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Essay/Term paper: Total quality management in construction

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Economics

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Total Quality Management In Construction

The major new element in world market competition is quality. During
the 1970's and 1980's, the Japanese and their U.S. companies demonstrated that
high quality is achievable at lower costs and greater customer satisfaction. It
was the result of using the management principles of total quality management
(TQM). More and more U.S. companies have demonstrated that such achievements
are possible Using TQM as a new way to manage. Such companies also found that
they were recognized with everyone pulling in the same direction. Improvement
had become a way of live.
Improving competitive position and profit has always been the
responsibility of management. Before the 1980's, U.S. management was broadly
successful. Until then the dominant management model was that of the autocrat.
Management, primly senior management, decided how the business was to operate,
including what the policies and objectives were; how it was organized; what jobs
were established; and how should they be done. It was an unquestioned axiom
that if everyone did what the upper management required, the business would be
Organizations are composed of the people in them and the managers who
lead them. People respond strongly to leadership expectations and rewards. If
they are given little power in their jobs, they have little interest in
improving them. If leaders exhort the members for better output but reward
(promotions, bonuses, recognition) for mostly higher output, they get the
behavior they reward. Quantity over quality has been a common management
philosophy in the United States.
The first step in implementing TQM requires the an upper-management
change in both philosophy and behavior. Managers must adopt the objectives of
customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. They must implement the
change to achieve these objectives through their personal and continuous
involvement and in the reeducation of everyone in the organization in TQM
principles and practices. The past philosophy of management can work reasonably
well if a company dominates world markets. When markets become complex and
worldwide with more and stronger competitors, a new model is needed. Asian
companies and some in the United States have demonstrated that there is a more
effective way to manage, quite different from the autocratic model: It is
employee involvement in quality improvement. These companies also introduce
high quality at lower cost as a competitive element, thereby changing the
competitive equation for everyone.
TQM is a way to continuously improve performance at every level of
operation, in every functional area of an organization, using all available
human and capital resources. Improvement is addressed toward satisfying board
goals such as cost, quality, market share, schedule, and growth. It demands
commitment and discipline, and an ongoing effort.
The quality management process includes the integration of all employees,
suppliers, and customers, within the corporate environment. It embraces two
underlying tenets:
Quality management is a capability which inherent in your employees.

-Quality management is a controllable process, not an accidental one.

The idea of an integrated, human-orientated systems approach to management was
successfully used by W. Edwards Deming in the 1950's. Deming told the Japanese
that they could become world-class leaders if they followed his advice and they
did. He lectured top Japanese business leaders on statistical quality control.
He proposed a system that would change the approach to management in many ways.
Today, this system is the pillar of TQM philosophy. These components make up
the strategic portion of the quality pyramid (figure. 1). There are mainly
eight functional elements from which other concepts flow. These are:

1.Organizational vision

Organizational vision provides the frame work that guides a firm's
believes and values. The gist of the corporate vision should be a simple, one
sentence guide or motto that every employee knows, and more important, believes.
If well crafted, the vision statement can serve through a torrent of change in
product and service technology. The strategic vision needs to consider both the
external customer and the employees, but should lack a defining or
differentiating phrase between them. For example, General Motors provides all
employees a card with its strategic vision, including a cause-effect diagram
that indicates the importance of team work (figure 2).
Simply stating a vision is not enough. It needs to be demonstrated by
the actions of the executives, managers , superiors, foremen, and individuals.
It should be done continuously in all their actions and initiatives. Moreover,
deliberation must be exercised in developing these goals and strategies. They
must reflect the values and culture of the work force. While top-management
commitment is essential, managers should realize when to lead and when to get
out of the way. In a sense quality management is management from the bottom up.
An atmosphere of responsibility must be created toward the customer for whatever
product is produced or service is rendered (fig.3, below).

2. Barrier Removal
It is inevitable that change will be resisted. In fact, a great deal of
effort in quality management is expended in overcoming such resistance, usually
by allowing change to come from individuals directly involved, rather from
management. The whole idea of continuous improvement leads to continuous change.

Some of these barriers are:

- We know what they really want (without asking them).

- Quality is not a major factor in decisions-low initial cost mentality prevails.

- Creative accounting can increase corporate performance.

- Can't manufacture competitively at the low end.

- The job of senior management is strategy, not operations.

- Success is good, failure is bad.

- If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

- The key disciplines from which to draw senior management are finance and

- Increase in quality means increase in cost.

