Deutsch: Variation / Español: Variación / Português: Variação / Français: Variation / Italiano: Variazione

Variation in the context of quality management refers to the changes or fluctuations in the characteristics of a product or process that can affect its quality. This variability can stem from various sources, including material properties, manufacturing conditions, environmental factors, and human factors.


In quality management, variation is a critical concept, as it can significantly impact the consistency, reliability, and performance of products and services. Understanding and controlling variation is fundamental to achieving high-quality outcomes. The goal of quality management is not only to minimize unnecessary variations but also to ensure that any remaining variability is within acceptable limits defined by quality standards.

Variation can be categorized into two main types: common cause variation and special cause variation. Common cause variation, also known as random variation, is inherent in all processes and is due to the many small factors that are always present and acting randomly. Special cause variation, on the other hand, results from specific, identifiable factors that can be corrected or eliminated.

Application Areas

Managing variation is essential across all sectors that focus on quality management, including:

Well-Known Examples

A well-known method for managing variation in quality management is the use of Statistical Process Control (SPC). SPC utilizes statistical methods to monitor and control a process to ensure that it operates at its full potential to produce conforming product. Tools like control charts help in identifying patterns of variation and distinguishing between common and special causes of variation.

Treatment and Risks

Uncontrolled variation can lead to increased costs, customer dissatisfaction, and reduced market competitiveness. Quality management seeks to identify and reduce both common and special cause variations through:

  • Process Improvement: Continuously analyzing and improving processes to reduce variation.
  • Employee Training: Educating employees on quality standards and techniques to minimize variation.
  • Quality Tools: Employing tools like Six Sigma, which focuses on reducing process variation to improve quality.

The risk of not addressing variation includes the production of non-conforming products, increased waste, and failing to meet customer and regulatory requirements.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

In the quality management context, terms related to variation include discrepancy, deviation, and variability.



Variation is a fundamental concept in quality management that describes the fluctuations in product or process characteristics. Managing variation is crucial for ensuring product quality, consistency, and customer satisfaction. By identifying and controlling the sources of variation, organizations can improve their processes, reduce costs, and enhance their competitiveness in the market.


You have no rights to post comments

Related Articles

Precision ■■■■■■■■■■
Precision in the context of quality management refers to the degree to which repeated measurements or . . . Read More
Tolerance ■■■■■■■■■■
In the context of quality management, tolerance refers to the acceptable deviation from a specified standard . . . Read More