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Total quality management: three case studies from around the world

With organisations to run and big orders to fill, it’s easy to see how some ceos inadvertently sacrifice quality for quantity. by integrating a system of total quality management it’s possible to have both.

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There are few boardrooms in the world whose inhabitants don’t salivate at the thought of engaging in a little aggressive expansion. After all, there’s little room in a contemporary, fast-paced business environment for any firm whose leaders don’t subscribe to ambitions of bigger factories, healthier accounts and stronger turnarounds. Yet too often such tales of excess go hand-in-hand with complaints of a severe drop in quality.

Food and entertainment markets are riddled with cautionary tales, but service sectors such as health and education aren’t immune to the disappointing by-products of unsustainable growth either. As always, the first steps in avoiding a catastrophic forsaking of quality begins with good management.

There are plenty of methods and models geared at managing the quality of a particular company’s goods or services. Yet very few of those models take into consideration the widely held belief that any company is only as strong as its weakest link. With that in mind, management consultant William Deming developed an entirely new set of methods with which to address quality.

Deming, whose managerial work revolutionised the titanic Japanese manufacturing industry, perceived quality management to be more of a philosophy than anything else. Top-to-bottom improvement, he reckoned, required uninterrupted participation of all key employees and stakeholders. Thus, the total quality management (TQM) approach was born.

All in Similar to the Six Sigma improvement process, TQM ensures long-term success by enforcing all-encompassing internal guidelines and process standards to reduce errors. By way of serious, in-depth auditing – as well as some well-orchestrated soul-searching – TQM ensures firms meet stakeholder needs and expectations efficiently and effectively, without forsaking ethical values.

By opting to reframe the way employees think about the company’s goals and processes, TQM allows CEOs to make sure certain things are done right from day one. According to Teresa Whitacre, of international consulting firm ASQ , proper quality management also boosts a company’s profitability.

“Total quality management allows the company to look at their management system as a whole entity — not just an output of the quality department,” she says. “Total quality means the organisation looks at all inputs, human resources, engineering, production, service, distribution, sales, finance, all functions, and their impact on the quality of all products or services of the organisation. TQM can improve a company’s processes and bottom line.”

Embracing the entire process sees companies strive to improve in several core areas, including: customer focus, total employee involvement, process-centred thinking, systematic approaches, good communication and leadership and integrated systems. Yet Whitacre is quick to point out that companies stand to gain very little from TQM unless they’re willing to go all-in.

“Companies need to consider the inputs of each department and determine which inputs relate to its governance system. Then, the company needs to look at the same inputs and determine if those inputs are yielding the desired results,” she says. “For example, ISO 9001 requires management reviews occur at least annually. Aside from minimum standard requirements, the company is free to review what they feel is best for them. While implementing TQM, they can add to their management review the most critical metrics for their business, such as customer complaints, returns, cost of products, and more.”

The customer knows best: AtlantiCare TQM isn’t an easy management strategy to introduce into a business; in fact, many attempts tend to fall flat. More often than not, it’s because firms maintain natural barriers to full involvement. Middle managers, for example, tend to complain their authority is being challenged when boots on the ground are encouraged to speak up in the early stages of TQM. Yet in a culture of constant quality enhancement, the views of any given workforce are invaluable.

AtlantiCare in numbers

5,000 Employees

$280m Profits before quality improvement strategy was implemented

$650m Profits after quality improvement strategy

One firm that’s proven the merit of TQM is New Jersey-based healthcare provider AtlantiCare . Managing 5,000 employees at 25 locations, AtlantiCare is a serious business that’s boasted a respectable turnaround for nearly two decades. Yet in order to increase that margin further still, managers wanted to implement improvements across the board. Because patient satisfaction is the single-most important aspect of the healthcare industry, engaging in a renewed campaign of TQM proved a natural fit. The firm chose to adopt a ‘plan-do-check-act’ cycle, revealing gaps in staff communication – which subsequently meant longer patient waiting times and more complaints. To tackle this, managers explored a sideways method of internal communications. Instead of information trickling down from top-to-bottom, all of the company’s employees were given freedom to provide vital feedback at each and every level.

AtlantiCare decided to ensure all new employees understood this quality culture from the onset. At orientation, staff now receive a crash course in the company’s performance excellence framework – a management system that organises the firm’s processes into five key areas: quality, customer service, people and workplace, growth and financial performance. As employees rise through the ranks, this emphasis on improvement follows, so managers can operate within the company’s tight-loose-tight process management style.

After creating benchmark goals for employees to achieve at all levels – including better engagement at the point of delivery, increasing clinical communication and identifying and prioritising service opportunities – AtlantiCare was able to thrive. The number of repeat customers at the firm tripled, and its market share hit a six-year high. Profits unsurprisingly followed. The firm’s revenues shot up from $280m to $650m after implementing the quality improvement strategies, and the number of patients being serviced dwarfed state numbers.

Hitting the right notes: Santa Cruz Guitar Co For companies further removed from the long-term satisfaction of customers, it’s easier to let quality control slide. Yet there are plenty of ways in which growing manufacturers can pursue both quality and sales volumes simultaneously. Artisan instrument makers the Santa Cruz Guitar Co (SCGC) prove a salient example. Although the California-based company is still a small-scale manufacturing operation, SCGC has grown in recent years from a basement operation to a serious business.

