Quality management is an important strategic issue in an organization.
A Strategic issue is one that is critical to the future of the organization; an issue that must be addressed in order for the organization to carry out its mission.
Quality in the workplace has gone beyond creating a better-than-average product at a good price, and now refers to achieving increasingly better products and services at progressively more competitive prices; this includes doing things right the first time, rather than making and correcting mistakes.
An increasingly vital issue in this respect is the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM).TQM is an organizational cultural commitment to satisfying customers through the use of an integrated system of tools, techniques, and training. TQM involves the continuous improvement of organizational processes, resulting in high-quality products and services.
According to W. Edwards Deming, the view that an unwavering focus on an organization’s mission of “continuously and forever” improving the quality of goods and services- combined with statistical quality control and achieving “joy in work”-is necessary for competitive survival. Moreover, Deming believes that the manager’s job is to seek out and correct the causes of failure, rather than merely identify failures after they occur. The goal of Deming’s fourteen points therefore lies in altering the behaviour of managers and employees so that companies can become low-cost, high quality, and highly productive suppliers of goods and services and places of work that honour and support the contributions of all organizational members.
Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product and service:
Management must maintain an unwavering commitment and shift its focus from the short- term to the long-term. Quality, not profit, should lie at the heart of the organization’s purpose. According to Deming, profit is a consequence that naturally follows when an organization targets quality.
a) Adopt the new philosophy:
The recognition that we are in a new era in which ever-increasing quality is necessary for corporate survival is based on maintaining a constancy of purpose. Management must reject inferior materials, poor workmanship, defective products, and slack service. It is not enough that defects are minimized: they should be eliminated. Reliable service reduce
costs while delays and mistakes raise costs. The traditional system should be dismantled and replaced. The new culture must be supported by all employees, and should reflect commitment to quality.
b) Cease dependence on mass inspection:
Deming recognizes that once errors occur, efficiency and effectiveness have already been lost. Mass inspections to catch errors after they have occurred therefore need to be replaced by building in quality from the start. Continuous process improvement reduces costs incurred when errors are made and then corrected. The completion of high-quality products also enhances employee satisfaction, because it enables employees to feel a sense of accomplishment and enables them to take pride in their work-no on enjoys producing junk.
c) End the practice of awarding business on price tag alone:
Deming encourages companies to end adversarial relationships with their suppliers, and instead develop long-term relationships with them. He argues that price is not relevant until it is linked to a measure of the quality being purchased. Statistical tools are very important in enabling companies to evaluate the quality of vendors and purchased parts.
d) Constantly and forever improve the system of production and service:
Management’s obligation to seek out methods for quality improvement is never-ending. He believes that improvement follows from studying the process itself, not the defects, and that process improvement is the responsibility of management.
e) Institute modern methods of training on the job:
Training encompasses more than merely teaching employees how to use tools, such as statistical quality control, for improving quality. Training also translates into making sure that workers get adequate knowledge and skills for the jobs which they are responsible.
f) Institute leadership:
The traditional actions of supervisors are not adequate-supervisors merely tell workers what to do and make sure they do it. They administer rewards and penalties, and provide discipline when necessary. They do not see their jobs as providing leadership. Leaders, on the other hand, begin with the assumption that workers aim to do the best job they can, and endeavour to help workers reach their full potential. For lower-level managers, this entails coaching and arranging for training. Top managers, must in turn, help design and implement a strategic vision that grounds a TQM culture, and make sure their own behaviour exhibits the values that support such a culture.
g) Drive out fear:
It is important that fear not prevent employees from being able to ask questions, report problems, or express ideas. Employees must feel secure in order for quality to be pursued successfully in the workplace. A culture of openness, where people are not afraid of telling the truth, remains essential
h) Break down barriers between staff areas:
Barriers between functional departments are counter productive. Employees can improve productivity by learning from one another and coordinating efforts, regardless of their functional expertise. The tendency of traditional organizational structures is to encourage competition between departments. Employees recognize that, regardless of their expertise, they all share the same overriding objectives. Competition should be with other organizations, not within their own.
i) Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce:
Continual improvement as a general goal, should replace supposedly motivational or inspirational signs, slogans, etc. Companies that attempt to motivate employees through
speakers and inspirational tracts, for it merely frustrates employees to be encouraged to do things the existing management system prevents them from doing.
j) Eliminate numerical quotas:
Quotas should be removed because they end up encouraging people to focus on quantity often at the expense of quality. Companies should focus on quality issues instead of blindly pursuing numbers.
k) Remove barriers to pride of workmanship:
Annual ratings or merit systems should not be used as incentive systems for good performance. Rather, assistance in overcoming obstacles imposed by inadequacies in materials, equipment and training. Systems that endeavour to remove such obstacles should replace systems that attempt to coerce performance by making workers feel that they are always being judged, ranked and rated.
l) Institute a vigorous program of education and training:
Training should include a thorough foundation in the tools and techniques of quality control, as well as additional instruction in teamwork and the philosophy of a TQM culture.
m) Take action to accomplish the transformation:
The entire organization must work together to enable a quality culture to succeed. As top manager design and implement the strategy, workers can then cooperate in the pursuit of a TQM culture.
The main ideas around Total Quality Management (TQM) are:
i. A systems approach:
Managers must be responsible for three systems-the social or cultural system, the managerial system and the technical system.
ii. The tools of TQM:
These include statistical quality control, fishbone diagram (diagram used to organize and show the visually the possible causes of a problem or event; cause-and-effect diagram; Ishikawa diagram) and benchmarking (the process of finding the best available product features, processes, and services and using them as a standard for improving a company’s own products, processes, and services).
iii. A focus on customers:
If customer needs are not the starting point of the quality management process, using the tools of quality may result in products and services that no one wants to buy. Quality refers to “fitness for use”-the ability of a product or service to satisfy a customer’s real needs. By focusing on real needs, managers and workers can concentrate their efforts where it really matters.
iv. The role of management:
Many managers begin with the assumption that where there is a quality problem, the workers or some individual (manager or worker) is to blame. However, TQM implies that when there is a quality problem, it begins in the boardroom and in the offices of the senior managers and others who do not take quality seriously enough. For instance, until the system that is the cause of a particular failure in quality can be identified, management cannot do its job. It is every manager’s job to seek out and correct the causes of failure, rather than merely identify failures after they occur and affix blame to someone.
v. Employee participation:
Having the support and attention of senior management remains a necessary condition for making quality management work in an organization, but without empowered employees, it won’t go very far. Empowerment stands for a substantial change that businesses are implementing. It means letting employees make decisions
at all levels of an organization without asking for approval from managers. The idea is quite simple: the people who actually do a job, whether it is running a complex machine or providing a simple service, are in the best position to learn how to do that job the best way. Therefore, when there is a chance to improve the job or the systems of which a job is a part, people should make those improvements without asking for permission.