How Can Information Systems Promote Quality?

The emergence of a global economy has stimulated worldwide interest in achieving quality. Companies cannot longer be satisfied with producing goods and services that compete only with goods produced within their own country--consumers can not select from a broad range of products and services produced anywhere in the world. Now we will examine how information systems can contribute to quality throughout the organization. Our examination will be based on two basic questions.

  • How can information systems contribute to overall quality in the organization?
  • How can quality be promoted in information systems themselves?

How information systems contribute to total quality management?

Quality programs differ greatly form company, to company. Some are merely generalized "sale" campaigns intended to sensitize employees to idle need to strive for more quality in their daily work. On the opposite extreme, quality programs can result in fundamental changes in the way a company does it, business. Companies also follow different routes in achieving quality as we shall describe below. Whatever route a company selects, the more it tries to achieve with its quality programs, the more information system can contribute to the success of those programs.

Information systems can fill a special role in corporate quality programs for a number of reasons. Information System (IS) is deeply involved with the daily work of other departments throughout the organization. IS analysts usually have taken a leading role in designing, developing, and supporting such varied departmental systems as corporate payrolls, patent research systems, chemical process control systems, logistics systems, and sales Support systems. IS Professionals also maintaining their knowledge of these departments through their participation in departmental information planning. In addition, IS personnel are usually key to the sharing of data originate, how other departments and store them.

Simplifying the product, the production process, or both

Quality programs usually have a "fewer-is-better" philosophy—the fewer steps in a process the less than opportunity for an error to occur.

When IS professionals were able to reduce the number of steps, the number of errors dropped dramatically, manufacturing costs dropped and carrier found itself with happier customers.

IS contributes to these efforts in many ways. IS staff participates in reengineering projects and helps to design and build the systems that make the quality processes possible.

Use customer demands as a guide to improving products and services

Improving customer service, making customer service the number one priority, will improve the quality of the product itself, as is clear from the Carrier example described above. The Window on Organizations shows how one small business, 800-FLOWERS, addressed the question of customer satisfaction in a quality.

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