SCGC in numbers

14 Craftsmen employed by SCGC

800 Custom guitars produced each year

Owner Dan Roberts now employs 14 expert craftsmen, who create over 800 custom guitars each year. In order to ensure the continued quality of his instruments, Roberts has created an environment that improves with each sale. To keep things efficient (as TQM must), the shop floor is divided into six workstations in which guitars are partially assembled and then moved to the next station. Each bench is manned by a senior craftsman, and no guitar leaves that builder’s station until he is 100 percent happy with its quality. This product quality is akin to a traditional assembly line; however, unlike a traditional, top-to-bottom factory, Roberts is intimately involved in all phases of instrument construction.

Utilising this doting method of quality management, it’s difficult to see how customers wouldn’t be satisfied with the artists’ work. Yet even if there were issues, Roberts and other senior management also spend much of their days personally answering web queries about the instruments. According to the managers, customers tend to be pleasantly surprised to find the company’s senior leaders are the ones answering their technical questions and concerns. While Roberts has no intentions of taking his manufacturing company to industrial heights, the quality of his instruments and high levels of customer satisfaction speak for themselves; the company currently boasts one lengthy backlog of orders.

A quality education: Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies Although it may appear easier to find success with TQM at a boutique-sized endeavour, the philosophy’s principles hold true in virtually every sector. Educational institutions, for example, have utilised quality management in much the same way – albeit to tackle decidedly different problems.

The global financial crisis hit higher education harder than many might have expected, and nowhere have the odds stacked higher than in India. The nation plays home to one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for business education. Yet over recent years, the relevance of business education in India has come into question. A report by one recruiter recently asserted just one in four Indian MBAs were adequately prepared for the business world.

RIMS in numbers

9% Increase in test scores post total quality management strategy

22% Increase in number of recruiters hiring from the school

20,000 Increase in the salary offered to graduates

50,000 Rise in placement revenue

At the Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies (RIMS) in Bangalore, recruiters and accreditation bodies specifically called into question the quality of students’ educations. Although the relatively small school has always struggled to compete with India’s renowned Xavier Labour Research Institute, the faculty finally began to notice clear hindrances in the success of graduates. The RIMS board decided it was time for a serious reassessment of quality management.

The school nominated Chief Academic Advisor Dr Krishnamurthy to head a volunteer team that would audit, analyse and implement process changes that would improve quality throughout (all in a particularly academic fashion). The team was tasked with looking at three key dimensions: assurance of learning, research and productivity, and quality of placements. Each member underwent extensive training to learn about action plans, quality auditing skills and continuous improvement tools – such as the ‘plan-do-study-act’ cycle.

Once faculty members were trained, the team’s first task was to identify the school’s key stakeholders, processes and their importance at the institute. Unsurprisingly, the most vital processes were identified as student intake, research, knowledge dissemination, outcomes evaluation and recruiter acceptance. From there, Krishnamurthy’s team used a fishbone diagram to help identify potential root causes of the issues plaguing these vital processes. To illustrate just how bad things were at the school, the team selected control groups and administered domain-based knowledge tests.

The deficits were disappointing. A RIMS students’ knowledge base was rated at just 36 percent, while students at Harvard rated 95 percent. Likewise, students’ critical thinking abilities rated nine percent, versus 93 percent at MIT. Worse yet, the mean salaries of graduating students averaged $36,000, versus $150,000 for students from Kellogg. Krishnamurthy’s team had their work cut out.

To tackle these issues, Krishnamurthy created an employability team, developed strategic architecture and designed pilot studies to improve the school’s curriculum and make it more competitive. In order to do so, he needed absolutely every employee and student on board – and there was some resistance at the onset. Yet the educator asserted it didn’t actually take long to convince the school’s stakeholders the changes were extremely beneficial.

“Once students started seeing the results, buy-in became complete and unconditional,” he says. Acceptance was also achieved by maintaining clearer levels of communication with stakeholders. The school actually started to provide shareholders with detailed plans and projections. Then, it proceeded with a variety of new methods, such as incorporating case studies into the curriculum, which increased general test scores by almost 10 percent. Administrators also introduced a mandate saying students must be certified in English by the British Council – increasing scores from 42 percent to 51 percent.

By improving those test scores, the perceived quality of RIMS skyrocketed. The number of top 100 businesses recruiting from the school shot up by 22 percent, while the average salary offers graduates were receiving increased by $20,000. Placement revenue rose by an impressive $50,000, and RIMS has since skyrocketed up domestic and international education tables.

No matter the business, total quality management can and will work. Yet this philosophical take on quality control will only impact firms that are in it for the long haul. Every employee must be in tune with the company’s ideologies and desires to improve, and customer satisfaction must reign supreme.


  • Industry Outlook


Gillette’s Total Quality Management System Case Study

Introduction, gillette gets employees to take on the new system, involving teams in the tqm process, the working culture.

