Hinkle (2006, p. 6) describes a standard as a set of guidelines and best practices that can be used as a reference point in business management. The set of guidelines may be voluntary or mandatory.
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A model is a set of components that helps users and developers to understand, analyze, improve or replace a process in a system. Models are sometimes integrated in an organization’s operation. It makes models to function in the same way as standards.
There are consensus, de jure, and de facto standards. Tatsumoto, Ogawa & Shintaku (2011, p. 14) explain that consensus standards are more flexible than de jure standards. Consensus standards are formed by organizations agreeing on acceptable standards. They can set standards for products that exists, and even for anticipated products.
An example of the de jure standards is the one developed by the ISO. The standards are procedures set by an organization that has been accredited with setting standards for other firms. De facto standards are set by a leading industry player for competitive advantage. Other firms can use consensus standards to break the barrier of a firm that uses de facto standards.
National standards help local firms to compete in the global market. It enables products from a country gain competitive advantage by providing quality assurance. By creating a global market, standardization has a positive effect on exports (DIN 2000, p. 25).
Quality standards are adopted by the entire organization to ensure consumer satisfaction. Consumers obtain products that are produced under specific models, and meet certain standards. Standards encourage organizations to pursue methods that make their products economically viable for the consumer (Oakland 1999, p. 13). It increases competitive pricing.
Standardized products are safer because of compatibility, and interoperability. Compatible products tend to create a global market for products. DIN (2000, p. 17) explains that standardization “increases awareness of product safety”.
Companies which conform to international standards are able to compete in a global market which is wider, and more profitable (Tatsumoto, Ogawa & Shintaku 2011, p. 13). Good examples global products are PCs, and mobile phones. Standardization also creates a market for peripherals. In the automobile industry, standardized products have created a market for automobile components.
Standardization increases entry opportunities for market entrants. Ease of entry is likely to increase growth in an industry. Tatsumoto, Ogawa & Shintaku (2011, p. 18) discuss that new companies may enter the industry with limited knowledge in industrial contexts. They are able to compete with other companies simply by producing products that comply with the set standards.
Standardization results in efficient methods and procedures for dissemination of innovation (DIN, 2000, p. 20). Standards also need to be updated to enhance their effectiveness. DIN (2000, p. 22) discusses that “leaders in technology should become more involved in standardization”. In this case, standardization plays the part of enhancing technology diffusion.
The PSE Mark Scheme
The PSE Mark scheme is a national certification scheme operated in Japan. It covers two groups of products. Specified products are marked with a diamond PSE logo, and non-specified products are marked with a circular PSE logo. The products are composed into a list of 20 categories ranging from rubber products, metal products, plastic products, and other types of products (PSE Mark Scheme n.d.).
The certificate for specified products is issued by the Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs). The CABs must be registered by METI under DENAN. The certificate is issued after inspection of the factory. Each product and its section are inspected for compliance with conformity standards. Inspection intervals vary from 3 to 7 years. Non-specified product certification may be issued by a third party.
The notification procedure allows notifying organizations to submit a business commencement report to METI. They give a confirmation that intended products comply with PSE standards. They are also required to submit product inspection reports to METI when requested. They are also responsible for fixing the PSE mark on products (PSE Mark Scheme n.d.).
Manufacturers are required to maintain records for a period that conforms to inspection requirements which could be 3 years or more. They should conduct product inspection, and use approved test equipment.
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Enterprises (known as ‘notifying suppliers’ in the law) which fail to comply are penalized because DENAN is a mandatory standard. The penalties include a maximum one-year imprisonment or 100 million Yen maximum fine. Both penalties may be imposed. Those who fail to comply may also be ordered to stop using the PSE mark on their products (PSE Mark Scheme n.d.).
Importers of products specified under the PSE scheme must maintain records of compliance from the foreign manufacturer (PSE Mandatory Third-Party Conformity Assessment for “Specified electrical appliances and materials” under Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law 2013). Manufacturers operating outside Japan may choose an equivalent assessment body to conduct the test for conformity.
The main objective of the Electrical Appliance and Safety Law was to ensure that dealers (manufacturers and stores) in electrical appliances and materials follow procedures that ensure safety. It also encourages companies to invent tools that may prevent hazards that may develop as a result of using electrical appliances and materials (JET 2012, p. 1).
Category A of electrical appliances and materials consist of 116 items. Category A includes items such as rubber insulated cables, fuses, and transformers for toys. Category B consists of 341 items (JET 2012, p. 10). Category B includes items such as tubular fuses, remote control relays, and fluorescent lamp cables.
The ISI Mark
The Indian Standards Institution (ISI) Mark has been used in India since 1955. It became a national program in 1986. The certification regulations were drafted in 1988.
The ISI Mark certification regulations are reviewed by a committee consisting of a wide range of interest groups such as the government, consumers, and manufacturers. They cover every industrial sector which ranges from Agriculture, Textiles, Automotive, Electronics, Leather, and many more (BIS n.d.).
