What is Quality?
Quality is a concept that is not easily defined. According to Joseph M. Juran, one of the gurus of quality, "quality is 'fitness for use'" (Hellsten & Klefsjo, 2000). This definition is too short to be used in all cases. In a mathematical sense, quality can be defined as value divided by price. This definition requires the definition of another subjective concept: value. There is no known short definition of quality that can be used universally. Juran tied two major concepts to quality: product performance which creates product satisfaction and freedom from deficiencies which create product dissatisfaction (Hellsten & Klefsjo, 2000). Performance can mean, for example, the ability to fulfill the customer's needs quickly without errors.
W. Edwards Deming, another major contributor to how quality is defined today, saw things differently than his colleague, Mr. Juran. He wrote that quality could be defined only in terms of the supplier, producer, user, or customer.
Both management decisions and customer judgments affect quality. Deming (1986) said about quality:
The difficulty in defining quality is to translate future needs of the user into measurable characteristics, so that a product can be designed and turned out to give satisfaction at a price that the user will pay. This is not easy, and as soon as one feels fairly successful in the endeavor, he finds that the needs of the consumer have changed, competitors have moved in, there are new materials to work with, some better than the old ones, some worse; some cheaper than the old ones, some dearer.
The American Society for Quality Control's definition of quality that reflects both the work of Deming and Juran is "the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied goals" (Huber,