TQM

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM)

TQM is a set of management practices throughout the organization, geared to ensure the organization consistently meets or exceeds customer requirements. TQM places strong focus on process measurement and controls as means of continuous improvement.

Total Quality Management is an approach to the art of management that originated in Japanese industry in the 1950’s and has become steadily more popular in the West since the early 1980’s.

Total Quality is a description of the culture, attitude and organization of a company that aims to provide, and continue to provide, its customers with products and services that satisfy their needs. The culture requires quality in all aspects of the company’s operations, with things being done right first time, and defects and waste eradicated from operations.

Many companies have difficulties in implementing TQM. Surveys by consulting firms have found that only 20-36% of companies that have undertaken TQM have achieved either significant or even tangible improvements in quality, productivity, competitiveness or financial return. As a result many people are sceptical about TQM. However, when you look at successful companies you find a much higher percentage of successful TQM implementation.

Some useful messages from results of TQM implementations:

If you want to be a first-rate company, don’t focus on the second-rate companies who can’t handle TQM, look at the world-class companies that have adopted it

the most effective way to spend TQM introduction funds is by training top management, people involved in new product development, and people involved with customers it’s much easier to introduce EDM/PDM in a company with a TQM culture than in one without TQM. People in companies that have implemented TQM are more likely to have the basic understanding necessary for implementing EDM/PDM. For example, they are more likely to view EDM/PDM as an information and workflow management system supporting the entire product life cycle then as a departmental solution for the management of CAD data

Important aspects of TQM include customer-driven quality, top management leadership and commitment, continuous improvement, fast response, actions based on facts, employee participation, and a TQM culture.

Customer-driven quality

TQM has a customer-first orientation. The customer, not internal activities and constraints, comes first. Customer satisfaction is seen as the company’s highest priority. The company believes it will only be successful if customers are satisfied. The TQM company is sensitive to customer requirements and responds rapidly to them. In the TQM context, `being sensitive to customer requirements’ goes beyond defect and error reduction, and merely meeting specifications or reducing customer complaints. The concept of requirements is expanded to take in not only product and service attributes that meet basic requirements, but also those that enhance and differentiate them for competitive advantage.

Each part of the company is involved in Total Quality, operating as a customer to some functions and as a supplier to others. The Engineering Department is a supplier to downstream functions such as Manufacturing and Field Service, and has to treat these internal customers with the same sensitivity and responsiveness as it would external customers.

TQM leadership from top management >

TQM is a way of life for a company. It has to be introduced and led by top management. This is a key point. Attempts to implement TQM often fail because top management doesn’t lead and get committed – instead it delegates and pays lip service. Commitment and personal involvement is required from top management in creating and deploying clear quality values and goals consistent with the objectives of the company, and in creating and deploying well defined systems, methods and performance measures for achieving those goals. These systems and methods guide all quality activities and encourage participation by all employees. The development and use of performance indicators is linked, directly or indirectly, to customer requirements and satisfaction, and to management and employee remuneration.

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement of all operations and activities is at the heart of TQM. Once it is recognized that customer satisfaction can only be obtained by providing a high-quality product, continuous improvement of the quality of the product is seen as the only way to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. As well as recognizing the link between product quality and customer satisfaction, TQM also recognizes that product quality is the result of process quality. As a result, there is a focus on continuous improvement of the company’s processes. This will lead to an improvement in process quality. In turn this will lead to an improvement in product quality, and to an increase in customer satisfaction. Improvement cycles are encouraged for all the company’s activities such as product development, use of EDM/PDM, and the way customer relationships are managed. This implies that all activities include measurement and monitoring of cycle time and responsiveness as a basis for seeking opportunities for improvement.

Elimination of waste is a major component of the continuous improvement approach. There is also a strong emphasis on prevention rather than detection, and an emphasis on quality at the design stage. The customer-driven approach helps to prevent errors and achieve defect-free production. When problems do occur within the product development process, they are generally discovered and resolved before they can get to the next internal customer.

