Total Quality Management system is frequently used in organizations for managing quality and continues improvement; quality improvements initiatives based on the Total Quality Management philosophy also be implemented during a project execution. The purpose of this report is to develop an approach to convey TQM from organization to project. Based on literature reviews and case studies, an approach which integrates three fundamental TQM principles – “customer oriented, team dynamics, and continuous improvement” into project phases, is suggested. The integrated system can prevent or reduce the causes of project failure, hence will improve the overall project quality. In order to implement the system, it requires the top management committed to the TQM concepts, and be able to balance the cost and time to achieve customer’s satisfaction.
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In last decade many researchers are focusing their interests in successful implementation of a quality project management system, and the measurement of quality during the management of a project. On the contemporary market field, there is a severe competition for who will be the leader. The most important key factor for a project-oriented company to stay competitive in the market is to be customer-centric. It has to fulfill and satisfy all the customer needs. Instead of focusing on internal factors about employees’ performance it should focus on all parameters put by the customer’s expectation like:
All the above issues along with the company’s optimization in human and other resources allocation can lead to the successful goal achievements. All the emerging issues during a project have to be considered by all actors of project’s team and particularly from the top management team with focus on the management and implementation of the principles of a “Total Quality” approach in order to gain the competitive advantage needed. There are many examples for project failures in terms of scope, time, budget and quality because they didn’t meet the above given criteria.
A key factor on this approach is the environment which puts a framework under the Project Management and Total Quality Management lens. The modern management models hope to create a competitive advantage in the market by implementing a more quality-effective performance during projects execution. So, the question raised is how the Total Quality Management concepts can be implemented throughout the project management and what the initiatives for the quality project management are. The answer lies on the implementation of Quality Assurance tools and standards and Total Quality Management principles which can be adopted in the organizational culture and win top management’s board support in order to optimize the applicable processes and procedures.
Through carefully examination of principles of Total Quality Management and Project Management, our study aims to develop an approach to convey TQM system from the organization to the project.
Total Quality Management
Total Quality Management is a philosophy that has the main goal and task to assure that each organization applying its principles will be the best in class, when the Project Management philosophy is to focus in processes and methods, like programming and controlling that will assure the potential achievement of planned objectives in terms of minimizing the cost and other time and resources dependencies.
The goals of Total Quality Management are: 1) Prevention of extravagance. 2) Increasing productivity. 3) Cost reduction. 4) Shortening procedure time. 5) Continuously improve quality. 6) Continuous improvement and development.
The TQM is a management philosophy, which can be determined by the principles, applications and techniques, as following on the next table 1:
The provision of products and services for satisfying customer needs and going beyond its expectations. It demands a customer-centric focus from the whole organization.
Continuous satisfaction of customer needs can be achieved only through continuous improvement of processes.
Being customer-centric and improving continuously the processes it is better achievable through collaboration between employees internally and the customer and the company externally.
Direct communication with the customer
Data collection for customer needs
Use of the above data in order to design and produce the product and services
Redesign of processes
PDCA (Deming cycle)
Multi-disciplinary types of working groups
Improving education and skills of human resources
Market research, lead users and focused groups
Rules for organizing and constituting work groups with roles clarification
Table 1: TQM principles, applications and techniques (Soumpasi, 2003)
Each principle of TQM is implemented through the applications, which are activities such as process analysis or data collection for customer needs etc. The applications in turn are supported from a number of techniques in order to improve the efficiency of the processes operation.
According to PMBOK (1996) “project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service”.
The main characteristics defining a project are the following ones according to Frame (1995):
It is oriented to a particular goal and purpose. That is not enough itself and must be clear and achievable at the same time.
To complete a project, there are required coordinated efforts and activities from the key stakeholders. Due to its nature as a system, it includes many different parts and the complexity is inherent.
A project has a finite duration with specific beginning and end. Great importance for the successful completion of a project is to respect and follow the schedule (Gannt charts). Also understanding the life cycle of the project, allows managers to optimize control of resources to achieve the goal.
It is unique, to a grade depending and varied from the particular project. Project includes sections that have not been executed in the past and the degree of risk and uncertainty on those sections is bigger.
