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Dubai Airports’ Total Quality Management Report


Description of Organisation

Main Products and Services

Dubai Airports is a gulf company that controls the operations of Dubai International and Dubai World Central. The company provides core services for the operation and maintenance of airport terminals, including the resolution of customer complaints, integration of operational services, and the provision of management services (DAA 2013). Broadly, the main mandate of the company is to provide safe, secure, and efficient airports for airline customers and companies. In fact, according to the company’s website, the organization commits itself to providing an excellent service to airline services by providing efficient, safe, and secure airports (DAA 2013).

Main Customers

The main customers for Dubai Airports include airline passengers and independent airline companies. The airline companies mainly include cargo airlines and passenger planes that use airport terminals.

Order Qualifiers

Quality of service is a notable order qualifier for Dubai Airports because its customer traffic mainly depends on the quality of services it offers. Since the aviation sector is mainly service-oriented, it is unsurprising that Dubai Airport’s order qualifier (quality of service) resembles other order qualifiers for other companies in the aviation sector. Dependability is also another order qualifier for the company because the company’s success mainly depends on the level that its customers may depend on the company to deliver its services.

Order Winners

Among the top order winners for Dubai Airport is its flexibility in the provision of services. A classic way that the company demonstrates this flexibility is its ability to change the timing and volumes of its operations to suit different customer demands. The use of the latest information technology platforms for conducting the company’s businesses also manifests as a significant order winner for the company because the use of the latest technology forms part of the company’s strategy of reducing costs and improving its customer experience.

Description of Main Operational Processes

The main operational processes of Dubai Airports focus on the provision of quality customer services and the proper management of airport activities. Through this focus, this section of the paper outlines the resolution of customer complaints, integration of operational services, and management services as the main operational processes for Dubai Airports. The model below outlines the process flow for two important processes – customer complaint resolution and integration of operational services

Main operational processes for Dubai Airports (Source: Boon 2007)
Figure 1: Main operational processes for Dubai Airports (Source: Boon 2007)

First Operational Process – Resolution of Customer Complaints

Since the provision of excellent customer service is at the core of Dubai Airport’s mandate (as demonstrated above), the first operational process, naturally, manifests as the resolution of customer complaints. This process identifies customer complaints as the main input of the operational process. The customer complaints pass through the terminal operations management process and emerge as resolved complaints (output). The terminal operations management process includes personnel scheduling, as an effective process that the company uses to pre-empt customer complaints, manage its airports, and provide quality services to its customers.

Second Operational Process – Integration of Operational Services

The integration of operational services mainly involves the provision of a platform where different stakeholders of the company work to improve the business. Besides company stakeholders, partners and passengers also play a critical role in fulfilling the mandate of Dubai Airports because their satisfaction matters to the company. As depicted in the above model, the integration of operational services, as the second operational process, outlines contractors as the main inputs of the terminal operations management process. Partnerships with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders finally manifest as the main outputs of the operational process. The process of transforming these inputs into outputs involves the integration of operational services through the terminal management process.

Third Operational Processes – Management Services

Like other aviation companies around the world, the activities of Dubai Airports are subject to a set of unique standards of operation. To meet these standards, Dubai Airport uses the terminal operations management process to ensure the company’s infrastructure meets internationally accepted standards. Adherence to these standards emerge under the provision of management services by the company. Albeit management service is not contained in the above model, it aims to explain how Dubai Airport provides proper management services, especially concerning staff scheduling and management. The inputs of this process stem from the company staff. They mainly include duties and rosters. After considering the impact of flight schedules, aircraft routes, crew rotations, and passenger itineraries (transforming activities), the company evaluates the inputs and varies extended duties, swaps, and reroutes to achieve the best management outcomes.

The categorizations of the management process into different modules fit well within the company’s business plans. For instance, when employee shifts remain undisturbed, it is possible to undertake organizational processes before the scheduled time, without causing any inconvenience to the employees. To provide a seamless flow of activities within the organization, and without any undue delays, it is of greater significance for the company to undertake these organizational processes before the scheduled time and delay task assignments to the nearest possible time (for the completion of organizational processes). This scheduling approach outlines the demand modeling approach. It is also easy to conceive this approach as a naturally occurring module. For example, when trying to maximize demand outputs, the demand modeling approach provides an opportunity for the company to distribute tasks more efficiently without disrupting the flexibility of the work schedules. When trying to exploit the advantages of flexible demand, it is possible to realize second-order effects from the same process. These effects may arise from the choice of rosters. For instance, it may be difficult to optimize the rosters for a demand that fluctuates every hour, if the roster changes in about six to eight hours. Through this mismatch, situations where there are fewer staff than customers may arise (longer customer cues), or more staff than the customers, thereby leading to inefficiencies within the organization. The company, therefore, uses the evaluation of duty rosters, swaps, and reroutes as some of the main management tools for improving its management efficiency.

