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Terms relating to Quality in QMS

We shall try to define and understand some of the terms used in quality management system. The standard ISO 9000:2005 is the basis on which the terms are defined.

1) Terms relating to Quality:

Terms relating to Quality as defined in ISO 9000 are:

1.1) Quality

ISO 9000 definition:

“Degree to which a set of inherent characteristics  fulfills requirements”
NOTE 1 The term “quality”can be used with adjectives such as poor,good or excellent.
NOTE 2 “Inherent”,as opposed  to “assigned”,means existing in something, especially as a permanent characteristic.


Quality refers to all those features of a product (or service) which are required by the customer. The quality of something can be determined by comparing  a set of inherent characteristics with a set of requirements. If those inherent characteristics meet all requirements, high or excellent quality is achieved. If those characteristics do not meet all requirements, a low or poor level of quality is achieved. Quality is, therefore, a question of degree. As a result, the central quality question is: How well does this set of inherent characteristics comply with this set of requirements? In short, the quality of something depends on a set of inherent characteristics and a set of requirements and how  well the former complies with the latter. According to this definition, quality is a relative concept. By linking quality to requirements, ISO 9000 argues that the quality of something cannot be established in a vacuum.  Quality is always relative to a set of requirements.

1.2) Requirement

ISO 9000 definition:

“need or expectation that is stated, generally implied or obligatory”
NOTE 1: “Generally implied”means that it is customer common practice for the organization , its customers and other interested parties , that the need or expectation under consideration is implied.
NOTE 2: A qualifier can be used to denote a specific type of requirement,e.g. product requirement, quality management requirement, customer requirement
  NOTE 3: A specified requirement is one that is stated, for example in a document .
NOTE 4: Requirements can be generated by different interested parties .


A requirement is a need, expectation, or obligation. It can be stated or implied by an organization, its customers, or other interested parties. A specified requirement is one that has  been stated (in a document for example), whereas an implied requirement is a need, expectation, or obligation that is common practice or customary. There are many types of requirements. Some of these include  quality requirements, customer requirements, management requirements, product requirements, and legal requirements.

 1.3) Grade

ISO 9000 definition:

“Category or rank given to different quality requirements for products, processes or systems having the same functional use”
NOTE: When establishing a quality requirement, the grade is generally specified.


Grade is the way which we rank a particular characteristics that  meet the requirement .For example Class  of  airline ticket and category of hotel in a hotel guide.

1.4) Customer Satisfaction

ISO 9000 definition:

“Customer’s  perception of the degree to which the customer’s requirements  have been fulfilled”
NOTE 1:  Customer complaints are a common indicator of low customer satisfaction but their absence does not necessarily  imply high customer satisfaction.
NOTE 2:  Even when customer requirements have been agreed with the customer and  fulfilled, this does not necessarily ensures high customer satisfaction.


Customer satisfaction is a perception. It is also a question of degree. It can vary from high satisfaction to low satisfaction.  If customers believe that you’ve met their requirements, they experience high satisfaction. If they believe that you’ve not  met their requirements, they experience low satisfaction.Since satisfaction is a perception, customers may not be satisfied even though you’ve met all contractual requirements.  Just because you haven’t received any complaints doesn’t  mean that customers are satisfied. There are many ways to monitor and measure customer  satisfaction. You can use customer satisfaction and opinion surveys; you can collect product quality data (post delivery),  track warranty claims, examine dealer reports, study customer compliments and criticisms, and analyze lost business opportunities.

1.5)  Capability

ISO 9000 definition:
“ability of an organization, system or process to realize a product that will fulfill the requirements  for that product”


Capability is the ability of the organization to fulfill the customer requirement through the characteristic of the product. The organization must demonstrate it capability not only in terms of the quality of the products but also in terms of its system and processes. Before committing to the customer about the quality or delivery the organization must verify whether it has the capability to meet the requirement

1.6) Competence

ISO 9000 definition:

“demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills”


Competence is the ability of an individual employee  to do a job properly. A competency is a set of defined behaviors that provide a structured guide enabling the identification, evaluation and development of the behaviors in individual employees. Competency can be seen as a combination of practical and theoretical knowledge, cognitive skills, behavior and values used to improve performance; or as the state or quality of being adequately or well qualified, having the ability to perform a specific role. The organization should ensure that each employee are competent enough to do their job properly. In case the organization identifies any gap between the competency level and the skill sets of the employee, the organization should ensure that the employee should reach that competency level either through training or any other suitable methods.

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