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Quality Assurance of Information Products and Services

Manufacturing industry has been ensuring customer satisfaction with its products since before 500 B.C by using quality assurance based on specifications and standards. Service industries have adopted standards for quality policies and procedures more recently but the information sector has been slower to take up these methods and there is widespread uncertainty about quality and what it means for the information industry.

The European Commission DGXIII/E is encouraging:

The aims of the Commission are to support users in efforts to improve quality of information products and services and to achieve better recognition of the importance of quality in the European information market. Participants in the European information market, either as suppliers or customers, are invited to register their interest.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Quality?
The satisfaction of a customer's expectations at an economic cost.

How is it achieved?
By using specifications to manage customer's expectations and to control internal operations.

What is a specification?
A description of a process, product or service using characteristics that can be measured and that are relevant to the intended purpose.

Is a specification the same as a standard?
Standards are specifications which have been agreed on a national, regional, or international basis and have some legal status.

What has ISO 9000 to do with all this?
ISO 9000 is a series of standards for the quality of the operations an organisation. There is also a need to use the complementary set of standards for products to ensure the quality of what the organisation supplies to its customers.

Quality Assurance

Standardized definitions of terms used for quality can be found in ISO 8402:1994 Quality management and quality assurance -- Vocabulary.

Quality - the totality of the characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.

Quality policy - the overall intentions and directions of an organisation with regard to quality.

Quality management - that aspect of the management function that determines and implements the quality policy.

Quality system - the organisational structure, responsibilities, procedures, processes and resources for implementing quality management.

Quality control - the operational techniques and actions used to fulfill the requirements for quality.

Quality assurance - all those planned actions to provide confidence for the customer that a product or service satisfies the requirements for quality.

Quality characteristic - a feature of a product of service described in a specification and capable of measurement.

Defect - the departure of a quality characteristic from its specified value that results in a product or service not satisfying its normal usage requirements.

Defective - a product or service that contains one or more defects.

Actions on Quality in Europe

Recent events

Industry Round Table: The Quality of Electronic Information Products and Services, Luxembourg, September 5th 1995.

Click here for Summary report.

Satellite Event: On-Line Meeting 95, London, December 4th, 1995

Click here for Summary report.

Recent Publications

Specifying and Measuring the Quality of Information Products and Services. Report of Workshop, Luxembourg. June 8th 1994. Request copy from Mr. G. Heine

The Quality of Electronic Information Products and Services. IMO Working Paper 95/4

Managing the Quality of Information Products. Managing Information, September 1995, p35-37.

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File updated: January 1996
© ECSC-EC-EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1996
Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.

This information set on Quality Assurance is maintained by Norman Swindells at Ferroday Limited (ns@ferroday.demon.co.uk) on behalf of CEC's DGXIII/E.

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