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Quality Tool Set in Operations – a Need for Sme

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Quality is a major driving force for all organizations to compete and survive in today’s global competitive environment. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are doing their best but still majority of SMEs are facing stiff competition from MNC in the area of quality of products and associated costs. Deployment of lean and six sigma practices involves cost aspect. Hence a simple user friendly quality tool set is helpful in addressing SME’s lean and quality issues.

In the era of internet of things, global market and liberalized government policies, quality is paramount for all the organizations to survive in the market. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face stiff competition from Multinational companies (MNCs) for providing quality products and services at a competitive price. Maintaining quality at all stages of production process is very important. Different quality tools can be used from the beginning of the process to till it reaches to customer. Selecting right tool at right time is crucial in quality enhancement.

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Before speak about quality tools, the quality should be defined. According to Carpinetti (2012) [1], quality has different settings due to generic allocation to which the term is used to represent things are quite different. Garvin (1992) rated the quality in five distinct approaches:

Quality transcendent: the quality is not an idea or a concrete thing, although we cannot define quality, we know what it is:

  • Quality based on the product: quality is a precise and measurable variable;
  • Quality based on the costumer: quality is to meet consumer desires;
  • Quality based on production: quality is the degree to which a specific product is in accordance with a design or specification;
  • Quality based on value: quality is the degree of excellence at an acceptable price.

Quality tools help to improve the quality of products, services and processes. Quality tool is a tool designed to perform a specific task, according to a defined procedure. It enables direct and support the activities of improvement and change. Quality tools can be classified in to two groups: traditional tools and Complementary tools. Traditional tools are the tools that were developed in Japan and elsewhere, including the Pareto chart and the Ishikawa diagram. The complementary tools are less used or are used only to solve a specific problem.

Quality Tools

Quality works to achieve continuous improvement in the productive system, in an approach that is characterized as a process of continuous improvement in products and processes to achieve improvements in overall performance.

According Carpinetti (2012) and Silva et al. (2013), to assist in the development of continuous improvement, it is used the tools of Quality, which are:

Pareto Chart: is used to divide a large problem into several smaller problems, with the goal of viewing the problem. It shows, in order of importance, the contribution of each item to the total effect. Typically, it is represented by a bar graph;

Cause and Effect Diagram (Ishikawa Diagram): is used to represent the relationship between the effect and all possible causes that are contributing to this effect. Causes are usually grouped in these categories: method, measurement, machine, raw material, labor, and work environment.

Check sheet: is a very simple tool which aims to group data so that they are easily further processed.

Stratification: It separates data collected from different sources so that patterns can be seen. Histogram: is a bar graph showing the frequency at which the values occur in the measurements. In the graph, the thickness is variable, and the range of the height of the bar shows the number of times it occurs.

Control Chart: widely used in SPC (Statistical Process Control), is a graph done to identify how a process can be changed to point to modify the product quality.

Scatter Diagram: relates two variables by studying the possible relationships that may exist between them.

A single tool is a device with a clear function, and is usually applied on its own, whereas a technique has a wider application and is understood as a set of tools. Companies that know how to use correctly the quality tools to solve a problem, are able to achieve goals, leading to a true competitive position.


Another tool that has increased the quality of project management, although it wasn’t designed for that, is brainstorming. Brainstorming was developed in 1939 by Alex Osborn, an advertising agency employee. Frustrated by the inability of his employers to come up with creative ideas for advertising campaigns, Osborn has devised a method of creative problem solving. He began to host sessions to generate ideas in groups, and noted that the result was much better than when people were thinking on their own. The quality of ideas generated was also much better.

According to Osborn, brainstorming is a method by which a group tries to find a solution to a problem by collecting a list of spontaneously generated ideas. The rules of brainstorming include encouraging strange ideas, generating a huge number of ideas in one session (based on the idea that a larger amount can produce more good ideas), and suggesting improvements to the ideas listed by the group members. In project management, especially during project planning, brainstorming can bring major benefits, by encouraging team members to creatively solve problems they anticipate. However, given the strong points of project team members are usually well defined systems and processes, this approach which fosters free, almost chaotic thinking is often overlooked or not used at full capacity.


The need for quality and innovation in services organizations became vital for their business excellence and to compete through strengthen their competitive advantage. Having knowledge about the correct use of the tool, it is possible to use it correctly and effectively to non-compliance of a product of his line, so the application of the tool is made by employees who worked directly with the process presented problem.

Knowledge is a critical resource for competitive advantage. Companies must create new knowledge continuously, to maintain its competitiveness in rapidly changing environments. However, the creation of knowledge is not a process that necessarily creates new knowledge, but an operation that recombines and rearranges the existing knowledge.


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