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For businesses, a major way to improve quality and operational performance is to adopt the process-oriented approach (Evans & Lindsay 2013); the ultimate goal of this strategy is to increase customer satisfaction. The process-oriented approach suggests that companies should analyze their operation in terms of sequences of activities, identify weaknesses, and eliminate any process components that do no comply with those companies’ strategic goals.
A company that will be examined in the presented report is VS Middles East, which sells furniture and provides project management services in the UAE (About us n.d.); the parent company is located in Germany. To provide recommendations for the company in terms of quality management, the presented research report will review relevant literature, collect data, and analyze it.
Key Research Questions, Objectives, and Aims
The goal of the presented research is to assess the policies and practices of VS Middle East associated with process-oriented quality management. The research questions can be formulated as follows: What are VS Middle East’s quality management systems and standards? What process-oriented strategies does the company adopt to achieve its quality management goals? The primary objective is to identify particular aspects of the quality management system based on the available materials and reports from the company. Before that, relevant literature should be explored so that a theoretical framework is established in which the company’s strategies can be assessed.
The research aims to apply existing knowledge about process-oriented quality management to the operation of a particular company. This will allow not only identifying particular methods used by VS Middle East to manage quality successfully but also evaluating the effectiveness of the company’s activities in this regard. Insight into quality management in a particular company can provide valuable evidence currently missing from academic literature; moreover, when the assessment is completed, recommendations can be provided as per improving the system in place.
Academic literature has been reviewed to establish the theoretical framework for the research. First of all, according to Evans and Lindsay (2013, p. 205), a process is ‘a sequence of linked activities that are intended to achieve some result;’ there are various processes in organizations, and to enable effective process management, it is necessary to ensure that processes are repeatable and measurable. Three types of activities contribute to process management: design, control, and improvement. Quality can be improved by adopting the process-oriented approach as opposed to other possible approaches, such as the project-oriented, product-oriented, or potential-oriented approaches.
The control component of process management has attracted a lot of academic attention. Particularly, the concept of total quality management (TQM) has been proposed, and its application to real-life organizations has been studied. A key element of the TQM framework is a leadership (Stracke 2006); the framework suggests that the management should be highly involved in processes by not only providing instructions but also eliminating any components of a process if it has been confirmed that those components do not contribute to positive outcomes or hinder desired results (Soltani & Lai 2007).
However, it should not be overlooked that TQM can meet resistance from the workforce, and relevant studies have suggested that it is more effective to empower the workforce and encourage employees to engage in process improvement instead of imposing regulations and introducing changes constantly.
The reviewed literature suggests that process-oriented quality management can be defined as a strategy aimed at improving the ultimate quality of operation (specifically, in terms of value creation) using analyzing all the processes that constitute the operation of an organization and optimizing them.
The strategy is not necessarily problem-driven; instead of searching for solutions to particular problems or initiating cross-departmental projects, process-oriented quality managers examine established processes as sequences of activities that either contribute to achieving the strategic goals or do not. Analyzed processes can be visually represented as flowcharts or diagrams of other types; once all their components and possibly external factors are understood and taken into consideration, it is possible to introduce improvements.
A way to assess the process-oriented quality management in the selected company is to analyze VS Middle East’s statements regarding the company’s quality principles; such statements can be accessed on the company’s official website. Qualitative analysis can be used for assessing organizational standards because it allows gaining insight into the way an organization operated without measuring the operation based on a predesigned scale (Baškarada 2014). Collected data can be further analyzed according to the established theoretical framework (see Literature Review), and this will allow concluding the company’s compliance with acknowledged quality management strategies.
VS Middle East explains its quality management in a statement on corporate quality and responsibility (Quality orientation and responsibility 2008). According to the statement, the company is strongly committed to the process-oriented quality management, and it is declared that ‘internal company processes are rigorously aligned to unconditional quality assurance’ (Quality orientation and responsibility 2008, para. 1).
Further examination reveals that the company’s primary tool for ensuring compliance with quality management principles is providing its employees with clear guidelines through a management handbook. It shows that delivering precise instructions to the workforce is a major instrument the company uses in its quality management, and it complies with the process-oriented framework employed in this research.
Two major points emphasized in the statement are the description of processes and the company’s compliance with international standards. VS Middle East recognizes that describing all the processes precisely, especially value-creation processes (Evans & Lindsay 2013), is crucial; moreover, the company relies on the standard of its parent company (based in Germany) and thus ensures that the processes are properly aligned with the strategic goals defined based on the market research.
The statement also refers to scheduling; it is important that the processes associated with manufacturing and distribution meet the schedule because it indicates the success of initial planning. From the process-oriented quality management perspective, all the points delivered in the statements appear to comply with the established theoretical perspective.
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In terms of answering the research questions, it can be stated that the VS Middle East’s quality management system is based on operational process standards, and these standards primarily encompass describing processes in detail (through corporate guidelines and instructions) and complying with international requirements, including those of the organization’s parent company. The process-oriented strategies the company adopts include scheduling, planning, and instructing the workforce extensively.
Discussion and Conclusions
The key findings of the research outlined above suggest that VS Middle East acknowledges confirmed quality management strategies; moreover, the company has adopted the process-oriented approach. It is evident from the company’s statement that it not only engages in two major aspects of the organizational operation—design and control—but also makes efforts aimed at contributing to the third aspect, which is an improvement.
However, it should not be overlooked that organizations’ declared principles may be different from actual organizational practices. Therefore, further research is needed to examine the managerial procedures at VS Middle East. Also, the employee perspective can be explored; it is possible that the declared meaning of internal operation processes is different from the employees’ perceptions of what the company does in terms of quality management and how successful its implementation of the process-oriented approach is. Overall, the research has demonstrated that it is possible to assess quality management policies and practices of an organization based on a theoretical framework derived from relevant academic literature.
Recommendations in the context of quality management can be aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of a company’s operation. Effectiveness can be measured by considering how successful a company is in terms of achieving its goals; effective strategies are those that produce expected results. Further, being efficient means achieving the same results with a lesser volume of resources or achieving better results with the same volume of resources.
For VS Middle East, it can be recommended that the company pays more attention to the workforce engagement. The literature review confirms that control practices may be ineffective if they are carried out by the management solely without empowering employees.
If VS Middle East encourages its employees to participate in the quality improvement efforts and to propose positive changes to the processes, it can be expected that the company’s management will receive valuable feedback regarding the components of various processes, including those components that should be eliminated because they do not contribute to achieving strategic goals. Employee empowerment will allow VS Middle East to ensure that its processes comply with the quality improvement strategy.
About us n.d. Web.
Baškarada, S 2014, ‘Qualitative case study guidelines’, The Qualitative Report, vol. 19, no. 40, pp. 1-25.
Evans, JR & Lindsay, WM 2013, Managing for quality and performance excellence, 9th edn, Cengage Learning, Mason, OH.
Quality orientation and responsibility 2008. Web.
Soltani, E & Lai, PC 2007, Process control and total quality management: a qualitative study of three manufacturing organisations. Web.
Stracke, CM 2006, ‘Process-oriented quality management’, in U-D Ehlers & JM Pawlowski (eds), Handbook on quality and standardisation in e-learning, Springer, Berlin, Germany, pp. 79-96.