Quality Management Essentials. Key Concepts, Pros and Cons of Total Quality Management (TQM)
What is Quality?
David Garvin (1984) has categorised five different definitions of quality based on the theories of quality gurus:
1. The transcendent approach-this is like areté, being synonymous with ‘innate excellence’, such as a quality player or quality diamond (24-carat). It’s an absolute judgement.
2. The manufacturing-based approach-this is an approach associated with TQM guru Phillip B Crosby and is based on ‘freedom from errors’. For example, a plastic cup may not have innate excellence like a handmade item of porcelain, but if it is manufactured according to its design specification, then it has quality. It is said to ‘conform to requirements’.
3. The user-based approach-this interprets quality as ‘fit for purpose’, not only in terms of its specifications but also in terms of the specifications being appropriate from an end-user or customer point of view. For example, a plastic cup may have manufacturing-based quality, but it may not be appropriate for a garden party at Buckingham Palace. It not only lacks innate excellence, it is also not fit for the particular purpose of showing how refined people imbibe tea.
4. The product-based approach-this views quality as ‘a measurable set of characteristics’. For example, so-and-so batteries are designed to last 120
hours, or ‘this wood stain dries in 30 minutes’.
5. The value-based approach-this looks at quality in terms of cost and price. For example, flying easyJet is not everyone’s idea of quality travel. On the other hand, it is good value as you can get from A to B at a much lower cost compared with a British Airways flight which also only gets you from A to B.
Quality from the organisational point of view involves a number of key dimensions:
It is to do with excellence, however subjective.
It is about setting specifications and standards-for example, in operations processes or product and service quality.
Measurability is important-otherwise how do you know you have achieved quality? There is, therefore, the need for measurement tools.
Value for money is relevant-prices and costs from both the customer and organisational point of view.
It is about meeting customer needs or expectations.
Total quality management (TQM) is an effective system for integrating the quality development, quality maintenance and quality improvement efforts of the various groups in an organisation so as to enable production and service at the most economical levels which allow for full customer satisfaction.
The key themes or concepts of TQM are as follows:
Meeting the needs/expectations of internal and external customers-this is the goal of TQM, and it means looking at your business and its products/services from the customer’s point of view. It means everyone is a customer, internally and externally. You are a consumer or customer of goods and services provided by other people/units in your organisation and you are a supplier of goods and services to other people and units in your organisation.
Organisations use service level agreements (SLAs) to cement these internal relationships.
Covering everyone in the organisation-everyone is involved, including the supply chain where appropriate (continuous improvement). Task and work group programmes such as job enrichment, job enlargement and job rotation may be used to enhance employee involvement and participation.
Continuous improvement-TQM is not a one-off fix. It is ongoing and always looking for improvements. TQM is insatiable.
Teamwork-a key theme in involving employees. ‘People are our greatest asset’ is a familiar slogan in TQM organisations.
Top management commitment-a vital ingredient, and one of the common failings of TQM. TQM is a whole-organisation programme. It is strategic with
long-term objectives. It frequently involves culture change. It must be led from the top otherwise the vision fades and it becomes diluted. Partial TQM is no good-it’s all or nothing.
Development of quality systems, standards, measures and tools-a systematic approach based on standards, performance measures and measurement tools is the nittygritty of TQM.
The gurus of TQM
Gurus Their contributions to TQM
A Feigenbaum Responsible for the idea of total quality control which is popular in Japan-see Total Quality Control(1986)
W E Deming Father of quality control. Emphasised quality as a top management and strategic activity. Famous for his ‘14 points for quality improvement’–see Out of Crisis(1986)
J M Juran Emphasised a more user-based approach to quality management based on ‘fitness for purpose’. Concerned with management responsibility for quality and the involvement of individual workers in quality improvements. See the Juran Institute website–http://www.juran.com
K Ishikawa Originated quality circles and cause and effect diagrams. Saw quality circles as a way of involving employees to make TQM work
G Taguchi Emphasised the importance of engineering in quality through design combined with statistical methods of process control. Originated the idea of quality loss on a product/service from the time it was created (quality loss function or QLF)
P B Crosby The idea of cost of quality and zero defects was his main concern-he developed a zero defects programme in his book Quality is Free(1979)
Pros and Cons of TQM
Arguments for TQM
It can reduce product defect rates or customer complaints
Getting employees on board improves productivity
People take pride in, and responsibility for, their products
Quality cascades through the whole organisation at every level
Quality throughout the supply chain improves product supply and distribution
Continuous improvement keeps people challenged
Everybody has a customer focus
People use their brains to solve problems
Reduces costs and improves bottom line
Arguments against TQM
Management is unable to make the necessary commitment
Over-complex tools, systems and standards
It is stressful for employees who can be over-empowered
The time and resources needed to implement it are too great
It is impossible to improve continually
People are expected to do more but are not paid any more
TQM is not suitable for all organisations (and the culture change required is too great)
It takes too long to implement
It increases costs and harms bottom line