The project manager exercises control over a large extent in all dimensions of the project (human and technical resources). The result could either be successful or not and is related to project manager’s actions during the whole period of project execution.
The objective of project management is the achievement of a predefined and particular goal keeping a default budget and a specific deadline within the quality standards.
Differences between PM and TQM
Basically, there are two main differences between Project Management and Total Quality Management. The first one is that PM focuses on projects with definite time duration while Total Quality Management doesn’t have time compliance restriction for the executed activities. The second one is that PM requires the resources exploitation in both partial and full-time base but Total Quality Management demand a continuous use of all available resources.
The relationship between Total Quality Management and Project Management has a double character. The first one is that Project Management tools and techniques are considered as the most effective method for the successful implementation of a Total Quality Management system into an organization. The second one is quality improvements initiatives based on the Total Quality Management philosophy can be implemented during a project execution. The raised question is how to convey TQM system into project management, which may successful management of both approaches to yield a continuous improvement into the followed processes and procedures in a project.
In order to answer the above mentioned research question, literature review and case study focused on the topic of “Total Quality Management in projects” were conducted. Study results and discussions are presented in the following sections.
Implement Total Quality Management in Project
By definition, project management refers to “a temporary endeavor, undertaken to create a unique product or service” (Project Management Institute, 1996); the “temporary” nature of project seems not compatible with the “continuous improvement” principle of Total Quality Management; however, Orwig and Brenan(2000) stated that consider the project as an “ongoing” event, “continuous improvement” of project is not only possible but also highly recommended in project management; hence, it is possible to convey Total Quality Management into project management. From the studied literatures, most researches suggested that the best way to convey Total Quality Management into Project management was to integrate Total Quality Management elements into project management phases.
According to European Commission (2001) there are six distinct phases: selection, planning, implementation, control, evaluation and outcome. Depending on the life cycle definition, the life cycle of a project has a number of phases varying from four to five usually to nine or ten rarely according to PMBOK (1996).Consequently, there is relativity in number of project phases into a project life cycle framework depending on the nature of the project and the organizational philosophy.
The above mentioned six general phases of a project according to European Commission (2001) includes:
Selection: The selection of a project is the outcome of existing and identified needs and opportunities. The whole project process starts with the identified needs to be met. The decisions made on this stage are crucial since they constitute a commitment for the upcoming future.
Planning: The planning is essentially a map, which indicates the way for the approach used to move from one place to another. As the project is in progress, the planning can take various, diverse forms. Planning a project covers all activities related to organization, the activities will be executed, the use of human resources, the sequence in financial flows and the structure of information systems. Planning is the most important activity during the first 20% roughly of the project life.
Implementation: The project implementation basically depends on its nature.
Control: The control is carried out through the whole duration of the project and has two purposes: The first one is to assure the effective use of available resources in real time conditions. The second one is to provide the performance level achieved and all the necessary information available each moment in order to inform the project manager and be able to manage the project and not just to administer it. Consequently, the available data gathered on this phase helps to make important decisions and action that optimize the effectiveness of the project. After planning, control represents the most important activity for the rest 80% of the project life.
Evaluation: The evaluation along with control is executed during the project lifecycle in order to provide feedback to the system. But here are some significant differences; control demands a continuous monitoring of the project progress when evaluation is done periodically, control focuses in details when evaluation mainly has a broader focus in results and general context. Control is a responsibility of the project manager when evaluation is done by other groups or individuals that don’t belong to the project team in order to secure the objectivity of the result.
Outcome: The outcome of the project is the last phase of its lifecycle. The closure of a project doesn’t mean the end of its deliverables. The next step is the maintenance of the project deliverables which forms depend on the project’s nature. The maintenance is a steady condition and it is not an integral part of the project.
Integrate TQM principles into Project phases
Orwig and Brenan(2000), Juang and Wang (2006), and Levine (2009) suggested that integrate Total Quality Management into project management process requires the project team commit with three fundamental TQM principles which include “customer oriented, team dynamics, and continuous improvement”, as shown in figure 1.
