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Quality Systems In British Telecommunications Information Technology Essay

2184 words (9 pages) Essay in Information Technology

5/12/16 Information Technology Reference this

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Quality systems play a vital role in enabling organisation to achieve their goals regarding meeting quality standards of their products and services. Meeting the quality standards is important, for one good reason: it determines the overall organisation’s success. Customers require satisfaction and satisfaction is only achieved if the product portrays good quality. Quality enables organisations to attain a competitive advantage in the market (Geotsch, 1998). Also, highly quality oriented production earns the company a positive image and develops a positive perceived value of the product or service in the minds of the customers. Having a poor quality on the other hand, would bring a traumatic and rather low performance attribute to the company, which is certainly not a desirable situation for any organisation.

Here is where the quality systems come in. Quality systems ensure that the organisations maintain their strategic objectives to be attained through high quality and all the other goals relating to it (Oakland, 1993). The implementation of quality systems requires an effective quality managements system, which comprises, processes, which have to be monitored and continually evaluated. Almost every organisation that delivers a good or a service, and aims to achieve success in profits through a market position based on quality, an effective quality system is a must (Wilborn, 1994).

How does an organization know the extent of the effectiveness and the standard of the quality system? Two famous quality standards answer to this question: ISO-9001 and EFQM.

ISO stands for International Organisation for Standardisation and ISO 9001:2008 series establishes standards for the effective quality management systems (Omachonu, 2004). These standards relate to the objectives and aims of the products and services being delivered, their designs, how they are developed and eventually how they are delivered to the customers and in what form. To quality for this standard companies and organisations have to continually improve their systems and leave no room for flaws. This is the most common quality standard that companies seek to achieve edge over their competitors (Wilborn, 1994).

EFQM stands for European Foundation for Quality Management which more or less performs the same function in the form of awarding European companies and organisations an EFQM Excellence Model (Ross, 1999). EFQM is said to be quite similar to the Malcolm Bridge Award in Europe.

One of the founding members of European Foundation for Quality Management is the company British Telecommunications whose services are highly committed to customer satisfaction through providing supreme quality. It began its operations in 1986 and ever since has been bringing in changes and evolutions in its systems to improve the level of quality it promises to customers. Since the company has strong customer orientation, its processes, systems and monitoring are centered on highest quality for systems. British Telecommunications is also the member of the British Quality Foundation (BQF), which makes it recognizable company around the world in terms of total quality management. With regard to TQM, British Telecommunications has won various awards over the years (BT, 2010 [online]).

British Telecommunications’ ‘approach to quality’ functions through its Quality Framework comprising of listening of people, building of a balanced strategy management of systems, driving of excellence in business and allowing of necessary and just recognition to be practiced.

Every part, operation and subsidiary of British Telecommunications has been certified by ISO9001. British Telecommunications was first awarded this quality management certification in 1994 and it has been held ever since, where the company manages to retain and continuously improve its quality system management. Under this quality management system of British Telecommunications come the framework of policies regarding the operation of information systems, health and safety procedures, as well as People and Environmental Management Systems (ISO14001). British Telecommunications uses a balanced scorecard for the management of fulfillment and continuous delivery of business objectives. For monitoring the effectiveness of the quality systems, the company uses systematic self-assessment models to ensure business excellence (BT, 2010 [online]).

Quality System in British Telecommunications

British Telecommunications’ ‘approach to quality’ functions through its Quality Framework comprising of listening of people, building of a balanced strategy management of systems, driving of excellence in business and allowing of necessary and just recognition to be practiced.

Scorecards

The strategy of total quality management is implemented using balanced scorecards which comprise of four strategic units of the company: finance, customer service, processes and the workforce and runs across in the form of various programs. The scorecards help implement the strategy effectively with delivery and monitoring made easy. The quality systems and the set of programs are associated directly with the overall company’s strategic goals and objectives. A senior manager operates and heads each programme (BT, 2010 [online]). And then there is a separate leadership team whose job is to review the operation and results of these programmes. There is a separate scorecard for each business and strategic unit and having achieved the goals based on these scorecards senior managers responsible for them are rewarded to motivate further enhancement of performance in future (BT, 2010 [online]).

Leadership Team

The job of the leadership team is to review the progress and check on the scorecard results on a regular basis. This team monitors and evaluates performance to ensure every system, operation and programme is right on track. It conducts workshops to improve performance (BT, 2010 [online]).

Innovation

With continuous reviewing and monitoring of performance, employees are also involved in workshops on innovation to develop a culture of creativity and new thinking. This encourages people to step up and make a change in the company and work towards its benefit and their own development. The company capitalizes on new ideas developed through such workshops for use in new ventures. The quality framework incorporating innovation is based upon the logic that to craft better customer quality, improving employees’ level of quality performance is necessary and to be infused with innovative techniques is essential to achieve innovative results. British Telecommunications holds its own management training courses where it develops innovative thinking and skills of employees (BT, 2010 [online]).

