Quality Management Tools and Techniques…
What are they? How do you implement? What are the benefits of total quality (TQ) and the potential obstacles and risks associated with TQ? Not all individuals and organizations are seeking to fully implement total quality management (TQM), but wish to understand and apply specific TQM problem analysis and improvement techniques. What are these techniques and how are they applied?
TQM Tools and Techniques … When implementing any improvement process within a manufacturing or service environment, you need to have the ability to identify potential improvement opportunities, then systematically implement those opportunities for ongoing improvement. A key requirement in an effective process improvement strategy is that change is based on fact, involves input and buy-in from key stakeholders, is cost effective, timely, measurable and can be maintained.
To achieve the above you need a set of tools and techniques, which you can apply, to problem solving or opportunity achievement.
What is TQM?
Total Quality Management is an approach to business that aims to maximize the competitiveness of an organization through continued improvement of its products, people, processes, services, systems and operating environment. TQM enables an organization through a coordinated strategy of teamwork and innovation to satisfy continually increasing customer expectations, needs and requirements.
In the TQM organization, the focus of management is directed towards meeting customer needs, which are all important and from which sales and profits will follow. It is about empowering all employees who are seen as resources to be developed. Suppliers are treated as business partners whose success is vital to the success of the business itself and who have invaluable technical expertise which can be utilized in improving the end customer experience.
What does implementing TQM involve?
The implementation of TQM means the empowerment of all employees through increased communication, education and training. Successful implementation requires the use of specialist knowledge. “Experts” are used to set up quality standards, procedures and work practices to effect the cultural change of the organization. While the initial investment is relatively high, the investment pays dividends in the long run. Worker expectations are fulfilled, customer loyalty & satisfaction generated, good operating standards are raised. The result is that lower overall operating costs can be expected.
In the TQM organization, the focus of management is directed towards a) meeting customer needs, which are all important and from which sales and profits will follow b) empowering all employees who are seen as resources to be developed, c) treating suppliers as business partners whose success is vital to the success of the business itself and who have invaluable technical expertise which can be utilized in improving the end customer experience.
TQM places an emphasis on the understanding of process variation, the importance of measurement and diagnosis, the role of the customer and the involvement of employees, at all levels in an organization, in pursuit of continuous improvement and reduction in variation between products and services.
You need to approach Total Quality Management via..
• Strategic initiatives
• Customer Focus (Internal & External)
• Obsession with Quality
• Scientific approach to decision making and problem solving
• Long term commitment
• Continual process improvement
• Education and Training
• Unity of Purpose
• Employee involvement and empowerment at all levels
Implementing an effective total quality process should be seen as a long term objective for an organization, however, while the project may be long term, the benefits will start to accrue in the short term and will exponentially increase as the TQM system develops.
Looking briefly at “Strategic Initiatives” (referenced above):
An organization needs to consider the development of plans designed to give a sustainable competitive advantage. What is the organization’s Vision Statement (e.g. best in class for cost of goods sold – COGS), what is the organizational Mission Statement? Are the organization’s objectives made known to all employees? Have the details of the activities required to achieve these objectives (e.g. quality getting a higher priority than throughput, more frequent production campaigns, etc., etc..) been rolled out throughout the organization? All of the strategic initiatives require effective communication which must be cascaded from management. Has the process for ensuring an effective communication process been considered and clearly defined?
The best known TQM Tools and Techniques, to name a few are:
» The ‘5 Whys’ – asking ‘Why?’ at least five times to uncover the root cause of a problem.
» Flowcharts – a boxes and arrows method of examining activities, potentially used in brainstorming, also found in business process modelling.
» Fishbone / Ishikawa Diagrams – fishbone-structured diagram for identifying cause & effect patterns, in which primary categories are generally pre-determined according to context.
» Run Charts – a graph which plots data / change along a timeline.
» Pareto Charts – a line and bar graph displaying cause / effect ratios, especially biggest relative cause, based on Pareto theory.
» Histograms – a bar graph displaying data in simple categories which together account for a total.
» Checklists / Check sheets – pre-formatted lists for noting incidence, frequency, etc., according to known useful criteria
» Control / Shewhart Charts – a standard pattern of performance / time for a given process, often in Run Chart format, which acts as a template to check conformance and deviation.
» Scatter Diagram / Scatter plot – a graph which plots points (typically very many individual instances) according to two variables, which produces a useful visual indication of the relationship between the two variables.
» Process improvement tools such as:
FMEA – Failure Mode Effects Analysis
PDCA – Plan Do Check Act
» Other commonly used techniques:
• Brainstorm analysis
• Fault Tree Analysis
• Hazop Analysis