Understanding Product Quality: What It Is and Why It Matters

Updated March 10, 2023

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A team member performs tests in a manufacturing environment to ensure product quality.

For companies, product quality earns customer loyalty, helps establish brand recognition and manages costs. Customers often buy more from companies they know and trust, and businesses can reduce costs that result from product returns, defects and losses through product quality control. By ensuring product quality, you can help customers get to know your brand, encourage them to buy your products and increase your revenue.

In this article, we discuss product quality for businesses, why product quality is important and how to develop a product quality strategy, plus we take a look at four common methodologies of product quality control.

What is product quality?

Product quality refers to how well a product satisfies customer needs, serves its purpose and meets industry standards. When evaluating product quality, businesses consider several key factors, including whether a product solves a problem, works efficiently or suits customers' purposes.

Companies may also evaluate product quality based on various perspectives that show how different groups perceive the usefulness of a product. Perspectives to consider when assessing product quality include customer perspectives, manufacturing perspectives, product-based and value-based perspectives and transcendental perspectives, which perceive a product's value in relation to its cost. Using these perspectives, you can define product quality according to:

  • Performance and intended function

  • Reliability of the product within a specific time frame

  • Conformity to product specifications

  • Product durability and lifespan

  • Product serviceability

  • Physical features of the product

  • Customers' perception of the product

Related: Guide To Understanding Product Development

Why is product quality important?

Product quality is important because it affects the success of the company and helps establish its reputation in customer markets. When companies can create high-quality products that continue to meet customer demands, it can lead to fewer production costs, higher investment returns and increases in revenue.

Product quality also matters to the customers who depend on a company's attention to detail and customer demand. Companies create products to fill a need in the market, and consumers expect products to meet that need as the company advertises them. They want products that help them establish a connection with a brand so they know they can rely on the company's offerings. Quality products provide customers with safe, effective ways to solve their problems.

Related: Guide to Quality Assurance

Developing a product quality strategy

Before you decide on a product quality strategy, it's important to research the factors that can affect the quality of your products so you know where you need to make changes. Then, you can determine areas of improvement and identify the elements that define product quality management. Consider the following concepts to create a strategy for monitoring performance and success:

Influential factors

The quality of your products begins with how you manufacture them. After companies design a product concept, production teams determine the types and quantities of resources they need.

Some factors that can impact product quality include technology and materials for product creation, labor availability and product transportation, storage and distribution. Using these factors when creating strategies can help your company develop high-quality products that meet customer needs and generate revenue efficiently.

Related: 10 Production Processes in Manufacturing (Plus Definition)

Components of quality management

Product quality management, or PQM for short, is a method that helps businesses identify product defects and record customer concerns. Product and project managers then apply the information they record to mitigate problems and make future improvements to product quality. PQM covers four distinct areas of product quality evaluation, including planning, control, quality assurance and improvement.

Related: A Complete Guide to Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Methodologies for improving product quality

A good product quality strategy contributes to the successful creation and production of products that perform well on the market. Organizations can use one or more approaches to establishing long-term efficiency, which can increase the quality of their products. Here are several strategies you can implement to improve the quality of your products:

Six Sigma methodology

Six Sigma is a method that production teams apply to create and maintain effective project processes within organizations. The methodology is most applicable to the software design and development processes, however, businesses can apply the methodology for physical product design, too.

Six Sigma covers the design, measurement, analysis, improvement and control stages of product development and gives leaders an effective structure to follow that minimizes product defects and increases quality.

Related: What Are Six Sigma and Lean? Differences and How They Work

Total quality management methodology

Total quality management is a methodology that involves empowering all staff members within an organization to commit to high standards of work. The total quality management method consists of a few key principles:

  • Customer focus

  • Leadership

  • Employee involvement

  • Process approach

  • Strategic management approach

  • Continual improvement

  • Factual approach to making decisions

  • Mutually beneficial communications with suppliers

This method also focuses on customer satisfaction, which has a major role in determining the quality of a product. This approach offers many potential benefits to companies, including increases in profits and productivity, reduction or elimination of product defects and reductions in cost.

Related: Example of a Quality Management System (With Definition and Types)

Theory of constraints methodology

The theory of constraints is a methodology for assuring product quality that emphasizes the importance of fixing production issues. This methodology allows production teams to resolve issues during manufacturing to make operations more effective.

The focus of this theory is constraints, which are parts of a system that can impede the full potential of product development. The primary constraints include physical or tangible flaws, policy constraints, paradigm constraints and market constraints. The primary goal of this method is to overcome constraints and improve manufacturing processes to reduce the number of defective products.

Read more: What Is the Theory of Constraints and How Is It Used?

Lean method of manufacturing

Lean manufacturing focuses on increasing profits by eliminating every form of waste in all areas of the organization. The concept is that by eliminating unnecessary resources, companies can create better products that better meet customers' needs. The five steps of lean thinking processes include specification, identification, flow, pull and perfection of the product.

Leaders who use the lean manufacturing method for improving product quality first focus on customers' perception of value. Then, they use the information to document every step in the production process to see where the company is performing well and where it can improve. The benefits of this approach include fewer defects, faster development and higher profits.

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