The model of Total Quality Management (TQM) is actively used in different organisations without focusing on their size, nature of provided services, customers, and industry. The reason is that the TQM is applied in organisations in order to improve the firm’s competitiveness while combining efforts in improving the production and increasing the customer loyalty (Faisal, Al-Bourini & Abou-Moghli 2013). While using TQM tools and practices, managers become able to set definite quality standards, or ‘best practices’, and continuously control the quality of proposed goods and contribute to the value creation in the company (Dudin et al. 2014).
In this context, TQM is directly related to improving the quality of management and production, as well as the employees’ productivity and customer satisfaction. Al Ghurair Foods is one of the leading food and beverage companies in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was founded in 1976, and now it is a subsidiary of the Al Ghurair Group. Today, the company proposes a wide range of products for consumers not only in the UAE but also in the West African and Asian regions (Al Ghurair Group 2015). The competitive advantage of the company is based on the regular adoption of the quality management initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the practice of implementing the quality initiatives in Al Ghurair Foods and conclude on its effectiveness in the context of the ‘best practice’ approach.
The Quality Initiative in Al Ghurair Foods
Managers in Al Ghurair Foods pay much attention to the implementation of the TQM initiatives and practices in the organisation, and the TQM issues are addressed and resolved by the Total Quality Management Committee (Al Ghurair Group 2015). Thus, to this date, the Al Ghurair Foods Total Quality Management Committee has implemented a variety of quality programs and practices. As a result of this approach, the quality of the company’s products is high nowadays, and the quality is in correlation with such world standards as the HACCP, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001 (Al Ghurair Group 2015; Srivastav 2010).
However, in 2015, the managers of the company initiated the implementation of a new quality program based on W. Edwards Deming’s philosophy of transformation that is represented by 14 points and on Deming’s practical PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Cycle to improve the total quality of management and production in the company (Al Ghurair Group 2015; Asif 2010; Dudin et al. 2014). In addition, the managers focused on the active realisation of the idea of benchmarking to support the initiative.
Total Quality Management Theories and “Best Practice” Approaches
The TQM theories became developed in the in the 20th century as a response to the progress of the Japanese approach to monitoring the efficiency of performance and quality of products (Jiménez-Jiménez et al. 2015). Moonsamy and Singh (2014, p. 605) also state that the quality management “enjoyed support during the 1970s and 1980s, mainly in delivering the key business drivers of customer satisfaction and competitive advantage”. From this point, the TQM theory began to develop as the managers’ specific response to changes in the businesses and markets that were much influenced by transformations in the enterprises’ relations with stakeholders. Thus, in order to address the changes in the national and global markets, it was necessary to improve the quality of the whole working process in organizations.
While referring to the Japanese model of organising the work of employees, the researchers have found that the personnel can work better when certain standards of the quality are set and when the best way or practice of achieving the highest result is demonstrated to be followed by workers (Jääskeläinen & Lönnqvist 2011). This approach gave the origin to the modern understanding of the ‘best practice’ strategy related to the total quality management (Hassan et al. 2012; Lovelock & Wirtz 2011). Today, the ‘best practice’ approach is associated with the idea of following the standards and benchmarking in the total quality management as one of the main concepts along with the continuous improvement, competitiveness, and customer focus and satisfaction, and evaluation (Nakhai & Neves 2009, p. 664; Srivastav 2010). According to the ideas of the ‘best practice’ and benchmarking, the quality of operations, products, and services should be measured in comparison to the best possible result set as a standard and in comparison to the similar products and services of the rival in the industry.
W. Edwards Deming’s Approach
The theory of the Japanese approach to the total quality management was developed by W. Edwards Deming, who demonstrated the possibilities of the quality management to organise the work of enterprises after World War II (Chiarini 2011; Dudin et al. 2014). Deming was one of those researchers and practitioners who established the idea of the ‘best practice’ in the context of the total quality management. In Japan, Deming identified the ‘best practices’ for enterprises, implemented them as set standards, and developed the training for employees to learn the ‘best practice’ details (Chiarini 2011, p. 334). In addition, Deming improved Walter Shewhart’s PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) Cycle and formulated his PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Cycle (Asif 2010). Deming accentuated the role of learning the process and examining changes in the quality while focusing on planning, doing, checking and analysing the outcomes, and acting.