Gillette began its global operations in 1905 when it opened a manufacturing plant in Germany. This global strategy and success saw the firm extending its operation to Latin America. Argentina was a potential market after tariffs and business policies were revised. Having operated under unfavorable regime, the firm perceived future competition and decided to create competitive advantages.

Key figures in the firm such as Carlos Rotundo and Jorge Micozzi suggested better quality as the solution to the market issues. The management had to change the organizational culture which was not strategic for the future market circumstances. Rotundo had already began creating a new organizational culture when Micozzin came up with the idea of total quality management (TQM) that made Gillette Argentina the most successful affiliate in Latin America.

Due to the great success of Gillette’s TQM system, this research was commenced to do a case study on “quality at Gillette Argentina”. The paper begins by evaluating the ways in which the firm got its employees to take on the new TQM system. It proceeds to discuss the importance of getting the teams involved in TQM process as well as identifying the ways in which the teams improved the process.

The paper also explains the meaning of the phrase “Beyond the hanging fruits, the most important outcome of this effort was a different way of working with sales” and highlights how Gillette changed the way it looks at its customers. Finally, there is a description of the working culture before and after the implementation of TQM as well as the economic benefits of the system.

In a firm where decision making is solely the responsibility of leaders such that the employees have to act as the subjects to them, it is likely that the employees would not readily accept the adoption of total quality management (TQM). This is because TQM requires them to take elevated roles, become self-dependent and consider themselves as the owners of the firm.

It is apparent that Gillette had earlier managed its activities in a manner that left the managerial roles such as decision making and steering initiatives exclusively to the leaders. Therefore, the effort to adopt TQM compelled leaders to take measures that would prepare the employees better for the change. These measures involved several initiatives especially triggered by several key figures in the firm.

The very first initiative Gillette took was to hire the Organizational Dynamics Inc (ODI) as a consulting and training firm. The firm became the key source of information and motivation for the Gillette Latin America management. It can be argued that the source of a successful organizational change begins with leaders who in turn transfer it to employees.

This means that the employees would rarely have accepted an initiative that their leaders did not support appropriately. The consulting firm played a central role in preaching the benefits of TQM to the leaders. Indeed, the firm reinforced the idea Rotundo had already started to instill in Argentina. Organizational Dynamics Inc. developed the quality initiative and recommended the creation of a quality structure.

Secondly, Gillette offered training to the employees as a way of preparing them for TQM system. One of the landmark training was FADE that prepared employees for quality action teams. The specialized training involved four phases of problem solving: focus, analyze, develop and execute.

The focus phase was concerned with the development of a problem statement; the analyze phase dealt with the use of data to understand the magnitude of the problem; the develop phase involved the determination of a solution and implementation plan; and the execute phase was about implementing the plan and measuring its impact. In addition to FADE training, the employees received training in seven basic quality tools as well as brainstorming, force field analysis and cost benefit analysis.

Furthermore, training was extended to management and leadership levels. The Argentine directors, managers and other officials were trained by ODI as trainers of the rest of the organization. The teams were allocated facilitators who received training on leadership development.

Team leaders were trained in areas relating to group dynamics, effective meetings, leadership skills and group conflicts (Donnellon & Engelkemeyer, 1999). As a matter of fact, training was the backbone of the TQM process. Most of the members who got training became experts in their respective areas and eventually steered the process towards success.

Another way that Gillette used to prepared employees for the TQM process was through workshops. Through the leadership of Walker, workshops were conducted with all employees to inform them about the changes that would take place. The staff got information about the new working style and culture to be attained through TQM.

Team sponsors were identified and their roles explained to the staff. They were to support the teams in any way needed including helping them to attain their objectives with recognition of their empowerment. Other workshops that Walker would offer involved problem-solving and statistical analysis, and at the same time inspiring everyone.

Finally, Gillette endeavored to meet the challenges of quality that the employees faced. Initially, Rotundo responded quickly to the employee complaints about the contract approach by delegating responsibility to investigate them to Victor Walker. The newly hired quality manager emerged to be a successful preparer of the team members and organizer of TQM process.

Through his stewardship, teams were guided in their TQM process by sponsors and ODI methodology. In addition, a steering committee was formed in an effort to respond to quality challenges.

The council systematically supported the employees towards TQM process and formed the backbone in the creation of a new working culture. Through such support, the employees were assured of the leaders’ commitment to the process and ultimately embarked on the mission whole-heartedly.

Team involvement was paramount for the success of Gillette TQM process. The initiative was adopted by the firm in an effort to enhance overall performance and position better in the Argentine market. As Jorge Micozzi observed, the market was opening and thus the firm perceived the entry of new competitors from United States and Europe (Donnellon & Engelkemeyer, 1999).

In that respect, team involvement was important to create a competitive advantage. This would allow for creativity and emergence of new ideas as the team members presented diverse suggestions. There was need to improve decisions and processes ahead of competition trough team work. Therefore, the new competitive advantage was to assist Gillette to compete and keep their market share.

Team involvement was important in consolidating individual interests with the interest of the company as a whole. Before the implementation of TQM, the employees pursued their interests with no chance for a broader perspective on the organizational goals and objectives. This working culture was not particularly strategic for the creation of customer value through quality services. Therefore, team involvement was a way of changing this individualistic culture as well as the focus of the workforce towards goal attainment.

