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Within any organisation it is essential that to ensure success is achieved there is a suitable quality management system in place.
Great success can be realised from employing and maintaining an efficient quality management strategy which will include providing the organisation with a structure that is devised to repeatedly improve whilst addressing the requirements of all customers involved.
An effective quality management system can assist organisations in improving customer satisfaction whilst providing the organisation with a competitive advantage over fellow competitors within the industry.
The following report will consider the implementation of the quality strategy which is incorporated within the AJ Clark Group whilst also reviewing the necessary literature to establish various theories associated to the term 'Quality Strategy'.
1.1 Company Profile
The AJ Clark Group (AJC) is a medium sized construction company who begin trading in 1996 with civil engineering and building construction products primarily being the core activity associated with the company. Throughout the past 5 years the company has enjoyed notable success whilst functioning as both main and sub contractor on various high profile contracts throughout Britain.
AJC currently employ around 80 employees who consist of both members of staff and skilled employees along with maintaining an annual turnover of around £10 - 15 million per annum.
Within the AJ Clark Group there are three renowned companies which consist of:
- AJ Clark Concrete Flooring: Concrete flooring specialist who deliver the latest initiatives and technology associated with concrete whilst accounting for 50% of the company's turnover.
- AJ Clark Construction: Possesses the expertise to construct complex concrete structures.
- ATD Developments: This is the sister company which has become notorious for constructing homes of quality and individuality.
As competition within the construction industry is becoming more and more evident AJ Clark Group realise the importance of ensuring that a suitable and effective quality management strategy is in place.
This will provide an attraction within the company associated with quality, therefore enhancing the possibility of succeeding whilst tendering for current and future projects.
2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Strategic Quality Management
Strategic Quality Management (SQM) is the means of determining sustained quality goals and defining the approach as to achieving these goals. (Juran and Gryna 1993)
As its name may advocate SQM is the combination of both corporate strategy and total quality management.
(Riggs 1994) states that prior to any changes being incorporated within the organisation all procedures should be analysed to identify any current problems which may be preventing quality from being realised prior to design and implementation of a new strategy being created.
(Riggs 1994) also considers that within the construction industry groups not individuals are responsible for performance therefore all employees must also be interested in working within a team environment whilst benefitting from “team learning”
(Stebbing and Pengelly 1994) highlight that the functioning of SQM cannot be achieved without the necessary training. In order for a quality service to be realised the subsequent training requirements must be fulfilled.
(Hill and Jones 1998) reiterate this by describing that training provides the required framework which assists in leading the organisation in the direction of improving all aspects of quality.
Probably the most important area within the successful implementation of SQM is that it is not a one time procedure and must be closely monitored at regular intervals. (Riggs 1994) belief is that it should not only be used when there is little work available or as a solution to all problems but should be a major process incorporated within the organisation.
2.2 Quality within the Construction Industry
Quality assurance and quality management systems (QMS) are subjects which have been talked about by contractors, building professionals and various authorities for some years already. Many of them are already registered with the certification bodies to develop formal quality management systems and to seek certification to the ISO 9000 quality standards. (Pheng 1998)
As the recent expectations within the construction industry are currently progressing toward a greater level of quality, (Hasegawa 1988) believes that contractors are being required to improve the current standards of works which are being produced.
(Ofori 1994) feels that the main reason behind this tendency to highlight quality aspects is none more so than the fact that all clients have become progressively more experienced.
(Juran and Gryna 1993) describe quality as being “customer satisfaction” whilst (Hasegawa 1988) disagrees and emphasises that contractors who persist in disregarding the needs of their client, do so at there own risk. The reason for this being (Raynor 1992) considers that the quality perspective as being profit is a product of achieving the clients needs.
(Madeiros 2000) states that to assist in the effectiveness of a QMS the system needs to be assembled around an approved brand such as ISO 9000 to allow the system to fulfil its role of evaluating whilst guaranteeing quality within the organisation.
BSEN 9000:2005 state that there are eight quality management values which have been recognised that can be utilised within any management team which will allow the organisation to work towards improved performance, these are:
- Focus on Customer Relations
- Management and Leadership
- People Participation
- Process Approach
- Systematic Method to Management
- Provides Persistent Development
- Decision making based on Factual Methodology
- Equally Beneficial Contractor Associations
The above eight principles are associated with the ISO 9000 quality management system.
