Does Sigma Six Work in Service Industries?
This article analyzes the possibilities for implementation of Sigma Six tenets in service industries. Sigma Six is a set of methodologies and measurement-based strategies aimed at eliminating possible defects and improving the production processes through optimization and higher quality control. It is a direct evolution of the Total Quality Control strategy that is also popular in the manufacturing industries. The author makes an argument that all companies offer services, while some of them manufacture products as well, and builds his case around the statement that manufacturing companies do not strictly provide products to their customers, but rather services that could be facilitated by the use of such products. He then proceeds to demonstrate his case by using several large companies as examples of Sigma Six. After doing so, he analyzes the reasons why Sigma Six is not as widely implemented as it should be and highlights the complexity, time, and expenses required to implement the system as some of the strongest reasons why many companies opt to avoid it.
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The author makes a good summary of why Sigma Six is an efficient system by providing good and relatable examples of its implementation in different companies, the most notable ones being Sony Boeing, and Walmart. The latter serves as an example of how using SIPOC can help with achieving greater value by reducing costs and improving quality. Walmart is known in the USA as the prime chain of supermarkets that provides acceptable goods at very low prices due to importing goods from low-cost manufacturers. Its SIPOC chain is relatively simple: Low-cost manufacturers – Distributors – Walmart – Merchandise sold – Consumers, which helps save money on more elaborate chains.
While the author does a good job of outlining the complications that follow the implementation of Sigma Six and TQM techniques, he does not mention an important flaw in introducing such into the company. One of the recurring themes following Sigma Six optimizations is employee downsizing. This makes the employees view any initiative taken under the Sigma Six as a potential threat to them, resulting in lower levels of commitment and engagement, which could potentially harm the business in the long run. It must also be noted that the alleviation of the standards of work is often done at the employees’ expense, meaning that the increased efforts spent on quality improvement are rarely compensated.
Lastly, I disagree with the author using Walmart as a prime example of Sigma Six efficiency. While it is undisputed that Walmart manages to achieve high value by engaging low-cost manufacturers to produce items for the countries of the First World, a lot of that value comes not only from implementing total quality control standards but also from squeezing their suppliers and employees dry, as well as using unsavory business practices to force any potential competitors out of the market. Walmart is no longer associated simply with good quality goods for a low price, but also with the poor quality of service from unmotivated employees and being the supermarket monopoly that is simply everywhere. Other than that, the author does not show how exactly the implementation of TQM specialists saves money and improves quality in practice, limiting itself only to theoretical terms that do not make the subject clear for the readers who are not very familiar with it.
TQM in Retail Departmental Grocery and Clothing Chain Stores in South Africa
This article presents the result of research conducted in retail department grocery and clothing chain stores in South Africa and reflects on its current inability to catch up with the rest of the region in terms of standards of product and service quality. The research was conducted among medium-level and senior management staff of retail stores located in the Free zone of the country and analyzed the attitudes towards TQM, the knowledge of the managers about the procedures involving TQM, current quality control practices, and potential for improvement. The findings indicated that the majority of the companies and company managers had no involvement with quality control, that TQM was not implemented in a bundle, and that training involving quality improvement was mostly aimed at quality of goods and customer service, and did not have in mind the instilment of a desire among employees to control and improve quality of services and goods on their own.
The author makes a good argument that TQM practices are necessary to survive in the modern realities of capitalism, where competitiveness is vicious and companies fight for every customer. It is not only the qualities of services and goods but also the overall attitude of the employees and their desire to improve the company on their own that could push a retail store further ahead of the competition. The overall definition of TQM in regards to grocery and clothing chain stores was given accurately, all six tenets of TQM were stated at the beginning and throughout the paper, and their connection to the situation in the market was adequate.
Despite the rather thorough analysis of TQM implementation in South Africa, the analysis focuses solely on senior and middle-level managerial personnel, while the topic of employee commitment and motivation is left untouched. Overall, the report seems to be dedicated to teaching managers about TQM and its implementation, but does not concern itself with perceptions of the practice in the eyes of the employees, and does not answer whether or not they would be able to accept and adapt to the changes. The research also fails to provide any information about the current conditions in which the market employees are working. African businesses in general are known for poor employee management, which often results in decreased commitment and productivity that are direct blunders to the TQM.
One point that needs to be represented more thoroughly in this research is the meaning of internal and external customers, which is mentioned as one of the points in current practice that needs to change. As of now, it is unclear what the terms “internal” and “external” mean in the context of grocery and clothing chain stores. The majority of the customers in such stores usually come from the outside rather than from the inside, meaning that the focus on the external, as far as customer relations policies go, is not a flawed concept. Focus on the internal component, thus, could be considered pointless and a time-waste, as the potential revenues in comparison to the time and resources spent on including it in the TQM training program would be lacking.
Total quality management in the UK retail sector
This article is dedicated to the implementation of TQM techniques in the UK retail sector. Like in previous articles reviewed as part of this assignment, the research highlights a relatively low percentage of TQM implementation across all businesses, from big to small, with the overall implementation rate of around 15 to 20 percent. In most cases, managers tend to have a limited understanding of the TQM processes or wish to implement it partially, viewing it through the prism of ISO9000 quality control processes. In many scenarios, TQM is viewed simply as a tool to improve the quality of services and products rather than a philosophy that motivates both managers and employees to improve on their work. The research concluded that in the UK retail sector there is a significant potential for improvement and opportunity for profit, should the retail companies apply a holistic approach to the TQM and use it in all areas of their businesses, rather than only in sales or purchases.
The article offers a strong analysis of how TQM implementation is spread across different kinds of retail stores, and what kinds of businesses are more likely to adopt it. It seems that TQM sees the most implementation in the clothes industry, whereas the least – in food stores and restaurants. Besides, most of the implemented TQM techniques revolve around selling items and products to customers and the least are connected with purchasing all the necessary supplies, products, and materials from the suppliers. This highlights the necessity for a holistic approach towards restocking, as much value could be extracted from improving the standards for imported goods.
One issue that is not mentioned about TQM in regards to the retail industry in the United Kingdom is that the research provides no comparative analysis between the companies that implement TQM and those that do not. It is hard to assess the benefits and profitability of implementing TQM without seeing any particular examples in both small and large-scale retail businesses. What this research lacks is the justification as to why TQM is better than the practices currently found in employ, aside from the general theoretical background and hypothetical improvements. While there are mentions of successful TQM implementations by companies in the USA, such as Federal Express and Girobank, an example of a company operating within the United Kingdom would have been more appropriate.
The study does not seem to have any major points of contention, in my opinion. Just like the previous studies, it does not seem to focus much on employees and employee engagement, despite it being of paramount importance to the success or failure of TQM. It seems that the TQM paradigm centers around getting the managers to understand the tenets of TQM so that they could implement them in their work with the employees. However, recent studies show that employee dedication and commitment have a direct influence on organizational performance. Special care must be given not only to ensure that managers understand the TQM strategy of the company, but also to guarantee their ability to make the employees understand and perceive the importance of TQM and other HRM practices, as without understanding it is unlikely that TQM will be adopted properly and holistically. Also, the study does not reflect on the fact that the percentage of acknowledged TQM practices versus implemented ones might be lower than mentioned, as sometimes the theory is acknowledged only nominally.