UK Accounting Glossary
The term quality is used to refer to the desirability of properties or characteristics of a person, object, or process. In the case of a person, this is considered in a particular context, such as worker, student, sportsperson, etc. The term is often used in opposition to quantity. In science, the work of Aristotle focused on measuring quality; whereas, the work of Galileo resulted in a shift towards the study of quantity.
In manufacturing, quality is the concept of making products fit for a purpose and with the fewest defects. Many different techniques and concepts have been tried to minimize defects in products, including Zero Defects, Six Sigma, and the House of Quality.
Most of these techniques and concepts are controversial to one degree or another since there are two opposing schools of thought with regard to quality. One school subscribes to a statistical approach to quality, measuring defects and then taking corrective action. The other school subscribes to a more organic approach, arguing that one should “design in quality” rather than trying to “test in quality”.
The meaning for the term quality has developed over time.
Four distinctive interpretations:
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This glossary post was last updated: 20th February 2020.