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Quality Glossary - N


n: The number of units in a sample.

N: The number of units in a population.

Nagara system: Smooth production flow, ideally one piece at a time, characterized by synchronization (balancing) of production processes and maximum use of available time; includes overlapping of operations where practical. A nagara production system is one in which seemingly unrelated tasks can be produced simultaneously by the same operator.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): An agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that develops and promotes measurements, standards and technology, and manages the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Natural team: A team of individuals with common or similar responsibilities and authorities drawn from a single workgroup. Similar to a process improvement team except that it is not cross functional in composition and it is usually permanent.

New! New management planning tools: Method(s) for achieving expected outcomes that previously have not been used.

New! NextGen: A quality professional 40 years old or younger or someone who is new to a quality role within their organization.

Next operation as customer: The concept of internal customers in which every operation is both a receiver and a provider.

New! Nine windows: A tool used to investigate a past or potential problem at the super-system and subsystem levels, in addition to considering the problem only in the present and at the system level.

Nominal group technique: A technique, similar to brainstorming, to generate ideas on a particular subject. Team members are asked to silently write down as many ideas as possible. Each member is asked to share one idea per round, which is recorded. After all ideas are recorded, they are discussed and prioritized by the group.

Nonconforming record (NCR): A permanent record for accounting and preserving the knowledge of a nonconforming condition.

Nonconformity: The nonfulfillment of a specified requirement. Also see “blemish,” “defect” and “imperfection.”

Nondestructive testing and evaluation (NDT, NDE): Testing and evaluation methods that do not damage or destroy the test specimen.

Nonlinear parameter estimation: A method whereby the arduous and labor-intensive task of multiparameter model calibration can be carried out automatically under the control of a computer.

Nonparametric tests: All tests involving ranked data (data that can be put in order). Nonparametric tests are often used in place of their parametric counterparts when certain assumptions about the underlying population are questionable.

Nonvalue added: A term that describes a process step or function that is not required for the direct achievement of process output. This step or function is identified and examined for potential elimination. In a contractual situation, it can be those features or process steps that a customer would be unwilling to pay for if given the option. Also see “value added.”

Norm (behavioral): Expectations of how a person or persons will behave in a given situation based on established protocols, rules of conduct or accepted social practices.

Normal distribution (statistical): The charting of a data set in which most of the data points are concentrated around the average (mean), thus forming a bell-shaped curve.

Number of affected units chart: A control chart for evaluating the stability of a process in terms of the total number of units in a sample in which an event of a given classification occurs.