Having defined the product, the next stage of the TQM process is to develop processes that ensure that production consistently meets the quality specification. The quality specification is used to determine the format of production processes or service delivery and support systems necessary to meet customer requirements. Efficiency is often stressed – efficiency should be a secondary consideration to that of effectiveness in meeting quality specifications, since there is little point in improving the efficiency of ineffective processes. Nevertheless, the more efficiently an organization meets these requirements, the greater its capacity for offering additional services or serving additional customers.
Meeting quality specifications in itself is not enough to ensure that customers perceive that a product is of high quality. Customers base their quality judgements on their expectations of product performance. These expectations are based on their experience of the product. Hence a performance standard that initially exceeds customer expectations quickly becomes expected. In order to continue to exceed customer expectations, therefore, the organization must develop mechanisms for continuously improving the quality of its products in the eyes of the customer. This philosophy of continuous improvement is also called Kaizen.
Mechanistic approaches to TQM
Just as service quality can be viewed from a mechanistic or humanistic perspective, so too can the creation of organizational conditions necessary to create such quality. Mechanistic approaches view the organization as a machine, comprising a number of different components (departments) that work together to create the final product. By improving communications between departments and aligning departmental targets and monitoring systems, the work of the various organizational components is synchronized. Mechanistic approaches put particular emphasis on the analysis of business processes, the creation of systems, teams and performance measures. Martins and Toledo (2000) for example, recommend that a total quality management program should contain:
• Guiding principles
• Targets and strategies
• Performance measures and check points
• Supporting processes
• Actions, deadlines and responsibilities.
Mechanistic approaches also include the adoption of behavior systems such as the Deming wheel or the quality cycle. Such models provide a template which staff at all levels of the organization are trained to apply to their daily tasks. The intention is that consistent behavior will lead to consistent results. Practices such as internal marketing, and the establishment of service level agreements between departments are used by the mechanistic school to promote inter-functional coordination.