- Thinking that time, quality, cost are the worst mutuality exclusive, at best
we can only choose two out of three.

The following are the steps to barrier removal:

I. Identify barrier. As seen above some of these barriers may apply
effecting progress.

II. Place into categories. Related barriers and their systemic causes may
now be analyzed. Categorization may be facilitated by using either cause-effect
diagrams or quality function deployment.

III. Establish priority. An objective process that is not influenced by
management or hidden agenda must be developed. At this stage barriers are
judged on their validity in accordance with the severity of the problem.

IV. Problem solve. This means more than symptoms removal. Sick
organizations do not recover for the long term if the symptoms are masked. It
is vital to address the root of the problem. The elimination of one barrier may
solve many problems for example poor communication between management and staff.
Keep in mind that analyzing the problem should include estimates of resources
required for it solution.

V. Goals and strategies for resolution. Resolution of problems may entail
goals over a period of months or years. Goals should be realistic and
attainable with the given resources. Strategies ensure that goals can be
accomplished. Bear in mind that numerical goals as such may not be what is
required. Numerical goals may also limit the amount of growth, particularly in
organizations used to working up to an average.


Communication is the glue that binds all the techniques, practices,
philosophies, and tools. Communication may be written, verbal, or nonverbal.
Understanding and refining skills for each main type communication is an ongoing
process for everyone.
All forms of communication involve four elements: the sender, the
receiver, the message, and the medium. The medium is the method of delivery,
and can effect the message. It was said that "the medium is the message",
referring in part to the filtering effects that can happen to the message and
how personality factors may influence our understanding (figure. 4).

VI. Written Communication. Office memos and reports are the result of
hundreds of hours (studies indicate anywhere from 21% to 70% of office workers'
time is spent in manipulating written information) of work, and their final form
should be worthy of spending some time to get words right. The use of white
space and graphical elements such as charts and figures enhances the readability
of any written piece. Given the vast amount of time spent on reading and
creating memos, letters, proposals, and the like, the byword on written
communication should be more is better, and the less is permanent (memos sent
electronically, faxes, hand notes on the bottom of the letters, rather than
typed, recorded reply) the better.

VII. Verbal. Verbal communication takes place in many different settings,
and the form of the communication will vary. One sort of vocabulary may be used
to address shareholders and a different idiom may be used altogether when
chatting with construction workers. The skills principally lacking in verbal
communication are public speaking and small group interactions. Public speaking
scares people to death. This fear may be overcome by training(organizing and
practice), videotaping the presentation (to review latter), and practice(on
small group to build confidence). Small group interactions are essential to
buildup comfort and ease among the group.

It will provide a sense of team work and it is vital to have small talk among
the team.

VIII. Nonverbal. Humans infer a great deal of information from nonverbal
clues. This non verbal clues includes body language as well as things as dress
for success. Psychologists believe that nonverbal clues lead to "gut feels"
about how to interact with another person. Despite the similarities of nonverbal
communication, there are cultural differences, and is probably most important to
understand these, rather than reading individuals body language. It is easy to
fall into the trap of overanalyzing nonverbal clues and infusing them with
meaning, when, for example, someone may be hard of hearing or near/far-sighted
rather than being inattentive (or too attentive).

4.Continuous Evaluation

Feedback is essential to continuous improvement. How else would we know
if our goals are being reached?. These feedback mechanisms may be simple oral
or written reports, information systems, or complex automated statistical
analyses integrated with our expert systems. The key is to receive the
information in time to allow initiating corrective action. For example, in
construction feedback from engineers, subcontractors and so forth can help us as
managers to find new ways to reduce cost and schedule. Feedback may also help
architects to find the best way to construct a building and therefore effecting
the design. We also should understand and separate assessable causes from chance
causes. Assessable causes have distinct reasons for there existence, while
chance causes are those causes that we have no control over.

5.Continuous Improvement

Unlike innovation, which require great resources, and no small amount of
serendipity, continuous improvement is easier to manage and utilize everyone's
talent. Japanese companies have used this idea for some time, and call this
approach kaizen. This idea fits hand in hand with team building approach.
Kaizen and innovation are compared in figure 5 below.

To reduce cost and time and increase productivity, in any industry, the
focus must be projected on the process that produces the product. Improving the
process in construction, for example, reduced or may eliminate costly change
orders and therefore reduced complexity and time. Through inspection and
analysis of the process, everyone shares a common learning experience and the
accumulated knowledge and understanding of the process become the basis for
improving it.

