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Unless the company is keenly seized of the importance of quality improvement, its production sooner or later will lose its market share being unable to withstand competition from its close rivals. Production planning includes concern for quality and therefore it infuses in the workforce quality consciousness.  The company can try to get inputs from its workforce also through brain-storming; in a way, since the workers are on the job, they can have some practical suggestions to the company to improve the quality of the product or even to cut the cost of production.

Production planning in the very process itself provides opportunities to improve effectiveness of production and next the efficiency in marketing.

Let us first of all try to understand what quality is. Quality is customer-related.  In other words, it indicates what a customer wants and is prepared to pay for it. Want is an expression of a purpose and the product must be fit enough to fulfill the need of the purpose.  Ultimately quality is exclusively customer-oriented.

Market observation drives home a point to the company that its customers, however satisfied they may be, do not remain in the same number and at least 5% to 10% of them quit the companyís products. Therefore, the company should not dilute its efforts towards acquisition of new customers so that some viable balance between those who move away and those who move in will be maintained, necessarily.  This market dynamics tells us a very fundamental fact:  the experience of quality is generally dynamic and it does not remain frozen in some state. A customerís choice of products keeps changing for some reason r other.

In this fluid context, however, some steps may be conceived of with regard to quality and its maintenance. For a product, its design generally matters and with a keen sense of changes in the market the company can do well to keep changing its design and also its manufacturing processes.

Every product has its own life-cycle which consists of four stages: introduction, growth, maturity and decline. First, the product is introduced in the market. In the next growth stage, the company tries to improve its market share for the product. At the maturity stage, it has reached its maximum and its growth, that is, the sales of the product begin to decline. Finally, in the decline stage, the company discontinues the product and sells it to another company willing to buy it.

In all these four stages of the product life-cycle, the company can adopt measures focusing on quality; in other words, the company engages itself in strategic moves to revive its product demand and remain in the market.

In our next session, we shall see how at every stage, the company can direct attention to improve quality and strive to remain in the market.

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