Customer Experience

The quality framework of British Telecommunications revolves around continuously improving customer experience, based on the reviews, complaints and feedbacks received from the customers. The model allows the company to better understand what the customers are looking for and how well it is catering to it. Customers are surveyed regularly using various tools and methods, which are personal, online based, telephone based or mail based. The performance levels attained in terms of customer service are measured against those of competitors to assess competitive advantages and competencies on a regular basis. The survey of customers also helps the company in improving its service to them which is done systematically after having identified the problems and issues and changing consumer preferences. The company conducts a weekly survey to keep updated on the insights relating to the customer (BT, 2010 [online]).

Performance Management and Improvement

British Telecommunications uses lean sigma DMAIC (Define Measure Analyse Improve Control) since 2004 to underpin the evolved and changed business orientation which comprises of customer service at every end and corner. This control ensures that the customer service processes run through continuous and accelerating improvements with time (BT, 2010 [online]).

The improvements in performance are based on accurate data findings and numerical performance records coupled with observations at each step. The performance management thus incorporates a very systematic approach. Continuous improvement is the main focus of the performance management and improvement procedures, where all people working in the company are put in focus for improvement, directed towards the objectives and are measured against consistency (BT, 2010 [online]).

Quality Embedded Systems

The international certification of the quality management systems standard of ISO9001 makes British Telecommunications a company infused with committed to quality at each corner which leads to customer satisfaction. The retail structure, the productions and operations all of the performance systems of the company are certified and engaged in continuous improvement (BT, 2010 [online]).

Regular Improvements

British Telecommunication uses Quality Functional Deployment system to ensure all systems and operations are regularly improved. This deployment system is part of the planning system which involves transformational programmes, auditing of management systems, and actions for improving the team work quality. The lean sigma brings for the company improved customer service, reduction in cost and a growth in revenue as a result (BT, 2010 [online]).

Management Tools

British Telecommunications practices the following managerial tools to ensure quality:

PDCA is the basic framework for quality which stands for plan, do check and act.

The problem solving system followed and practiced by the management is dealt with Pareto where the big problems are sorted out first, where root of the problem is first determined.

Management practices the brainstorming tool whereby negative and positive both aspects are brainstormed to generate useful ideas together with cause and effect thinking styles.

Mangement also practices the 5 S’s in solving problems realted to quality: Sort, Straighten, Scrub, Systemise, and Standardise (BT, 2010 [online]).

10 Step Quality System

To robust the improvement in quality and to practice an effective quality management system, British Telecommunications practices a ten step quality system procedure to ensure that quality is met at each level, procedure, practice and unit of the business. Its focus is on all business processes where they are aligned directly to the strategic objectives of the company. This system ensures that the purpose and focus is clear to all stakeholders as to what performance and objective each system is trying to achieve. Only those quality tools and methods are used in this ten step system which has been previously proven. Following this system provides a route to a transformation that is highly effective. The following chart illustrates this ten step system (BT, 2010 [online]).

Monitoring and Evaluation of its Performance

When a quality system is implemented, monitoring it for flaws and progress is just as important as the initial development of the quality system processes (Ireland, 2007). Monitoring is part of the overall quality system, which is conducted with the aim of finding key areas of improvement and concern.

The monitoring of the performance of the quality system takes place in the form of internal audits whereby customer satisfaction being a useful tool for checking for performance attributes (Evans, 2004). The feedbacks obtained through the monitoring of the quality systems are reviewed and analyzed by the management. The following areas are monitored: evaluation and pre-qualification of suppliers, assessment of the realization process of the supplier and quality system, how the customer requirements are being met, the quality of the supplier deliveries, the requirements of the processes, their control, inspection, testing and conformity, and the final verification process of the delivered product to the customer (Lewis, 1994).

Conclusion and Recommendations

Quality systems ensure that the organisations maintain their strategic objectives to be attained through high quality and all the other goals relating to it. The implementation of quality systems requires an effective quality managements system, which comprises, processes, which have to be monitored and continually evaluated. Almost every organisation that delivers a good or a service, and aims to achieve success in profits through a market position based on quality, an effective quality system is a must. British Telecommunications’ ‘approach to quality’ functions through its Quality Framework comprising of listening of people, building of a balanced strategy management of systems, driving of excellence in business and allowing of necessary and just recognition to be practiced. Every part, operation and subsidiary of British Telecommunications has been certified by ISO9001. British Telecommunications was first awarded this quality management certification in 1994 and it has been held ever since, where the company manages to retain and continuously improve its quality system management. The strategy of total quality management is implemented using balanced scorecards which comprise of four strategic units of the company: finance, customer service, processes and the workforce and runs across in the form of various programs. With continuous reviewing and monitoring of performance, employees are also involved in workshops on innovation to develop a culture of creativity and new thinking. This encourages people to step up and make a change in the company and work towards its benefit and their own development. To robust the improvement in quality and to practice an effective quality management system, British Telecommunications practices a ten step quality system procedure to ensure that quality is met at each level, procedure, practice and unit of the business. Its focus is on all business processes where they are aligned directly to the strategic objectives of the company.

With a stiff competition in the telecommunications industry in UK, BT has to continually maintain its quality standards on regular basis. Although BT has fortified its territory when it comes to quality assurance and awards and certifications but there is still room for improvement in the areas of innovation and leadership which can be assessed further.

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