Figure 1 Integrated TQM principles into project management process
Customer orientated means that project plan and execution should focus on customer’s needs and aim to maximize customer’s satisfaction; Orwig and Brenan(2000) suggested a “statement of work” can be prepared at the project initiation phase by the project team and customer to clarify customer’s needs and their measurements of project success, hence to create inputs for project charter and project scope. Communication with customer though out the project is also very important, this enables customers’ awareness of the project progress, they could validate the performance; suggest new requirement, and response to changes or problems.
Team dynamics refer to the collaborative activities between project members during the project lifecycle; Cohen and Eimicke (1994) stated that “the core of the TQM approach is the conviction that management must rely on their workers to analyze and come up with improved methods of performing tasks”, “motivate leadership, teamwork, employee development, effective communications, and employee empowerment” (Waits, 1994) these positive team dynamics can help to mitigate project challenges, improve productivity, and ensure continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement can be integrated with project monitor and control process, Orwig and Brenan (2000) referred this integrated process as “project debriefing”, they believe project performances can be continuously improved by find answers to the following questions while running the project:
“(1) Project performance against objectives.
Was the primary objective met? If not, why not?
Were the secondary benefits accomplished? If not, why not?
Did the objectives change during the project? How? Why?
(2) Project performance against schedule and budget
Did the project produce the desired deliverables? If not, why not?
Did the project finish on time? If not, why not?
Did the project finish within budget? If not, why not?
(3) Process performance
What aspects of the project went well? Why?
What aspects of the project could have gone better? How?
What could have been done differently to improve the work?
What was learned from this project that could be applied to futureefforts?
What skills or experience were gained by project team members?” (Orwig and Brenan, 2000)
The results of project debriefing will provide a list of strengths and weaknesses of project performance for the project team to take relevant actions to improve the overall quality of the project.
Results from Case Studies
According to Kerzner (2003) “There is no explicit definition of total quality management. Some people define it as providing the customer with quality products at the right time and at the right place. Others define it as meeting or exceeding customer requirements.” Thus, it would be safe to assume that each TQM system is unique to every organization and industry, from production and engineering to services and/or marketing. What follows is a brief description of successful implementation of TQM on a number of companies.
It has to be noted that TQM implementation has been introduced either in the organization’s entirety such as Mortgage Express and Lakeside, or pin-pointed at a specific process and treated as an independent project as BaE’s Fasteners demonstrate. Finally, a customer-focused TQM is outlined in the case of British Telecom Plc (BT).
Lakeside Engineering Systems
Springfarm Architectural Mouldings
Airedale Spring Systems
BaE Systems. The Fasteners
Objective: Supply Chain Optimization
Solution: Implement IT driven system
Key Factors: Top Management Involvement
BaE has indicated a process within its organization that required improvements due to internal and external stimuli. Thus, a Project Team was assembled and examined the manufacturing process in question. The two departments that were involved were Procurement and Operational Support Services.
The project team comprising of representatives from both divisions relocated close to the site and began to monitor the entire procedure which has not been sufficiently documented until that time. Following a successful mapping, the project team decided to implement a different supply chain approach consisting of a bar code driven warehouse management system. After two years of project initiation, it was deemed successful not only in numbers, but also in improving staff attitude and morale. In short, the achieved results were the following:
82% Reduction in stock
10-20% Reduction in waste
56% Reduction in store process time
Investment payback in under 6 months
In addition, BaE’s suppliers benefited from the system as follows:
Reduction in supply chain inventories from 3-6 months to 2-4 weeks
30% increase in service level rating (from 65% to 95%)
73% Increase in manufacturing output from one manufacturing cells
Mortgage Express. From closure to Excellence Award
Objective Avoid Closure, Customer Satisfaction
Key Factors: Customer Focus Operations
In 1992, Mortgage Express was facing closure. The top management decided to embrace self-assessment techniques as part of its TQM. Quality improvement was implemented throughout the organization, with Quality-related activities allocated. Four years down the road, the organization has achieved the Excellence Award.
Sales exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts which led to unavoidable service breakdown. Thus, following a successful survival of the company, restructuring was necessary. The end-result of breaking down the organization to nine distinct individual task forces -in essence ‘big’ cheetah teams- was still suffering from low customer satisfaction, with 20% drop call rates on potential and existing customers. Through call weekly call recording, the organization is able to monitor current procedures and enhance customer satisfaction.
