Total Quality Management TQM Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Total quality management (TQM)

Total Quality Management is a particular management style where the aim is to produce total quality products for a customer or a client, where the customer has the right to define 'quality'. When the customer declares that the particular product or service is not up to the mark or of inferior quality or anything else, then the product or the service is considered to be not of the optimum quality, and needs to be improved further. Total quality management allows for continuous improvement based on the customers' opinion, and this is what is special about the entire concept, since the views and the opinions of the customer are taken extremely seriously, and various steps are taken to see that the product is changed or improved according to the necessity, and also that the product will be changed continuously over a period of time. (Total quality management: www.questia.com)

How is the concept of Total Quality Management relevant today? In today's world, almost all the products and services that are offered for sale in the market are distinguished by newer and newer changes and innovations. New information is generated almost on an hourly basis, and in order to cope with this type of influx, the market behavior has had to change. Customers have been given the right to test and pass judgments on what is better and what is bad, and customer needs have also been showing rapid changes all the time. This type of change is a phenomenon that is representative of today's world, where change is something that would take place in a few months and not over a few years as it used to happen in the years past. (Total Quality management: Business Owners toolkit)

One case in example is that of computer printers. This product is generally prone to becoming obsolete in a matter of months, and the computer field personnel have to be very careful when they are introducing such new products into the market. They would have to make a provision for amending and changing the product as time progresses, as the computer printer will supposedly last for just six months, after which time a newer and later version will take over. Since it is a fact that any business would only have a limited amount of resources, it is very vulnerable and susceptible to all these changes. When customer satisfaction is given top priority, however, according to the principles of Total Quality Management, then it would be a boon for the business. This is how TQM is relevant in today's world where change is a matter of everyday life. (Total Quality management: Business Owners toolkit)

Definition of Quality:

It is important, when attempting to define Quality in total quality management, to be able to distinguish between improvement in quality, and quality assurance. Quality assurance is the system of activities that have been created with the idea of ensuring that the production of the product meets certain standards required of it. This offers the customer the guarantee that the product is in conformance to the various specifications required of it. Quality improvement is an entirely different issue. This means that a lot of efforts would be put in towards the improvement and the betterment of the product that the customer wants and expects of the product. It is during the product quality improvement that a lot of efforts are put in, and continuously, since the entire process involves the striving towards a better understanding of the product and of the market where the product will be placed, and new and innovative processes would be implemented, and the management and the distribution of the materials and the products would be improved, and the ultimate service to the customer would be vastly improved. (Total Quality management, an overview)

Therefore, quality in this case can be explained as a continuous process of the improvement of the product based on an innate understanding of the market and the needs and wants of the customer, and the end product of which would offer immense satisfaction to both the customer as well as to the marketer. The inherent success of total quality management of a product would definitely depend on the involvement and the understanding of all the embers of the organization wherein all the external and the internal needs of the customer would be satisfied to a great extent. The process of negotiations and consultations with the ultimate customer would have to be continuously maintained, and the product would be measured against the basis of the customer's needs and expectations. (Total Quality management, an overview)

The characteristics of the output of the customer of the product that is being put up for sale that are important as far as the customer is concerned also describe the quality in the equation of total quality management. The knowledge and the understanding of the quality of the product depend to a very great extent on the understanding of the customer's needs. (Total Quality management Glossary) Quality is also referred to as the 'conformance' to the various requirements of the customer, while specification is defined as the specification of quality that must be followed by the company in its implementation of the customers needs and wants in the product. (Total Quality Management- TQM Tutorial)

The Cost of Quality:

The concept of 'quality' has become one of keen interest in businesses all over the world, especially of late. However, there has always been the ever-present problem of how to set about measuring the elusive concept of 'quality', and the 'cost of quality'. Though there are a number of definitions on the cost of quality, and how to measure it, when the concept of 'Activity-based Costing' is used, it becomes easier to define it. It is now clear that quality is in fact nothing but the 'conformance to requirements' of the customer that he puts forth about a particular product in the market. The problem faced by many marketers is that this will be made clear to them only after the product has been launched already, that is, after the fact, when the damage as seen by the customer has already been done and is over with. Another disadvantage is that it is a time as well as cost consuming process to discover the mistakes in the product, and set about the tedious exercise of correcting the mistakes that have been discovered, or in some cases, even discarding the product to start all over again. Even then there will be no guarantee that the product would be better the second time, and that all the mistakes discovered would be rectified this time. (The Cost of Quality: Consumer Focused Quality)

So, what is the solution to this problem? The best solution would be to 'prevent' the problem from occurring. When prevention is carried out, then conformity to the requirements would be much easier and more viable, and conformity can be achieved each and every time the job is done. This is what is sometimes defined as the 'zero defects' syndrome of a product. The only good and valid method of measuring quality, is therefore, referred to as the 'price of non-conformance' wherein the cost that is expended on discovering, correcting and rectifying the errors, and getting rid of unwanted material is counted as the 'cost' of the quality of the product. The difficulty here, however, is that there are more than a thousand activities that make up the total work of the entire organization. This is where the new concept of 'activity-based costing; will come in handy.

This is a concept that allocates costs to the specific activities within an organization, and not to the specific departments or to the functions of the departments. These costs include the labor costs, costs of materials, and the various overhead costs that are incurred when running a business establishment. Therefore all the activities are divided into three main categories: the appraisal of the costs of creating a product, like for example, the designing of the machine, the financial reports pertaining to the design, the costs towards selling the product, etc., the second category being that of preventive activities, namely, ensuring that all the steps that are undertaken would bring about the desired results without the possibility of a break down. All corrective activities would take place after the initial two steps have been carried out successfully. (The Cost of Quality: Consumer Focused Quality)

The Evolution of Total Quality Management:

Long before the ideas and the concepts of the Total quality management were created and formalized, a lot of effort and work had been undertaken over the years and through the centuries. In the years gone by, whenever a product was manufactured, that product would be tested and evaluated, and a decision would be taken as to whether the product would be launched into the market or rejected at that stage. When businesses and manufacturing units started to grow in size, the role of inspection became more and…

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