Quality is an important aspect in the operation of any firm. There are a number of perspectives that one may opt to explore while defining quality. On the one hand, quality is regarded as a philosophy and on the other hand, it is viewed as a form of scientific measurement. With regard to quality as a form of scientific measurement, Schlickman (2003, p.19) opines that quality is relative, and not absolute.
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This means that the definition of quality varies from one customer to another. In line with this, the definition of quality amongst customers also varies depending on their expectations. This makes the attainment of quality a challenge amongst firms. However, there is always an opportunity for a firm to improve the quality of its products and services.
With regard to quality as a philosophy, a number of steps are considered in the improvement of quality in relation to products and services. The initial step entails the formulation of an effective improvement process in relation to quality objectives. This leads to the identification of action items by the firm’s management team with a view to improving the identified problems.
A comprehensive audit of the findings is conducted and a conclusion drawn and this forms the basis for data analysis. As a result, corrective measures aimed at improving quality are undertaken and reviewed by the management.
Considering the rate at which the business environment is undergoing transformation, it is vital for firms to consider integrating the concept of Quality Management System. Quality Management System (QMS) is defined as the number of activities aimed at directing and controlling a particular business enterprise to attain efficiency in its operation. One of the major theories of QSM is Total Quality Management (TQM).
TQM ensures that a firm’s operations are decentralized. This means that the employees contribute to a firms’ management since they have the capacity to undertake some decisions (Swansburg, 2002, p. 533).
Concepts of QMS
For effective implementation of QMS in a firm, there are a number of concepts that have to be considered as outlined below.
- Organizational structure
According to Schlickman (2003, p.20), QMS is integrated within the firm’s organizational structure. An effective organizational structure ensures that a firm has the necessary level of employees for effective operation. In addition, the institution of an organization structure ensures that the firm’s resources are utilized effectively in order to maximize output.
In the operation of a firm, there are a number of policies that have to be met and integrated. These policies ensure that a particular firm remains in operation. However, the policies vary from one industry to another. An organization’s QMS must ensure that these policies and regulations are reviewed to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the firm’s operations (Mukherjee, 2006, p.43).
On the other hand, processes entail the various internal business operations which enable a firm to develop products and services in relation to market needs. QMS enables a firm’s management team to undertake a comprehensive review of the various processes with a view to ensuring that the products meet the predetermined standards.
In addition, QMS ensures that customer’s expectations are attained and at the same time, that costs are controlled. Resources include the various items that a firm must procure in its production process. Integration of QMS enables a firm to review its raw materials and financial strength in order to determine whether the firm in question is operating profitably.
Understanding the role of strategic quality planning for organizations
Over the past few decades, consumers have increasingly become conscious of quality in their consumption patterns. As a result, firms have incorporated quality as one of the elements that can lead the firm to attain a high competitive edge relative to competitors. Consequently, the element of quality has been considered as a key issue in strategic planning.
In order to attain quality, the management teams in various firms have incorporated the element of quality in the firm’s mission and vision statement and other organizational policy guidelines. For example, management teams are increasingly formulating quality statements which are a key component of strategic planning. These statements are reviewed occasionally.
Through integration of quality in the firm’s strategic planning process, the firm is able to discover its customer’s needs. For example, the firm can be able to determine the consumers’ future needs. In addition, the firm is able to undertake customer positioning. For example, the management team is able to determine whether to increase or reduce its customer base.
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Through strategic quality planning, it is possible for the firm to conduct a gap analysis by evaluating the core values thus developing ways to close the gap. However, the changes to be implemented must be in line with the firm’s mission statement, vision statement, and core values.
As a result, a firm’s employees are appreciating the importance of ensuring that the products and services are of high quality. This culminates with a shift in relation to the employee’s perception of products from being just mere physical products to customer value.
The goals of Quality Management System
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the goals of QMS are two- fold: the attainment of customer requirements, and organizational requirements.
In the operation of a firm, the attainment of customer satisfaction is very important. According to Hill, Self and Roche (2002, p.20), an organization that puts into consideration customer satisfaction cannot survive in the long term as a going concern entity. In order for a firm to achieve this, it must identify customers’ requirements.
Hill et al (2002, p.20) defines customer requirements as inclusive of all the customers’ expectations, whether stated or implied. This means that the customers’ needs may include a number of factors depending on how the customers judge an organization. Therefore, the expectations of a customer will not necessarily be related to the core products that the firm provides but also other aspects such as how the product or service supplied.
It is the role of a firm’s management team to ensure that the customer’s requirements are effectively identified and delivered if at all customer satisfaction is to be attained (Grigoroudis, & Siskos, 2009). In order to achieve this, all the firms’ employees are involved in the QMS.
Through the incorporation of the concept of Customer Relationship Management, all the firm’s employees ensure that their activities contribute towards attaining the customer satisfaction objective.
