Total Quality Management

Under the traditional philosophy, the view of quality is as follows.

Productivity and quality are conflicting goals

Improving quality consumes additional corporate resources that are needed to maintain productivity. Therefore, quality can be improved at the expense of productivity.

Quality is defined as conformance to specifications or standards

Such conformance pays no attention to incorrect specifications or obsolete standards that are prevailed in most companies.

Quality is measured by degree of nonconformance

It is usually measured by the defect count in "parts per million"- the famous six-sigma measurement. Such measurement focuses on the degree of non-conformance in stead of customer satisfaction.

Quality is achieved through intense product inspection

Such inspection consumes much of the corporate resources. If a product fails the inspection, it needs to be reworked or scraped.

Some defects are allowed if a product meets minimum quality standards

This implies that customers are willing to pay for a "buggy" yet working product.

Quality is a separate function and focused on evaluating development

It is assumed that the development group will welcome such independent quality function.

Workers are blamed for poor quality

However, replacing a worker does not mean improving quality. Furthermore, poor quality may come from the supplier side.

Poor practices

To be able to become a total quality organization, some of the bad practices must be recognized and corrected. These may include:

  • Leaders not giving clear direction.

  • Not understanding, or ignoring competitive positioning.

  • Each department working only for itself.

  • Trying to control people through systems.

  • Confusing quality with grade.

  • Accepting that a level of defects or errors is inevitable.

  • Firefighting, reactive behavior.

  • The "It's not my problem" attitude.

The Definition

"Quality" is "a degree of excellence; a distinguishing attribute." That is, quality is the degree to which a product lives up to its performance, endurance, maintainability, and other attributes that a customer expects to receive from purchasing this product. In order to produce quality product, one must instill TQM concept into one's product development process. The word "total" means the total of everything in an organization. That is, it covers every process, every job, every resource, every output, every person, every time and every place. According to the American Society for Quality Control (ASQC), total quality management (TQM) "is a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. TQM is based on the participation of all members of an organization to improving processes, products, services, and the culture they work in. TQM benefits all organization members and society. The methods for implementing this approach are found in the teachings of such quality leaders as Philip B. Crosby, W. Edwards Deming, Armand V. Feigenbaum, Kaoru Ishikawa, and J.M. Juran."

Some other definitions of TQM

"TQM is both a philosophy and a set of guiding principles that represent the foundation for a continuously improving organization. TQM is the application of quantitative methods and human resources to improve the product and services supplied to an organization, and the degree to which the needs of the customers are met, now and in the future. TQM integrates fundamental management techniques, existing improvement efforts, and technical tools under a disciplined approach focused on continuous improvement."

TQM View of Quality

Under the TQM concept, quality is defined and judged by the customer. Therefore, it acknowledges a customer-driven economy. It focuses on continuous process improvement to achieve high quality of product (or service). Its strategy tries to achieve "total quality" throughout the entire business, not just in the product. It suggests that any improvement that is made in the business, be it a better design of a component or a better process of a system, will help to improve the "total quality" of the organization and the quality of the final product.

Using your analysis for the next ten years

Don't do a SWOT analysis once and then never repeat the exercise. Your business environment will be constantly changing, so use SWOT as an ongoing business analysis practice.

Relying on SWOT to provide all the answers

Use SWOT as part of an overall strategy to analyze your business and its potential. It is a useful guide, not a major decision-making tool so doesn't base major decisions on this analysis and nothing else.

Under this philosophy, the view of quality is very different from the traditional one.

Productivity and quality are not conflicting goals

Productivity gains can be achieved through quality improvements. Better quality of product and process will reduce rework, errors, and waste. This, in turn, improves the productivity.

Quality is correctly defined requirements that satisfy user's needs

The ultimate quality of a product is its ability to satisfy user's needs. One should take one step further to get the consumer involved in defining the product requirements. It is plausible to say that quality is defined and judged by the customer.

Quality is measured by user satisfaction as well as by continuous process and product improvement

Just as one would expect, customers prefer to purchase software that fits their needs and performs beyond the quality standards. The TQM practice shuns the old adage of "don't fix it if it ain't broke."

Quality is achieved by effective product design and process controls

Relying on product inspection implies that errors will definitely be made. Quality cannot be achieved by inspection. It should be built in, not added on. To build in quality, one must perform effective product design and process controls.

Defects are prevented through process control techniques

Zero defect and perfection of processes should be the goals if a company wishes to keep improving quality.

Quality is a part of every function in all phases of the product life cycle

It simply does not make sense to go about production haphazardly or without a quality-laden plan and expect a quality good or service and a happy customer for that matter.

Management is responsible for quality

Only management has the authority to change the working conditions and processes, and only management has the knowledge to coordinate quality function in all phases of the product life cycle. Therefore, management should be responsible for quality, not the workers.

Supplier relationships are long-term and quality-oriented

Suppliers are just as an important part of the team as any other members. Since management is responsible for quality, it must also take charge of building long-term and quality-oriented relationships with suppliers.

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