(Brown et, al. 1999) believes that the main obstacle in implementing the above principles is incorporating them into there strategic plan whilst making certain that all areas of the organisation are involved
The most important purpose of any quality system is to satisfy the customers and users of the product or services for its designed purpose.
Below illustrated in Figure 1 the model shows how all parties are involved in contributing to the organisations QMS.
2.3 Total Quality Management
(Sommerville and Robertson 2000) believe that an organisation which proceeds to implement the philosophy of total quality management (TQM) instantly realise that the financial measures associated are restricted in relation to the realisation of achievements and progress in general of quality needs.
Additional processes require to be created in order to establish overall performance and development.
The British Standards Institution defines (TQM) as “The management philosophy and company practices that aim to harness the human and material resources of an organisation in the most effective way to achieve the objectives of the organisation.”
This ensures there is a means of achieving continuous improvement performances within an organisation involving all levels within the company.
Whilst trying to continually improve the process of TQM the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) highlight the key elements for organisations to consider associated with the process prior to the initiation of a TQM system
The diagram in Figure 2 clearly shows the basics associated with the EFQM model:
(McCabe 1998) highlights that in order to achieve TQM within any organisation it is vital that the following aspects are considered:
- The environment should encourage teamwork, communication and cooperation
- In order to create these conditions known as the organisational structure, will require an analysis of the current situation which will allow a starting point to be identified for any amendments which are necessary.
- If cultural change is required within the organisation it needs to be assisted by key personnel.
- There are two ways of managing change; working from the bottom up in management is more likely than working from the top down.
(Sommerville and Robertson 2000) continues with what (McCabe 1998) highlights in the belief that a successful TQM system must be developed and maintained at a continuous progression and is based upon a continuous six step process.
There are no set rules in regards to the process and these are mainly given as guidelines which can be incorporated within any organisation.
3.0 AJ Clark Group Quality Strategy
The AJ Clark Group firmly believe that by efficiently managing there construction activities, clients will receive more cost effective and better quality services and products within any given time restraints. To accommodate these beliefs the company have implemented a quality management system which is in accordance with BS EN IS 9001-2008.
3.1 Quality Policy
The purpose of the quality management system (QMS) is to ensure that all civil engineering, development and building construction projects are carried out and consistently meet or exceed the client's expectations.
The company currently operates a system which regularly evaluates its processes along with the customers needs, there are quantifiable goals with procedures in place to ensure that improvements are realised each year.
The company's main aims within the QMS are identified below:
- Achieve consistency and reliability
- To ensure contracts are carried out to specification and within specified time scales.
- Consistently meet statutory and regulatory requirements
- To ensure a mutuality of benefit
- To develop ever improving standards of service and quality
3.2 Quality Management System
As the principal activities of the company are civil engineering contracting, industrial concrete flooring and housing development then the process for controlling these activities in regards to all quality issues are shown below in figure 4:
3.2.1 Control of Documents
Documents and records are generated in all aspects of the organisation and those pertaining to quality are systematically collated, stored and maintained under the control of the Quality Representative.
These records are readily available to demonstrate the effective operation of the quality system and the quality of service supplied are held for a minimum period of three years.
Information maintained on computer is duplicated on 'back up' disks and tapes which are easily identified.
Changes to the quality manual and procedures are formally controlled al all documents will reflect the current revision status and date on each page.
A master list detailing the status of all controlled documents will be maintained.
3.3 Management Responsibility
The directors within the AJ Clark Group are fully committed to developing and improving the current QMS.
They have documented the quality policy and health & safety statements which are currently on display throughout the company premises along with confirmation of there continued commitment to ensuring the necessary resources are readily available.
The organisational chart below in figure 5 clearly shows the structure within the AJ Clark Group organisation which ensures all employees within the company is fully aware of there roles and responsibilities:
3.4 Resource Management
3.4.1 Provision of resources
The managing director will provide resources to maintain and improve the QMS whilst also maintaining customer satisfaction. These resources shall include personnel, equipment, and a suitable working environment and shall be monitored through internal audits and management reviews which are held quarterly.
