An illustration of TQM at TVS Motor Company

TVS Company Limited, the manufacturer of motorcycles and other two wheelers, is a part of the almost one-century-old TVS Group of companies that was first established in the year 1911. TVS Motor Company has at two locations – Hosur (Tamil Nadu) and Mysore (Karnataka). The company’s sales during the financial year 2002-03 were to the tune of Rs 2700 crore. The company began its TQM journey the year 1987. During 2002 the company won the internationally coveted Deming Application Prize; it was the first two wheeler company in the world to get that prize.

The company’s philosophy towards quality is reflected in its following statements.

Our Understanding of TQM:

TQM is the company wide effort of continuous quality improvement of all processes, products and services through total employee involvement that results in increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty and improved business results.

Quality Policy:

TVS Motor Company Limited is committed to achieving total customer satisfaction through excellence in TQC. We will continuously strive to provide the customer the best value for money by supplying quality product at the right time and at the right price. We shall provide superior after sales service to maintain and reinforce customer satisfaction. This objective will be achieved by continuous improvement through total employee involvement.

Date: January 3, 2002 (signed by) Managing Director

Total Employee Involvement:

What is most striking about the company’s TQM program is the tremendous emphasis that is laid on Total Employee Involvement (TEI). The above two statements also clearly mention that it is through TEI that they would achieve the TQM objective. TEI is at the very foundation of the TQM movement at TVS Motors as depicted in the company’s TQM Model presented.

The company tries to obtain TEI basically through:

1. Suggestions scheme
2. Quality Circle activities
3. Cross Functional Teams (CFTs),
4. Supervisory improvement Teams (SITs),
5. Task forces

The notional relative allocation of responsibilities among the different levels of employees in the organization i.e. top and senior management, middle management and workers is clear at the company. Following are three kinds of responsibilities which are shared by three levels (however, the time spent by each of these levels is different):

(a) Retainment (i.e. Retaining the performance levels achieved)
(b) Improvement and
(c) Breakthroughs

Staff and workers would be more involved in ‘retainment’ part through good daily management practices and contribute to improvement through Employee Suggestions System and through participation in the Quality Control Circles (QCCs). The middle level people such as the executives would be more into ‘improvement’, while the top management would be mainly responsible for breakthroughs. The projects through TEI are well aligned to the company’s targets. The company’s long range plans and annual policies are the main inputs for selecting and prioritizing the TEI projects. Department-wise ‘Project banks’ are created which are then picked up by SIT, CFT or QCCs and commitments are made in the QCC convention and SIT/CFT convention. Hence, the QCC, SIT and CFT projects and their schedules are in alignment with the company’s targets and objectives. There is a two way deployment mechanism: Targets flow from the top and bottom up on identification of projects to achieve the targets. Any gap between the two is resolved through a structured discussion. The implementing (i.e. fructifying the project ideas) is a major responsibility which is as much with the grass roots level as with those at the executive level.

Employee involvement is recognized and appreciated through awards and recognition to the employees, who cross milestones; regularly. These awards are received through the hands of Managing Director of the company. This would accomplish the following:

1. It would demonstrate the personal involvement of the topmost level of management in the company’s TQM journey
2. It would improve the bond between employees at all the levels.
3. It would improve a sense of belonging to the company and
4. The company’s goals could be directly articulated/communicated to the employees at such function.