Organizational Dynamics Inc which was hired to develop the quality initiative recommended the creation of teams. With the success history of the firm in Mexico, it was very important for Gillette to abide with this recommendation.

Team involvement was the only way to achieve the quality structure suggested by ODI. In addition, the basis of TQM being total participation, customer focus, systematic support and continuous improvement relied completely on team involvement for success.

Team involvement was important in enriching business ideas within Gillette. It can be argued that when employees are offered the chance to contribute to decision-making process, more and better ideas are achieved. Indeed, individuals are challenged to bring new ideas and suggestions when they are members of a team.

The individualistic working culture which existed prior to implementation of TQM process was a huge obstacle to the generation of new ideas. Decisions were entirely made by the top leaders who had little knowledge about the challenges at the operation level. Therefore, team involvement as Walker observed was a way of creating a conduit through which ideas would flow up and down the hierarchical structure.

The other importance of involving teams was to eliminate departmental barriers that the previous system had created. As a manufacturing firm, Gillette had denied employees the necessary interaction between departments. Rarely could the design team interact with the production team or the assembly team which gave in to low quality products and wastage of materials.

As much as the implementation of TQM process was to succeeds, so was the effort to involve teams. This involvement of diverse teams gave the need to understand what other departments did and how they were related to each other. Therefore, for the success of the TQM processes, interaction and coordination among departments was very crucial.

Team involvement in the TQM process was also important in improving customer satisfaction. Although it was more relevant to the sales team, it permeated through all other teams. The sales team had the direct contact with the customer and when involved in the TQM process could offer the needed feedbacks to the rest.

The other teams chipped in when responding to these feedbacks especially those which related to product offered. The involvement of these teams enabled Gillette to meet customer expectations and ultimately increase their satisfaction. Moreover, the increased strength and commitment of the sales team made the customers to feel more satisfied when transacting with the team members.

The TQM process at Gillette was greatly improved by teamwork. It enabled the management to identify and meet challenges of quality. Team involvement increased employee participation in which they launched their complaints. For instance, the assignment of Victor Walker who emerged to be the cornerstone in the processes was triggered by complaints from the employees (Donnellon & Engelkemeyer, 1999). In addition, team involvement allowed the steering committee to turn to TQM problems that barred the success of such programs.

Team involvement also allowed for the creation of the necessary working culture. As the team members increased their participation, new ideas emerged and departmental coordination became a reality. The roles of team leaders and members were defined and the members focused more on the organizational goals and objectives. Autonomy and efficiency increased such that each employee became a significant contributor to the success of the process.

Team involvement in the TQM actually speeded up the implementation. The firm was able to make quick, but effective decisions on how to go about implementing the components of the process. The process that had earlier faced challenges picked up as the teams increased their participation. Micozzi offers the success example of the administrative building (Donnellon & Engelkemeyer, 1999).

The building was designed and built in ten months by nine teams. Therefore, it can be argued that team involvement was the key factor that contributed to the success of TQM process within such a short time.

“Beyond the hanging fruits, the most important outcome of this effort was a different way of working with sales”

This statement was coined by Rotundo when he moved to interface sales with cross-functional teams after succeeding in managing inventories. According to him, customer focus was more important than anything in Gillette. After all, the manufacturing operations undertaken by the firm were determined by its capacity to make sustainable sales.

He likened other achievements of the effort to hanging fruits pointing sales focus as the most important attainment. The sales focus Rotundo had in mind was that of changing the way Gillette looked at its customers. This change was that which responded to the needs of the customers despite their nature or demands. It was a change that the firm could make while looking at things from the perspective of a customer and responding to customer demands without question.

Actually, the quality effort had to be focused on the enhancement of customer satisfaction. According to Daft, Murphy and Willmott (2010), customer is the most crucial stakeholder of an organization as he defines the reason for its existence and eventual success. Other achievements could be important, but lie far below the capacity to drive sales (hanging fruits).

As Rotundo highlights, this driving force could only be achieved by changing the way the firm worked with sales. The fact that customer needs could be clearly understood, the quality management program necessary would automatically be defined. The changed perspective about the customer would actually allow the customer needs to act as the roadmap towards continuous improvement of the quality management practices. Therefore, in spite of the achievement made by quality effort, the influence it could have on sales was paramount.

In response to the call made by Rotundo, Gillette completely changed the way it looked at its customers. First, customer satisfaction became the main purpose of TQM process as Micozzi noted (Donnellon & Engelkemeyer, 1999).

The teams were encouraged to align their goals with the corporate goals in order to drive sales. Starting from the design department to production department to sales department, all teams were involved in TQM process with a focus on their contribution towards customer satisfaction. In fact, the continuous improvement component of the TQM process involved responses to the changing needs of the customers. This is confirmed in the various team projects undertaken in the implementation of the process.

Gillette Argentina also changed the way it looked at the customers by having a special focus on the sales department. The sales teams were encouraged to be more proficient in working together and increase their efficiency to make customers more satisfied. The emphasis on customer needs was real and made the sales team more compelling.

