The ultimate dictionary of quality acronyms you should know

22 December 2020

The ultimate dictionary of quality acronyms you should know

Share this

The quality management world is its own special place with a unique language. If you've ever felt lost in the jargon, you aren't alone! That's why we've pulled together this quality glossary.

Here you'll find all the terms Ideagen and our customers use on a regular basis, along with their definitions.

To know your RADAR from your RAM or learn more about the 5Ss, take a look below.



Analysis of variance is a collection of statistical models and their associated estimation procedures used to analyse the differences among group means in a sample.


Advanced product quality planning, known by its APQP acronym, is a framework of procedures and techniques used to develop products in industry, particularly the automotive industry. Find out more about APQP.


The acceptable quality level is the worst tolerable process average (mean) in percentage or ratio that is still considered acceptable; that is, at an acceptable quality level.



Business process mapping (BPM) refers to activities involved in defining what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a business process should be completed, and how the success of a business process can be determined.



Corrective and preventive action, known by its CAPA acronym, consists of improvements to an organisation's processes taken to eliminate causes of non-conformity or other undesirable situations. Find out more about CAPA.


The Construction Design and Management Regulations came into practice in 2015 to govern the way in which construction projects of all sizes and types are planned in the UK. Find out more about CDM.


Coordinate Measuring Machine. A device for measuring the dimensions and geometry of physical products during manufacturing. CMMs are heavily used in the aerospace industry for precision engineering and quality control, as part of the product and part management process. Find out more about CMM.


Continuous quality improvement is a management philosophy used by organisations to better their processes.


Catch-reflect-improve-scrutinise-pass (CRISP) is used frequently in policy development. Based on the plan-do-check-act cycle, designed to enable an organisation to deploy its vision, missions, goals, objectives, targets and means more effectively.


Critical to X (CTX) comprises various types, dependent on your focus. It may be CTQ (Critical to Quality), CTD (Critical to Delivery) or CTP (Critical to Process).



8D stands for the 8 disciplines of problem solving. They represent 8 steps to take to solve difficult, recurring or critical problems.


DMAIC ("Duh-MAY-ick") is a structured problem-solving methodology widely used in business. The letters are an acronym for the five phases of Six Sigma improvement: Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control.


A conceptual, creative approach to the design of new processes used in Six Sigma process design projects. DMEDI stands for Define, Measure, Explore, Develop and Implement.



An Environment, Health and Safety management system implements practical aspects of environmental protection and safety at work. These precautions must be followed to ensure that workers’ day-to-day activities do not cause harm to anyone or to the environment. Find out more about EHS.



Failure mode and effects analysis is a step-by-step approach for identifying all possible failures in a design, a manufacturing or assembly process, or a product or service. It is a common process analysis tool.

  • Failure modes means the ways, or modes, in which something might fail. Failures are any errors or defects, especially ones that affect the customer, and can be potential or actual.
  • Effects analysis refers to studying the consequences of those failures.

Find out more about FMEA.


First Article Inspection Reports are used to validate that a product has been manufactured to the correct specification. Their main purpose is to guarantee product quality in the aerospace industry, as required by the AS9102 standard. Find out more about FAIR here



Good ... practice, with the 'x' interchangeable for a range of industry practices, from GDocP (good document practice) to GLP (good laboratory practice) and GMP (good manufacturing practice). Find out more about GMP.



A farm-to-table food quality management system, standing for hazard analysis and critical control point. A string of critical control points are mapped onto the food manufacture process to maintain quality throughout. Find out more about HACCP.



An information security management system is a set of policies and procedures for systematically managing your data. The goal is to minimise risk and ensure business continuity by proactively limiting the impact of a security breach.


The International Organisation for Standardisation is an independent, non-governmental, international organisation that develops standards to ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of products, services and systems. Find out more about ISO.



A lean and optimised 'just in time' manufacturing process where little or no inventory is accumulated. Less commonly, can refer to 'just in time' training where training is limited only to when it is absolutely needed.



Key performance indicator, a statistical measure of effectiveness. A handful of clear, trackable KPIs is crucial for effective quality management.



Lot tolerance percentage defective, the poorest acceptable quality within an individual lot. Forms the basis of some manufacturing inspection systems.



Measurement system analysis (MSA) is defined as an experimental and mathematical method of determining the amount of variation that exists within a measurement process. Variation in the measurement process can directly contribute to your overall process variability. MSA is used to certify the measurement system for use by evaluating the system’s accuracy, precision and stability.



