ISO 9001 Revision explained in simple terms
Monitoring and Measurement Devices related to Provision of Services
In the next two weeks, the final drafts of the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 Revision should be in place. At Quality Austria, the preparations run at full speed. This is to help us to offer accredited certifications for the Standards from the moment the Standards appear.
For this purpose, we have intensively dealt with the contents of the Revision. We are collecting the relevant results in a book, which will appear in the Carl Hanser Verlag (Publishing House) in September 2015. In German speaking countries, the contents of the “Praxisbuch ISO 9001:2015” (“Practical Book ISO 9001:2015”) have been coordinated by the leading Certification Bodies Quality Austria, SQS and DQS. This is to help to give you a well-founded accompanying reference for implementation of the requirements.
Each month, a key concept of the revision will be explained more profoundly. This time Josef Hödl explains the requirements as well as value creating methods in terms of the topic of “monitoring and measurement devices related to provision of services”.
Knowledge in ISO 9001 Monitoring and Measurement Devices related to Provision of Services
In ISO 9001, measurement equipment has had a long tradition. However, it is primarily technical measuring equipment that used to be focused on. Now the concept is enlarged. The new term is called “Monitoring and measurement devices” and now can cover all possible resources, e.g. persons, measuring instruments, checklists, information, work environment or infrastructure.
According to these general requirements related to monitoring and measurement devices in ISO 9001:2015 (Clause 220.127.116.11), “the organization shall determine the knowledge necessary for the operation of the quality management system and its processes and to assure conformity of goods and services and customer satisfaction.” It is not until an additional separate Clause (18.104.22.168) that monitoring and measurement devices are addressed specifically while focusing on the aspects of traceability of measurements as well as calibration and verification.
We focus on the general requirements. In this respect, the requirement according to which monitoring and measurement results need to be “valid” and “reliable” has been newly taken up to. ISO 9001:2015. “Validity” states the degree of accuracy at which a measurement device actually measures what it is supposed to measure. “Reliability” is the degree to which a measurement device produces the same measurement results at repeated measurements. A prerequisite for this is that the measurement values acquired are objective, i.e. independent from the person making the measurement so that the data can also be interpreted usefully.
Quality as seen by ISO 9001:2015 refers to the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics meets requirements. Customer satisfaction refers to the customer’s perception of the degree to which the customer expectations have been fulfilled. Both “customer satisfaction” and “service quality” are theoretical terms, which are too abstract and complex to be capable of being measured directly. Operationalization helps to form single measurable indicators, whose measurement values will together make it possible to make one overall statement.
Monitoring and measurement of services:
As for services, a distinction is made between those provided by objects and those provided by persons. As for the former, the measurement of conformity can be broken down to parameters by means of defined requirements. At these parameters, the interaction with the customer plays a minor role (e.g. conformity of laboratory analyses or copy shops). There the measurement methods will exactly refer to those characteristics. “Operationalization” will be slightly more difficult in case of services or the share of service provision where interaction with the customer is the most important element of design.
Following, please find an introduction to some methods for measuring services that specially focus on the services where interaction with the customer prevails. These methods can also be used for profoundly establishing requirements placed on services. Thus organizations are provided with an extended tool kit, which enables them to establish requirements even for these shares of service provision in-depth or to profoundly assess conformity to the requirements.
Based on different models for service quality, it will be a question of emphasizing elements of the potential, process or result, having a look at routine or exceptional situations or making a distinction as to whether the customer’s perception and assessment processes are also addressed or not.
The measurement approaches consider the great variety and special features of services. They differ depending on the underlying understanding of quality and service as well as the methodology. A distinction is made between customer focused and organization focused measurement approaches. The former are shown in Figure 1 (see Bruhn 2006, p. 84). The customer focused measurement approaches are subdivided into objective and subjective ones.
Objective customer focused measurements are methods assessing service quality from the customer perspective but are not based on the subjective judgement made by single customers. These measurements include observations made by experts, tests of goods and availing of test buyers.
Subjective customer focused measurements directly start at the customer’s and try to investigate into and measure the way single customers perceive quality. They are based on characteristic focused, incident focused or problem focused measurement methods.
Characteristic focused measurement equipment is based on the distinction made between different quality characteristics of a service. Based on evaluations of the different characteristics of service quality from the customer perspective, the overall judgement will be made on the basis of the sum of the single assessments. Examples are multi-attributive methods, de-compositional methods, the vignette methodology, the willingness-to-pay approach and the penalty-reward-factor approach. These characteristic focused approaches enable acquisition of data by using standardized questionnaires. This enables a statistical analysis and makes it possible to achieve quantitative results.
Incident focused methods consider the process character of a service. They will identify the results felt to be particularly positive or negative by the customer in connection with service provision. Data acquisition is based on the method of “storytelling” - the customers are asked to talk about their experience in an open and personal interview. The most important incident focused measurement methods include the sequential incident method, the observation of the most common contact experiences as well as the critical-incident technique and the analysis of complaints in case of critical contact incidents.
Problem focused approaches view quality relevant issues in connection with service provision from the customer perspective. This group of approaches includes the method for detecting problems as well as a further development of this method in the form of FRAP (Frequency Relevance Analysis of Problems). These methods consist in interviewing customers about special problematic cases and in systematically assessing them later on. Measurement of complaints will systematically evaluate complaints made by customers. However, it does not serve as a systematic ascertainment of quality.
Measurement of customer satisfaction: as for measurement of customer satisfaction, the subjective measurement methods are particularly suitable. The decision as to whether characteristic focused, incident focused or problem focused methods should be used depends on the objectives pursued. The sequence of measurement of customer satisfaction is defined according to the rules of empiric research. It will be necessary to take several research relevant decisions about the type of interviewing, the selection of the customer group to be interviewed, the way to acquire data and the methods of statistical analysis and Interpretation.