As the local sales manager observed, the emphasis on sales department made people to like working with the team as they learned about the entire firm, gaining a global perspective (Donnellon & Engelkemeyer, 1999). Nonetheless, Gillette conducted continuous survey on customer satisfaction to ensure that the teams were delivering the expected results.

Immediately the teams were formed, the firm conducted customer surveys and customer critiques were assigned to each group. The success was clear-cut in these surveys suggesting the complete change of the firm’s way of looking at the customer.

Initially, Gillette’s organizational culture was characterized by individualism in which there were leaders and subjects to lead. Apparently, the employees got orders from above and had to act upon them without question. Decisions were solely made by the management without any input from the lower ranks.

Each department was assigned to specifically defined roles that were only approved by the management. There were few linkages to other departments with no interaction between departmental employees. Coordination between the departments was the role of managers whereby they advised rather than discussing on the work-related issues.

The employees focused on completing tasks rather than meeting goals and objectives. It can be argued that customer focus was not a crucial factor when working in the company. Workers pursued their interest and the interest of the company had little relevance when performing the assigned tasks.

Even before the implementation of TQM process, Carlos Rotundo had attempted to change the existing working culture. He introduced a quality-focused culture that supported team work with special emphasis on sales. The culture assigned many of the responsibilities to team leaders, but did not give individual employees much autonomy. Clearly, leaders made many of the decisions without any contribution coming from team members.

Each team pursued a specific task that was defined by the customer’s critique identified in the customer survey. Also, the management was responsible for most of the decisions that were beyond teams’ jurisdiction. Departmental interaction was not supported by this culture which ended prematurely after the introduction of TQM process.

The working culture that emerged from the adoption of TQM process was characterized by team work. Each activity that was accomplished in the firm including product design, development, production and offering was the cumulative efforts of individual teams. The team formation involved both the employees and the management. As a result, decision-making at department level as well as corporate level involved all team members.

The culture allowed each employee to contribute to any undertaking of the firm regardless of the source department. The ultimate goal in the new culture was customer satisfaction and all teams endeavored to achieve this goal.

Therefore, working to achieve this goal was the “sign post” of teams’ activities and leaders were not there to give orders but to discuss issues with members. In fact, Rotundo acknowledged that the new culture did not allow for orders, but consensus whereby the management listened to others’ problems and worked jointly to solve them.

The new culture was a supportive culture where tasks were shared among teams as well as team members. Individual employees became more responsible and industrious as they perceived assistance from other members. There was new confidence in their decisions and satisfaction in the tasks completed, especially when they were acknowledged with gifts.

The support formed a platform for knowledge creation and acquisition by the employees due to the focus on identifying problems and solving them. The cooperative working culture gave way to efficiency in the services offered to customers. Employees were willing more than ever to launch their complaints which allowed the managing team to act upon them on time. Thus, the working culture gave room for continuous improvement of the TQM process and eventually improvement on services offered to customers.

The TQM process implemented by Gillette had great tangible and intangible benefits. Perhaps, the economic benefits that came about due to improved performance and wastage elimination are most important. The high performance resulted from increased customer satisfaction which by 1994, the firm topped the list with 8 on a ten-point scale.

The higher economic performance could also have stemmed from the creativity and innovativeness of the firm as the team members acquired new knowledge and ideas. It can be argued that the larger part of the firm’s performance revolved around the capacity to bring new products to the market. The creative culture established by TQM process was clearly described in the rapid growth of financial determinants.

Some of the economic benefits include growth in sales, higher profits, POE decrease, inventory turns increase, and ROA increase. Between 1993 and 1998, sales grew by 19 percent while average profits increased by 22 percent. Period operating expense (POE) decreased by 40 percent while inventory turns increased from 4.8 to 8.7 in that period.

Return on assets (ROA) rose by 60 percent between the years. Profitability attributed to TQM was forecasted at $17.8 million by the turn of the millennium. Another economic benefit directly related to TQM was the expansion of the firm’s facilities. Clearly, the development of the new professional and administrative building was an outcome of the TQM process. The firm was also able to decrease material wastage and increase employee output per unit cost of the labor input.

As competition threat continued to intensify in the Argentine market, Gillette embarked on a TQM system to counter the competition. The challenge the firm faced of getting the employees to take on the system was solved by extensive training, workshops, consultation and proper response to the quality challenges perceived.

Teams were formed and involved in the process for various significances including: to create competitive advantage, to consolidate individual interests with the interest of the company, to act on the recommendations made by ODI, to enrich business ideas within firm, to eliminate departmental barriers, and to improve customer satisfaction.

This involvement allowed for the creation of the necessary working culture and speeded up the implementation of TQM. A different way of working sales that Rotundo had suggested led to the firm changing the way it looked at its customer by having a special focus on the sales, making customer satisfaction the main purpose of TQM process and conducting continuous survey on customer satisfaction. The working culture which changed from individualistic culture to team-working culture benefited the firm economically.

Daft, R., Murphy, J. & Willmott, H. (2010). Organization Theory and Design . Florence, KY: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Donnellon, A. & Engelkemeyer, S. (1999). Quality at Gillette Argentina . Web.

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IvyPanda. (2023, December 14). Gillette’s Total Quality Management System.