Fast response

To achieve customer satisfaction, the company has to respond rapidly to customer needs. This implies short product and service introduction cycles. These can be achieved with customer-driven and process-oriented product development because the resulting simplicity and efficiency greatly reduce the time involved. Simplicity is gained through concurrent product and process development. Efficiencies are realized from the elimination of non-value-adding effort such as re-design. The result is a dramatic improvement in the elapsed time from product concept to first shipment.

Actions based on facts

The statistical analysis of engineering and manufacturing facts is an important part of TQM. Facts and analysis provide the basis for planning, review and performance tracking, improvement of operations, and comparison of performance with competitors. The TQM approach is based on the use of objective data, and provides a rational rather than an emotional basis for decision making. The statistical approach to process management in both engineering and manufacturing recognizes that most problems are system-related, and are not caused by particular employees. In practice, data is collected and put in the hands of the people who are in the best position to analyze it and then take the appropriate action to reduce costs and prevent non-conformance. Usually these people are not managers but workers in the process. If the right information is not available, then the analysis, whether it be of shop floor data, or engineering test results, can’t take place, errors can’t be identified, and so errors can’t be corrected.

Employee participation

A successful TQM environment requires a committed and well-trained work force that participates fully in quality improvement activities. Such participation is reinforced by reward and recognition systems which emphasize the achievement of quality objectives. On-going education and training of all employees supports the drive for quality. Employees are encouraged to take more responsibility, communicate more effectively, act creatively, and innovate. As people behave the way they are measured and remunerated, TQM links remuneration to customer satisfaction metrics.

A TQM culture

It’s not easy to introduce TQM. An open, cooperative culture has to be created by management. Employees have to be made to feel that they are responsible for customer satisfaction. They are not going to feel this if they are excluded from the development of visions, strategies, and plans. It’s important they participate in these activities. They are unlikely to behave in a responsible way if they see management behaving irresponsibly – saying one thing and doing the opposite.

Product development in a TQM environment

Product development in a TQM environment is very different to product development in a non-TQM environment. Without a TQM approach, product development is usually carried on in a conflictual atmosphere where each department acts independently. Short-term results drive behavior so scrap, changes, work-arounds, waste, and rework are normal practice. Management focuses on supervising individuals, and fire-fighting is necessary and rewarded.

Product development in a TQM environment is customer-driven and focused on quality. Teams are process-oriented, and interact with their internal customers to deliver the required results. Management’s focus is on controlling the overall process, and rewarding teamwork.

TQM as a Foundation
TQM is the foundation for activities which include;

  1. Meeting Customer Requirements
  2. Reducing Development Cycle Times
  3. Just In Time/Demand Flow Manufacturing
  4. Improvement Teams
  5. Reducing Product and Service Costs
  6. Improving Administrative Systems Training

Steps to TQM are as follows:

  1. Pursue New Strategic Thinking
  2. Know your Customers
  3. Set True Customer Requirements
  4. Concentrate on Prevention, Not Correction
  5. Reduce Chronic Waste
  6. Pursue a Continuous Improvement Strategy
  7. Use Structured Methodology for Process Improvement
  8. Reduce Variation
  9. Use a Balanced Approach
  10. Apply to All Functions

Principles of TQM

  1. Quality can and must be managed.
  2. Everyone has a customer and is a supplier.
  3. Processes, not people are the problem.
  4. Every employee is responsible for quality.
  5. Problems must be prevented, not just fixed.
  6. Quality must be measured.
  7. Quality improvements must be continuous.
  8. The quality standard is defect free.
  9. Goals are based on requirements, not negotiated.
  10. Life cycle costs, not front end costs.
  11. Management must be involved and lead.
  12. Plan and organize for quality improvement.

Processes must be Managed and Improved by using the following :

  1. Defining the process
  2. Measuring process performance (metrics)
  3. Reviewing process performance
  4. Identifying process shortcomings
  5. Analyzing process problems
  6. Making a process change
  7. Measuring the effects of the process change
  8. Communicating both ways between supervisor and user
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Implementation Principles and Processes of TQM

A preliminary step in TQM implementation is to assess the organization’s current reality. Relevant preconditions have to do with the organization’s history, its current needs, precipitating events leading to TQM, and the existing employee quality of working life. If the current reality does not include important preconditions, TQM implementation should be delayed until the organization is in a state in which TQM is likely to succeed.