The Deming’s Cycle is used today as one of the most effective problem-solving tools and practices in the total quality management because the proposed series of activities are completed to cover all stages of the TQM process (Chiarini 2011). The Deming’s Cycle was proposed in the 1950s, and in the 1980s, Deming supported his vision of the cycle with his philosophy of the transformation and quality management formulated in 14 points where the first point is directly related to the necessity of improving the quality of products and services to achieve the success and competitiveness (Smadi & Al-Khawaldeh 2006). Fields et al. (2014, p. 407) also state that Deming’s ideas “were influential in the development of the ISO 9000 series of quality standards”. Therefore, the majority of firms globally actively uses Deming’s model to support their quality management activities and to achieve the real results in increasing their competitive potential.
Joseph Juran’s TQM Theory
It is important to note that Joseph Juran was also among the first theorists of the total quality management who developed his approach and applied it to the Japanese context. Juran developed the theory of the quality trilogy, according to which the quality is achieved when the focus is on the planning, control, and improvement as a unity of practices (Smadi & Al-Khawaldeh 2006). Juran’s holistic approach is usually discussed as effective in order to improve the quality of services and customer relations with the focus on solving quality issues, proving the employee training, reporting the progress of the personnel, and giving the recognition of the employees’ achievements as important components of the process (Chiarini 2011; Wang, Chen & Chen 2012). However, in this context, it is important to pay attention to Juran’s extreme focus on the role of the customer in influencing the production and the overall operations of the company because good the customer-oriented companies are inclined to measure their quality with the focus on the customers’ expectations to achieve the high results.
Philip Crosby’s Vision of TQM
While applying the TQM system in the organisation, the managers can also refer to Philip Crosby’s theory, according to which the main goal of the performance is to have zero defects. Elhuni and Ahmad (2014, p. 134) note that for Crosby, “quality management concerns the prevention of problems occurring by creating the attitudes and controls that make such prevention possible”. Therefore, the focus on the goal setting is discussed as one of the characteristic features of Crosby’s theory, but much attention is also paid to preventing defects and mistakes. Crosby stated that defects should not be monitored and detected during the process of the quality initiative implementation, but they need to be monitored prior to the start of the process. In this context, they need to be prevented with the focus on the quality management system (Elhuni & Ahmad 2014; Yunis, Jung & Chen 2013). The achievement of the zero defect standard is a guarantee that the organisation performs efficiently.
The TQM theories and models proposed by such ‘quality management gurus’ as Deming, Juran, and Crosby are used by managers in their daily practices in order to provide the theoretical support for the applied TQM initiatives and practices and to explain the effectiveness of the managerial process. Therefore, the detailed analysis of the quality initiative implementation in Al Ghurair Foods is necessary to discuss the issue effectively.
The Analysis of the Initiative Implementation Process
The implementation of Deming’s PDCA Cycle in Al Ghurair Foods to improve the quality management in the company is based on the identification and realisation of the main steps in the cycle. The first step is the Plan that is associated with formulating the goal for the further activities. The managers of Al Ghurair Foods declared the goal of increasing the productivity by 15%, the quality of performance by 25%, and the quality of relations with suppliers and customers by 20% (Al Ghurair Group 2015). The next step is the Do one. The managers developed the standards of the quality in relation to each criterion, and then, they plan to use the benchmarking technique in order to achieve the set goals (Anvari, Ismail & Hojjati 2011; Moonsamy & Singh 2014). The Check step is based on inspecting the results and concluding on their effectiveness to achieve the determined goal (Asif 2010).
The Check step is important to identify the problems in the system after its implementation and usage in order to improve the outcomes in the future (Chiarini 2011; Dudin et al. 2014). However, this approach proposed by Deming is in contrast to Crosby’s focus on preventing defects while achieving the goal of zero defects (Smadi & Al-Khawaldeh 2006). The final Act step means the implementation of the complete quality management system in the organisation after all processes are checked and improved to achieve the higher results. The cycle can be repeated several times to reach the highest goals (Dudin et al. 2014). At the current stage, Al Ghurair Foods is implementing the cycle for the second time because the previous attempt indicated the areas that needs to be improved in terms of quality standards and used practices.
