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Definitions and Narratives: the Foundations of Quality

Business October 24, 2017

Speaking of quality, what is it? Joseph Juran defines quality as “fitness for intended use.”

It’s important to note that this does not reference “fineness,” “cost,” or brand in any way. It simply means that it will do what it was intended to do, as defined, and as The Association for Quality in Audio Visual would add this: in a demonstrable manner.

First and foremost, we must establish the definition of the action, service or product. We must explain clearly, concisely and completely what makes this “fit for intended use.” How does the technical neophyte or expert and customer come to a clear understanding of what it is that we're providing, and how will they know that it has been fulfilled to their satisfaction?

That is simple. In our realm of integration and solution design, this starts with the scope of work, or “project narrative.” This is the plain language (important words!), written description of the what, where, when and how that AVI is delivering for our customer. Within this document, we must describe, in simple terms, not only what it is (the Bill of Materials) but how it works, what it looks like, where it lives, what are the customers' required actions for success, when it will be delivered, and perhaps even more, as required by the complexity and variety of the engagement attributes. It’s our story of the project.

Let’s look at this in a less complex example:

“What’s on the menu?”

Food

“How does it taste?”

Like Food

“Is it anything I am allergic too?”

It’s Food…

Obviously, we wouldn't find this lack of detail and description acceptable, would we? We wouldn't deem this a “quality” offering. So, understanding this, how do we approach reaching a quality state?

This narrative not only forms the basis of the offer, but it also creates the vehicle to state empirical tests and checklists that irrefutably define "done/done."

It gifts us the opportunity to work through the weeds and shine the light into dark corners before the design or sale becomes physically manifest -- at which point a conversation of “I meant lightly charred and you provided a charcoal briquette, take it back!” is as easy as a few keystrokes to change.

Not lost time, re-deployment, re-stock fee’s, or worse yet, lost confidence. It ensures that we are describing “fitness for intended use” in a collaborative and actionable method for our customers to engage us as true partners for success. We are no longer selling or designing based on brands and manufacturer’s, but instead, we are focused on function, requirements, and quality. What we use to make the signals flow and lights flash now becomes a plethora of manufacturer options and values.

“Tonight, we offer sweet and savory spiced nuts, crab hush puppies with tartar sauce, roast turkey (wild caught) with basil cream gravy, oyster casserole with a low-calorie, after-dinner mint.”

"Sounds like a quality meal, but can I substitute kale for the casserole?  I’m allergic to Shellfish."


About the Author

Bill Lawrence is an enterprise solutions architect at AVI Systems. He’s the primary contributor to AVI Systems’ blog series, “Quality Matters.” He has worked in 14 counties, leading teams of specialized design and sales engineers to complete AV projects. Lawrence is also the Vice President of programs at the Association for Quality Audio Visual (AQAV).

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