Here’s our A – Z of Quality Management terminology – your handy reference of quality terms, acronyms and key people in the history of quality.

We’re looking to add this over the next few months, so if you have ideas for new quality terms you’d like to see here, please email us.

A is for... Affinity diagram

A management tool for organising information (usually gathered during a brainstorming activity).

A is for... Audit

The on-site verification activity, such as inspection or examination, of a process or quality system to ensure compliance to requirements. An audit can apply to an entire organisation or might be specific to a function, process or production step.

B is for... Balanced scorecard

A management system that provides feedback on internal business processes and external outcomes to continuously improve strategic performance and results.

B is for... Benchmarking

A practice of comparing business processes and performance metrics against industry standards and best practices from other companies. It is used to determine how these are achieved and this information is used to improve its own performance.


C is for... Cause

An identified explanation for the existence of a problem or defect.

C is for... Cause and effect diagram

The Cause and effect diagram – also known as an Ishikawa or “fishbone” diagram, is a graphical tool used to logically organise the many possible causes for a specific problem or effect by displaying them graphically.

C is for... Change management

The application of a structured process, tools and techniques used to manage change and achieve a desired effect.

C is for... Charter

A written document, issued and approved by management which defines the scale of authority for an improvement project or team.

C is for...Continuous Improvement (CI)

Continuous improvement is the ongoing improvement of all areas of an organisation, ie: processes, tools, products, or services, through incremental and breakthrough improvements.

C is for... Philip B. Crosby

Philip B. Crosby (1926-2001), was an influential author, consultant and philosopher who contributed to management theory and quality management practices.  By developing practical concepts to define and communicate quality and quality improvement practices, he became an innovative and influential force in business and manufacturing.  In 1979, he wrote the best-seller ‘Quality is Free’ and in the 1980s his company was advising 40% of the Fortune 500 companies on quality management. Read more here.

D is for… W Edward Deming

William Edwards Deming (1900 – 1993) is widely acknowledged as the leading management thinker in the field of quality. An American statistician, educator, and consultant whose advocacy of quality-control methods in industrial production aided Japan’s economic recovery after WW2 and contributed to its reputation for innovative, high-quality products and the subsequent global success of many Japanese firms by introducing statistical process control.  His message was simple, by improving quality companies will decrease expenses as well as increasing productivity and market share. His philosophy is one of cooperation and continual improvement; it avoids blame and redefines mistakes as opportunities for improvement. Read more here.

D is for... DFMEA

Design failure mode and effect analysis (DFMEA) is a systematic group of activities used to recognise and evaluate potential systems, products, or process failures. DFMEA identifies the effects and outcomes of these failures or actions.

D is for...DMADV

Define—Measure—Analyze—Design—Verify (DMADV) is a data driven quality strategy for designing products and processes – it is an integral part of a Six Sigma quality initiative.

E is for... Eight Disciplines (8D) model

A problem-solving approach to identify, correct and eliminate recurring problems.

E is for... Eight wastes

Taiichi Ohno initially identified seven wastes (muda) to establish the most likely areas where waste will occur. These seven mudas include overproduction, waiting, transportation, overprocessing, excessive inventory, unnecessary movement, and defect production. He later added that the eighth form of muda, underutilised people as the eighth waste commonly found in physical production.

F is for… Armand V. Feigenbaum

Armand V. Feigenbaum, an American quality control expert, who is recognised as the father of ‘Total Quality Control (TQC)’ and for making the customer the heart and focus of TQM. He coined the term ‘total quality control’, believing quality should be managed as part of the overall business strategy. Read more here.

F is for... FMEA

Failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) is a systematised group of activities to recognise and evaluate the potential failure of a product or process and its effects, identify actions that could eliminate or reduce the occurrence of the potential failure and document the process.

F is for... FTA

Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) is a quality technique which makes use of a tree diagram for studying the distinct failure and checking the reliability of a process, product or system.

H is for... House of Quality

A product planning matrix, somewhat resembling a house, that is developed during quality function deployment and shows the relationship of customer requirements to the means of achieving these requirements.

I is for… Kaoru Ishikawa

Professor Kaoru Ishikawa (1915 – 1989) is also known as the Father of Japanese Quality. He was instrumental in developing quality initiatives, most notably the quality circle. Karou Ishikawa is probably, best known for inventing the Fishbone diagram (aka 4M/5M or cause and effect diagram), which is used widely today in the analysis of industrial processes. Read more here.

I is for... ISO 19011

A guideline for the auditing of management system standards developed by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO).

