Continuous improvement and learning
When targeting TQM , consideration should be given to the fact that the environment in which the enterprise interacts with other participants is constantly changing. If an enterprise continues to do only what it did in the past, its future performance will begin to deteriorate over time if compared to competitors. In this regard, the managers face a difficult task - to become leaders in the continuous improvement and innovation of processes, systems, products and services.
Continuous improvement is part of the management of all systems and processes. To achieve the highest levels of functioning, the organization requires a well-formulated and equally well-implemented approach to continuous improvement and learning. The concept of continuous improvement refers both to results that are incremented gradually, and to the results of the "breakthrough" type. Perfection and training should be organically built into the organization's activities. This means that they must become an obligatory part of the daily work of the organization, which tries to eliminate the causes of the problem identified, looks for opportunities to improve work, and also potential problems that need to be eliminated before they arise.
Improvements can be of different types, in particular:
• increasing value for consumers by offering them new and improved old goods (products and services);
• Increase labor productivity and operational performance indicators by improving work processes, reducing errors, deficiencies, defects, and wastes;
• Increase flexibility, efficiency and reduce the time of the general work cycle;
• Improving the processes of organizational management through training managers.
Consider the essence of these areas of improvement of the organization.
Improvement of goods and services. In order to determine the needs of consumers and how these requests should be taken into account in product design and service content, careful research should be carried out. At the same time, the approach developed by the Japanese expert in the field of quality by Professor Noriaki Kano and relating to the classification of consumer requests can be used.
Without repeating the main provisions of this approach, we note the difficulties that may arise in its application. For example, the characteristics of products that increase the degree of customer satisfaction, it is relatively easy to determine (for this you need to conduct a regular market research). Identifying characteristics that are perceived by the consumer as irritants or as "pleasant surprises", require some experience. The fact is that after a while "pleasant surprises" become consumers depressants (consumers get used to them) or "irritants" (consumers express dissatisfaction if they do not receive it). An example of this can be the use in cars of modern braking systems, air bags of safety, etc.
Based on the foregoing, enterprises must innovate constantly and study the perceptions of consumers in order to guarantee their requirements.
Improving work processes. The high quality of products and services requires an appropriate level of design, quality of work processes and the proper use of administrative systems. At the same time, the main emphasis is on preventing marriage. Improving work processes can lead to a significant reduction in waste and waste, and thus to a reduction in costs. For example, in the production of personal computers, the hard disk is considered to be the most sensitive part, so reducing the number of work operations associated with the "touch" disk by collectors of the product in half, reduced the number of rejected hard disks by 40%, and the total computer rejection rate by 20%.
Increasing flexibility, responsiveness and reducing the time for a general work cycle. To succeed in global competitive markets, you need to quickly implement the necessary changes and do it flexibly. The notion flexibility refers to the ability of a business to adapt quickly and effectively to changing requirements. This, for example, can mean a quick transition from the release of one product to another, a quick response to a change in demand, or the ability to offer a wide range of individualized services.
Flexibilities may require special strategies, such as modular design, interchangeable components, interchangeable production lines, special employee training.
This also includes outsourcing solutions (using an external organization (vendor) to handle banking and other financial data in commercial transactions), entering into agreements with major suppliers and innovative partnership agreements.
One of the most important business metrics that adds flexibility is the cycle time. This is the time it takes to complete one process cycle (for example, the time from the moment the consumer orders the product to the time when he gets it, or the time it takes to offer a new product on the market, etc.).
Reducing the cycle time brings a double benefit. First, it speeds up work processes, and therefore the responsiveness to customer requests is increased. Secondly, time reduction can be achieved by simplifying and debugging work processes, eliminating work that does not add value to the consumer (for example, repeated work to eliminate inconsistencies). Thus, reducing the cycle time often helps to simultaneously improve the performance of the entire organization, improve quality, reduce costs and increase productivity.
Significant reduction in cycle time can not be achieved only due to increased attention to individual subprocesses. To do this, it is necessary to carefully study the cross-functional processes performed throughout the organization. This approach forces the company to better understand the work at the organizational level and encourages cooperation.
Dynamic is a term that is commonly used to simultaneously characterize flexibility and short cycle times. Dynamism is especially important for such customer-focused strategies as mass execution of individual orders, where rapid response and flexibility are required when changing consumer demand.
The following factors affect the organization's dynamism:
• Close relationships with consumers, allowing to understand their needs and requests;
• empowerment of employees, up to a level where they can make serious decisions on their own;
• effective production information technologies;
• Close relationships with suppliers and partners;
• improving the breakthrough type.
Training . The term training in this case is used to understand the improvement factors, since feedback analysis allows us to assess the results of improvement and define new goals and strategies for improving the organization's performance. The following procedures are performed: planning; execution of plans; assessment of the degree of improvement; revision of plans based on the estimates received.
Measurements serve as a source of important data and information about key processes, output characteristics and other performance results. Given the most appropriate analytical approaches to detect trends and establish cause-effect relationships, measurements become an objective basis for learning, since they help to better understand the needs of consumers, the performance characteristics of goods and the financial performance of the organization.
It should be noted that for work in the context of TQM , employees need training in order to develop their skills and abilities necessary for their work, and to understand and solve problems related to quality. For example, grassroots workers need skills and skills to communicate with consumers, workers - special skills and skills in working with new technologies, all employees need to understand how to use measurements to achieve continuous improvement.
Training allows all employees to understand the goals and objectives of the company equally, and also to know what means can achieve them. Usually the preparation begins with familiarization with the principles of quality management, after which the special skills and skills required for quality improvement are developed. Theoretical preparation should be supplemented by applying the acquired skills and knowledge in the workplace, involving employees in solving practical problems and giving them the necessary authority.
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