Precepts of Quality Improvement - Quality leadership must begin with top

- The most important aspect of quality is identifying the activities within the
organization that effect quality.

- Written procedure are one of the necessary communication media by which the
management functions of directing and controlling are exercised.

- One of the most critical activities in quality improvement is preparing a
clear, concise description of the services to be acquired.

- The cost, time, and effort devoted to evaluating and selecting suppliers must
be commensurate with the importance of the goods and services to be procured.

- Quality audits must determine the adequacy of, and compliance with,
established policies, procedures, instructions, specifications, codes, standard
and contractual requirements. Quality audits must also assess the effectiveness
of their implementation.

- The simple objective of most quality audits is to gather enough reliable data
through inspection, observation, and inquiry to make reasonable assessment of
the quality of the activity being audited.

- the foundation of quality control is having timely and accurate information
so that systems that are not capable of producing consistent quality can be
identified and improved.

- An effective quality cost program can help the management team to allocate
strategic resources for improving quality and reducing costs.

- Productivity, profit, and quality are the ultimate measure of success of the
production system.

6.Customer/Vendor Relationship

The "hearing the voice of the customer" has become a key phrase in the past few
years. This would seem to be a obvious point but it's not. After world war II,
The United States was the only major country that did not have a devastated
economic infrastructure. Therefore, it was able to produce items of any quality
and sell them. Industries were internally driven and not customer driven. As
the glob markets grow, new competitors with new technologies approached these
markets providing better quality products and involving the customers. This
approach worked miracles for these new industries and valuable lessons should be
learned from this. Here are some strategies for improving customer and vendor

- Link organizational vision to customer satisfaction.

- Reward suppliers.

- Move to a single source.

- Minimize the overall number of vendors.

- Identify the internal and external customers.

- Identify end users and distributors.

- Establish routine dialogue with customers.

- Involve the customer in planning and development.

Keep in mind that vendors must be qualified and have policies that are
compatible with yours. Viewing these vendors as partners, rather than
adversaries leads to the ability to implement successfully such cost-saving
measures as just-in-time, whereby materials arrive as needed to the construction

7.Empowering The Worker

Empowering the worker means enabling the worker to achieve his or her
highest potential. For most American companies, this is new, and may be the
most powerful and useful concept in quality management. Allowing and
facilitating workers to achieve their highest potential may seem obvious or
impossible, but in fact it is neither. Empowering requires turning the
organizations chart upside down, recognizing that management is in a place to
aid the worker in overcoming problems they encounter, not to place new
roadblocks on the way.

Empowering strategies may include:

I. Ownership. A key strategy in empowering employees is to allow them
ownership of tasking, project, or division. Ownership implies trust and
requires a delegation of authority commensurate with the responsibility of the
task. Ownership can also be granted to a team. Ownership also demands that the
final resolution of the tasking be in the hands of the owner.

II. Value all contributions. Whether or not we appreciate them, it is
important to enhance self-esteem of the contributor to accept their contribution
and evaluate it.

III. Every one has a value. If they didn't why would they be employed? Treat
everyone with respect. All work has dignity to it.

IV. Teams must own problem. Teams are a waste of time if management vetoes
or substantially changes their recommendation. If management is unable to trust
the recommendations that come from the team, then management fear rules, and
will spiral to lower and lower productivity.

V. Delegate authority to the lowest possible organizational level.
Constantly ask: why should I do this? If you have hired competent people, let
them do there job. No one knows about the job than the person directly involved
with it.


The outcome of training is modified behavior. It may be enhanced
interpersonal skills or specific manual skills, but there is a direct,
identifiable modification. Training need not consist solely of traditional
classroom instruction. Employees can train other employees very effectively.
A company-wide curriculum should be developed that address the needs of
each department. Courses should be just long enough to be effective. Anything
over three or four days is unlikely to immediately be absorbed into daily work
habits. Immediate reinforcement of the training is necessary to be effective.


1. R. Stein, The Next Phase of Total Quality Management., Macel Dekker,
Inc.,1994. 2. T. Cartin, Principles and Practices of TQM., ASQC Quality
Press.,1993. 1. W. Schmidt and J. Finnigan, TQManager., Jossey-Bass Publishers.,
1993. 1. B.Brocka and S. Brocka, Quality Management: Implementing The Best Ideas
Of the Masters. Irwin, Inc.,1992. 2. H. Kerzner, Project Managment., Van
Nostrand Reinhold.,1992.


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