It is possible to state that the applied initiative reflect the ‘best practice’ approach to the total quality management because the managers in Al Ghurair Foods use Deming’s strategy to improve the quality management, and Deming was one of the developers of the ‘best practice’ approach (Dudin et al. 2014). Thus, the managers are focused on identifying the ‘best practices’ to implement in accordance with the set goals at the planning stage. Then, during the Do step, the managers ensure that the employees work according to the ‘best practices’ and follow the required standards (Elhuni & Ahmad 2014; Yunis, Jung & Chen 2013). The next step is the analysis of the outcomes that is realised during the Check stage (Chiarini 2011). This approach allows identifying the alternative ways to improving the quality management and changing the approaches to implementing the used system (Asif 2010; Chiarini 2011; Dudin et al. 2014). The Check stage is important for any project, not only the implementation of the quality management system, and the reason in the possibility to analyse possible mistakes and improve the results immediately.
However, in spite of the fact that the reference to Deming’s philosophy and PDCA Cycle guarantees the focus on the ‘best practice’ approach and achieving the remarkable results in developing the total quality management, there are weaknesses in the implementation of the initiative by Al Ghurair Foods managers. Smadi and Al-Khawaldeh (2006, p. 637) state that the problem of Dubai organisations is in the fact that they do not “implement the full package of the TQM implementation framework”. Moreover, the firms choose to implement only certain practices of the TQM, and “they are on the journey to full implementation of TQM” (Smadi & Al-Khawaldeh 2006, p. 637).
Although the managers of Al Ghurair Foods support their initiative with the focus on benchmarking to realise the ‘best practice’ strategy, there is no training additional training for the personnel to explain the specific features of the this TQM system and develop skills in using the ‘best practice’ (Chiarini 2011; Elhuni & Ahmad 2014; Yunis, Jung & Chen 2013). Moreover, concentrating on the ideas of the ‘best practice’ approach implemented through Deming’s PDCA Cycle, the managers of the company seem to ignore the opportunities to adapt the other tools to the system, as they did it with benchmarking. In this context, it is possible to apply Juran’s vision of customer focus and Crosby’s zero defects theory to the process.
Ways to Improve the Implementation Process
It is important to note that Deming’s PDCA Cycle is appropriate to be implemented in Al Ghurair Foods as the firm is constantly developing, expanding the networks, modifying the approaches to working with customers and suppliers (Chiarini 2011; Dudin et al. 2014). The reason is that the structure of the cycle allows the constant revision of the quality system and received outcomes in contrast to Crosby’s model that is rather stable in its nature. However, in spite of the obvious advantages of the used PDCA Cycle, the managers of Al Ghurair Foods should focus more on improving the process of the initiative implementation while referring more strictly to the ‘best practice’ approach (Fields et al. 2014).
In this context, it is possible to modify particular principles of Deming’s model in order to address the context of Al Ghurair Foods. Smadi and Al-Khawaldeh (2006, p. 637) claim that “implementing TQM is a continuous improvement process”, and moreover, it is “a never-ending journey”. As a result, the process of implementing the TQM system “requires patience, tenacity, and commitment from people at every level in firms,” and organisations should “combine their own uniqueness with the developed constructs and consequently develop their own ways to excellence” (Smadi & Al-Khawaldeh 2006, p. 637). From this point, the improvement of the TQM implementation process in Al Ghurair Foods according to the principles of the ‘best practice’ approach should be in line with the overall strategy followed in the company in order to achieve the high competitiveness.
The process of the quality initiative implementation can be improved when the managers of the firm directly formulate the outcomes they expect to achieve when the TQM system is successfully implemented in the organisation (Faisal et al. 2013; Jääskeläinen & Lönnqvist 2011). At the Plan stage, before identifying the ‘best practices’ to follow, it is also necessary to address the following issue: the correlation of the focus on the production quality and the customer focus. The plan should reflect how the quality would increase in the whole company and in relation to all aspects, including productivity, performance, and customer satisfaction (Elhuni & Ahmad 2014; Lovelock & Wirtz 2011).
