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Quality Assurance Terms Glossary/B

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Balanced Scorecard - A suggested tool to describe the relevant measures of a business, usually in the following categories: financial, or return on investment and economic value-added; customer, or satisfaction, retention, market and account share; internal, or response time, cost, and new product introductions; and learning and growth, or employee satisfaction and information system availability.

Baldrige Award - A national award established in 1988 [named for Malcolm Baldrige, former secretary of commerce] for the purpose of recognizing and promoting outstanding corporate [for-profit companies] efforts to improve quality and productivity. The Baldrige award guidelines are sometimes used as a checklist or framework for developing and implementing a plan for total quality or, for assessing organizational progress toward total quality. Some concerns and criticisms of the award include: a) it creates winners and losers by being limited to one company in each category, b) apparent emphasis on results over methods, c) insistence on "benchmarking" without accompanying instruction and cautionary information on the inherent risks in that practice.

Baldrige-Lite - Term used to depict states’ quality award pro-grams using the same criteria as the Malcolm Baldrige national quality award but with a simplified process or application.

Baldrige-Qualified - Term used by firms that have been granted a site visit by the judges in the Malcolm Baldrige national quality award competition.

Batch - See lot

Basic Events - Term used in fault tree analysis. Basic events are initiating faults that do not require events below them to show how they occurred. The symbol used for a basic event is a circle.

Basic Prototype - Non-working mock-up of a product that can be reviewed by customers prior to acceptance.

Bathtub-shaped Hazard Function - Reliability model that shows that products are more likely to fail either very early in their useful life or very late in their useful life.

Bayes' Rule - Expresses the conditional probability of the event a given the event b in terms of the conditional probability of the event b given the event a: p(a|b) = p(b|a) _p(a)/( p(b|a)_p(a) + p(b|ac) _p(ac) )

Benchmark - An organization that is recognized for its exemplary operational performance in one or more areas and is willing to allow others to view its operations and tour its facilities.

Benchmarking - (1)The process of finding a company that is superior in a particular area, studying what it does, and gathering ideas for improving your own operation in that area. (2) Identifying an organization that appears to do something well and copying or adapting its methods. Studying how well competitors are meeting customer needs or what other organizations appear to do well can be beneficial, providing management is aware that transferring a method from one set of circumstances to another will not necessarily produce the same results. It is important to have a theory as to why a method or system works and the conditions needed for its success.

Best-of-the-Best - Term used to refer to outstanding world benchmark firms.

Best-in-Class - Term used to refer to firms or organizations that are viewed as the best in an industry on some meaningful criterion.

Bias - A measurement procedure or estimator is said to be biased if, on the average, it gives an answer that differs from the truth. The bias is the average (expected) difference between the measurement and the truth.

Bimodal Distribution - A distribution with two identifiable curves within it, indicating a mixing of two populations such as different shifts, machines, workers, etc.

Binomial Distribution - A random variable has a binomial distribution (with parameters n and p) if it is the number of "successes" in a fixed number n of independent random trials, all of which have the same probability p of resulting in "success." Under these assumptions, the probability of k successes (and n-k failures) is nck pk(1-p)n-k, where nck is the number of combinations of n objects taken k at a time: nck = n!/(K!(N-k)!). The expected value of a random variable with the binomial distribution is n_p, and the standard error of a random variable with the binomial distribution is (n_p_(1 ] - p))_.

Brainstorming - A method for getting ideas from a group of people in which ideas are offered and recorded without any judgment of the quality of the idea in order to stimulate one idea with another. After the group has run out of ideas, then some method such as "multi-voting" or "nominal group technique" is used to organize and prioritize the ideas collected.

By What Method? - Goals set for any organization or system without an explicit method for achieving them are evidence of failure to understand the system of profound knowledge. "If you have a stable system, then there is no use to specify a goal. You will get whatever the system will deliver. A goal beyond the capability of the system cannot be reached. If you have not a stable system, then there is again no point in setting a goal. There is no way to know what the system will produce: it has no [predictable] capability." (Deming: chapter 2, out of the crisis) it is management's job to change and improve the system. Others would say that if the system is not capable of achieving the goal, the goal might be met temporarily, but only with unexpected damage in other dimensions of organizational performance, either in the short term or the long term.