Lakeside Engineering Systems. Reinvention
Objective: Process Improvement
Solution: Restructuring, Training
Key Factors: Constant Change
Lakeside has initiated to implement TQM in 1989 with the four-stage MACH procedure. In short, the four stages have been set as follows:
MACH 1: Training
MACH 2: Suggestion Schemes
MACH 3: Measurement System
MACH 4: Team Recognition
This system served the organization well, but still lead times had to be reduced as in mid-90’s aerospace market had exploded. Thus, using established tools and techniques including fishbone diagrams and brainstorming sessions, it was decided to switch production to Focus Factories.
Training plans were created and specialized permanent training officers were appointed. Kaizen workshops involved each and every one member of staff on every operational level of the organization. This continuous improvement ‘boot camp’ included training teams on the shop floor, further enhancing its potential.
In addition, specialization of the organization’s facilities and work teams with respect to production and operations were dramatic. The restructuring took twelve months to accomplish and within that time frame procedures related to time delivery, lead time reduction, customer returns, in-house defects, sales and response time. In short, a full-blown re-think of the company’s operations.
The program included but was not limited to:
Process review of all organizational levels
Procedure review of all organizational levels
Cell manufacture on the shop floor
Allow design freedom to each cell
Break down administration boundaries with respect to project closure
In succession of the abovementioned steps, the final major change was measuring performance of the restructured divisions and placing purchasing and sales operations to a production division.
At the end of the process, the organization displayed quite a few benefits:
On-time delivery increased from 76% to 96%
Lead time reduction from 16 weeks to 7 weeks
Customer returns reduction from 3800 DPPM to 570 DPPM
In-house defects reduction from 7850 DPPM to 748 DPPM
Customer return time reduction from 27 days to 2 days
Quotation lead time reduction from 14 days to 24 hours
Production-related sales increase from 132K GBP to 328K GBP
Springfarm Architectural Mouldings. HR System
Objective: HR Management Overhaul
Solution: New Communications system
Key Factors: Reward-based salary restructuring
Recognition of Employee efforts
An employee survey has identified poor communication procedures. All employees were included in the survey, through which top management obtained valuable insights with respect to ways of improving overall performance based on personnel needs.
The shape of the new communication system is given as follows:
“State of Nation” Address
All management and
Strategic review & update
Personal development plans
Improvement team meetings
Production management and
Welfare team meetings
HR Manager and operative
All operatives and
Shift handover meetings
All operatives from shift and
As the new communication system was established, the next step was to focus on salary restructuring. In the old wage scheme, management was setting its own standards, consisting of basic wage and 10% personal bonus, depending on the biannual review. On the other end of the spectrum, operatives were receiving the basic wage as well as a skill improvement bonus, based on the training matrix results.
In the new reward-based system, management received the basic wage plus an annual bonus of up to 25% of increase in profits. Operatives salaries were set as basic wage plus weekly productivity bonus based on five Critical Success Factors set as:
Finally, an annual customer satisfaction bonus was introduced, based on reject deductions.
The end result can be characterized as nothing less than astonishing:
Increase in number of employees of 233%
Increase in Turnover by 329%
Increase in Profits by 2638%
Airedale Spring Systems. New Technology ante portas
Objective: Adapt to new technology and legislation
Solution: Increase Productivity
Reduce Reduction Rates
Key Factors: Culture Change
The first step that was taken, was that of abolishing the existing bonus system and re-negotiating salaries with all personnel. Based on their competence, training and job responsibilities, reviewed every six months. Work specifications were reviewed in tandem with an employee committee, resulting in 7 main areas and 83 fields of competence. Eventually, through mutual agreements between employees and management, the division between full-time and part-time personnel has been eliminated through flexible working time schedules.
Furthermore, staff training took a more determined approach, aimed at increasing multi-functional and flexible personnel. Furthermore, dedicated training officers were appointed to personnel, especially with induction training procedures in mind.
