results in regard to quality comply with earlier established rules and that these are efficient and adequate.

o Based on the area of application: product, process and system-audits are distinguished

o Based on who carries out the audit: internal (through company staff) and external (3rd party) audits can be distinguished.


Brainstorming: tool to be used by a group of people to generate the highest possible amount of ideas. It is based on the principle of respect of all ideas in order to foster participation and creativity.

The 5 Whys: analysis techniques to ask the question why as long as possible so as to reach the cause of a problem. Normally only 5 whys are necessary but this is only a point of reference.

Re-engineering: fundamental revision and radical re-design of processes in order to gain spectacular improvements of critical success factors like cost, quality, service and speed.

PDCA-Cycle: cycle consisting of planning, doing, controlling and acting that functions as guideline for continuous improvement and a systematic and structured approach to problem solving.

The 7 instruments: The origin of the seven instruments lies in Japan when Deming at the beginning of the 50s started to teach the Japanese the basics of statistical analysis. They then compiled seven techniques or tools that could be easily used by any member of an organization:

o Data Spreadsheet: tool giving a structured overview of all relevant information created during processes.

o Flowchart: tool to visualize different process steps and the relationship of activities by using standardized symbols.

o Histogram: graph visualizing the frequency distribution of a parameter.

o Correlation diagram: graph depicting the relationship between two variables.

o Pareto-Diagram: graph that assorts according to frequency and compares the significance of different factors of influence on a problem or a question.

o Ishikawa-Diagram: graph of logical relationships between main and minor causes of certain effects.

o Control cards: graphic representation of the different values that process characteristics can have, thereby allowing a comparison between them with specified limits over time which functions as a base of decision making.

The 7 new instruments  :

The seven new management and planning tools were developed as a collection of techniques on the way to a comprehensive understanding of quality. In the 70’s JUSE (Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers) compiled the following seven new instruments:

o Affinity diagram: tool to organize data by the grouping of ideas and opinions around a few main thoughts.

o Relation diagram: tool to identify cause-effect-relationship between different factors. All elements are linked by arrows visualizing these relationships.

o Tree-Diagram: tool to visualize different actions or steps that need to be taken in order to solve a problem or situation.

o Matrix-Diagram: tool to graphically represent the logical connections between items. The most common forms are the L, A, T Y and X diagrams.

o Prioritization Matrices: tool for effective decision making by prioritizing activities, topics, product characteristics, etc. according to a set of decision making criteria. For this a mixture of matrix and tree diagrams are used.

o Process Decision Program Chart: tool to identify, visualize and eliminate all problems that can arise during the solution process.

o Arrow diagram: planning and controlling tool to develop and realize all activities visualized as a network of steps.


So far all quality management techniques were oriented towards industry. Some of them have been adapted to be employed in the service sector. Others have been specifically developed. The most important tools are the following:

GAP-Model: it is based on the assumption that the customer perceives product quality as the difference between minimum expectations and actual experienced quality. The difference consists of several elements:

o GAP 1: difference between the actual expected quality by the customer and the assumed expectation by the company.

o GAP 2: difference between the assumed customers expectation and the specifications of the service.

o GAP 3: difference between the specifications and the actual service rendered.

o GAP 4: difference between the actual service rendered and the perceived quality by the customer.

Metaplan-Technique: instrument to develop new services. The different versions of a service (represented by a metaplan card) are based on the most relevant characteristics that customers have supplied. These build the base for a survey with customers in order to choose the preferred version.

Blueprinting: method to identify possible sources of service failure in combination with a visual representation of it. Measure to evaluate the quality of a service.

Sequential incidents method: method to know the opinion of customers at any stage of the process. After the division into the different process phases customers are asked about their opinion on each one of them. This way the organization collects a profound knowledge on the service offered.

Customer survey: Development of a questionnaire whose evaluation helps to know customers needs and expectations better and to adapt the service accordingly.

Serv-Qual: method to measure customer satisfaction with the service and to prioritize actions for its improvement. The customer is asked about every characteristic of the service and how satisfied he is with each one of them. This data is then put into an IP-diagram (Importance, Performance) in order to decide on the most important improvements of the service.

Analysis of the meaning of the most common problems: method to develop priorities. With lists of possible problems a questionnaire is developed that asks for the frequency of experienced problems and their meaning for the customer. The so collected data is then analyzed and visualized to specify the priorities and to draw further conclusions.

FMEA for services: method to prevent failures and to perfect the service. Possible errors within the process are investigated and evaluated for their potential effect. Then the possible causes are searched for and an action plan to overcome these is laid out.

Complaints-Management: systematic and structured approach of organizations to collect, evaluate and search for solutions to customers’ complaints.


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