Within these reviews the following aspects will be analyzed:
- Staff appraisals and training requirements identified
- Changes which could effect the QMS
- Supplier and Sub contractor performance
- Contract performance and conformity reviews.
- Resources including personnel, equipment, buildings, utilities and working environment.
3.4.2 Training Requirements
All personnel whose activities affect quality shall possess either the appropriate experience whilst undergoing the necessary training to perform there job efficiently and satisfactory.
Training records are maintained for all employees and include and induction, personal qualifications, experience and specialist job training. All employees training needs and requirements are reviewed continuously along with a training plan which is targeted on each employees needs.
3.4.3 Interface with Sub Contractors and Suppliers
Although AJC mainly function as a sub contractor there are still works which are often sub contracted out within the tenders procured.
All suppliers and subcontractors are chosen on the basis of previous work in which they have performed for the organisation.
When selecting a sub contractor or supplier the following measures are taken:
- Sub contractors and suppliers are chosen from a database of experienced approved contractors / suppliers who have been used in previous contracts.
- Any sub contractor or supplier who hasn't previously been used will be scrutinized extensively to ensure they have the required resources and financial capabilities to perform the chosen works.
3.5 Measurement, Analysis and Improvement
The quality representative will implement appropriate monitoring and measuring procedures to ensure the QMS and processes are effective along with a continual review of all areas in order to seek future improvement.
3.5.1 Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction questionnaires are issued and the corresponding results will be analyzed and the necessary improvement methods will be instigated where necessary.
The implementing of planned audits both on site and within the office environment are essential to ensure compliance with all aspects of quality activities are being realised in addition to monitoring continued effectiveness.
Audits are carried out by trained personnel, independent of the activity under audit whilst feedback and results are provided on completion to the Quality Representative.
Follow up audits are carried out where necessary to verify that deficiencies have been corrected
Having carried out a noteworthy literature review into both quality strategies and quality management systems within the construction industry along with the current QMS incorporated with the AJ Clark Group the following conclusions have been reached.
There are many similarities in the procedures which are recommended within the literature review and the framework which is currently in place within the AJ Clark Group organisation.
It has become clear that for any organisation to successfully administer the services and products they produce then a sufficient quality management system must not only be in place but must be effectively managed and monitored constantly to help achieve maximum results.
A specified QMS framework must be incorporated within any organisation to allow all procedures to be analysed, a chosen system such as ISO 9001 provides an organisation such as AJC with a QMS that is recognised worldwide along with being an important attribute within any business.
As there are many areas which are covered within the AJC Group in relation to the guidelines set out this provides the organisation with a solid footing in there pursuit of ensuring Client satisfaction within the construction industry.
This in turn will result in the reputation of the company being significantly improved along with the prospect of additional works being awarded to the company in the future.
Care must be taken throughout the organisation to minimise any complacency whilst ensuring that continual monitoring and improvement techniques are applied along with certifying that no elements within the framework are being over looked or ignored.
Although quality assurance principles have existed for many years they have become progressively more important throughout all sector of industry due to the recent recession.
Construction companies cannot afford to neglect these systems or they will be left unrecognizably behind in an ever more competitive industry, prior to the recession quality may have occasionally been overlooked in terms of time and cost although this has significantly changed
Having established that the AJ Clark Groups QMS is currently under the ISO 9001 framework I would recommend to proceed to incorporating a TQM system within the organisation.
Although the ISO 9001 certification is an approved framework it does not necessary guarantee that all products and services will be completed to a high quality, In order to produce quality goods and services, the system would benefit with the incorporation of a TQM model to help it realise its expectations.
Areas in which the introduction of a TQM system would help assist the current ISO 9001 framework within the AJC Group would be:
- The TQM system would help enhance the focus on customers.
- It is focused and emphasises the importance of employee involvement.
- Continuous improvement and TQM synonymous
- TQM is focussed in incorporating all areas within the organisation.
- Everyone is responsible for quality rather that the quality department.
Although the current QMS is of a high standard I feel that incorporating a TQM system would greatly improve the current arrangement whilst allowing both techniques to compliment each other.
This ensures that the technical system and the social system will be integrated as one therefore providing an overall enhanced quality culture within the organisation.
This will allow the AJ Clark Group to continue in its pursuit and commitment to ensuring all clients receive the utmost quality in regard to service and product satisfaction.
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