Six Sigma Glossary from MiC Quality


Balanced Scorecard

A strategic management system used to drive performance and accountability. Under this system the organization develops performance measures in four categories:

  • Financial (the traditional focus of performance)
  • Customer (the present and future needs and expectations)
  • Business Processes (the efficiency of the operations)
  • Learning and Growth (developing the knowledge and expertize in the organization)

The belief is that in traditional organizations there is too much emphasis on financial measures which can lead to a short-term focus on the bottom line at the expense of activities that are essential to long-term success.


A method used to improve systems. It involves comparing a system used in your organization with the equivalent system elsewhere. This may be in a competitor’s company, a company in another industry that is particularly effective with the system concerned, or even in another division of your own organization.

Benchmarking is often used to improve systems that are critical, but are not the core business. For example, a manufacturing company might use benchmarking to improve its distribution system. It might benchmark against a company where distribution is a core activity, and that is known for excellence; for example Federal Express.

The purpose is to find out how the other company achieved their performance level and use the information to improve the purpose of your own organization.

ISO9000:2000 Quality System

Refers to The ISO series of standards for quality management systems. It consists of three main documents:

  • ISO9000:2000 Quality Management Systems - Fundamentals and Vocabulary
  • ISO9001:2000 Quality Management Systems - Requirements
  • ISO9004:2000 Quality Management Systems - Guidelines for Performance Improvements

Organizations are audited to, and certified to, ISO9001. Under the previous, 1994, version there were three levels of certification ISO9001:1994, ISO9002:1994 and ISO9003:1994. Now there is only one level.

QS9000 Automotive Quality System

A quality system widely used by the automotive industry. It was developed by Daimler-Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. It was first published in 1994 and reissued in 1998. QS9000 is now being phased out and replaced by TS16949.

The large automotive companies require that suppliers of parts, materials and services comply with the requirements of QS9000.

QS9000 was based on the ISO9000:1994 standard, it took that standard as a baseline and imposed additional automotive specific requirements and interpretations. The ISO9000:2000 standard is substantially different from the 1994 version and it was decided to change to TS16949 rather than update QS9000.

The AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) have developed reference manuals that give specific information on how companies should comply with the standard.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

See SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

A type of strategic-level analysis, stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.

Strengths The internal strong points of an organization. What they are good at that competitors would find it difficult to emulate.
Weaknesses The internal weak points of the organization. Things that are difficult to overcome, poor image, out-dated equipment, poor location etc.
Opportunities External opportunities, new markets opening up etc.
Threats External threats, legislation, overseas competition etc.


i. A number of inter-connected processes, that include feedback loops, and hence cannot be analyzed in isolation.

ii. A defined and accepted method of carrying out activities. An organization with a ‘systems approach’ carries out its activities by following defined methods, rather than under the discretion of the individual workers and supervisors. The most commonly accepted system for quality is the ISO9000 series of quality management system standard.

TS16949 Automotive Quality System

A quality system widely used in the automotive industry. ISO/TS16949 was developed by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) in collaboration with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It combines the requirements of the four most common automotive standards in Europe and the USA - QS-9000, VDA 6.1, EAQF and AVSQ – into a single standard. This technical specification together with customer-specific requirements defines quality system requirements for use in the automotive supply chain.