The end result of the steps taken were as follows:
Employee Reduction by 25%
Productivity Increase by 43%
Final Inspection Rejects reduction from 45% to less than 2%
Spembly Medical. A spark of innovation
Objective: Project Oriented Operations
Solution: Design Optimization
Key Factors: Concurrent Engineering
The company’s activities involve instruments of cryosurgery and pain management involving cryo-analgesia. Moreover, being a world leader in ultrasonic surgery signifies that the organization ressembles more of a laboratory than a ‘traditional’ manufacturer. Thus, it is safe to assume that it’s operating at the cutting edge of the medical instruments market, with an increased need for innovation, creativity and prototyping.
The first step was to switch from functional organization to a project based one, increasing flexibility and better use of resources within these guidelines:
Instrument-dedicated project teams
Project ownership by project team
Single unit focused production
Manufacture supported by work cells
The results of the abovementioned operational changes are summarized as reduced working time, costs and response time and increased project ownership which leads to better team building and staff involvement.
Moreover, Spembly introduced concurrent engineering methods. In other words, a complete restructuring of the manufacturing processes.
The end results are shown but not limited to the list below:
Unique gas socket design
Patented gas engine
Novel probe design
Modern manufacturing processes
Full documentation at project launch
Recently years there is a shift in the implementation of the project management and an attempt to adapt to major changes needed in the philosophy of project management reshaping all the necessary activities in both operational and strategic level, according to Cicmil (1997). The causal factors led to the changes are varied and reflect the great effort of modern enterprises to meet the changes occurred in the business area with the adoption of specific standards and behavioral formats, such as:
Implementation of a form of strategic management of projects in order to maximize the yielded profits and optimize the use of available resources in terms of time and cost.
Extension of human knowledge that creates the need for creation and design a company that will support the knowledgeable administration, giving a competitive advantage through internal changes, upgrades and integrations based on project teams and other partnerships creating a ‘win-win’ situations.
Efforts that make all companies around the world in order to develop and produce better and more efficient products and services to enlarge their market share.
The above example of the project management shift it is not an innovative new approach or producing new ideas but the revival of the traditional and established project management philosophy. Traditionally, project management was considered as a process and method exclusively applied in a limited number of industries mainly in construction and technical products. Nowadays, it has been widely accepted as a method that leads to products and services with better quality satisfying customers’ needs through the optimized use of available resources and other intra-organizational factors. Therefore, it is very necessary to integrate Total Quality Management elements into Project Management.
There are some basic and common causes between all projects that have been proved can lead to project failures; following are the most crucial ones:
Misunderstanding and unclear identification of customer needs.
Inadequate understanding of the project requirements and constraints for the successful completion of it due to unrealistic goals from the beginning.
Some factors of organizational behavior including the organizational structure, organizational established processes, the human resources behavior and performance in both terms of individuals and groups, related also in some degree to organizational culture. Sometimes it is dominant the lack of basic and particular for the work skills in people belonging to the project team and also it wasn’t predicted the solution on time of the outsourcing.
Limited rationale in the process of planning and implementation of the project, which leads to failure to capture the organizational potential in terms of resources needed.
Insufficient control and methods for measurements, with all the related consequences on the feedback system.
Unclear role and responsibilities.
Lack of project support from the leadership.
By implementing the integrated TQM project management approach, the above mentioned causes of project failures can be prevented. “Customer oriented” management can provide clarified details of customer needs, project requirements, also the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders from the customer side to the project team which may minimize misunderstanding and avoid unrealistic goals: positive team dynamics will create a high quality project team, which can fill the competence gaps of workforce, and an open organization environment for continuous improvement in the long run.
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However, the integrated system also has some obstacles. First, the cost of maximizing customer satisfaction might far exceed the cost of fulfill project requirement; second, although positive team dynamics are recommended in the system, but sometimes, they are time consuming, and depends on the level of employee’s acceptance; finally, due to the “top-down” nature of Total Quality Management, the support from top management is very curtail to the project’s success.
Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and technical activities, designed to meet the needs of customers. It is a function, a procedure consisting of many variables, such as time, costs and specifications constrains. It involves the design, the control and the execution of those activities and resources necessary to carry it out; respecting the technical specifications, quality requirements, the temporary restrictions and the economic parameters set in the same project.
Base on literature reviews and case studies, we introduced an approach to convey TQM into p
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