Total Quality Management is a set of management practices aimed at meeting and even exceeding needs of customers and organizational objectives. The Japanese Industry started it in the 1950’s but it gained popularity from the early 80’s. TQM seeks to merge organizational functions like production, customer service, design and marketing, and has a strong emphasis on process measurement and controls as a way of continually improving the products or services offered by the organization. TQM describes the culture, attitude and organization of a company in the provision of products and services to satisfy needs of customers.
Quality is required with efficiency and effectiveness in operations and reducing losses, minimizing defects and waste.
Impact of globalization
As companies get bigger, there is an increasing demand for JIT (just-in-time) management, which TQM embraces. This makes things move faster, further pushing along globalization. This also calls for the removal of bottlenecks in production resulting in high quality. Globalization calls for things to be faster, better (because if you’re not good, you’re not utilizing your competitiveness), and hence comes TQM philosophy, which embraces that.
However, globalization has brought about a demand for high skilled labour, which cannot be found with workers with low-level education, who are the majority. Their employment leads to low quality of work. Similar to that are organizations, which want to cut costs on wages and therefore employ workers with a poor educational background. Competitiveness is characterized by high labor costs; therefore, low labor costs are characterized by lower productivity. Women on the other hand, are unfortunately still engaging in low-wage and low-productivity jobs, especially in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia where women’s participation in the global labour market is behind.
Application of TQM
Both the management and the employees can and should be involved in the process of TQM to improve the production of goods and services. TQM should be driven by a purpose and there should be a clear focus on the future vision of the organization. TQM can also be used as a way of encouraging the potential and creativity of an employee to be displayed as well as improving clients service. TQM calls for organizations to strive to continuously improve its processes through accumulated knowledge of workers and their experience. TQM is easily adaptable, for instance, it was at first an application of manufacturing operations but is now even applied to the service sector. According to Khurram Hashmi (2000), TQM is the foundation for activities, which include:
- Commitment by senior management and all employees
- Meeting customer requirements
- Reducing development cycle times
- Just In Time/Demand Flow Manufacturing
- Improvement teams
- Reducing product and service costs
- Systems to facilitate improvement
- Line Management ownership
- Employee involvement and empowerment
- Recognition and celebration
- Challenging quantified goals and benchmarking
- Focus on processes / improvement plans
- Specific incorporation in strategic planning
This shows that all personnel, in Manufacturing, Marketing, Engineering, Research and Development, Sales, Purchasing, Human Resource, etc, must practice TQM in all activities. TQM is based on continuous improvement, both in strategic planning and in the execution of work. It seeks to avoid mistakes and defects and continually improve results through increasing the organizations resources. The major areas including supply generation, demand generation, technology, operations and people capability. It also maintains that mistakes can be identified and stopped and repetition prevented through change.
Implementation of TQM
A preliminary test, like a management audit should be done to asses the current state in terms of organizational functioning and establishing where change is needed. There should however be a positive attitude towards change or TQM would be ineffective. Other conditions are stable finances, good administrative systems and managerial skills and optimistic employee morale If these conditions cannot be met, it is advisable to postpone the implementation until when the organization is healthy enough with regard to these. Certain levels of stress, with regard to people feeling a need for change are however needed when implementing TQM. Kanter (1983) described certain building blocks, which should be present in effective organizational change.
They include departures from tradition, a crisis or galvanizing event, strategic decisions, individual “prime movers,” and action vehicles. Departures from tradition are moving from normal operations in an attempt to solve a problem. A crisis, like reduction in finances, may prompt people to act. A strategic decision like a plan acting on the crisis may be implemented by a leader, who becomes the prime mover. The leader takes charge of the new idea or plan and leads people in its implementation. Action vehicles then used and mechanisms put in place to enabling the occurrence of the change.
- International Labour Organization Report (Dec 9, 2005) Globalization failing to create new, quality jobs to reduce Poverty. Retrieved from on October 3, 2007
- Hashmi, K. (2000) Paper on “Introduction and Implementation of Total Quality Management” Retrieved from http://www.isixsigma.com/library/content/c031008a.asp on October 3, 2007
- Martin, L. (1993). “Total Quality Management in the Public Sector,” National Productivity Review