Background to the Study
Many countries across the world are currently very sensitive about the quality of products that are made available within their borders. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is no exceptional. Through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the government has kept a close watch on the quality of products offered to customers in order to ensure that citizens are protected from substandard products in the market.
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Environmental advocates and agencies are keen to monitor activities of various companies operating within this country in a bid to ensure that the environment is kept free from pollution. Through this ministry and other related ministries, organizations must satisfy the set standards before they can be allowed to start their operational activities. They must conform to the International Standards specifications and other safety standards set by various organs in the country.
Based on this, many organizations in Saudi Arabia have found it relevant to maintain quality in the process of production and the final products delivered to the market.
The term quality refers to inherent characteristic of a given item that makes it unique from others. Quality assurance refers to systematic evaluation and monitoring of a product, a project or facility to ensure that it conforms to the set standards. International Organization for Standardization, ISO, (1994) defines quality assurance as all planned and systematic activities implemented to provide adequate confidence that an entity will fulfill requirements for quality.
The operational techniques and activities that are used to fulfill requirements for quality are referred to as quality management. Quality assurance is a process that is useful in production process as it ensures that the final product meets market requirement. Quality management is a comprehensive process that begins with regulation of raw materials, processing facilities and other processes related to production, and the final product.
For a new firm that is about to start operations, quality assurance is a very important requirement that should be fulfilled in order to get government approval before operations. The organization must meet legal requirements put in place by government agencies in order to have necessary certification to start conducting business in the country.
According to the Law of Commercial Register 6: 2007, any new firm that intends to operate in Saudi Arabia must meet the rules and regulations set by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. They include the laws relating to health, product specification and standardizations, pricing laws, environmental protection laws, tax compliance laws and consumer protection laws.
A firm must have a detailed approach to quality management in order to be allowed to operate within the country. A new organization must make a concerted effort to ensure that such laws and regulations are fulfilled.
The management should embrace the culture of quality management in order to be competitive in the market and meet the standards set by the government so that the firm may manage competition that is in the market. Quality Management and Quality Assurance System that would be appropriate for particular business unit is discussed below.
Quality Management and quality Assurance System
Quality assurance and control system puts into consideration factors such as time available for its implementation, resources allocated to it, availability of relevant data, legal requirements put in place by the government, technological advancement in the industry, skilled labor available to implement proposed projects among other requirements. Quality assurance and quality control are related to inventories.
The main concern is to produce quality products using relevant raw materials in a manner that would be environmentally sensitive. The law limits the level of emission of toxic substances and effluents by any company.
This is aimed at conserving the environment. For this reason therefore, companies must make an effort to ensure that facilities that are installed are in good operational shape. Emissions should be controlled and there should be a sewerage system that facilitates treatment of effluents before they are released to the environment.
The system should be linked to other sewerage systems whereby their flow is controlled and directed to the government-designated location. The combustion chambers should be fitted with scrapers in order to control smoke that is released to the environment. The scrapers should be replaced regularly as a preventive measure to environmental pollution. The law also demands the safety and security of employees while at workplace.
Employees assigned to production departments that are prone to smokes or other gaseous emissions should be provided with gas masks to ensure that they do not inhale poisonous gases. Other measures should also be considered to facilitate the wellbeing employees. With employee’s safety and environmental concerns, the focus then turns to quality of the product.
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International Standards Organization has set standards that are to be met by all products and production processes. Standards must be accepted in the society. International Standards Organization 9001 stipulates among other factors that the quality of the workforce available in production of goods should be perceived to be of the right standard. According to this certification, there is standard a number of trained personnel that should be available in each department of production.
The trained personnel would be in charge of supervision and other tasks within production department while other duties such as packaging and delivery would be left to the semi-trained personnel. As Goatish (1995) says, quality starts and ends in the mind. There should be a spirit of quality inculcated in the minds of personnel. These individuals would determine the quality of output. They should appreciate the importance of producing quality products.
The organizational tools and equipments should also be standardized. Back-up power system should be made available to avoid disruption of production.
Raw materials used in the production process should be of the right standard and should conform to the requirements of the law. Production department should ensure that only acceptable ingredients are included in the products in order to avoid litigation that may ensue due to none conformity. The law demands that all ingredients that are used in a given product are clearly labeled during packaging in order not to confuse customers. This should be done on all products manufactured in the company.
In order to match market competition, the company must put into consideration quality assurance and management devices employed by competing firms. Attention should particularly be given to the level of mechanization employed by other industry players. In order to have a consistent market growth, the company should be in a position to convince customers that its products are of higher quality compared to products of other competing firms (Joherim, 2008).
The First Stage
The first stage is related to customer focus. The diagram below gives a breakdown of the process.
The first step in this stage is to internalize the requirements of the customers and regulators. The management then takes a premeditated step to design quality management system in order to realize expectations in the second step. This demands attention from all departments in the organization as it strives to respond to the needs of customers and regulators. If done appropriately, customers and regulators would be satisfied.
The second face emphasizes on policies and regulatory procedures in the process of production. There should be quality planning so that the final product would have a graded quality. This stage tries to implement regulatory laws that the authorities have enacted to govern the industry.
They are concerned with protection of employees, consumers and the environment. Employees should be protected from hazardous working environment and other work related perils. Consumers need protection from substandard products, misinformation and unfair pricing strategies. The environment should be protected from pollution and other activities that may lead to its degradation. This stage stresses on the quality of production system. The company should comply by maintaining these standards.
This stage lays emphasis on functionality of the departments, plant procedures and production processes. It demands that concerned managers in each department understand the company’s overall quality objectives. They have to impart the same skills on various units in their departments. It is important that these managers understand market expectation so that they can appreciate the need for the process of quality control.
Challenges in the Implementation Process
The main challenge in the implementation process is the availability of finances to implement the project. Because this is a new company, it may not be in a position to finance various operational units that may be needed for successful implementation of the project. The level of expertise may also be limited as the company may not be in a position to attract the best labor force available in the industry.
Competitors may not make things easy, as they will develop counter programs in an attempt to maintain their market share. The current employees may also fail to meet professional qualifications that the project requires. They may be lacking required flexibility and the drive to implement the project.
Quality management has gained relevance over the recent past. Many organizations have embarked on ensuring that their products and production processes are responsive to market expectations and to the demands of regulatory bodies.
For a new firm to venture into the Saudi market and operate successfully, it is important that it develop quality assurance project that would convince the public and the government regulatory authorities that their products would meet expected standards and are environmentally friendly. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has regulatory procedures that need to be followed.
The company should set aside substantial finances during its budgeting process to cover for the expenses of quality assurance and management project. Because this is a new business unit that is yet to be approved by the government, the cost may be a little higher. The quality assurance team must be in a position to convince the government that the set rules and regulations would be adhered to. The business unit should also make an effort to attract individuals who have skills necessary in the implementation process.
The ratio of employees with right skills and experiences to that of inexperienced labor force should be about one to one. This would ensure that those with little or no experience take the shortest time to familiarize themselves with new policies. Their remuneration and other packages should also be attractive enough to motivate them. In order to beat market competition, the management should ensure that strategies are not exposed to competitors.
Goatish, L., & Stanley, D. (1995). Implementing Total Quality. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice-Hall.
ISO, (1994). Air Quality, Determination of Performance Characteristics of Measurement Methods. Geneva: International Organization for Standardization.
Joherim, M. (2008). Quality Assurance and Quality Control. New York: McMillan Publishers.