The BIS certification scheme is issued to applicants on a voluntary basis. Most of the procedures it uses have been derived from ISO Guide 65, and ISO Guide 28 (BIS n.d.).
However, the government has made it mandatory for the certification of certain products that may pose as risks to the consumer. The system allows third parties to assess conformity to BIS certification standards. It can select samples for testing from the factory, and those in the market.
Mandatory certification is conducted by specific authorities. Some of the products under mandatory certification list include milk powder, condensed milk, Portland slag cement, electric iron, room heaters, and many more (List of standards under mandatory certification, n.d.).
For a beginner, the certification is valid for a single year under the ISI Mark. It may be renewed at intervals of 2 years. The scope is described according to BIS standards, and nature of the industry. The scope is flexible depending on the industry where an applicant operates or intends to operate.
A certified manufacturer is allowed to use the ISI Mark, and to maintain records of tests that are carried out to confirm conformity to the Indian Standard (Scheme for testing and inspection, n.d.).
BIS operates a scheme for foreign manufacturers under the ISI Mark certification scheme. Manufacturers operating from abroad may send application for certification. They must follow the procedures for testing that conforms to the Indian Standard.
Importers of products to India may also apply to use the ISI Mark after confirming that the imported product standard conforms to the Indian Standard (Brief of certification for Indian importers n.d.).
Both ISI Mark and PSE Mark are national quality marks. The ISI Mark has a wider scope than PSE Mark because it covers all manufactured products. PSE tends to cover electrical appliances and materials under the diamond mark, and other products under the circular mark. The circular mark covers products whose certification is not mandatory.
ISI Mark is also mandatory for a specific group of products considered to have a high risk of developing toxins such as milk, and cement. Some electrical products are also mandatory. Both standards consider that most electrical products require mandatory compliance.
Quality assurance standards
Indiana Quality Assurance Builder Standards (QABS)
QABS has been developed by the Indiana Builders Association (IBA) as a way of measuring builders’ conformity to approved standards. The standards are used to measure customer’s expectation, and the builder’s work. It aims to prevent problems that arise between the builder and the customer as a result of unfulfilled expectations (IBA n.d.). The program operates through application for membership.
QABS improves the image of the building industry. It lays procedures for agreements, and resolution of problems. It sets standards for the recommended language for business contracts. It sets the standard for marketing information which may include the amount of information given to the customer (BIS n.d.).
It eliminates unrealistic expectations that the customer may want to set for the builder. The main aim of the QABS is to create a level of understanding between customers and builders for signing agreements, and conflict prevention and resolution (SIBA 2013).
Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories
The forensic DNA laboratory standards have been used to regulate laboratory standards since 1998. They were reviewed in 2000. In this case, the standards only cover DNA testing in forensic laboratories. There is also a quality standard that covers DNA testing for databases. Both standards were set by the FBI.
Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories set standards for facilities, competency, and integrity for laboratories that engage in forensic DNA testing. It excludes participation and collaboration of laboratories for research purposes (DNA Advisory Board Assurance for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories 2009).
The quality assurance program requires that all laboratories maintain a quality manual. The quality manual addresses the actions taken by an organization to meet the minimum requirements set by the standard.
They include “goals and objectives, organization and management, personnel qualifications and training, evidence control, validation, analytic procedures, calibration and maintenance” among other factors (DNA Advisory Board Assurance for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories 2009, part 3).
The Quality Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories is more detailed and specific in its requirement than the Builder’s Standard. For example, a technical manager in a laboratory must have a minimum of a master’s degree in courses that relate to DNA testing. The facilities must provide security detail that eliminates possibilities of sample contamination.
Personnel directly involved with DNA testing should undertake a proficiency testing exercise within intervals of 180 days. The laboratory shall adhere to standards approved by the environmental health and safety (DNA Advisory Board Assurance for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories 2009, part 3). All laboratories that fall under the category described above are required by the DNA Advisory Board to comply.
QABS is not a mandatory quality standard when the DNA Advisory Board Assurance for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories is mandatory. QABS integrates standards set by the state as part of its program. DNA Advisory Board Assurance standards are specifically drafted to ensure reliability of information obtained from laboratory analysis, and safety of workers.
More emphasis is laid on validity and reliability of data. DNA Advisory Board Assurance standards provide detailed information about its minimum requirements. QABS appears to be a consensus quality standard with conflict prevention, quality, and affordable housing as its main objectives.
Business Excellence Models
Baldrige Performance Excellence Program
Baldrige Model covers a wide range of business organizations. It covers profit and non-profit, small and big enterprises, manufacturing, and governmental departments among others. It sets standards for self assessment. It covers all sections in an organization. It lays standards on “leadership, workforce focus, strategic planning, customer focus, operations focus, measurement, analysis, and knowledge management” (NIST 2013).
