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Describe the Development of Quality Management and Its Significance to an Organization in a Service Industry.

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When discussing quality management and its historical influences and means of evolution, it is worth considering practices employed over two hundred years ago in the rapidly developing manufacturing sector. It is also worth digesting the true meaning of the word quality and its connotations and implications in the business environment; it is the combination of these two factors which has lead to the high profile staus of quality management today and the various differentiated practices that have stemmed from it. Before the chronological deconstruction of this theory it is of noteable worth to define what is understood by "quality." Quality itself is a word that many would use to describe an item of a high caliber or class which has some intrinsic superiority over other items. Many dictionaries describe the word in a number of varied contexts, but most applicably in this case it is described as a degree or grade of excellence (the-free-dictionary); this definition is closer to the one which will underpin all discussion herein.

In order to understand and apply any understanding to what quality management truly is and its relevance in the contemporary services industry, it is first necessary to gain a rounded knowledge of its origins. F. W. Taylor is often sited as being the man to initiate the "quality movement" in its earliest years, as he brought forward one of the core elements of modern quality thoeries; namely, standardisation. Standardisation is the devolution of a complex task into individual processes which can then be repeated in a systematic way allowing for the negation of variablility of the required output (Clarke 2005, p2). Taylor studied a number of tasks originally undertaken by a handful of skilled workmen and attempted to identify a more efficient way of performing them. He first took a process and broke it down into its individual elements and then scrutinized over each part to attempt to identify the fastest way in which each part could be carried out; he also tried to ensure each stage was carried out with as little variation as possible so that the end products would be relatively undifferentiated from one another (Taylor, 1911). His theory was named "Scientific Management" as he approached the art of management from a logical, systematic mindset. Whilst his theory caused much controversy in the early 1900's when it was introduced (Wren p247) (widely due to the misapplication of his ideas or a half-hearted attempt from those in management), as the decades wore on, his theory began to gain more worth and his concepts were assimilated into more modern postulations regarding management.

As the century progressed, so too did ideals behind quality management. The beginning of World War Two initiated a new wave of interest into this field as munitions production relied heavily on the presuppostion that all the components would integrate with one another and therefore perform their roles without malfunction. This meant that the reduction of unwanted variation in production was of the utmost importance, as failure to perform correctly could result in the loss of lives for troops and ultimately a hinderance to the war effort (Lal p24-25). This mindset was carried through after the war and gave rise to a new approach to manufacturing and in fact business as a whole. W. E. Deming is most frequently quoted as being the man behind, "Total Quality Management", an unheard of style which promoted a type of management where quality pervaded throughout, and he gained his notoriety in Japan in the early 1950's (Deming 2000). Deming himself was influenced by the works of W. Shewhart who put forward the idea of statistical quality control whereby the quality of the output from any process can be statisically monitored and the variation predicted, therefore limiting the need for costly alterations in the production process (Shewhart 1980). This realisation that quality was the keystone to manageable, predictable, and economically successful production began a trend which would continue through to modern times and would spread through both secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.

In the modern era there is a whole plethora of conflicting and contrasting styles of management which claim to hold the key to the successful operation of a business. When considering Total Quality Management however, it is possible to transcend all other notions and theories, as this idea tackles the very fundamental necessities of every company; delivering the highest quality product to the customer resulting in their satisfaction with the company and therefore ensuring the companies continued success (Sallis p23). If a company promises a product of a certain standard and fails to deliver, this then results in the business receiving poor feedback, a poor image and ultimately, poor profit. This is why Total Quality Management can stand alongside any other management technique and be viable, as if quality can be delivered consistently over a long period, a company will retain strength in the economy. It took almost thirty years after the emergence of Deming's thoeries for the rest of the world to recognise the cruciality of a pervasive quality approach to management. Cathy Kramer, the executive vice-president of the American Association for Quality and Participation, describes the US as making a "serious tactical error" in failing to heed the advice of Deming in the 50's (Hawkes p5), although in recent years the acceptance of these ideas has lead to a widely more successful economy with quality at its core.

Translating a qualitative approach from the manufacturing sector to the services sector is often seen as a difficult process. When manufacturing a product, it is of vital importance that each unit has an extremely low variability percentage and subsequently the procedure must be standardised to a level where these variations are incredibly minimal. The Six Sigma approach suggests it can attain a variability level of 3.4 defects per one million outputs; in manufacturing terms this is noteably low (General Electric). However, how does one transfer a system that deals with rigorous systematic scrutiny of an industrial process to a field mainly controlled by human decision and therefore at the mercy of human error? One way in which this is made possible comes from the aforementioned Walter Shewhart who developed the "Plan, Do, Check, Act" (PDCA) system for delivering quality in any facet of a company. The theory is as it sounds, a systematic way of planning and carrying out a process whereby required levels of qualitative excellence are attained and therefore the customer is satisfied (Manuele, p34). Relating this to a services sector business, one would have to stringently formulate an idea of what the desired level of quality is, implement the changes

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