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Overview of the Quality Trilogy

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 11/30/2010

While the words "quality trilogy" may make you think of an excellent series of fantasy novels, in reality, "quality trilogy" refers to three key components of achieving quality within an organization. What are these three components and how do they fit in with your company's quality goals?

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    What is the Quality Trilogy?

    Are You Familiar with the Quality Trilogy? The quality trilogy is a set of three components that Joseph Juran, a quality improvement theorist, noted in his work. These three components must work together in order to make any quality improvement effort come together. In his article, "The Quality Trilogy: A Universal Approach to Managing for Quality," Juran describes problems in handling quality improvement projects. The biggest problem that Juran points out is what he calls a "crisis in quality" (1). This crisis in quality that Juran refers to is the problem of companies that produce goods that lack in quality and deliver these goods on a global scale.

    In order to overcome these problems that Juran cites in his article, he proposes that there are three vital processes that are quality oriented:

    1. Quality Planning
    2. Quality Control
    3. Quality Improvement (2)

    By paying attention to these three processes, what Juran calls the quality trilogy, then companies can overcome problems including limited experience, inadequate means for improving qualitly, and a lack of urgency found in management when ti comes to tackling quality (1). How does each process in the quality trilogy improve a company's overall quality output?

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    1. Quality Planning

    When you plan a trip, before you go anywhere, you need to plan your route, where you'll be staying, and your budget. This isn't far off from when you are trying to improve quality in a project. Any quality effort is going to require quality planning. What will you be trying to improve the quality of? How will you go about improving the quality? What are the goals for quality? If you don't know where you're going, and how you're going to get there, you going to get stuck where you are. Even worse, if you don't plan for quality, you won't wind up with "a process capable of meeting quality goals under operating conditions" (3).

    Processes involved in quality planning include:

    1. Identification of stakeholders
    2. Identification of requirements
    3. Product development
    4. Process development
    5. Establishment of quality goals
    6. Test processes to ensure quality
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    2. Quality Control

    Once you have planned for quality,then the next step is to take action on the plan that was created. During the execution of the quality plan, it is important to monitor activities to ensure quality. Quality control is all about maintaining quality and running the project at the highest level of effectivenss possible. The end result of quality control is the "Conduct of operations in accordance with the quality plan" (3). In other words, quality control ensures that everything goes as planned.

    Processes involved in quality control include:

    1. Choosing what can be controlled
    2. Selecting measurement of data
    3. Establishing metrics
    4. Interpreting metrics
    5. Acting to ensure that any difference between goals and actual output is minimized.
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    3. Quality Improvement

    Finally, most companies, when seeking quality in their operations focus on this third component of the quality trilogy rather than on all three components, but really in order to establish quality improvement within your organization, you will need to plan quality and control quality as well. The process of quality improvement is continuous, this means that you don't stop when you believe things are "good enough." The end result of this final component of Juran's quality trilogy is "Conduct of operations at levels of quality distinctly superior to planned performance" (4). What this means is that companies continually improve upon the quality of products and services output by their organizations.

    Processes involved in quality improvement include:

    1. Are committed to seeing the continuous need for improvement
    2. Seeking out the next project to improve quality
    3. Discover root causes of quality impediments
    4. Seeking to fix, and providing a plan to fix, any defects in quality

    Through incoprorating all three branches of the quality trilogy, you can ensure that your company's commitment to quality is realized in its actions.

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    Acknowledgements

    Juran, J.M. "The Quality Trilogy: A Universal Approach to Managing for Quality." Paper presented at the ASQC 40th Annual Quality Congress in Anaheim, California, May 20, 1986. Accessed 11/30/10 at /tools/pages.stern.nyu.edu/~djuran/trilogy1.doc.

    Photo "Treasure" courtesy of Mourgefile: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/84054