TQM Tools – Total Quality management

TQM is built around four main ideas: do it right the first time, be customer centered, make continuous improvement a way of life and build teamwork and empowerment.

Do it right the first time: Managers have been interested in the quality of their products, at least as an afterthought since the Industrial Revolution.

Today’s  hospitals, universities and public sector organizations are as interested in improving product / service quality as are manufacturing organizations, mines, airlines and railways. In its most basic form, the emphasis on quality has come through four distinct phases since world war II – from it in inspect in to build it in to design it in. Present day managers are moving away from the first two approaches and towards the build it in and design it in approaches.

–They fix it in approach to quality: Rework any defective products identified by quality inspectors at the end of the production process.

–They inspect it in approach to quality: Here quality inspectors sample work in process and prescribe machine adjustments to avoid substandard output.

–They build it in approach to quality:  Make everyone who touches the product responsible for spotting and correcting defects. Emphasis is on identifying and eliminating causes of quality problems.

–The design it in approach to quality: Intense customer and employees involvement drives the entire design production cycle. Emphasis is on continuous improvement of personnel processes and products.

Each stage of this evolution has broadened the responsibility for quality, literally turning quality improvements into a true team effort. Also, the focus has shifted from reactively fixing product defects to proactively working to prevent them and to satisfy the customer completely. Just having zero things going wrong is not sufficient now – instead it is important to offer something of value to the customer and buy his loyalty. Today’s quality leaders strive to exceed not just meet, the customers’ expectations. Putting quality first is the new slogan.

Managers can use several tools and techniques for improving quality. Some of the important techniques are discussed below:

–Benchmarking: It is the process of learning how other firms (the toughest competitors or those recognized as industry leaders) do exceptionally high quality things. The key to successful benchmarking lies in analysis. Starting with its own mission statement, a company should look into its current procedures and mark areas for improvement. Then the company should carefully pick up competitors worthy of copying.

— Outsourcing: It is the process of self-contracting services and operations to other firms that can do them cheaper or better (or both). By farming out activities in which they do not have expertise, such as human resources or inventory management, firms can cut down costs on employee benefits and free existing personnel for other duties.

–Quality circle: A quality circle is a small group of employees who meet periodically to solve quality problems related to their jobs. The reason for using quality circles is to push decision making to an organization level at which the people who do the job and know it can make recommendation better than anyone else.

–Statistical quality control:  Managers traditionally use inspection to control product quality. Inspection is simply examining and grading finished products, components or products at any stage of production. The purpose of inspection is to discard products or components that do not meet re-established quality standards. Managers must generally determine not only what products or product components to inspect but also how many units or components to inspect. One way of addressing this question is called Statistical Quality Control (SQC). SQC is a process used to determine how many units of a product should be inspected to calculate a probability that the total number of units meet organizational quality standards. Although managers limit inspection costs by not examining all units, the must take care to see that the number of units inspected gives an accurate measurement of the quality of the products being manufactured.

Organizations have to meet the expectations of both the internal as well as external customers. Internal customers are other members of the organization who depend on your work to get their job done.

As far as external customers are concerned, TQM demands all employees who deal directly with outsiders to be customer centred which means:

–Anticipating the customer’s needs

–Listening to the customer

–Learning how to satisfy the customer and

–Responding appropriately to the customer

Make continuous improvement a way of life: The Japanese word for continuous improvements is Kaizen which means improving the overall system by constantly improving the little details. Kaizen practitioners look at quality as an endless journey, not a final destination. In order to improve things they experiment, measure adjust continuously. Rather than naively assuming that zero defects means perfection, they try to put their finger on the problem. There are four ways of achieving improvements.

— Improved and more consistent products and service quality.

— Faster cycle times (in cycle ranging from product development to order processing to payroll processing).

— Lower costs and less waste (for example, eliminating needless steps, scrap rework and non-value adding activities).

TQM advocates the importance of achieving greater quality, speed and flexibility at lower cost and waste. You need not sacrifice one thing in order to give another thing. All things are possible provided you work with a clear cut focus i.e. improving things.

Build teamwork and empowerment:  TQM is built around employees their needs, aspirations and expectations. It is employee driven. It allows employees to exploit their full potential. Empowerment takes place when employees are properly trained, provided with all relevant information and the best possible tools fully involved in key decisions and fairly rewarded for results. In order to carry out work effectively and efficiently teams have to be created drawing talent from various departments in a cooperative way.

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