Literature Search – TQM

Concepts, Applications, and Frameworks

Total quality management (TQM) originated in the early fifties, but its popularity emerged in the eighties (Boon 2007). Even though the concept was mainly Japanese, western managers have come to appreciate and embrace it as an acceptable management concept. TQM is holistic in the sense that it captures an organization’s attitude and culture (concerning the way it provides goods and services to fulfill customer needs). Regardless of the type of organizational culture, that informs an organization’s processes, TQM seeks to inculcate a culture of excellence by minimizing defects and improving quality. The concept covers three grounds – ensuring organizations introduce a culture of quality, maintain a culture of quality, and improve quality standards. Unlike other management concepts, Boon (2007) says TQM seeks to cover all aspects of an organization, including the production, marketing, and service provision aspects of a business. TQM aims to achieve this objective by coordinating the activities of different departments to provide quality services.

Vouzas (2004) says, before the industrial revolution, quality assurance was mainly the task of employees. Employees mainly became motivated by their success at work and the pride they derived from being part of specific organizations. However, with the introduction of information technology, employees have taken a back seat in total quality management. Indeed, in today’s era of scientific management, there is a strong focus on work methods and designs as the focus of total quality management (Boon 2007).

Since the introduction of TQM, many scholars have refined the model by introducing different frameworks for its adoption. According to Sharma (2008), it is difficult to adopt one TQM framework across several organizations. Nonetheless, the most common frameworks for TQM include the “Deming Application Prize, the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, the European Foundation for Quality Management, and the ISO quality management standards” (Vouzas 2004, p. 125).

Managers have selected these frameworks based on different factors, including geography, organizational objectives, the purpose of review, and scope of operations (among other factors). Breja (2011) says, in the fifties, Edward Deming introduced the Deming Application Price framework to promote quality management in Asian countries. However, its application spread to other parts of the world as its popularity grew (Breja 2011). This model mainly promotes TQM adoption by rewarding companies that have adopted TQM. Douglas (2009) says close to the purpose of Deming Application Prize model is the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, which also seeks to promote TQM adoption by identifying model organizations (that have successfully adopted TQM) and helping organizations that want to adopt TQM by evaluating their strengths and weaknesses in doing so. The European Foundation for Quality Management is also another TQM framework that has gained popularity in management. Jacqueline (2005) says this framework is non-prescriptive, in that, it identifies whether companies are correctly adopting TQM if there are any existing gaps in doing so, and how the company may correct these gaps.

Since TQM is a very diverse discipline that spreads across different economic sectors, its application spreads across the private and public sectors. Within the same sectors, TQM may affect different organizational activities because people perceive quality to admirable in most organizational operations. Nonetheless, a careful analysis of the concept in the aviation sector (Dubai Airports) shows that TQM may effectively integrate into the activities of Dubai Airports through benchmarking and terminal service management. For instance, increased collaboration of different entities to oversee the effective management of terminal service requires the effective adoption of TQM. This is because airline activities normally involve a network of activities that comprise the processes of different network units (some of whom are highly specialized) to exploit existing advantages involved with economies of scale (Oluwatoyin 2008). The adoption of TQM activities would, therefore, include the realignment of these different activities to reflect TQM principles. The leadership of Dubai Airports may champion this re-alignment because it will help the organization to realize its goal of customer satisfaction.

Benchmarking is also another TQM principle that would easily apply to the activities of Dubai Airports. Many companies in the aviation sector have used benchmarking as a high-quality assessment tool (Oluwatoyin 2008). Dubai Airports may similarly use the same principle to improve its competitiveness in the industry. Benchmarking mainly involves the assessment of a company’s service against how the strongest competitors in the industry perform. The main idea behind this approach is to compare the business with the strongest competitors, figure out the areas of weaknesses, and improve them. The adoption of TQM will, therefore, help the organization to identify any areas of deviation from the desired performance standards and come up with better ways of improving the organization’s performance. In the context of Dubai Airports, this process may ensure that the company achieves its mandate of ensuring the customers are satisfied with their services (especially through the adoption of best practices). Here, benchmarking is a continuous process that Dubai Airports may adopt to meet its objectives.

Operational Benefits of Introducing TQM

The application of total quality management in the activities of Dubai Airports depends on the evaluation of three main criteria – customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and the efficiency of airport terminals. The company faces several challenges that afflict other companies in the aviation industry as well. One such challenge is intense competition. Total quality management is beneficial in improving the competitiveness of the company because the quality is a key success factor in boosting the organization’s competitiveness. Relative to this assertion, Oluwatoyin (2008) says the improvement of service quality is a critical component for the improvement of a company’s competitive position in the aviation industry because the success of companies in the industry largely depends on the quality of their services.

Besides the competitive advantage, another core operational benefit for introducing TQM is the improvement of customer satisfaction. Through the improvement of customer satisfaction, Dubai Airports should expect the increase of customer loyalty because Mehra (2008) says satisfied customers are always loyal to their service providers. In turn, this will increase repeat business. The improved customer satisfaction may also manifest through improved employee satisfaction. This relationship occurs because Christensen (2008) says there is a positive correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. Since TQM strives to improve employee satisfaction (by giving them autonomy in their decision-making processes), it is inevitable to expect improved customer satisfaction as well. The company may grow its customer base and increase its revenue in the same regard.