If an organization has a track record of effective responsiveness to the environment, and if it has been able to successfully change the way it operates when needed, TQM will be easier to implement. If an organization has been historically reactive and has no skill at improving its operating systems, there will be both employee skepticism and a lack of skilled change agents. If this condition prevails, a comprehensive program of management and leadership development may be instituted. A management audit is a good assessment tool to identify current levels of organizational functioning and areas in need of change. An organization should be basically healthy before beginning TQM. If it has significant problems such as a very unstable funding base, weak administrative systems, lack of managerial skill, or poor employee morale, TQM would not be appropriate.

However, a certain level of stress is probably desirable to initiate TQM. People need to feel a need for a change. Kanter (1983) addresses this phenomenon be describing building blocks which are present in effective organizational change. These forces include departures from tradition, a crisis or galvanizing event, strategic decisions, individual “prime movers,” and action vehicles. Departures from tradition are activities, usually at lower levels of the organization, which occur when entrepreneurs move outside the normal ways of operating to solve a problem. A crisis, if it is not too disabling, can also help create a sense of urgency which can mobilize people to act. In the case of TQM, this may be a funding cut or threat, or demands from consumers or other stakeholders for improved quality of service. After a crisis, a leader may intervene strategically by articulating a new vision of the future to help the organization deal with it. A plan to implement TQM may be such a strategic decision. Such a leader may then become a prime mover, who takes charge in championing the new idea and showing others how it will help them get where they want to go. Finally, action vehicles are needed and mechanisms or structures to enable the change to occur and become institutionalized.

Steps in Managing the Transition

Beckhard and Pritchard (1992) have outlined the basic steps in managing a transition to a new system such as TQM: identifying tasks to be done, creating necessary management structures, developing strategies for building commitment, designing mechanisms to communicate the change, and assigning resources.

Task identification would include a study of present conditions (assessing current reality, as described above); assessing readiness, such as through a force field analysis; creating a model of the desired state, in this case, implementation of TQM; announcing the change goals to the organization; and assigning responsibilities and resources. This final step would include securing outside consultation and training and assigning someone within the organization to oversee the effort. This should be a responsibility of top management. In fact, the next step, designing transition management structures, is also a responsibility of top management. In fact, Cohen and Brand (1993) and Hyde (1992) assert that management must be heavily involved as leaders rather than relying on a separate staff person or function to shepherd the effort. An organization wide steering committee to oversee the effort may be appropriate. Developing commitment strategies was discussed above in the sections on resistance and on visionary leadership.

To communicate the change, mechanisms beyond existing processes will need to be developed. Special all-staff meetings attended by executives, sometimes designed as input or dialog sessions, may be used to kick off the process, and TQM newsletters may be an effective ongoing communication tool to keep employees aware of activities and accomplishments.

Management of resources for the change effort is important with TQM because outside consultants will almost always be required. Choose consultants based on their prior relevant experience and their commitment to adapting the process to fit unique organizational needs. While consultants will be invaluable with initial training of staff and TQM system design, employees (management and others) should be actively involved in TQM implementation, perhaps after receiving training in change management which they can then pass on to other employees. A collaborative relationship with consultants and clear role definitions and specification of activities must be established.

In summary, first assess preconditions and the current state of the organization to make sure the need for change is clear and that TQM is an appropriate strategy. Leadership styles and organizational culture must be congruent with TQM. If they are not, this should be worked on or TQM implementation should be avoided or delayed until favorable conditions exist.

Remember that this will be a difficult, comprehensive, and long-term process. Leaders will need to maintain their commitment, keep the process visible, provide necessary support, and hold people accountable for results. Use input from stakeholder (clients, referring agencies, funding sources, etc.) as possible; and, of course, maximize employee involvement in design of the system.

Always keep in mind that TQM should be purpose driven. Be clear on the organization’s vision for the future and stay focused on it. TQM can be a powerful technique for unleashing employee creativity and potential, reducing bureaucracy and costs, and improving service to clients and the community.

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