SSC351--IMPROVING OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY THROUGH TQM
Total Quality Management (TQM)
Defined simply, quality management, or total quality management, is the systematic and continuous improvement of the quality of products, services, and life using all available human and capital resources.
The ongoing quest of quality management is continuous improvement, where companies use tools and techniques such as statistical process control, brainstorming, feedback from employees and suppliers, and customer surveys. All of these aid the firms in measuring their current operating performance and help identify where corrective actions are needed. By securing information from these sources, the firms can correct their problems and set higher-quality management goals.
The International Benchmarking Clearing house defines benchmarking as "the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices and processes from organisations anywhere in the world to help your organisation improves its performance." Some of the practices and processes include customer service, human resources, and warehousing and distribution.
By learning from other firms with similar practices and processes and comparing performance, an organisation that is behind tries to achieve breakthrough performance by catching up and then staying ahead by continually improving its performance. As a result, the organisation can avoid reinventing existing solutions that other firms have already discovered and tested.
To achieve their goals of cutting costs to obtain higher productivity, improve customer service, and as a result, improve their competitive position and increase earnings, many firms have downsized, or restructured.
Re-engineering is an approach where business processes are analysed and studied to redesign the processes and then implement new processes.
Employee Participation on Work Teams
Total quality management involves employee participation and empowerment on different kinds of teams. For example, a total quality team may include a cross section of members representing some part of the information-gathering process under study: those who work within the process, the suppliers of services and materials brought into the process, and the beneficiaries of the processthe customers. Or, an interdisciplinary team may be set up to tackle specific tasks as part of the firms re-engineering. Still another form is the cross-functional team formed along functional lines such as marketing, finance, and engineering. Here, the teams objective may be to develop ideas for new products across all of the companys product lines. Then there is the self-managed, or self-directed, team, which, to a greater or lesser extent, performs roles and makes decisions traditionally reserved for management.
To cut costs in their competitive struggle and to conduct business with smaller staffs as a result of downsizing, many firms turn to outsourcing. Outsourcing is using an outside vendor to handle in-house tasks or services such as mailroom management, payroll accounting, benefits administration, data processing, legal services, computer operations, telecommunications, and temporary staffing.
Another example of employee involvement on work teams is quality circlea group of workers who voluntarily meet together to identify, analyse, and solve job-related quality problems and to develop employee potential. The proposed solutions, designed to lead to cost reduction and increased productivity, are submitted to management for adoption or rejection. The number of members in a quality circle varies from 3 to 15, with an ideal size being 7 or 8. The members of a circle should be from the same work area or do similar work so that the problems they select will be familiar to all of them. The quality circle teams must be allowed to meet regularly on company-paid time. To help focus the activity of the quality circle, each group has a leader, who may be a supervisor or a person selected by the group. The leader, a key person in each circle, helps keep the team "on course" and acts as spokesperson for the group. Quality circle members should be trained in statistical methods, group dynamics, and problem-solving techniques. The members should be permitted to choose the problems they will tackle and, where possible, become involved by implementing the solutions and monitoring the results. Working with each is a facilitator, or co-ordinator, a company employee who serves as a consultant to a number of circles.