The Inevitability of offering poor quality products or services to today’s sophisticated buyers is the direct loss of profit and market share. New ventures getting their nascent operations off the ground as well as established enterprises are facing this reality routinely. Consequently CEO’s around the world have begun viewing quality more seriously than they have done in the past. Some are seeking ISO 9000 accreditation, while others are integrating quality formally into their business strategy. However, many of them find the related tasks to be a bigger challenge than commissioning new technology or getting a collaboration to work smoothly. Success in today’s competitive market place appears to depend on one key factor- the proximity of company’s practices to Total Quality Management (TQM).
Experts remind repeatedly that TQM goes considerably beyond ISO 9000 and also beyond QS 9000. TQM means a major re-orientation in a company’s practices. Indeed TQM requires all functional activities to be conducted with the soul purpose of satisfying the customer. Running a company based on such a philosophy therefore is tougher than acquiring an accreditation. TQM holds that all other business objectives follow from the single objective of “satisfying the customer”. TQM has no other mission.
In organization under TQM achieving customer satisfaction and ceaselessly seeking incremental improvement become the guiding beacons. In these organizations CEO’s commit their time, their enthusiasm and the resources of the organization to achieve satisfaction of “internal and external” customers.
What is TQM?
TQM is said to be a major augmentation to the traditional way an enterprise does business. TQM requires all activities of the enterprise to be managed with the single focus “satisfy the customer”. All other objectives if the enterprise – profits market share expansion, improved competitive position, capital productivity, cost reductions etc follow as its consequences. When quality products and quality services become the enterprise’s obsession, productivity and lower cost’s materialize from reduced scrap, rework, returns and the reduced recurrence of quality problems. Productivity is also positively affected by the extend each employee owns the results of his/her efforts.
Ownership of results means that the individual or team has taken responsibility for and is willing to be held accountable for improving the performance of the process. Training greatly enhances this willingness. Improving a process implies, improving not only the process itself, but also improving the links between that process and others- either before it or after it, or parallel to it. Participation in delivering and sustaining quality thus becomes necessary to adopting TQM successfully. This is a state that traditionally managed enterprises find very difficult to attain for they provide little, if any training. TQM is defined as an organizational obsession with meeting or exceeding customer expectation.
Benefits and drawbacks of the ISO 9000 quality system
The ISO 9000 quality system has a great advantage in promoting worldwide quality awareness, through assessment and certification. ISO 9000 standards create a global awareness of quality systems. The benefits of adopting ISO 9000 are obvious. They include:
- Marketing advantages of ISO 9000 certification;
- Better documentation system;
- Quality awareness among internal staff;
- Efficiency improvements/cost reductions.
When compared with the TQM system, ISO 9000 does not consider quality cost as a mandatory requirement. If a company does not control the implementation and running costs, it may be that the cost saving (on improving quality, reducing scrap and improving efficiency) cannot compensate the cost of adopting the ISO 9000 system.
Neglecting the human factor in its system elements, the ISO 9000 system may find it difficult to promote quality improvement programmes, compared with the TQM system. Non-assessable elements like teamwork and motivation are all absent in the assessment documents (ISO 9001,9002.9003). But they have already been added to the guideline documents of the revised ISO 9000 system (e.g. the ISO 9004 guideline).