Improving quality: Understanding competitiveness in global markets

October 14, 2015

One of the industrial production features in the present century is the increasing attention given to international standards as a new and effective tool in promoting quality and quality management, and this is completely reasonable, since quality management within national and international standards paves the way for achieving sustainable development. In today’s world delivering a product to the market, simultaneously with other rival companies, results as an intense competition, increased quality and lower prime cost. It is under these circumstances that many economists come to ask, what are the key factors that make an enterprise more competitive? This article, hence, attempts to answer this multi-layered question by introducing how the management and quality systems operate.

Quality is a broad concept when it comes to customer's impression. Its dimensions include brand, features, performance, durability, reliability, maintenance, on-time delivery, reasonable cost, conformity, as well as suitability of use and safety. It is crucial to take into consideration all dimensions of quality for competitiveness in this regard. Attention given to the implicit, not stated but essential, needs with aforementioned dimensions, as well as the customer's stated stipulated needs, are the beginning of the way that marks success and sustainability of the organizations. This, then, is the route for the customer’s delighted needs, which are the ones that surpass customer’s expectations.

Companies such as Xerox, Nissan, Sony, Samsung, Nokia, and many other successful companies in the world, employ quality and therefore raise their customer satisfaction. Furthermore, their optimal use of resources have been able to achieve great success within the last decade. In the interim, most industrialized countries in the world owe its economic and social success to the well-known quality management models. One can say that all the dimensions of quality typically derive from these models and cover the needs of the market and customers while doing so.

The kind of quality of differing countries implement in their manufacturing companies reflects various facts of their operations. In a research study about the state of the world economy of different countries can display a correlation between industrial and economic development and the growth level of products’ quality and services.
As a consequence, we can conclude that the degree of the quality of the goods and services can represent a degree of prosperity and economic development of each respective country.

On one hand, poor quality has long-term adverse effects on the reputation of the manufacturer and causes the loss of consumer confidence in the products. On the other, the desirable quality of each product encourages buyers to purchase that particular product and recommend it to others. It is with this insight that we come to comprehend the reason behind the major economic growth in developed countries such as Germany and Japan. Their customers are looking for high quality products with lower prices at the right given time. Sometimes it may prove to be difficult to determine the practicality of the product’s quality; however, a confident customer will find what they are after.

From this perspective, it can be said that if our country, Iran, wants economic growth, it must elevate the product quality, and obligate certain quality standards for manufacturers to implement. Quality is not a mere concept applied to produced goods, but it is also critical in the public services sector such as medical institutions, hospitals, laboratories, banks, postal and administrative offices, transportation services, education sector, and more. Nowadays providing these services in developed countries constitutes an important part of gross domestic production.

Hence, continual improvement of the quality of products and services requires having quality managers with an innovative insight and inquisitive vision. In order to create better systems with efficient services, institutes must also pay attention to the quantity of products or services on offer, and focus on staff training in order to have skilled workforce. Managers should feel incumbent in respect of producing quality products and providing quality services since it is the behavior of managers that affects the employees of any organization the most. Since responsible thinking is the common duty of all employees, such an approach on management creates a cooperative and collaborative sphere for staff within and for others outside that have an impact on the organization.

A glance at the economic situation of Iran tells us that we have a weak goods trade in world in terms of global trading of non-oil exports, which include raw materials and agricultural products, especially during the recent years.

Study of the situation indicates that despite of rich natural resources, suitable geographical location and expert human resources, we are still at a low-level of export of technical and engineering services, industrial products, as well as IT and technology. However, according to the aforementioned points, it appears that these weaknesses could be removed if basic reforms would take place in the way companies and enterprises are managed in our country. Furthermore to improve, re-designing the infrastructure, upgrading processes to advance the systems, as well as following up how the quality management is implemented in the organizations, would be pertinent. However, since all relevant unions and associations can play an effective role in this movement, they should show their support for the organizations concerned.

Consequently, if our expectations are to advance the process of evolution and improve our industries and services, what we critically need to do is reform our management methods. With this approach, quality management can be known as set of measures for cost-effective production of goods and services that will meet the customer needs. In fact, quality management will be working to increase the ability for competitiveness and will establish a new structure for higher power and less waste.

Henceforth, it is necessary that all organizations should try to implement and obtain management and quality standards such as quality management standard ISO9001 (can be implemented in all organizations), quality management standard ISO/TS16949 (can be implemented in the automotive supply chain), quality management standard ISO13485 (can be implemented in the medical devices industry), and quality
management standard ISO15189 (can be implemented in clinical laboratories) that directly are indications of the quality management of products and related services and also other management standards, such as standard ISO22000 which reflects the health and safety of food; ISO14001: 2004 standard about Environmental management and its impact on the quality of life; and OHSAS18001: 2007 standard about Health Management and occupational Safety and CE standards, which permit importation of goods to market in Europe, among others.

These days the hot topic of the economic discussions of the country is international trade. One of the most important issues that should be referred in the field of global trade is the problem of optimization and production of higher quality. As can be seen in the export and import, due to recent developments as well as technical and scientific advances in the transportation, information and communications field, global trade has grown considerably. Therefore, with the reduction of trade barriers and international contracts, the growth of international organizations certifying quality and providing economic liberty, growth in private sector and decreased customs barriers, global trade’s daily speed has reassumed and demand has increased for commercial goods and services, and meanwhile, customers have reacted to this by requesting higher quality products.

Perhaps if we would pay more attention to the most damaging effects of failure to observe the standard of care, we would understand the high importance of it. The use of non-standard equipment with higher energy consumption increases costs, and results as a loss of energy such as gas and electricity, to mention a few. The use of non-standard appliances brings great losses both in finance and in civilian lives per year. In some cases, losses due to a wide distribution of unhealthy food products not only pay compensation for inferior prices but also pay for uncompensated poor commodity prices, and even in some cases lead to irreparable damage.

We are looking forward for a day that the products and services of Iran will be the best kind in the world, their quality proverbial to every market, and that we would have no issues regarding the quality stagnating customer trust, or leading us to the point where we would need to import foreign goods due to the poor quality of our own domestic goods.

Writer: Mr. Esmaeil Shayesteh, (MS in Industrial Engineering and MBA)
- International Senior Lead Auditor and Lead Tutor of International Registered Courses at WQA International Certification Body
- Having the authorization of Iranian National Standards Organization


Esmaeil Shayesteh is senior lead auditor at WQA international certificatio