Business Process Reengineering has many features which are similar to Total Quality Management (TQM): both require extensive commitment from staff and rely heavily on teamwork and problem solving to further improve corporate processes in search of customer satisfaction.
Total Quality Management is a technique of managing that gives everybody in the company responsibility for delivering quality to the final customer, quality being described as fitness for purpose or as delighting the customer.
Generally TQM is not just associated with the various systems that are necessary to run the numerous business processes, like maintenance of business systems, but also the implementation and development of them. The methodology focuses on step by step improvements in quality, while maintaining its current standards of quality it has already implemented.
Many times it is also described as a social initiative impacting the company’s culture, since it concentrates on the creation of cooperation between the functional sections inside the business in order to enhance overall quality.
TQM views each task in the organization as fundamentally a process within the customer – supplier relationship with the next process. The goal at each and every stage is to define and fulfill the customer’s requirements in order to maximize the satisfaction of the final customer at the lowest possible cost.
Perceived Benefits of Total Quality Management
- TQM significantly improves the quality of the final products or services;
- The waste of resources is greatly reduced by TQM;
- As staff is using its time in a more effective manner, productivity will rise sharply;
- A sustainable competitive advantage is to be expected as a result of a long term increase in marketshare, because services and products are improved;
- Because employees are better able to reach their full potential, the workforce will in effect become more motivated.
Some Disadvantages of Total Quality Management
- TQM is very demanding of management and staff time;
- Only when an organization is already heading in the right direction will TQM help. It cannot be seen nor used as an instrument for turning the organization into a different direction;
- One has to realize that TQM is far from a rapid fix: it will take many years to fully implement and in reality is a never ending process;
- Chances are that there will be too much focus on the needs of the final customers, and consequently not enough attention is paid to the needs of the employees;
- Over time TQM can get mechanical and bureaucratic, resulting in a focus on consistency as opposed to improvement, i.e. a focus on the means in stead of the end;
- Finally, careful handling is required, as it is very likely that it will cause disruption at various stages.
TQM versus BPR
But BPR is different from TQM in that its essence is based on discontinuous thinking and in rejecting the assumptions, received wisdom, and routine thinking that frame the way of doing things in many businesses.
In this way it is comparable to Strategic Benchmarking, which is based on the principle that the critical review of internal processes can reveal break points towards significant improvements in quality and competitiveness.
Implementation Of TQM – Food For Thought
Have you been considering implementing Total Quality Management within your organization? Then here is a number of simple do’s and don´ts that will help you in your endeavor of:
- Mapping a TQM strategy;
- Getting TQM to work.
However, before even starting with these activities, first consider these questions:
- Will you have to make changes to the structure of the organization to make clear that quality is the responsibility of everyone?
- About what extent do current reward mechanisms promote employee involvement in quality?
- Will the climate be really suitable for the introduction of TQM?
- Do managers have the integrity and openness that TQM will require from them?
- Does your strategy strike the proper balance between the needs of your customers and your employees?
It is important to answer these questions within your organization honestly. Cheating here will not contribute to the desired goal of being able to deliver high quality products and services, that meet customer needs and requirements, through efficient and effective use of the companies resources, and increasing market share and profits.
Mapping a Total Quality Strategy
In order to get Total Quality Management introduced into your organization, preparation is key. Here are some do´s and don´t you should consider when trying to map your strategy:
Do: Make sure that the commitment is repeatedly conveyed;
Do: Involve all employees in assessing current failures;
Do: Secure commitment from top management from the very beginning.
Don´t: Bring TQM in together with other major new initiatives;
Don´t: Use TQM (or even appear to use TQM) as a way of downsizing;
Don´t: See TQM as a fast and easy fix.
Getting TQM to Work
Once you have you strategy mapped, you can move on to the implementation phase. Remember that TQM is a continuous process, that basically never ends. Here are several areas you should focus on:
Do: Determine where the invisible barriers to change are. Take note of them from the outset and establish a strategy for breaking through them;
Do: Be sure that systems concentrate on measuring the performance of work processes in stead of the individuals engaged in them;
Do: Take notice of the soft side of TQM. Changing culture is as crucial as changing processes;
Do: Make clear that TQM is not a quick fix, but a never ending process of continuous improvement: you will most likely never fully achieve total quality as the targets constantly shift;
Do: Make clear the relationship between TQM and other initiatives within the organization.
Don´t: Don´t try to bring TQM alongside other major initiatives if these already make heavy demands on management time;
Don´t: Don´t lose sight of the ends by excessive concentration on the means;
Don´t: Don´t view TQM as a precisely defined methodology or a selection of neatly tabled sequential actions to be completed one by one.
Paying attention to these tips will increase your chances of successfully introducing and rolling out TQM within your organization. Many have done it already before you, and have proven that TQM is an effective method to increase quality.
TQM versus Lean Six Sigma
Total Quality Management has been around already for some time, whereas Six Sigma basically can still be considered a relatively new concept. Nevertheless, it has never been the intention for Six Sigma to replace TQM. Total Quality Management and Six Sigma have numerous commonalities and are suitable within varied business conditions, such as manufacturing and service industries. Throughout the years TQM has facilitated lots of organizations to significantly improve their quality in relation to the services and products. It is believed that Six Sigma should be capable of producing even better results.
In contrast, where TQM focuses on incremental improvements that basically never ends, Six Sigma differs in that is not only focuses on continuous improvements, but it does so within extreme precise limits nearing perfection, as it targets the number of allowed errors or defects to be less than about 3 in each million. This in fact leads to very Lean Manufacturing. It can be seen to be similar to Statistical Process Control (SPC), that controls and checks business processes by means of statistical methods.
Even though TQM and SPC strive to improve quality, many times a level of quality will be reached at which they are both no longer capable of creating further improvements. That is where Six Sigma steps to the plate and delivers quality improvements which are of a different magnitude.
Six Sigma and TQM fundamentally differ in their approach. The concept of TQM is that it uses internal requirements as the goal on which to focus, whereas Six Sigma is using a more independent target and strives towards a numerical reduction in defects. In several instances the results of both methods can be the same and they have created similar improvements in quality.
Reduction of operational costs is an important area for any organization, especially if it wants to survive in the highly competitive marketplace. That is exactly where Six Sigma places focus. It helps companies not only to cut costs, but also to achieve reductions in cycle time, and defects. By combining these activities with the cost reduction activities, it prevents a possible decrease in quality and value, something that is all to common with regular cost cutting exercises. Six Sigma targets only those costs that provide no contribution to the value for customers, basically costs that are related to waste.
So, where Sig Sigma identifies the entire business process and then improve all of its operations within that process, TQM initiatives on the other hand put their emphasis on the incremental operational improvement within non related business processes. Consequently, TQM programs can be run part time by non dedicated managers, in contrast to Six Sigma projects which call for Black Belt certified experts.
Applications where Six Sigma might actually be better
Where TQM in general does not have pre-knowledge of what the to be expected financial benefits and gains might be, Six Sigma initiatives tend to start with project charter that has a detailed planning of the project. The pan will outline major milestones, the scale of the program, a break down of the tasks, financial impact in terms of cost and benefits. In order to be able to draw up such a plan and to identify the problem areas, provide measurable solutions and make precise estimations, Six Sigma uses a methodology which is abbreviated to DMAIC. This stands for: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Manage, and is the chain of activities it applies.