Quality of conformance is the ability of a product, service, or process to meet its design specifications. Design specifications are an interpretation of what the customer needs. Of course, a product having high quality of conformance may still not be perceived by a customer as being an acceptable product if the person who created the design specifications did not correctly interpret what the customer wanted.
Quality of conformance is measured within an acceptable tolerance range. For example, if passengers expect a flight to leave within 10 minutes of its scheduled departure date, then any departure time within that time frame has a high quality of conformance, while any longer interval does not. Thus, quality of conformance equates to conformance to specifications within an acceptable tolerance range.
It is possible for a product to be of extremely high quality in terms of being produced within a tight tolerance range, using premium materials, and including all possible features. However, if the design specifications call for a less expensive product with fewer features, then the product is considered to have a low quality of conformance. This means that a high cost does not necessarily equate to a high quality of conformance.
For example, if a truck is designed to sell at a low price, have excellent fuel economy, and operate reliably, then those are the key specifications that the actual vehicle must meet in order to have a high quality of conformance. If the vehicle were to have an oversized engine that provides more torque than necessary, it would have a low quality of conformance, because including such an engine would increase the price of the truck and result in lower fuel economy.
A management technique is to track how persistently a product or service is measured close to the outer boundary established for conformance. If the measurement remains near the boundary for a significant period of time, it is likely that a breach of the measurement threshold will occur soon, so management can begin to direct attention to rectifying the issue. For example, a flight departure that is consistently within just a few moments of the maximum allowable departure threshold should be investigated. Such investigations may locate problems that can be rectified, or perhaps detect intentional measurement errors to keep the reported amounts within the conformance threshold.