Total quality management to boost exports
Ahmed Showkat Masud
TOTAL Quality Management (TQM) is not just quality control or quality assurance. It cannot be explained within a framework of total quality management system. It is a continuous dynamic process with a philosophical base. It incorporates many concepts. It involves every functional department as well as all members of the organisations who will render their services for continuous never-ending improvements.
TQM organisations will collect market feedback through their sales personnel. Finding out the customers demand will be the next task. Satisfying the customers by improving the process as per market feedback through total involvement of all departments and employees will assure TQM.
Identifying customers' demands will help in identifying the problem that cause dissatisfaction of customers. Though customers are the driving force behind the process, without involvement of all employees and management the TQM efforts become futile.
Quality management systems have evolved through Quality Control (QC), Quality Assurance (QA) and Total Quality Control (TQC) systems. Finally Total Quality Management (TQR) system has been evolved.
Quality control is concerned with defect detection by using post-production inspection. Random sampling is used by quality controller (QC). Inspection is made by inspecting the finished goods. In this system employee involvement is minimal. Few inspectors or controllers from QC department do the job. It takes some days. Such systems do not help identify problems. Because random sampling is used.
Quality Assurance (QA) system is built-in the system that produces the product. The aim is to produce the product as per design specification. Defect prevention is the target here. The main focus is on the process.
Quality systems standards are adopted to assure quality in the process. The employee involvement is limited within the QA department.
Under total quality control system the drive is made towards continual improvement with cost reduction efforts. This system take off once the cost of quality is calculated. TQC system involves the whole production process. Quality Assurance (QA) system forms the basis for TQC and TQM approach.
TQM is the system of activities directed at achieving delighted customers, empowered employees, higher revenues and lower costs. Here, the customers are the driving force who provide feedback for error free product development.
Translating the customers demand into production process is Quality Function Deployment (QFD). QFD is a method used to identify critical customer attributes and to create a link between customers attributes and production process. QFD provides a cross functional approach for organising and linking the customer survey information with product design attributes and later deploying it in stages throughout the organisation. QFD method involves identifying customers need, and substitute products characteristics, relating customer attributes to product characteristics, determining which product features to deploy throughout the production process etc. Deployment of product features throughout the organisation imposes responsibility on every functional department and requires empowerment of employees and managements so that each department and persons of the organisation could be attached with the process which will be continuous and never ending. Empowered employees must be sensitised to the organisational goal so that their empowerment can be applied effectively. Management responsibility will be to define common vision for the organisation.
TQM process emerged over the century. Our organisations, specially those in the export sector, lag far behind in comparison to their global competitors in terms of customer orientation, innovation, timely delivery of goods etc. Our garment sector uses QC that is quality control inspectors to measure the quality. Buying houses also do the same. Their focus is based on whether the produced goods comply with the specification which is fixed at the time of giving order that is as per specification of export letter of credit (LC). Leather industry, pharmaceutical sector, export-oriented shrimps, ceramic items etc. have entered into global market. We may be having capacities in some cases but we oftenly fail in terms of global quality. It we can practice TQM system in our export-oriented manufacturing organisations, we will be able to increase our market share significantly in the global market. Positioning in the global market will then be easier.
The writer is a banker and works with a private bank branch at Khatunganj, Chittagong