How TQM will develop in the Coming Five Years

Much of TQM, as a concept, will not change in the coming five years. However, some of its tools may change with advancements in technology (McAdam 2004). The advancement of these tools may help employees to take ownership of their organizational processes. For example, traditionally, Dubai Airport relies on a line of work construction as a key organizational process that allocates different duties to workers. The construction of lines of work also usually concerns long work schedules that may span into several weeks or months (the line of work construction aims to allocate different duties to different staff members). Advancements in TQM tools, such as online training workshops, web-based TQM applications (and the likes) may help to improve the line of work construction by close to 90% (Oluwatoyin 2008).

Application of Concepts

Oluwatoyin (2008) explains that the major concepts governing total quality management involve the commitment and leadership of top managers, a culture change in the organization, a focus on customers, a complete involvement of employees, continuous improvement, training, and teamwork. These concepts mainly outline the factors that are necessary for the implementation of TQM activities. Although these concepts are all important in TQM, customer focus, employee involvement, and continuous improvement surface as the most important concepts for Dubai Airports and other companies that are present in the aviation sector.

Customer Focus

Customer focus is at the core of Dubai Airport’s activities. To ensure the company concentrates on customer focus as a TQM practice, the company should introduce a platform for providing feedback in the organization. Customers could provide feedback through social media or the company website. This feedback would be important in helping the company to improve its core service areas and introduce new services. However, even as the organization embarks on improving its service provision activities and introducing new services, it should involve the customers at all stages (McAdam 2004).

Employee Involvement

Employee involvement is a prerequisite for the provision of quality customer services. In other words, the employees should feel motivated to undertake customer service duties because if they were contempt with their work, the quality of customer services would subsequently decline (McAdam 2004). Therefore, the process of improving service delivery should always involve all employees. The best way of involving employees in the TQM process is by changing the management paradigm from being job-centered to being process-centered (Christensen 2008). This change of paradigm should ensure the employees stop focusing on their jobs and instead focus on processes. Christensen (2008) says that through this strategy, employees will have a psychological ownership of the entire service improvement process.

Continuous Improvement

TQM principles show that continuous improvement should be an important part of service delivery. Stated differently, companies should consistently strive to seek better ways of improving their quality of services. Christensen (2008) supports this view by saying that most companies realize high customer satisfaction if they strive to improve the quality of their services to customers. Dubai Airports could easily adopt the same philosophy by consistently trying not to repeat mistakes in service delivery and always trying to introduce new services that would improve customer, or employee, satisfaction.

Challenges

One challenge of adopting TQM in Dubai Airport is the possibility of a partial adoption of TQM principles. Ramasamy (2005) says that TQM is a holistic approach to the improvement of service quality and therefore, it would be a great injustice to adopt the principle on a partial basis. A partial adoption of TQM principles would eventually compromise the outcome of the process and subsequently lead to its failure. The lack of commitment by top-level managers may also jeopardize the outcome of TQM. If top managers do not remain committed to the TQM process, they may not give enough attention to the process, thereby leading to its failure. The lack of commitment may suffice through inadequate resources in TQM implementation, lack of TQM integration in organizational activities, and the loss of momentum in the adoption of TQM (just to mention a few). It is therefore prudent to approach TQM as a serious management philosophy to realize its full benefits.

References

Boon, K 2007, ‘Does TQM influence employees’ job satisfaction? An empirical case analysis’, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 24 no. 1, pp. 62 – 77.

Breja, S 2011, ‘Quality strategy for transformation: a case study’, The TQM Journal, vol. 23 no. 1, pp. 5 – 20.

Christensen, J 2008, ‘Talent management: A strategy for improving employee recruitment, retention and engagement within hospitality organizations’, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 20 no. 7, pp. 743 – 757.

DAA 2013, About Us. Web.

Douglas, D 2009, ‘Quality improvement using the Baldrige Criteria for Organizational Performance Excellence’, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, vol. 66 no. 11, pp. 1031-1034.

Jacqueline, L 2005, ‘A case study of a preceptorship programme in an acute NHS Trust – using the European Foundation for Quality Management tool to support clinical practice development’, Journal of Nursing Management, vol. 13 no. 6, pp. 508-518.

McAdam, R 2004, ‘Influencing the future of TQM: internal and external driving factors’, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 21 no. 1, pp. 51 – 71.

Mehra, S 2008, ‘Implementing total quality management with a focus on enhancing customer satisfaction’, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 25 no. 9, pp. 913 – 927.

Oluwatoyin, A 2008, Total Quality Management a Test of the Effect of TQM on Performance and Stakeholder Satisfaction, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Blekinge.

Ramasamy, S 2005, Total Quality Management, Tata McGraw Hill, London.

Sharma, M 2008, ‘TQM implementation elements for manufacturing excellence’, The TQM Journal, vol. 20 no. 6, pp. 599 – 621.

Vouzas, F 2004, ‘HR utilization and quality improvement: the reality and the rhetoric – the case of Greek industry’, The TQM Magazine, vol. 16 no. 2, pp. 125 – 135.

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