"Gillette’s Total Quality Management System." IvyPanda , 14 Dec. 2023,

IvyPanda . (2023) 'Gillette’s Total Quality Management System'. 14 December.

IvyPanda . 2023. "Gillette’s Total Quality Management System." December 14, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "Gillette’s Total Quality Management System." December 14, 2023.


IvyPanda . "Gillette’s Total Quality Management System." December 14, 2023.

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Home » Management Case Studies » Case Study: TQM Initiatives by Carcom

Case Study: TQM Initiatives by Carcom

‘Carcom’ is a supplier of automotive safety components employing around 700 staff which is located on two sites in Northern Ireland. The company was originally American owned but after a joint venture with Japanese partner in the late 1980s, it was eventually bought out by the latter.

The quality initiative began in 1988-89 with a five-year plan based on the Kaizen philosophy , this concept having been picked up from the Japanese partner. This was driven by senior management in response to what they saw as increasing customer demand and operating considerations. The achievement of ISO 9001 registration in 1990 brought together processes carried out by departments which had previously been undertaken in isolation. The company is now focusing on Kaizen with the principles of improvement , customer delight, systems focus and participation. A range of quality management tools and techniques are used. A TQM steering committee is responsible for overall direction but there is also a further steering committee to oversee implementation of the Quality Improvement Teams (QITs) as well as a full time coordinator. There are teams of shop floor operators based on natural workgroups, and these tend to focus on product problems and environmental issues (such as working conditions). In contrast, Kaizen teams focus on process improvements (for example, die change) and problem-solving workgroups are established in response to specific customer concerns (for example, warranty claims).

Senior managers stress that a long-term approach is now being taken which is in contrast to some of the programmers in the early 1980s. These former piecemeal initiatives included quality circles which had been characterized by considerable changes in personnel , with a number of champions having moved on leaving behind a flagging initiative in contrast, the company is now taking time to get the processes right and providing a central focus through quality for change. Cultural change is the aim but it is recognized that only incremental progress can be achieved and that a supportive attitude is required from management Thus, QIT members are given extensive training and are encouraged to tackle problems which give early success and build teamwork, rather than put pressure on teams to deliver immediately on big issues.

The Impact of the TQM Initiative

While it is still early days, the initiative is already felt to have had a major impact. The management structure has been reduced by one layer, shop floor layout has been improved, and scrap rates, stock, work-in-progress and inspection times have been reduced, so too have the numbers of inspectors, whose role is now seen as one of analysts. Employee response to these changes has generally been positive, and the company as spent considerable effort in relating ‘quality’ directly to employees’ work, particularly through the use of measures which are displayed adjacent to the workstation and maintained by staff themselves. The unions were assured that there would not be job losses as a result of Kaizen, although they continue to have concerns about this and also raise the issue of payment for changes in job roles – particulate in relation to SpC. The company has adopted an open information policy to foster greater trust at the workplace, and business-related issues are given greater prominence at the joint works committee meetings. Management also believe that the quality initiative has led to a reduction in union influences although this was not an original objective.

The Strategic Nature of the Human Resource Function

The human resource function has emerged from a welfare to a more strategic role in recent years. This has been assisted by an MD who is regarded as a ‘people’ s person’ claiming that ‘you can’t divorce people from quality,’ and by the appointment of a personnel director to the boated together with a new industrial relations manager. This has broadened the role of human resources and enhanced its status. The appointment of a training manager was significant, since under the previous regime little off-the-job training was conducted. Training budgets have actually increased in volume and monetary terms despite the company’s recently recorded trading losses. Recruitment and selection are becoming more sophisticated as the company wish to identify team workers.

The links between human resources and quality were made explicitly by the MD : “We cannot separate HR from TQM, and without HR the QIP will not work effectively.” In addition to the issues mentioned above, the function was also seen as being important in building the people aspect into the strategic quality planning process. Addressing the problem of absenteeism , and supporting line management by helping to change employee attitudes/ organizational culture . In addition, the function has provided appropriate training programmers for quality, in which there has been considerable investment in time and resources, it has counseled the mentors to the QIT, and ensured that managers communicate with staff by providing advice on the best means of doing this. Quality principles are also being developed in relation to the human resource function, with specific targets being set (for example, for absenteeism) as well as more general aims (for example, on training).

Questions :

(a) Analyze the links between TQM and HRM with reference both to this case study and more generally.

(b) What does the case study demonstrate about the contribution a personnel/HRM function can make to the development of TQM in an organization ?

(c) How might the principles of TQM be applied to a personnel function ?

(d) What general implications does TQM have for industrial relation?

Download the Answers for the above questions: Case Study Solution

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Please note you do not have access to teaching notes, total quality management from theory to practice: a case study.

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN : 0265-671X

Article publication date: 1 May 1993

Most quality professionals recommend a core set of attributes as the nucleus of any quality improvement process. These attributes include: (1) clarifying job expectations; (2) setting quality standards; (3) measuring quality improvement; (4) effective super‐vision; (5) listening by management; (6) feedback by management; and (7) effective training. Based on a survey of employees at a medium‐sized manufacturing firm in the United States, it was found that management philosophy and actions can undermine even a proven total quality management (TQM) programme. For the many firms which hire outside consultants to set up a TQM programme, makes recommendations to management to ensure its successful implementation.


