Industry accepted definitions of quality are “conformance to requirements” (from Philip Crosby) and “fit for use” (from Dr. Joseph Juran and Dr. W. Edwards Deming). These two definitions are not inconsistent.
Meeting requirements is a producer’s view of quality. This is the view of the organization responsible for the project and processes, and the products and services acquired, developed, and maintained by those processes. Meeting requirements means that the person building the product does so in accordance with the requirements. Requirements can be very complete or they can be simple, but they must be defined in a measurable format, so it can be determined whether they have been met. The producer’s view of quality has these four characteristics:
- Doing the right thing
- Doing it the right way
- Doing it right the first time
- Doing it on time without exceeding cost
Being fit for use is the customer’s definition. The customer is the end user of the products or services. Fit for use means that the product or service meets the customer’s needs regardless of the product requirements. Of the two definitions of quality, fit for use, is the more important. The customer’s view of quality has these characteristics:
- Receiving the right product for their use
- Being satisfied that their needs have been met
- Meeting their expectations
- Being treated with integrity, courtesy and respect
Most Information Technology (IT) groups have two quality gaps: the producer gap and the customer gap. The producer gap is the difference between what is specified (the documented requirements and internal standards) versus what is delivered (what is actually built). The customer gap is the difference between what the producers actually delivered versus what the customer wanted.
In addition to the producer and customer views of quality, the organizational infrastructure also includes a provider and a supplier view. These views are as follows:
- Provider view – This is the perspective of the organization that delivers the products and services to the customer.
- Supplier view – This is the perspective of the organization (that may be external to the producer’s company, such as an independent vendor) that provides either the producer and/or the provider with products and services needed to meet the requirements of the customer.