The recently enacted Queensland State Purchasing Policy requires that suppliers of manufactured goods must have adequate quality assurance systems in place by July 1990. This is part of a general trend towards purchasers requiring assurance of quality.
A brief survey of the literature has been conducted to establish the present "state of the art" in quality management. As expected, reference in the quality related literature to small business experience was scant.
One of the major purposes of this research project has been to determine the "state of play" of quality management in small businesses in the Brisbane area. This was done by means of an industry survey. Suitable businesses known to be setting up quality systems, which would comply with one of relevant Australian Standards (ASI821-23), were approached. Most of these companies agreed to participate and their IJpper management were interviewed by the author.
At the time of the survey less than 1% of small manufacturing establishments in the Brisbane area were implementing quality systems which would satisfy ASI821-23. Many of the remaining 99% won't meet the State Government's 1990 deadline.
Another purpose of the survey was to learn from what limited quality assurance experience small businesses have achieved to date. Due to the small number of companies surveyed, it was not possible to draw any firm conclusions in this respect. However where possible observations are presented.
The author contends that the major obstacle to quality improvement in small business is the lack of guidelines which cater specifically for small businesses. Further industry surveys should be conducted until such guidelines are developed and proven.