Quality management basics for parliamentary research services

Quality management was a new frontier in the 1980s in the UK but became simply a condition for staying in business for much of the corporate and public sector by the 2000’s. This is not the case everywhere, and there are still challenges in public services – it is a lot easier to apply quality management methods in a car factory than in a professional service. For services and people new to quality management it is worth rehearsing the basics, with a particular focus on their application in services. The download is a presentation on quality management basics with some thoughts on how it can be applied to parliamentary research services.

Even in 2019 there is still confusion between ‘quality’ meaning the academic standard of research publications and ‘quality’ in the sense of conformance to client requirements. These are not at all the same things. Putting effort into higher academic quality may have no positive impact on meeting client requirements. It may even have a negative impact – a reduction in quality, in the sense most commonly used in quality management. Check your idea of quality.

There is also a tendency to see quality as being limited by resources. Yes, of course it has an impact – but most services can get more quality by changing how they work, without extra resources. In particular, if quality is seen as meeting client needs/wants, better understanding of what they really need/want can allow resources to be focused. And wasted effort can be cut.

I studied quality management at the University of London in the 1990s and worked on quality issues for around 20 years. As a reference source for the 2019 presentation in the link, I used

‘Managing Quality: An Essential Guide and Resource Gateway’, 6th edition. Editor(s): Barrie G. Dale, Ton van der Wiele and David Bamford. 2016. Print ISBN:9781119130925 |Online ISBN:9781119302735 |DOI:10.1002/9781119302735

I would recommend it as a good starting point for anyone beginning working on quality.

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