Longenecker, C.O. and Scazzero, J.A. (1993), "Total Quality Management from Theory to Practice: A Case Study", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management , Vol. 10 No. 5.

Copyright © 1993, MCB UP Limited

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tqm case study with questions and answers

TQM Case Study: Newspaper Focuses on Customer Service

Published: February 26, 2010 by Niraj Goyal

tqm case study with questions and answers

Quality in the total quality management (TQM) method is defined as customer delight. Customers are delighted when their needs are met or exceeded. The needs of the customer are:

  • Product quality
  • Delivery quality
  • Service quality

Improving customer service was the focus of two projects within the deployment of TQM in a mid-sized newspaper in India. This is the second piece in a three-part series of articles featuring case studies from that deployment; Part 1 of the series featured projects leading to improvements in product quality. Part 3 looks at supply-chain improvements.

Reducing Advertisement Processing Time

The newspaper closed its window for booking advertisements at 4 p.m. every day. However, many of the newspaper’s advertisers expressed that they would be delighted if this limit could be extended to 5 p.m., as they were not able to send ad materials on time for the 4 p.m. deadline.

The TQM leaders formed a team consisting of representatives from each link in the ad-processing chain of work. The team attended a two-day quality-mindset program to expose them to the concepts of TQM and also to open their minds about experimenting with change.

Defining the Problem

In TQM, problems are defined as Problem = Desire – Current status . Therefore, in this case:

Problem = Desired closing time – Current closing time = 5 p.m. – 4 p.m. = 60 minutes

The 4 p.m. deadline had been instituted because:

  • Deadline for sending the ad pages to the press was 6:30 p.m.
  • Standard cycle time for processing ads into pages was 2.5 hours

Achieving a 5 p.m. ad closure deadline meant reducing the standard ad processing time by 40 percent, or one hour. To define the current state, the actual time spent preparing pages to go to press was collected over several days.

Defining the metric: If T = (page processing time – page-to-press deadline) , then for 99.7 percent on-time delivery, or 3 sigma performance, the average T + 3 standard deviations of T should be less than 0.

Measure the current state: The ad closing deadline could not be delayed by an hour without delaying the dispatch of the newspaper to press by an equivalent amount. Therefore, the current state was calculated by measuring the delay compared to a notional 5:30 p.m. dispatch time rather than the actual deadline of 6:30 p.m. Calculations showed that:

  • Average T = 72 minutes
  • Average T + 3 sigma of T = 267 minutes

The problem was defined: reduce 267 minutes to less than 0 minutes.

Analyzing the Problem

The team monitored the time spent on each activity of the ad process (Table 1).

During the 4 to 4:30 p.m. period, ads received at the last minute were still being processed. At 4:30 p.m., the material was dumped into the layout for pagination , meaning arrangement on the newspaper pages using software and manual corrections. To achieve the objective of a 5 p.m. ad content deadline, the pagination time had to be reduced.

Brainstorming why pagination took two hours produced three possible major reasons:

  • Error correction
  • Delayed receipt of ad material for a booked ad
  • Last-minute updates from advertiser

All this work was carried out after the last ad was submitted. Team members suggested that if ads were released for pagination earlier, removing errors could begin simultaneously with the processing of the last ads in order to reduce cycle time. They agreed to give two early outputs at 3:30 and 4 p.m., before the final dump at 4:30 p.m.

Testing the Ideas

The process was repeated four times (Table 3).

Checking the Results

Nine weeks of continuous implementation yielded dramatic improvement. Average processing time was reduced by an hour, from 72 minutes to 12 minutes. However, the level of variability, although 50 percent lower, was still unacceptable. Analysis of the variability showed that it was largely due to slip-ups in implementing the SOPs.

Standardizing Controls

The team used an x-bar control chart (Figure 1) to monitor and improve performance regularly.

Gradually the performance improved. Two months after implementation, delivery time had progressed from 267 minutes late to 12 minutes early. The deadline for receiving ads could now be relaxed to 5 p.m., delighting the advertisers.

Reducing Customer Complaints

Management indicated that the number of credit notes given to advertisers was too high. Credit notes, issued to rectify errors made in sales invoices, were used to fend off considerable customer annoyance. But this system caused trouble for the paper. Besides increasing non-value-added work, credit notes sometimes resulted in financial loss because customers could use the credit toward ads that had already been booked as sales.

During the previous 12 months, the newspaper had received 80 credit notes per week. The team agreed to try to reduce that number by 50 percent in Phase 1.

Finding the Root Causes

About 200 credit notes were examined to determine why they had been issued. Categorization of the causes was charted in a Pareto (Figure 2).

Three causes constituted 84 percent of the problem:

  • Wrong billing – 46 percent
  • Wrong rate – 24 percent
  • Wrong material used – 14 percent

Table 4 shows the root causes of a majority of the credits issued, determined using the 5 Whys method, and their corresponding countermeasures.

The team tested the ideas, which resulted in an 80 percent reduction in credit notes, from 80 per week to 14 per week. The process was adopted in regular operation, and the results were documented and presented to senior management.

