This is such an important topic that I dedicate one whole course (MIS 5205) to it in the IT audit track. Any IT organization is, first and foremost, a service organization. IT is there to provide valuable services to the organization. Once these services are identified, a definition of what quality should look like for that service is possible. With it, you can distinguish a quality outcome from a defect. Doing this allows you to identify a defect rate per 100 services, say 10% defects whenever the service is executed. Is this good or bad? It depends, but for IT operations even a 99+% rate is often not good enough. Would you get on an airplane if they crashed 1 time in 100?
Total Quality Management (TQM) has impacted the world as much as information technology over the last 30-40 years. The fact that they reinforce each other is one of the reasons why. TQM started when an American engineer, Demming, was ignored in his own country and found a home for his ideas in Japan. They have since taken over the world. Many of the improvements that we think of as every day assurances (Will your Fedex package get there tomorrow?) are thanks to the quality movement.
Burn these ideas into your memory and they will help you whatever you are doing (Reid, Chapter 5).
- Customer focus – Goal is to identify and meet customer needs.
- Continuous improvement – A philosophy of never-ending improvement.
- Employee empowerment – Employees are expected to seek out, identify, and correct quality problems.
- Use of quality tools – Ongoing employee training in the use of quality tools.
- Product design – Products need to be designed to meet customer expectations.
- Process management – Quality should be built into the process; sources of quality problems should be identified and corrected.
- Managing supplier quality – Quality concepts must extend to a company’s suppliers