Total Quality Management (TQM) has been defined in so many ways. But it boils down to common objectives: customer satisfaction and business sustainability. Started in 1920’s with the advent of new productivity concepts, using statistical methods in the manufacturing sector, TQM find its fruition in Japan when American management experts such as Deming, Juran, and Feigenbaum further developed said methods and applied them not only in products but in all aspects of organization dealing with production and service business. In fact, the astounding rebound in Japan’s economy was in some ways attributed to the influence of the said quality gurus. Today many companies worldwide would like to emulate the experiences of successful enterprises in Japan.
Japanese notable experiences on quality reveal a simple framework – the house of TQM (Figure 1), which sheds light to fundamental questions such as ; a) What are the foundations as solid base for TQM? b) What are the pillars that will make it happen? c) How can TQM be monitored for compliance to requirements ? In summary, answers to these questions are as follows:
New ways of doing work, at lesser cost and time and better quality, enhances competitive advantage. The development of novel equipment, machines and computers has paved the way to automation; achieving more precise products and services, at faster delivery, and in the long term, cost-efficiency. However, the appropriateness of these technologies need to be seriously assessed before acquiring them for use. An assessment could look into the viability of the technical and financial aspects with careful attention to market acceptability. Can the new machines, gadgets and implements bring out products that satisfy identified market? At what cost? How much would be the initial expense, including the capital and commissioning outlays, and for how long could pay back be realized? These are the very basic questions that should be answered before embarking on new business ventures.
Workers are not adjunct part of machines but assets of the organization, for they are in the best positions to know and understand the processes and the customers. United workers, in fact, can make or unmake an organization. Encouraging employees to be creative, to come up with ideas, and to help them bring these ideas into reality will greatly improve their performance. Through proper motivation and training, they will inculcate ownership and pride in their work, boosting productivity.
The various concepts of TQM provide the mindset that impels the organization to move and realize its objectives. In a nutshell, these concepts are:
Quality First – before cost and product volume, quality must take precedence, where preference of customers and businessmen are the same – satisfaction over product features and functions.
Customer Focus and Next in Process is the Customer – Quality means customer satisfaction. Internal customers refer to management, personnel and workers or people within the organization while external customers are the various clients who transact business with the company such as; the buyers, sellers, and representatives of regulatory bodies. The overall objective is to see to it that every one in the process line delivers expected results before passing them to the other person, be it internal or external customer, who is next in the process.
Prioritization – considering available resources, actions that need to be done for corrective measure should provide the greatest impact to the resolution of the issue. Analysis of the vital-few against the trivial-many causal cases is important, and the use of Pareto principle and diagram is handy.
Management by fact – in coming up with corrective measures, gathering of data from source of problems is critical. Because, solution to the problems needs facts about its causes not information based on hunches.
Process Control – to achieve desired results, proper knowledge, skills and orientation on the work process with appropriate supervision and control create more confidence than outcome focused approach that has lesser consideration to task details.
Standardization – carrying out the best practices in doing work improves manufacturing efficiency and lower production cost, instill company wide quality consciousness, and simplifies operation.
Techniques are muscles that carry out the realization of organizational objectives. In brief, these are:
PDCA Cycle – is a continuous improvement model which means Plan, Do, Check and Act.
Quality Control Tools – are simple statistical tools for analysis and resolution of problems in the work place. The tools such as: histogram, cause and effect diagram and control chart make use of graphical and visual presentation, which facilitates easy understanding.
Organizations need not go on foot to reach their goals. TQM offers “sports cars” to lift them there.
1. Cross-Functional Management – is management without walls. It makes use of an ad hoc committee headed by a manager with a main task: to find out and recommend solutions or improvements on problems hampering the flow of work across departments and units of the company. The committee is only temporary in nature and is terminated as soon as its work is done.
2. Quality Circle – is a self-managed team composed of five or six members working in the same unit that tackles routine problems in work areas. It uses the quality control tools in identifying bottlenecks and recommending remedies to management with due consideration to cost, quality and productivity.
Quality Assurance – means doing things right the first time and every time. Quality Assurance is the monitoring tool of TQM. It looks into every aspect of the organization to determine whether planned activities are carried out accordingly, in order for products or services to meet or exceed customer expectations. The performance criteria in the Malcom Baldrige Award set forth effective points to monitor for quality as follows: Leadership, Strategic Planning, Measurement Analysis and Knowledge Management, Human Resource Focus, Process Management, and Business/Organizational Performance Results.