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Thirty-one percent of respondents were using a quality matrix for self-assessment purposes. The criteria used in these matrices are most often strongly related to the award criteria, with sometimes one or more specific criteria added that reflect the specific situation of the organization. More-experienced self-assessment users also had more criteria in their matrix. This suggests that less-experienced users tend to rely on the mainstream Baldrige Award criteria and not develop their own.
The result on company size is somewhat surprising since the Australian evidence is that only very large companies generally had the resources generally quality specialists or quality departments to devote to developing and using a matrix Brown and Van der Wiele a. Respondents were asked to identify the extent to which different types of activities formed part of their self-assessment processes. The results are provided in Table 7.
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The top five most common steps selected suggest a very systematic approach that was used by management to develop the organization, with particular emphasis on business unit planning. Self-assessment guidelines help promote universal agreement on directions throughout the organization. A further finding is that the self-assessment process is linked to the business planning process, which is more widespread among larger companies. Further analyses of various subgroups among the sample highlight how some of these features are more widespread among particular groups t- test at 0.
Larger organizations tended to practice the following as part of their self-assessment activities reflecting a more formal approach involving greater time and resources. Other features of self-assessment tended to be found in organizations experiencing positive trends in profits and market share. These were. Self-assessment is also linked to the broader planning process in these organizations. Generally, then, these could be regarded as features of self-assessment in organizations with relatively mature self-assessment programs.
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Overall, self-assessment appears to have several characteristics including data gathering and scoring, discussing strengths and weaknesses, developing an improvement plan, and linking it to the business plan. These steps promote organizational learning on the basis of communication and feedback of the self-assessment results. Linking the self-assessment results to the business plan will also support the improvement activities, not only because resources will be made available, but also because the defined improvement goals will be an integral part of the regular business review.
The quality improvement matrix in particular provides a methodology for linking quality indicators into business planning. As noted, the more experienced a firm was in terms of self-assessment cycles, the more likely it employed such a matrix. Hence, there appears to be a level of experience required before firms are aware of the potential or have the capability to implement such a methodology.
Analysis of the data on benefits indicates considerable improvement on many of the prescribed indicators. All categories apart from leadership scored at 3. Improvements in quality of product, process, and service may also partly reflect the fact that many of these companies with self-assessment also have ISO series quality systems in place in much of their organizations. A subsequent question addressed the benefits achieved regarding a number of more specific items.
Seven of the more specific items of improvement resulting from self-assessment scored more than 3 on the improvement index scale see Table 9. The top five items for organizations that reported the strongest improvements were. These results support the idea that the self-assessment process is very useful as a way of defining TQM for the organization and making it meaningful for all managers in the organization.
Managers not only get a better understanding of what TQM is all about, but also, and even more crucial, they see the importance for their business units and job. Respondents reported only moderate improvements on issues related to the human aspects in the organization related to the implementation of quality management self-assessment.
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For example, employee turnover, attendance, and the safety and health of employees received improvement scores of 2. This is consistent with earlier findings Van der Wiele et al. Improvements in reliability, errors, defects, and cost savings tend to support one of the core principles of quality management; namely, quality reduces costs. Better customer retention and fewer customer complaints is also another core principle of quality management.
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In an effort to gauge the relationship between the level of involvement in self-assessment activities and the level of improvement in performance, the correlation between these items was examined as to significance. That is, a test of significance was performed on the correlation between each of the 15 activities and each of the 26 improvement areas seven for the Baldrige Award and 19 more specific areas.
The number of correlations found to be significant is reported in Table In general, the results support the contention that higher levels of self-assessment activity and higher levels of improvement are related.
Those activities with the largest number of significant correlations with improvement in the Baldrige Award areas were as follows:. The results, when the improvement on more specific issues are examined, is nearly identical. That is, the activities with the greatest number of correlations remains almost the same. Greater improvements in organizational performance t- test statistically significant at 0.
While the direction of causation is not certain, this gives some indication that self-assessment may be a process that impacts positively on organizational performance. The contributing factors to such enhanced improvements vary. For companies experiencing positive trends in profits, they suggest policy and planning, quality of product, process and service, reliability of operations, employee suggestions, better understanding of TQM by line managers, cost savings, and customer retention among others as reasons.
Greater levels of improvements have also been realized by companies with positive trends in market share. Larger enterprises, in this case with more than employees, found improvements in the information and analysis categories and customer focus to a greater extent than smaller enterprises.
In addition, these larger firms noted larger improvements in the level of errors or defects and in the sharing of best-in-class across business units. Self-assessment is clearly defined in organizations as a management issue aimed at increasing quality awareness, driving the quality improvement activities, and improving business performance. Many respondents are familiar with the Baldrige Award model and others and the underlying criteria that help to assess the organization.
Many organizations have adopted these and other criteria for their internal self-assessment process. Specifically, this study has found the benefits of self-assessment to include the following:.
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These findings must be considered tentative in light of certain limitations to this study. Respondents were from a limited geographical region; namely, Boston, which may be considered one of the more progressive regions in terms of managerial advances. Hence, the results would not be characteristic of samples conducted elsewhere.
However, this does indicate the need to examine self-assessment practice in different regions. In addition, even with a response rate in excess of 30 percent, the pool of respondents was still not sufficiently large to conduct highly refined analyses by firm demographics.
With additional respondents, it would be possible to examine self-assessment practices and outcomes across a number of other dimensions, such as industry type and production process. Finally, a causal link cannot be established based on these data.
The reported greater return on sales by those utilizing self-assessment is particularly intriguing. Yet, it is unlikely that self-assessment alone accounts for this difference. However, the adoption of self-assessment may indicate a level of development that heightens the probability of achieving such results. To this end, further research is needed of not only those firms that continue to conduct self-assessment activities, but also of their nonadopting counterparts. This would permit the investigation of the link between performance and self-assessment.
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