Non-conformance, an observed fault or deviation within the output of a process, procedure or wider QMS noted in an audit. Commonly tackled with 8D.


New Product Introduction is the series of activities that govern a new product process, from initial idea of a working prototype through to a reproducible final product. Find out more about NPI.



Overall equipment effectiveness, the measure of how well a physical asset performs relative to its designed capacity.


Optical Character Recognition is the electronic or mechanical conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed into machine-encoded text. Find out more about OCR.



Plan-do-check-act is an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products. It is also known as the Deming cycle, the Shewhart cycle, the control cycle, or plan–do–study–act (PDSA). Find out more about PDCA.


Product Data Management is the utilisation of software to manage product data and process-related information within a centralised system. Find out more about PDM.


Product Lifecycle Management refers to the handling of a product though the stages of its product lifecycle. These stages are the following:

  • Conceive – entailing customer need, technical parameters and initial design
  • Design – entailing detailed design, prototype testing and process creation
  • Realisation – entailing process implementation, manufacturing and product testing
  • Deliver – entailing sales, service and disposal

Find out more about PLM.


Product Part Approval Process is used in supply chains, particularly automotive and aerospace, to establish confidence in component suppliers and their production processes. Find out more about PPAP.



A group of employees who meet regularly to consider ways of resolving problems and improving production in their organisation.


Quality, Health, Safety and Environment management systems are used to drive conformity and stability for industrial, commercial and service companies. These are essential for an organisation to work both safely and productively. Find out more about QHSE.


A Quality Management System is a collection of business processes focused on consistently meeting both customer and regulatory requirements. This formalised system documents processes, procedures and responsibilities for achieving quality polices and objectives in order for an organisation to perform their day-to-day tasks to the highest standards. Find out more about QMS.



Results, approach, deployment, assessment and review logic is a dynamic assessment framework and powerful management tool that provides a structured approach to questioning the performance of an organisation.


Reliability, availability, and maintainability analysis is a well-known method of estimating the production availability of a system by assessing failure modes, frequencies and consequences, all the while paying attention to the effect on production.


Root cause analysis. Find out more about root cause analysis.


Return on investment in quality, or "return on quality". It enables quality improvement expenditures to be evaluated as investments, on an equal footing with other financial investments. The approach is based on the following philosophy of quality improvement:

  1. Quality is an investment
  2. Quality efforts must be financially accountable
  3. It is possible to spend too much on quality
  4. Not all quality expenditures are equally valid



5S is a system for organising spaces so work can be performed efficiently, effectively, and safely. It stands for sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain.


Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers is a process snapshot that captures information critical to a project.


Statistical process control is an industry standard methodology for measuring and controlling quality during the manufacturing process.


A Standard Operating Procedure is a guideline to carry out step-by-step instructions enforced by an organisation to ensure workers carry out complex routine operations correctly. Find out more about SOP.



Ford Motor Company developed this problem solving methodology, then known as Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS), in the 1980s. The early usage of 8D proved so effective that it was adopted by Ford as the primary method of documenting problem solving efforts, and the company continues to use 8D today.


Total Quality Control is the organised Kaizen activities involving everyone in the company in totally integrated effort toward improving performance at every level. This improved performance is directed toward satisfying cross-functional goals like quality, cost, scheduling, manpower, development, and new product development. It is assumed that these activities ultimately lead to increased customer satisfaction. 


Total quality management is the process of transformation by which all parts of the organisation have a focus on quality, with the ultimate objective of customer satisfaction and delight. Some people argue that the term TQM has fallen out of use, with directors and managers regarding it as a fallen star and a jaded concept. They moved on to what are perceived as newer concepts like Six Sigma and Lean mapping. There is little doubt that in managed companies and industries the issue of improvement in the quality of products and services remains top priority.



Value stream mapping is a lean management method for analysing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning to the customer. The primary focus is to increase leanness and decrease wastage compared to the current stream map.


Voice of the customer is a term used in business and information technology to describe the in-depth process of capturing customers' expectations, preferences and aversions.

Now that you're clued up on all the essential quality related acronyms, take a look at our whitepaper on the benefits of an integrated approach to CAPA management.

Ideagen's James Vjestica
Written by

James Vjestica

As Ideagen’s Content Marketing Executive, James is primarily focussed on manufacturing and keeping individuals in this sector informed of the latest regulatory news and trends. He comes from a marketing background and is passionate about creating engaging content that answers questions relating to software solutions and regulatory changes.

My Business Need

This will help us identify the best software product for you.

Tell Us More

Please share some further detail so we can refine your product recommendations.