Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Two Quality Gaps

Most Information Technology (IT) groups have two quality gaps: the producer gap and the customer gap. The producer gap is the difference between what is speci­fied (the documented requirements and internal standards) vs. what is delivered (what is actually built). The customer gap is the difference between what the producer actually delivered vs. what the customer wanted.
Closing these two gaps is the responsibility of the quality function. The quality function must first improve the processes to the point where the producer can develop the products according to requirements received and its own internal stand­ards. Closing the producer’s gap enables the IT function to provide its customers consis­tency in what it can produce.

This has been referred to as the “McDonald’s effect” - at any McDonald’s in the world, a Big Mac should taste the same. It doesn’t mean that every customer likes the Big Mac or that it meets everyone’s needs, but, rather, that McDonald’s has now produced consistency in its delivered product.

Closing the customer gap requires the quality function to understand the true needs of the customer. This can be done by customer surveys, Joint Application Development (JAD) sessions, and more user involvement through the process of building information products. The processes can then be changed to close the customer gap, keeping consistency while producing products and services needed by the customer.

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