What Are Quality Metrics?

A product's defect rate is an example of a quality metric.
A product's defect rate is an example of a quality metric. (Image: simonkr/iStock/Getty Images)

When evaluating whether a project or business is successful, companies measure performance against quality standards to determine whether they’re meeting expectations. Quality standards vary from company to company, but they should be tied to the business mission and organizational goals. Tracking quality metrics can reveal weaknesses in a process or product, which notifies a business of the necessity to correct areas of deficiency quickly.

Determining Quality Metrics

Before deciding on the quality metrics to track, company management needs to define its organizational goals and desired outcomes. That helps them ask the right questions about the processes needed to be put in place and how to measure success. For a company that produces products, quality metrics can include defects per unit or per batch. Quality metrics also may include data that measures supply chain performance, customer service or financial targets.

Setting Standards

Quality metrics don’t tell much in a vacuum. They should be judged against a baseline, whether that takes the form of industry standards or a business’s own track record. Companies should insert quality metrics into each phase of their processes to ensure there aren’t any gaps. By tracking the performance of these metrics over time, company leaders can quickly measure how well the processes are working and what areas need improvement.

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