Thursday, 27 October 2011

Yup, if you don’t have a QMS, well, you don’t’ have a QMS

I have often wondered why we put up with the number of consumer devices that fail to consistently perform the functions that they are designed for. The most common ones are computers that freeze up and cell phones or similar wireless devices that are "buggy" or have short battery life, computers that frequently need re-booting, software application that need patches to continue to do what they were originally designed to do. Imagine Boeing and Lockheed selling commercial jets planes need refueling every 200 km and cannot successfully complete a take off and landing without having the entire landing gear replaced every fifth cycle.
I acknowledge that the complexity of these devices have grown, and the greater complexity, the greater the probability of errors and omissions. I do however posit that the philosophy of Quality by Design (QbD) when embraced and properly implemented should show a decrease or elimination of such failures. Included in the QbD tool box should be at least one if not a series of specifications that defines what parameters the production process and the product should meet for the product to conform to the company’s definition of Quality. Its recent problems with connectivity aside, an example is how Research In Motion (RIM), the company that makes the once popular Blackberry devices acquired and used an operating system for the Blackberry Playbook that was originally designed for other mobile environments like automobiles and network equipment. Battery life was not a consideration when the software was designed for those applications. Installing it in the Blackberry Playbook meant that it was a power hog for the size of the battery. No design process or product can be perfect, hence along side these specifications should also be a risk analysis that identifies the risks and the how these are mitigated.
A quick look at the technology news reports and it appears that many of these companies rush to release their next generation of me-too devices before they actually complete their product design and testing phase. Given the high number of consumer complaints with these devices, it appears that with some of the makers of these products, either the companies do not actually have a definition of Quality that matches their consumers’ expectations, do not have a Quality Management System or arrogantly believe that the consumers simply do not have any other choices but to buy their product despite how poorly they are designed and made.
Having a Quality Management System is kind of like being pregnant, you cannot have a partial one. I am reminded of the Apple’s iPhone advertisement where you are shown an interesting array of Apps you can enjoy with your iPhone. The voice over ends with “Yup if you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone”. Similarly, “Yup, if you don’t have a Quality Management System, well, you don’t have a Quality Management System”.

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