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Tqm: Its Application In Construction Industry & Re- Emergence In The Form Of Six-Sigma

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TQM, Its application in Construction Industry & Re- emergence in the form of Six-Sigma

As projects get larger and more complex, clients are also increasingly demanding higher standards for their delivery. Significant expenditures of time, money and resources, both human and material, are wasted each year as a result of inefficient or non-existent quality management procedures. In an attempt to improve their market competitiveness, by limiting the extent of non-value-adding activities, some organizations are beginning to monitor the performance of internal and external engineering and construction processes. To achieve these bold aims, these organizations are looking to other industries such as manufacturing to examine the effectiveness of measuring and monitoring superior guiding tools. Total quality management has been recognized as a successful management philosophy in the manufacturing and service industries. TQM can likewise be embraced in the construction industry to help raise quality and productivity. The benefits experienced include reduction in quality costs, better employee job satisfaction because they do not need to attend to defects and client complaints, recognition by clients, work carried out correctly right from the start, subcontractors with proper quality management systems, and closer relationships with subcontractors and suppliers. TQM performance measures are also reflected through top management commitment, customer involvement and satisfaction, employee involvement and empowerment, customerвЂ"supplier relationships, and process improvement and management.

The objectives of this paper are:

1. To address the issue of applying TQM in the construction industry;

2. To examine possible steps for restructuring an organization for TQM; and

3. To study the emergence of an improved concept called “Six-Sigma”.


TQM is often termed a journey, not a destination. Much research has been done with regard to the implementation of TQM and it is believed that the benefits of higher customer satisfaction, better quality products, and higher market share are often obtained following the adoption of TQM. It requires a complete turnaround in corporate culture and management approach as compared to the traditional way of top management giving orders and employees merely obeying them. It is believed that the single most important determinant of the success an organization in implementing TQM is its ability to translate, integrate, and ultimately institutionalize TQM behaviors into everyday practice on the job. TQM is a way of thinking about goals, organizations, processes, and people to ensure that the right things are done right the first time. TQM is an approach to improving the competitiveness, effectiveness, and flexibility of the whole organization. It is essentially a way of planning, organizing, and understanding each activity that depends on each individual at each level. Ideas of continuous learning allied to concepts such as empowerment and partnership, which are facets of TQM, also imply that a change in behavior and culture is required.

For eg. the electrical and electronic engineering industry in Malaysia has widely adopted TQM and the main benefits that resulted were improved customer satisfaction, teamwork, productivity, communication, and efficiency. Mc-Cabe in 1996 reported a study of UK companies from different industries which have already implemented TQM. The results

showed that a majority had achieved greater success against performance indicators than was the average for their respective industries. Culp in 1993 cited an example of HDR Inc., Omaha, Nebraska, and a large engineering firm that had implemented TQM. The experience of applying TQM concepts provided the organization with improvements, information, and learning that occurred only because of the TQM process. This is in addition to positive customer responses and client referrals that the organization received as a result of implementing TQM.

Benefits of TQM

Organizations experience a reduction in quality costs by ensuring that the defect cost indices meet the requirements stated in the project quality manual. Employees can achieve job satisfaction as they do not have to attend to defects or complaints from clients.

The greatest benefit is recognition by clients. Clients are aware that organization has implemented TQM and subsequently recommends it to other clients. The Management Representative feels that top management commitment is essential for the decision to implement TQM. Top management should not create an impression of placing an additional burden on the employees. Firms should convince staff that TQM would be beneficial because everything will be done correctly right from the start.

Restructuring for Total Quality Management

TQM is generally perceived to de-emphasize status distinctions while emphasizing employee empowerment. TQM gurus preach horizontal coordination based on the flow of work processes and linkages with suppliers and customers. A TQM-oriented organization focuses on having process rather than function as the basic fundamental unit of analysis. Each person within the organization must consider the needs of the next person in line who uses his output. Measurements must be made to find out how well the organization is meeting its customer needs and expectations. Without upper-management involvement, commitment and leadership, a TQM program cannot succeed. Teams should consist of employees from various parts of the company to work together to improve processes. The organization should always look toward 100% customer satisfaction and error-free performance.

Employees need to be trained and shown how to reallocate their time and energy to studying their processes in teams, searching for causes of problems, and correcting the causes, not the symptoms, once and for all. Quality improvement teams should be set up to ensure that the quality mentality is instilled in everyone within the organization and that there is continuous improvement in the quality systems. The organization should also integrate suppliers into its TQM process.

In summary, the requirements for restructuring for an organization wanting to implement TQM would include consideration to be given to the following: customer focus, continuous improvement, leadership, employee involvement, teamwork, customerвЂ"supplier relationship, and process improvement.




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