Change in Thinking

TQM often leads to radical changes in employee mindsets. The improvements resulting from the two customer service-related projects helped to create a team environment in which any change idea is easily accepted, tested and – if it works – implemented.

About the Author

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Niraj Goyal


Total Quality Management PDF | Notes, Paper | MBA 2021

  • Post last modified: 9 July 2021
  • Reading time: 25 mins read
  • Post category: MBA Study Material

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Download  Total Quality Management PDF  Notes for MBA 2021. We provide complete MBA total quality management notes . Total quality management study material includes  total quality management notes , total quality management book , courses, case study, syllabus , question paper , questions and answers and available in  total quality management pdf  form.

Total Quality Management PDF

Table of Content

  • 1 Total Quality Management Syllabus
  • 2 Total Quality Management PDF
  • 3.1 What is Total Quality Management?
  • 4 Total Quality Management Questions and Answers
  • 5 Total Quality Management Question Paper
  • 6 Total Quality Management Books
  • 7 Go On, Share & Help your Friend

The  MBA Total Quality Management Notes can be downloaded in total quality management pdf from the below article.

Total Quality Management Syllabus

A detailed MBA total quality management syllabus as prescribed by various Universities and colleges in India are as under. You can download the syllabus in total quality management pdf form.

Principles and Practices of TQM Introduction : Definition of TQM, Gurus of TQM, TQM Framework, Defining Quality for Goods and Services, Benefits of TQM. Definition and Importance of Leadership for Successful TQM, The Deming’s Philosophy. Quality Councils : Definition, Principles and Roles of Quality Councils for Implementation of TQM. Continuous Process Improvement : The Juran‟s Trilogy, PDCA Cycle, Kaizen and Six Sigma. Performance Measures : Concept of Cost of Quality, Basics of Customer Satisfaction and Customer Satisfaction Index.

Seven Old QC (Quality Control) Tools Statistical Process Control : Pareto Diagram, Process Flow Diagram, Cause and Effect Diagram, Histograms, Control Charts, State of Control, Process Capability, Scatter Diagrams.

Seven New QC (Quality Control) Tools Relationship Diagram, Affinity Diagram, Tree Diagram, Matrix Diagram, Matrix Data Analysis Diagram, Process Decision Program Diagram and Arrow Diagram.

Other tools of Quality Management -1 Benchmarking, Quality Function Deployment, Quality by Design, FMEA Concepts, Total Productivity Management Concepts. Taguchi‟s Quality Engineering.

Other Tools for Quality Management – 2 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Quality Management Systems : ISO 9000 Series of Standards, ISO 9001 Requirements, Implementation and Documentation. (Explaining Models) Environmental Management System : ISO 14000 Series Standards, Integration of ISO 14000 with ISO 9000(Explaining Models)

Total Quality Management PDF

Total quality management notes, what is total quality management.

Total Quality Management (TQM) describes a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. In a TQM effort, all members of an organization participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work.

tqm case study with questions and answers

Total Quality Management Questions and Answers

Some of the total quality management questions and answers are mentioned below. You can download the QnA in total quality management pdf form.

  • Define Total Quality?
  • What are the six basic concepts that a successful TQM programme requires?
  • Explain about Deming’s philosophy.
  • Elaborate Juran’s principles of quality improvement.
  • What are the reasons for Benchmarking?
  • Define “Taguchi’s Quality Loss Function”

Total Quality Management Question Paper

If you have already studied the total quality management notes , then its time to move ahead and go through previous year total quality management question paper .

It will help you to understand question paper pattern and type of total quality management question and answer asked in MBA total quality management exam. You can download the syllabus in total quality management pdf form.

Total Quality Management Books

Below is the list of total quality management book recommended by the top university in India.

  • Total Quality Management by Dale H. Besterfield and others, Prentice Hall Publishing House
  • Managing of Total Quality by N, Logothetis, Prentice Hall of India Private Limited
  • A Management Guide to Quality and Productivity by J. Bicheno and M. R Gopalan, Wiley- Dreamtech, New Delhi
  • Total Quality Management – Text and Cases, Janakiraman, B and Gopal, R.K, Prentice Hall (India) Pvt. Ltd

Below are the top total quality management book that can be bought from Amazon.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

  • Author: Besterfield Dale H, Carol, Glen H, Mary, Hemant & Rashmi Urdhwareshe.
  • Publisher:  Pearson, 5e
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank : #19 in Production, Operation & Management #36 in Civil Engineering #206 in Management
  • Customer Reviews: 5 out of 5

Total Quality Management

  • Author : Mukherjee
  • Publisher:  Prentice Hall
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank : #5880 in Business, Strategy & Management
  • Customer Reviews: 3.8 out of 5
  • Author: Suganthi L
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank : #46 in Production, Operation & Management
  • Customer Reviews: 4.2 out of 5

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In the above article, a student can download Total Quality Management PDF Notes 2020 for MBA. Total quality management study material includes total quality management notes , total quality management books , total quality management syllabus , total quality management question paper , total quality management questions and answers , total quality management courses in total quality management pdf form.

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