The resultant effect is that the productivity of the employees is significantly improved. By delivering products and services which result in a high level of customer satisfaction, a firm is able to increase its market share and hence its productivity (Blanchard, 2010, para. 1-2).
Attainment of organizational goals
Through integration of QMS, there is a high probability of a firm attaining its organizational goals and objectives, resulting in the attainment of consistency in relation to methods, equipments and materials necessary for the attainment of the firm’s goals.
For example, QMS results in the improvement of process control while at the same time reducing wastage (Jain, 2001, p.292). In addition, effective control of the processes through the stipulated QMS policies enables a firm to minimize the cost of operation. This culminates into an increment of efficiency in the firm’s process of operation.
Ways in which a firm can design products for quality
According to Peel (2002, p. 1) customers are undergoing a significant change. One of the factors that have resulted in this change is that they are able to access a wide range of information in relation to product s and services. In an effort to develop products which result in maximum customer satisfaction, firms should incorporate the concept of Customer Relationship Management.
This will aid the management team to understand customers’ needs. Through CRM, a firm is can be able to develop a relationship with the customers, hence gaining effective understanding of their products and services needs. To attain this, the management team should determine goals which are congruent between the organization and the customers.
This will result in the establishment and maintenance of a strong rapport between the two parties. By incorporating the concept of CRM, the firm’s management team shifts its focus to the customer. This means that the information obtained from the customers is used to design and develop the products.
According to Oakland and Marosszeky (2006, p.89), a wide range of information is required in the product designing phase. Through the incorporation of CRM software, the firm can be able to gather a wide range of information.
By sampling the customers’ complaints, the management team is able to identify problem areas in relation to quality which the firm should improve. This enables the firm to streamline what it offers in accordance with the customers requirements.
Quality function development concepts
The incorporation of quality function development plays a significant role in the process of designing products in relation to customer needs (Akao, 2004, p. 43). In order for quality function development to be effective, a number of concepts should be integrated.
- Market research
- Concept design
- Prototype testing
- Testing the final product or service
- Trouble shooting
Market research enables the development team to identify market needs which will result in customer satisfaction. To ensure that a high level of effectiveness and efficiency is attained, it is important to incorporate members of other departments in the QFD team from the time the idea to develop the product or service is conceived (Oakland & Marosszeky, 2006, p.89).
Before producing the product in large numbers, it is important to test its effectiveness. This can be done by selling the product to a small proportion of customers. This will help in determining the product’s market acceptability and also identify areas which should be improved depending on market response.
Correlation between quality management and business success
According to Longnecker, Moore, Petty and Palich (2005, p.442), there is a direct correlation between quality management and a firm’s success. In order for this to be achieved, it should be ensured that a supportive company culture is incorporated. This means that the firm’s values, practices and traditions should be well understood and followed by the employees.
As a result, quality becomes a key source of value in the firm’s culture. One of the firms that have succeeded in its operation as a result of integrating the concept of Total Quality Management is McDonald’s Company. In order to attain this, McDonald’s have integrated the concept of quality management in its totality. This entails the employees, the food and the restaurant.
The employees are required to be time conscious and clean. In addition, they are required to adhere to well formulated operational standards. It is a requirement that the food served and the restaurant remains always clean. Quality control is also integrated via listening to customer feedback.
Despite its rapid expansion via the incorporation of the concept of franchising, Sambo’s Pancake House, located at Santa Barbara, failed. Its failure resulted from the fact that the firm’s management team did not ensure consistency in relation to quality control as it is the case in McDonalds (Kurtus, n.d, para. 5).
Tools for Quality Management or Continuous Quality Improvement and renewal strategies
In order to ensure that QSM is effectively integrated in the firms operation, there are a number of tools which firms’ management team should consider. In relation to TQM, some of the tools which can be integrated include the Pareto principle, checklists, control charts, check sheets, and scatter plots.
The pareto principle postulates that 80% of challenges that a firm experiences in relation to the quality of its products and services result from either the raw materials, machines or the operator amongst others.
Scatter plots will enable the management team to determine the relationship between two variables such as quality and customer satisfaction. On the other hand, checklists can be used to determine whether the necessary procedures have been adhered to.
Conclusion and recommendation
Quality System Management is a key component in the long term success of a firm. Through QSM, a firm can be able to develop products that are in line with the market demand. The resultant effect is that the firm will create a high competitive advantage. In addition, the incorporation of QSM can result in a firm developing new products, resulting in a satisfaction of customers’ needs.
Considering the current rate of globalization, it is paramount for firms to incorporate the concept of QSM in their operation. In addition all the various departments should be involved to increase its effectiveness and efficiency. The system should also be audited continuously in order to identify areas which require to be changed.
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