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Quality by Design


Concept of Product


Basic human needs generate wants, which create demand for the products, capable to satisfy the basic needs. All organizations are, in fact, involved in design, production and supply of various kinds of products and services. 


What is a Product


What comes to your mind when you think of a product? Based on the traditional mindset, most of the people think of the “product” as a certain good, which is manufactured in a factory only.


Product is defined as the “result of a process”. And process is a system of activities, which use resources to transform inputs into outputs. Output of each phase of our job or activity is a product, sometimes it is a tangible product like a machine component, a material, a written report, a letter; more often it is an intangible product like message, instruction, communication, ideas, advice, information, expression, gesture, etc. Economists define products as goods and services. As per modern quality management, all kinds of products can be classified into the following four generic product categories:


  • Hardware
  • Processed material
  • Software
  • Service




A tangible product comprising of one or more distinct items. Hardware products normally consist of manufactured, constructed or fabricated pieces/ parts / components and/or assemblies.


Examples of hardware products include car, scooter, washing machine, transformer, electric motor, fan, television, instruments, computer, pen, tools, fasteners, etc.


Processed Material


A tangible product generated by transforming raw material into desired state.  The state of processed material can be liquid, gas, particulate material, ingot, filament or sheet.  Processed material typically is delivered in drums, bags, tanks, cylinders, cans, pipelines or rolls.


Examples are medicines, liquified petroleum gas, food products, cement, sugar, steel sheets, paper, textile, fertilizer, alcohol, ink, tea, petrol, oxygen, etc.




An intellectual creation consisting of information, instructions, concepts, transactions or procedures.  Software has more than one meaning. Most commonly understood meaning of software is computer programmes. Other examples of software include contents of books, procedures, instructions, reports, advice, commands, communications, etc.




The result generated at the interface between the supplier and the customer and by the supplier internal activities to meet customer needs. 


Service is work performed for someone else. Several organizations are established to provide services of various kinds, such as, electric power, water supply, transportation, communications, entertainment, health care, education, security, catering, tourism, banking, insurance, consultancy, public administration, etc.


Service may be for internal customers within a company also, such as, pay roll preparation, recruitment, accounting, plant maintenance, human resource development, etc. Such services are called as support services.


Personnel or equipment may represent the supplier or customer at the interface.  A service may be linked with manufacture and supply of tangible product.


Quality management


Quality management deals with all products belonging to any of the above four generic categories.  The quality management principles are the same for all generic products.


Two or more of the generic product categories are usually present in the market-place offer of any organization. For example, most of organizations that supply hardware, software or processed materials have service component to their offerings. Customers will look for value in each of generic product categories.


A service organization, such as a restaurant will have hardware (restaurant furnishing, crockery), software (menu card), processed materials (food), as well as service (catering) components.


An electric power utility is an example where offering combines many characteristics of a service, together with delivery of a form of processed material (electric current) via a hardware (conducting cable).  Project management is another example where the offering typically combines many characteristics of service together with production and/or delivery of a hardware and/or software product.


Analytical instruments are examples where hardware (the main instrument), software (programmes and instruction manuals), processed material (chemicals and consumables) and services (training and maintenance) may all be important features of the offer.



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