What are quality standards?
Definition: Quality standards are defined specifications for the manufacture or quality of a product or for the provision of a service. In the case of products, this can be material compositions, manufacturing processes or usage requirements; in the case of services, behavior or aids. Defining, introducing and monitoring quality standards is the task of quality management.
A quality standard can be defined in the form of comparable characteristics. The first thing to do is to define minimum requirements for the product or service. Then standard values are defined with which the product or service complies with the required minimum requirements. Quality management then defines the materials, procedures, processes, machines or people who are involved, specifies requirements (e.g. through standardization and documentation) and controls compliance (quality assurance).
Quality management (QM) includes all measures to improve work processes and procedures that maintain or increase product or service quality. QM is one of the core tasks of management or corporate governance.
What purpose do quality standards serve?
In addition to price and brand loyalty, quality standards of products or services are decision-making criteria for customer acquisition and customer loyalty. Adhering to and promoting quality standards often serves as a unique selling point and represents a competitive advantage. In addition to the image of a product or service, quality can also influence the reputation of the brand and the company under certain circumstances – both positively and negatively (negative example: unfulfilled emissions standards at Automakers).
Quality standards promote customer trust, but often also productivity and occupational safety. Quality management systems are mandatory in some industries. These include the automotive, aerospace, medical technology and parts of the medical supply, pharmaceutical and food industries.
Quality standards especially in franchising
In hrem Video for the franchise PORTAL Franchise expert Waltraud Martius explains why quality standards are one of the success factors in franchising. Customers expect products and services of the same quality at all locations of the franchise network. Therefore, franchise systems have to define quality standards in two ways – on the one hand towards the customers, on the other hand internally between the system headquarters and the franchisees.
Quality standards are even essential when building a franchise system, see standardization and multiplication.
What are the general quality standards?
The most well-known terms in the area of quality standards include the norms and certifications according to ISO 9001. Their scope does not lie in the product or service quality, but above all in the manufacturing process. In order to receive these certificates, which are often required by the market, technology, processes and employees are assessed in so-called audits.
The Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 for beer can be regarded as a historical forerunner of the quality standards, the content of which later (under Bismarck) became the German Purity Law. The Duke of Bavaria stipulated that, literally, “… no beer should have more pieces than barley, hops and water alone …”.
A symbol that stands for compliance with quality standards, especially for technical products, is the so-called TÜV seal. Its origins lie in the “Technical Monitoring Associations”, which in turn were formed from the “Steam Boiler Inspection Associations” of the 19th century. These associations were voluntary amalgamations of industrial companies with the aim of setting quality standards for the quality and operation of the steam engines, which were often accident-prone to date. These early quality standards were used for occupational safety and productivity.
Quality standards in personnel selection
Personnel consultants, recruiters and HR departments often set standards for the selection of applicants. This enables them to compare the candidates’ knowledge and experience with their requirement profiles. Franchisors proceed in a similar way in order to find the most promising applicants from their point of view when selling licenses (see Selecting the Franchisee). Larger franchise systems also conduct regular benchmarking. In company comparisons, they use key figures to determine the top-selling, strongest and weakest companies in the network. The goal is to learn from the best and to guide the weaker ones – or, if better key figures are not achieved, to change their sales areas / locations.