Managers are responsible for setting and meeting organisational objectives, including the survival of the organisation. The environment in which most organisations operate in the 1990's is becoming increasingly competitive. The globalisation of national economies, recession and government regulation and policies such as the training guarantee levy, superannuation guarantee and quality assurance requirements are seen to be factors inhibiting the development and even survival of organisations.
The application of strategic management, where the organisation evaluates its position in internal and external environments, has been the traditional method for ensuring that the organisation has strategy and direction for long term survival. In the environment where there is customer driven change towards quality there must be change in the focus of organisations. The words Total Quality Control (TQC), Total Quality Management (TQM), Quality System, Quality Assurance (QA) and statistical process control (SPC) have all been identified with organisational success. Some managers maintain that the control of quality is an essential element. An organisation which has to contend with a large number of product returns and customer complaints has problems. But talk to the converted and they will attempt to convince you that quality can ensure or improve organisational success, even if your organisation is already successful.
There has been frequent reference to the dominance of Japan in many markets to illustrate the association between quality and success but, an investigation into Japanese business practices highlights that, although the results proposed by the management system of TQM are possible, there are significant situational and cultural events that have assisted the success of companies in that country.
This thesis determines that quality is not tangible, observable, nor is it objectively measurable rather it is defined by customers needs which change. Achieving quality is a "journey" involving change in all functions, aspects, individuals and organisational linkages to the outside environment. Meeting the needs and expectations of customers requires significant changes in the organisation, particularly in its management. A system of management, known as Total Quality Management (TQM), is being adopted by many organisations to change the focus of organisations and their members.
There have been many books and articles written about TQM. These highlight to readers that TQM is a comprehensive set of tools for management to apply to permanently change organisations, particularly their cultures, so that they continually upgrade and improve all aspects of their operations, products and services to meet the needs and expectations of customers. TQM is a strategy that organisations implement.
Literature on TQM is strong on philosophy and while some of this literature suggests various phases of implementing TQM, there is little detail on the process of implementation nor the key issues which emerge. Is there any difference between the implementation of TQM or the implementation of any other strategy ? It is hypothesised that TQM implementation involves the same techniques and problems to be overcome that are encountered when any organisation attempts to change from its strategic direction. Implementation issues and problems are investigated by drawing upon the experiences of organisations in Australia who are practising TQM through the use of detailed case studies, limited interviewing and a workshop.
The thesis draws a number conclusions about TQM
• TQM it is a large, all-encompassing philosophy and approach to management and organisational operations.
• TQM requires a long term approach and has to be treated as a top management project.
• The significance of TQM is in the word total. Continual improvement must occur in the whole organisation and with every individual employee. There also must be an understanding that it is the total offering to the customer which is important not just the product or the service.
• Companies are actually implementing TQM to improve their relationship with customers. It is unfortunate that, to date, many organisations who are using TQM to turn the organisation around have faced closure of some or all of their operations.
• Every company is different because each has a different culture and they have employees with different backgrounds and work experience, so that, implementation will require a different approach in each company.
• When used in conjunction with a number of strategic tools the TQM concept can initiate profound and lasting organisational change. But without knowledge of the business failure can still occur.
• Successful organisations have emphasised the human resource issues, such as participative management and training, and applied appropriate measurement and reward systems.
• Consultants must be used carefully because the organisation must learn. When the consultant leaves they must be able to continue the process.
• TQM is intended be a "way of life", there can be no end, except to suggest that implementation has been successful when it (TQM) is seen as a way of life.
• With respect to TQM implementation, the following conclusions are drawn:
• Good implementation requires that all facets and functions of an organisation be involved and this depends upon the knowledge, experiences and culture of the organisation and the people within.
• Implementation is achieved using a traditional approach involving the organisation looking at a number of integrated elements; planning, structure, culture, employees, management and leadership, measurement and rewards.
• The first step is to achieve changes in and commitment from management especially, senior managers.
• Establishing a good implementation plan and a culture responsive to change are the second step.
• The implementation must be applied correctly and appropriately. Organisations must select, from sometimes contradictory advice, an approach to adopt. The approach must be converted into a language the organisation can understand and it can then be modified to fit into the organisation.
• There must be effective review because the whole organisation is being changed. Old values left in the system may see the organisation changes stagnate or the organisation revert to the old ways. Changes must be made permanent.