The Baldrige Model sets specific standards for organizations in the education and health sectors. The main aim of the Baldrige program is to assist organizations achieve their goals, improve their results, and become more competitive (NIST 2013).
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is only eligible for organizations operating in the U.S. including foreign companies with headquarters in the U.S. Applicant organizations must be operating in the “manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care, and nonprofit sectors” (Is Your Organization Eligible? 2013, para 1). An organization must have been in business for at least a year.
The organization must provide access to its major operations for inspection. It must be willing to share information on the seven performance categories listed on the Baldrige Model.
In 2012, another condition was included which requires organizations to get approval from the Alliance for Performance Excellence members. It includes receiving an award from other quality assurance standards that are members of the Alliance for Performance Excellence (Is Your Organization Eligible? 2013).
The Baldridge Award uses a board of examiners which consists of top officials from various organizations. The Baldrige program allows aspirants to apply to join its board of examiners once every year. The selected applicants undertake a 3-year-training course from selected development programs.
They are issued with a certificate honoring their contribution towards the Baldrige program. Examiners are involved in a “consensus review of the applicant organization’s performance through a teleconference and online scorebook” (What do examiners do? Duties, terms and conditions, timeline 2013, para. 5).
Kanji’s Business Excellence Model (KBEM)
KBEM principles have been derived from total quality management practices. In contrast to the Baldrige Model, it is not a national quality model. The structure of the concepts is almost similar to the Baldrige Model concept. On one end, there is leadership.
On the other end, there is business excellence. It is divided into four factors. These are ‘delight the customer’, management by fact, people-based management, and continuous improvement. The four principles are further divided into 8 core concepts (Chen, Songsithipornchai & Jang 2012, p. 992). The main objective of the KBEM is to improve organizational performance.
The KBEM measurement system uses a set of questions that have been designed into a questionnaire that organizations can fill in to measure the four components of the model. Statistical calculations are used to generate an index that is interpreted using the Kanji’s Business Excellence Index (KBEI) or BEI.
Kanji also developed a system to determine which components in the criteria should have more weight in influencing the index results known as the Excellence Seeker’s Approach. The BEI is used as a self assessment tool. KBEI is calculated when organizations apply for ranking. The ranking determines the areas that need improvement. The index has a range between 0 and 100.
Special statistical software and regression are used in the calculations. The results may provide indicators on which sections an organization needs to improve (Chen, Songsithipornchai & Jang 2012, p. 993). KBEM is not widely used because of its complexity. However, components of its concept have been integrated into other models.
Kanji Quality Culture is an organization that issues certificates of conformity with KBEM standards. There is a premier certification for organizations that score Kanji’s Certification Index (KCI) between 500 and 650 points. A preferment certification is issued to organizations that score a KCI between 651 and 800 points. A paramount certification is the highest ranking certificate. It is issued to organizations that score above 801.
The organization must also have reliable, accurate, and well-structured procedures for continuous improvement of its divisions, and application of the KBEM (Kanji-Certification of performance measurement 2001).
The certification is valid for a year, and organizations can only apply once in a year. The cost of data collection and analysis is incurred by the applicant organization. The process of data collection and analysis is carried out by an independent company (Kanji-Certification of performance measurement 2001).
Baldrige Model has a higher number of participants than KBEM. Baldrige Model has more recognition than the KBEM. Both models are used for performance improvement. Both models use a set of questions for evaluation. The areas addressed are almost similar such as leadership, and workforce management. KBEM assessment is carried out by an independent company when an organization makes an application.
Baldrige uses a board of examiners to rank organizations. The Baldrige Award is used a symbol of excellence for organizations that conform to standards, and the model. KBEM does not rank organizations but examines their conformity with TQM standards.
Business excellence models, quality assurance standards, and certification schemes all act as indicators of quality achievement. Dodangeh et al. (2012, p. 1386) explain that all these approaches are tools for recognition.
Quality assurance standards and certification standards may be used by consumers to recognize products that are safe for human consumption. BEM may be used as recognition for the best practices for running a business. All the three approaches provide a system for self-assessment.
Before a company can be recognized, it has conducted its own internal assessment to check the level of compliance. Organizations that meet all requirements are able to apply for ranking so that they can be presented with an award. All the three approaches provide for continuous improvement. The certification scheme may be mandatory for some products but also provides for continuous improvement.
The certification schemes and quality assurance standards set minimum requirements for organizations. They provide motivation for continuous improvement through continuous testing of products. The three approaches do not set a distinction between private and public companies. They indiscriminately motivate public and private companies to work hard to improve their standards, and performance.
They provide a standardized criterion to match products and organizations’ performances. They improve the methods of competition, and extend the global market for products. Lastly, all the three approaches augment each other. Meeting the standards in one of the approaches increases the chances of complying with standards in another framework.
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