The planning stage should also be expanded to determine the specific criteria and standards to orient to while implementing the ‘best practices’ (Elhuni & Ahmad 2014; Nakhai & Neves 2009). The criteria should be developed to achieve ‘the best’ results, but they also should be appropriate for the concrete industry and organisation (Yunis et al. 2013). The focus on the customer should also be preserved during the next stage because according to Chiarini (2011, p. 334), “the Do stage is considered the implementation phase from the voice of the customer capture until the delivery of the product/service”. Moreover, during the Do step, the training for employees should be provided before and along with practicing the new approaches to achieve the high results and complete the quality management objectives in the company.
Smadi and Al-Khawaldeh (2006, p. 631) state that training means “providing all employees with information, knowledge and skills in both Total Quality concepts and tools, and with job specific information so that they can be committed, innovative, and productive”. When the training is effective, the results of the TQM increase because all employees become able to perform their duties effectively and according to the high-quality standards. Chiarini (2011, p. 334) also notes that “in the Check and Act stages the organisation checks to evaluate how it conforms to the Plan stage and Acts on what has been learned”, and much attention should be paid to the realisation of these steps. In this context, to guarantee the positive results of the TQM system work, Al Ghurair Foods should adapt the PDCA Cycle to the company’s needs and apply it in the context of the ‘best practice’ approach and with references to Deming’s philosophy.
Summary of the Applied Theories and Concepts
The critical analysis of the successes demonstrated by Al Ghurair Foods while implementing the qualitative initiative indicates that different TQM theories influence the quality management process in a specific manner. In this context, Deming’s theory seems to the most effective to be implemented in diverse contexts with references to the careful formulation of particular activities related to the PDCA Cycle (Chiarini 2011; Dudin et al. 2014). Juran’s approach seem to reflect the basic principles of Deming’s vision of the TQM because Juran also accentuates the role of the quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement reflected in the steps of the PDCA Cycle. However, in order to achieve the better results, it is important for organisations to adapt Juran’s vision regarding the quality measurement and problem diagnosis to their environments (Yunis et al. 2013).
Crosby’s theory is also effective to promote the implementation of the TQM in organisations, but managers should concentrate on the zero defects strategy, the quality awareness, the goal setting, and the employees’ recognition (Faisal et al. 2013). When all their theoretical models are applied in practice with the focus on specific TQM methods and tools, it is possible to achieve the high results. However, the TQM is a complex system that needs to be developed and improved in order to be effectively integrated into organisations. Therefore, the companies should not ignore the opportunity to combine the methods in order to maximise the results and improve the quality in terms the production and work with customers and in terms managing the organisational process.
The understanding of the TQM initiatives, principles, and practices is possible with references to the discussion of the TQM theories and models proposed by the managers and researchers in the 20th century. The most influential theorists of the TQM are Deming, Juran, and Crosby, who formulated the basic principles of the quality management implementation and measurement of activities. It is rather difficult to state what theoretical model is most effective to be implemented in the organisation, but managers have the opportunity to enhance their approach to the quality management while applying one of these models to the culture of the firm with the focus on the organisational characteristics and strategic goals.
Al Ghurair Foods, a company in Dubai, has the experience in following different quality standards in order to ensure the customer loyalty and corporate reputation. However, the company is constantly developing to address the market and industry trends, and the new initiative was selected to be implemented in the organisation in order to improve the total quality. The management of the company selected the PDCA Cycle supported with Deming’s philosophy. The choice can be discussed as effective to address the organisation’s goals in terms of increasing the productivity and performance levels, but the approach to implementing the model diminishes its successfulness regarding the increases in the levels of customer loyalty and improvements of relations with suppliers and customers. Therefore, in spite of focusing on applying the ‘best practice’ approach to the TQM, Al Ghurair Foods managers should revise their initiative’s implementation processes in order to use all advantages of the total quality management.
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