I is for...ISO 9000 series standards

A set of international standards on quality management and quality assurance developed to help organisations effectively document the quality system elements to be implemented to maintain an efficient quality system. The standards, initially published in 1987, are not specific to any particular industry, product or service. The standards were developed by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) (see listing). The standards underwent major revision in 2000 and now include ISO 9000:2005 (definitions), ISO 9001:2008 (requirements), ISO 9004:2009 (continuous improvement) and ISO 9001: 2015 (risk management).

I is for... ISO 9001

A voluntary quality management system standard developed by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO). First released in 1987 and one of several documents in the ISO 9000 family.

J is for… Joseph Juran

Joseph Juran was born in Romania in 1904 and emigrated to USA in 1912, where he lived until reaching the age of 103 (in 2008). Joseph Juran was an engineer and management consultant who is widely regarded as the founding father of many of the key quality management programmes used by organisations today. Read more here.

J is for... Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing

JIT is a material requirement planning system, used in the manufacturing process, which ensures that stock arrives as it is needed for production or to meet consumer demand, but no sooner.

K is for... Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning gradual, unending improvement by doing little things better and setting and achieving increasingly higher standards. The business philosophy states that business activities can continuously improve across all functions by involving all employees at all levels of an organisation.  By improving standardised programs and processes, it aims to eliminate waste and redundancies.

K is for... Kano Model

The Kano Model is a framework used by product teams to explore and measure customer needs. It is a systematic approach to prioritise functionalities, features or attributes which identifies the basic needs of customers as well as performance and excitement requirements. It states that functionality is not the only attribute which measures how good a product is, but consideration should also be awarded to customer emotions and how a product can be developed to delight customers.

L is for... Lean manufacturing

This methodology focuses on eliminating waste in manufacturing processes, while maximising productivity. Waste is defined as anything customers do not believe adds value and are not willing to pay for. Principles of lean manufacturing include;  zero waiting time, zero inventory, scheduling, batch to flow, line balancing and reducing process times.

M is for... Mistake proofing

Mistake proofing, or its Japanese equivalent poka-yoke, is an effective way to prevent defects from occurring in a manufacturing, service, or business process. It is a common process analysis tool and uses an automatic device or method which makes it impossible for the error to occur or makes the error obvious once it has occurred.  By improving processes, mistakes are prevented or identified and not passed downstream.

N is for... Nonconformity

A nonconformity is a deviation from a specification, a standard, or an expectation. The nonfulfillment of a specified requirement is also referred to as a ‘defect’ or ‘imperfection’

O is for... Outputs

An output is the products, materials, services of information provided to internal or external customers, from a process.

O is for... Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) measures manufacturing productivity. It looks at how well a manufacturing unit performs (facilities, time and material) compared to its full potential, during the periods when it is scheduled to run. 

P is for... PDCA

Plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle is a four-step process for quality improvement. In the first step (plan), a way to effect improvement is developed. In the second step (do), the plan is carried out. In the third step (check), a study takes place between what was predicted and what was observed in the previous step. In the last step (act), action should be taken to correct or improve the process.

P is for... PDPC

The process decision program chart (PDPC) provides a systematic means of finding errors in a plan – while it is being created. Once potential issues are found, preventive measures are developed, allowing the problems to either be avoided or a contingency plan to be in place should the error occur.

P is for... PESTLE, PESTEL or PEST

A strategic framework used to identify macroenvironmental influences on an organisation or a business. The PESTLE framework divides external influences into six sections: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental.

P is for... Poka-Yoke

A Japanese term that means mistake proofing. A poka-yoke device is one that prevents incorrect parts from being made or assembled or easily identifies a flaw or error.

Q is for... QFD

Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a structured approach to defining customer needs or requirements and translating them into specific plans to produce products to meet those needs.

R is for... RACI

Which is an acronym for; responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed, describes the contribution of various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process.

S is for... SPL

SPL – single point lesson, also known as one point lesson. This is a one-page procedure that uses images and short-form text to communicate the expectations of a process. It is intended to be a quick and precise way to learn about a complex process.

T is for… Genichi Taguchi

Dr Genichi Taguchi, born in Japan in 1924, was an engineer and statistician. Taguchi is famous for his pioneering methods of modern quality control and low-cost quality engineering. From the 1950s onwards, Taguchi developed a methodology for applying statistics to improve the quality of manufactured goods and reduce costs, known as the Taguchi Methods. He also developed the quality loss function. Read more here.

T is for... TQM

Total Quality Control (TQC) is a system which integrates quality development, maintenance and improvement of the parts of an organisation. It helps an organisation economically manufacture its product and deliver its services.

Z is for... Zero defects

This performance standard and methodology looks at eliminating errors and defects in all production or service delivery.