Quality Management

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Quality Management

Explain the concept and the principle benefits of Quality Function Deployment

Quality function deployment (QFD) is about interpreting client requirements into the technical aspects of product development and production. It is the practice of transforming the customer’s sentiments into the engineering plans that go into the production process. The aim of QFD is to capture the ‘voice of the customer’ in products to meet the customer’s needs (Bolar, Tesfamariam, and Sadiq 20). As such, QFD translates subjective quality criteria into objective, measurable outcomes.

The principle benefits of QFD are classified as those that deliver customer satisfaction, promote teamwork reduce implementation time, and provide documentation. Firstly, customer satisfaction results from focusing on customer demands, using competitive information effectively, identifying where action should be directed and prioritizing resources. Secondly, decreasing design changes avoiding product development redundancies and avoiding problems after changes have been introduced reduces the implementation time. Thirdly, consensus, communication and identification of actions promote teamwork. Fourthly, documentation provides the design rationale, information structure and flexibility.     

Define measurement and explain the difference between measurement and indicators. What does the acronym SMART signify for measurement?

Measurement is the act of comparing an unknown quantity against a specified standard quantity or unit. In business circles, it is the process of data collection to quantify the value of different metrics. While measurements and indicators denote the numerical information on business parameters, such as inputs, outputs, processes and performance, among many others, they have distinct differences. Measurements are undertaken against a reference standard while indicators are approximations without agreed standard references. As such, measurements are about quantities while indicators focus on qualities. However, in business, measurement and indicators are often used interchangeably when referring to variables, such as performance. For instance, key performance indicators (KPIs) may be used to measure the performance of an organization. Nonetheless, the application of the terms in the business context differ in that, indicators describe the impact of business variables on whole populations, while measurements refer to specific segments of the population, specifically clients.     

In the acronym SMART, S stands for simple, M for measurement, R for actionable, R for related to requirements that add value and T for timeliness.  As such, measurements are simple when they are accessible and usable cost-effectively. Measurements are measurable through clarity and unambiguousness, are actionable when they yield good decisions, are related to client and operational necessities, and are timely when they are available when needed.

Discuss the quality tools; How would you apply and what specific task?

Flowcharts, check sheets, Pareto chart, histograms and fishbone diagrams are common quality assessment and control tools commonly used in the business environment (Evans and Lindsay 503). Flowcharts describe the flow business processes. They indicate the changes that occur from one process to the next. They also illustrate the changes in work processes when improvements are implemented and the new processes that result from such changes. For instance, the flowchart can document the processes a patient undergoes between entering and leaving a healthcare establishment.   

Check sheets are data collection tools. In a business setting, check sheets collect and document incidences, their quantities and frequencies, and other related attributes. For instance, a check sheet can collect the data or patients visiting the different departments in a hospital. The number of patients who visit the optician, the dentist, the physiotherapist, surgery and the like, can be recorded in a check sheet.

Pareto charts as graphical representations of occurrence levels or frequencies of business parameters. They are graduated from the largest value to the lowest. As such, they reveal the areas where improvement efforts should be focused on, based on the largest or the lowest figures. Issues with significant problems stand out, hence guiding the intervention target. For instance, a pareto chart on the frequency of the different activities performed by nurses can reveal where nurses spend most time.

Histograms are graphical representations that illustrate the patters of different business attributes. They are bar charts that document data from business parameters. As such, histograms reveal patterns that help in understanding of the variations experienced in different business-related aspects. As such, they can be used to reveal the effectiveness or challenges in business-related issues. For instance, the times of the day when nurses are most busy can be revealed by a histogram.

Fishbone (cause and effect) diagrams are graphical representations of the causes of problems in a business. These diagrams are used in a brainstorming session for resolving problems and developing improvement plans. First, the possible causes of the problems are identified and categorized into people, process, materials and equipment. The causes are enumerated and their effects recorded in the diagram. Thereafter, the diagram is used as a source of information during brainstorming sessions seeking to resolve the problems and develop improvements to forestall the reoccurrence of the glitches. For instance, the speed of service delivery in a hospital can be evaluated using this diagram. Issues related with the layout of services, personnel, medical equipment and clinical processes can be revealed in the fishbone diagram and form a basis for brainstorming on solutions and improvements.

Summarize and discuss the purpose of the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award

Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award (MBNQA) is quality management awareness and awarding program that recognizes performance excellent across diverse organizations in the United States. Named in honor of the late Malcolm Baldridge, a renowned secretary of commerce, the program was initiated in 1987 after his demise to honor organizations with outstanding performance. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Commerce Department manages the program, while the American Society for Quality (ASQ) administers the award (Evans and Lindsay 520). The President of the United States presents up to three award annually, to the wining organizations after rigorous evaluation by independent judges. Six categories of organizations in the award program include nongovernment, healthcare, education, small business, service company and manufacturing. Organizations are judged on results, operations, workforce, customers, strategy, leadership, and measurement, analysis and knowledge management (Evans and Lindsay 525). These criteria have hierarchical items and categories therein.     

Read case on pg. 584, discuss question #1 and 2.

Question 1

Six Sigma focuses on quality, sustained excellence and continuous improvement. Six Sigma can help Cigna address its five strategic imperatives by focusing on the clients, who are the members insured by the company. Members are the recipients of health covers and healthcare services. As such, any quality improvements should be focused on the customer and reflect the customers’ voice. The focus on clients is consistent with the competitive strategy as illustrated by the reception of the concerns of a large client and the subsequent changes made by the company to exceed the expectations of the client. Altogether, Cigna intends to deliver quality services to its clients by evaluating its performance based on the financial and wellness benefits accrued by the clients, based on their dollar equivalent.

Question 2

A cost-saving project focusing on claims accuracy to drive down administrative costs would deliver a meaningful cost advantage over competitors. Claim accuracy can be enhanced though building the technical capacity of data loaders at healthcare facilities and among healthcare practitioners. This would lower the operational costs associated with the claims processes, lowering physician rates, and subsequently reducing medical costs without impacting adversely on the care of quality.

A quality improvement project focusing on wellness awareness among members would improve the health and wellbeing of Cigna’s members. Cigna could run an education program for its members, aiming at enhancing prevention of illnesses and maintenance of a healthy wellbeing. The program would promote healthy habits, thus reducing the need for curative care. 

Works Cited

Bolar, Aman A., Solomon Tesfamariam, and Rehan Sadiq. “Framework for prioritizing infrastructure user expectations using Quality Function Deployment (QFD).” International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment vol. 6, no. 1, 2017, pp. 16-29. doi:10.1016/j.ijsbe.2017.02.002.

Evans, James R., and William M. Lindsay. Managing for quality and performance excellence. Cengage Learning, 2013.

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