We all speak about importance of Quality and wish that it becomes a norm at all levels so that the Quality chain formed benefits the entire mankind. But what we often ignore is the fact that Quality cannot be even thought without active involvement of the people at all levels of a business enterprise. We keep innovating new marketing techniques which have the ability to conceal the poor quality aspects of the product. But we seldom think innovatively to prevent making defective products at first place. We harp on rising cost of production, we try to justify that most products have irreversible processes and as producers generally aim either at the profits or at reducing the losses. We tend to seek the shortest path to accomplish our mission, which may speak in capital letters of only quality but has the hidden agenda of achieving targeted gains. We un-hesitatingly refuse to dump the products which have failed the minimum quality standards. We keep more faith in our marketing techniques than realizing that like the poor consumers of our products we also might be at the receiving end on some occasion.
"We have learned to live in a world of mistakes and defective products as if they were necessary to life. It is time to adopt a new philosophy"....W. Edwards Demming
There could not have been a more apt statement than this one made by Edwards Demming who is considered the Father of Quality.
Even in the times of complete computerization, the people engaged in the business activities continue to be more important than the other two “M”s namely ‘materials’ and ‘machines’. This need to be realized by all of us before machines could bury our morals beneath our materialistic attitude. People play a gigantic role in the matters related to quality also because any variations due to the other two important facets i.e. material & machines can always be timely controlled by people. Quality has always been the prime need in all times though it moved ahead on the importance gauge only in the past decade or so. It is an essential key to the continual betterment of not only our businesses but also the human life. If quality is managed, then all the other aspects of business fall in line in quick time. After all it is only the Quality which would keep our customers fit enough to continue purchasing our products.
When we speak of Quality, TQM comes to mind automatically. TQM provides one of the most important theories for Quality enhancement. TQM – Total Quality Management is a concept developed by Edward Deming about Management practices which is designed to improve the performance of organizational processes in business. It refers to management approach in their attempts to enhance quality and productivity in organizations. TQM includes the following techniques;
- Techniques for achieving efficiency,
- Techniques for solving problems,
- Techniques for imposing standardization and statistical control,
- Techniques for regulating design, housekeeping, and other aspects of business.
TQM is an “Approach to Quality” that emphasizes continuous improvement. It is a philosophy of "doing it right the first time" and striving for zero defects and elimination of all waste. It is a concept of using quality methods and techniques to strategic advantage within firms.
Interestingly all approaches to Quality start from the top and gradually should percolate downwards to the people at the shop floor of a business house. Obtaining the commitment of the CEO of the organization chosen to implement TQM is the first step in the process. The outline of the methodology is generally as follows;
- Obtain CEO commitment and ensure that he ‘Walks his Talk”.
- Educate upper level management.
- Create a coordinating team for steering the implementation of TQM.
- Outline the Vision statement & Mission statement.
- Establish Quality improvement teams.
- Implement specific TQM techniques.
- Implement process improvements.
- Conduct training programs with focus on Customers.
- Make Survey’s, conduct interviews, and get suitably designed questionnaire’s filled by people and make appraisals.
- Evaluate results from the use of TQM.
The method for implementing TQM in the chosen business basically follows the TQM principles, which are;
- Team work
- Proactive changes for continual improvement.
Though the framework and implementation of TQM varies between different organizations and management professionals and keeps changing for further improvement, it still shares a common philosophy that emphasizes on the above mentioned principles. Having a leader with a master in organizational leadership would benefit making these changes and having them stick.
TQM should be implemented as a comprehensive system approach to work horizontally across an organization, involving all departments and employees and extending backward and forward to include both suppliers and clients/customers. It should be implemented to provide a framework for effective quality and productivity initiatives that can increase the profitability and competitiveness of the business especially in manufacturing industries. The implementation of TQM should be such that it is able to work as a function that is directly responsible for the continual evaluation of the effectiveness of the total quality system within the chosen business organization.
In the implementation of TQM the 3 main characteristics identified by Joseph Jablonski should be put to use, which are;
- Participative management
- Continuous process improvement
- Utilization of teams.
Further the following attributes should be identified for making the TQM program successful across the entire organization;
- Customer focus (including internal customers such as other departments and co-workers as well as external customers)
- Process focus
- Prevention versus inspection (development of a process that incorporates quality during production, rather than a process that attempts to achieve quality through inspection after resources have already been consumed to produce the good or service)
- Employee empowerment and compensation
- Fact-based decision making
- Receptiveness to feedback.
The following basic elements are important and should be studied in each of the attribute;
- Policy planning & Administration,
- Product design & design change control
- Control of purchased material
- Production quality control
- User contact and field performance
- Corrective action
- Employee selection, training and motivation
Implementation of TQM policies timely by all our business houses is the requirement of our country, irrespective of whether it is a family owned small business or a large public limited company. At the outset implementing of TQM techniques would look like a costly affair and a burden to the whole organization. It would initially appear as if it is increasing hurdles in work flow, that influences have increased and the system has become more bureaucratic. But soon this phase passes off and with little time the uniformly applied TQM approach across the organization reduces the COP (cost of production) by a huge margin. And as a bonus it improves credibility of the company to a level where money cannot replace it.