Integral Logistics Management — Operations Management and Supply Chain Management Within and Across Companies

18.1.1 Process Quality

Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on process, service, and a service provided to dependents. Present the characteristics of the quality of processes. Identify process quality, process time, and process load.

A process comprises certain activities that lead from a beginning state to an end state and thus to certain functions. Examples of processes include:

  • An assembly process, through which an assembly is built from various components
  • A procurement process, through which various materials are purchased
  • A quality control process, through which procured or manufac­tured parts are tested and verified for features and characteristics to specified requirements.

Processes come in different degrees of complexity. A process may be an individual, elementary activity, or a large-scale business process designed to produce a significant business outcome, called a product. Certain processes have a special structure.

A service is a process that a customer views as the performance of some useful function.

Examples of services include

  • Installing equipment and bringing it into service at the customer location
  • Service and maintenance during use of a product
  • Business consultancy in the broadest sense, particularly also sales advising and the sale itself

It makes a difference to the customers whether they buy a finished product and can judge only the quality of the outcome or whether they experience the processes themselves and thus can judge the quality of the process. With a view to quality management, it is of interest that customers buying products increasingly want to observe exactly the processes that result in the products. For this reason, Figure 1 of the Introduction also postulates a supplier management system, which among other objectives aims toward knowledge of the supplier’s processes.

Services provided to dependents is a process in which the customer is not only the object on which the process occurs; the customer also ends up with a limited capacity to act, to which the service provider has contributed.

Examples of these processes include

  • Processes in training and education
  • Processes in connection with patients in health care
  • Treatment of delinquents by the justice system

In these cases, the affected persons have restricted free will, which can lead to their treatment not as customers, but more as the objects of guardianship. However, the affected persons in this situation are particularly positioned to form judgments about the quality of a service.

Process quality is the quality of processes.

Process quality is judged according to certain subjective or objective characteristics of quality of processes. To these belong the features shown in Figure

Fig.       Characteristics of the quality of processes.

Process time is the period of time during which the process runs.

Process load, that is, the burden that the process places on the customer, is the work or effort content through which the characteristic effect of the process is achieved. 

Process load should not be confused with process time. Process time can be shortened, for example, by putting more people to work (splitting) or by executing sequential work steps in an over­lapping fashion. By doing so, the process load is higher, but for a shorter time. Process time also encompasses waiting times: When are people ready to begin the service? When is a means of transport available to take a person from A to B? Process time, which is of interest to the customer in addition to process load, is influenced by factors that lie outside of the nature of the process, namely, in the area of logistics management.

Increasing quality with regard to individual process characteristics can lead to greater work content. Increased work content as a rule results in longer process times. Here a conflict between the target areas quality and delivery becomes apparent.

Course section 18.1: Subsections and their intended learning outcomes

  • 18.1 Quality: Concept and Measurement

    Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on the quality of processes, products and organizations as well as its measurability. Present the concept of quality measurement and Six Sigma.

  • 18.1.1 Process Quality

    Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on process, service, and a service provided to dependents. Present the characteristics of the quality of processes. Identify process quality, process time, and process load.

  • 18.1.2 Product Quality

    Intended learning outcomes: Identify product quality. Differentiate between a simple product and a product in a broad sense. Present the characteristics of the quality of products.

  • 18.1.3 Organizational Quality — Quality of Organizations

    Intended learning outcomes: Identify organizational quality. Describe the concept of quality toward the stakeholders of an organization.

  • 18.1.4 Quality and Its Measurability

    Intended learning outcomes: Explain the problems of the measurability of indicators and the step from measurement to corrective actions. Describe the issue using the example of the measurement of customer satisfaction.

  • 18.1.5 Quality Measurement and Six Sigma (6σ)

    Intended learning outcomes: Describe the metric of six sigma (6σ) and the sigma conversion table. Identify Six Sigma Quality. Differentiate between three Sigma and Six Sigma process reliability.