MANAGING QUALITY AND SERVICE 1
Definitions of quality in terms of business and service provision
The customer’s expectations are the key influencers of theperception of the quality of a service. In this regard, scholars havecome up with different meanings of quality in terms of business andservice provision. According to Goestch & Davis (2014), qualitycan have two meanings. The first one is that it is the characteristicof a service to satisfy the expectations of customers, and a serviceshould not have any deficiencies. Oakland (2014) asserts that thequality of a service is not defined by the input of the supplier, butthe output that the customers receives and pays for. According toAl-Dhaafri, Yussoff & Al-Swidi (2013), quality is a measure offitness for utilization, which is defined buy the client. In a moretechnical manner, the sigma six rule defines quality as the measureof defects per million opportunities (Misra, 2008).
Illustrate the processes of inspection and assurance
Four major processes that are used in inspection of assurance applyto the service industry. The first one is quality assurance. This isthe process through which regulators ensure that a certain service isconducted to the agreed terms of quality standards, and that theoverall production performance is evaluated within these standards(Madu, 2012). In the running of a successful IT industry, themanagement have to ensure that quality assurance is used as amechanical check-tool. In the modern service industry, it is notpossible to live up to the expected potential without factoring inquality assurance. An IT company can evaluate the overall performanceof the production process through quality assurance tools. In this,the management can use techniques and audits that are defined by theprocess.
The second one is Total Quality Management (TQM). It is used tomaintain exact standards in the quality improvement program (Madu,2012 Liao, Chu, Chen, & Chang, 2012). For the IT Company, it isnecessary to ensure that all the stages of production are wellmaintained by the employees. These include the testing stage,planning, execution and inspection. IT service industry companieshave to integrate TQM as a major inspection and assurance procedurewithin their operations.
Thirdly, the service industry uses quality planning as an inspectionand assurance procedure (Fox, 2013 Haugland, 2015). The processinvolves investigation and determination the satisfactionexpectations in the market. Using the findings, the firm can applyquality standards to meet the expectations of its customers. Some ofthe key processes involved are policies, standards and customerrequirements. As a measure, the firm can apply various qualitystandards and use them as scales to fill the gap that maycharacterize poor quality. Finally, plans, checklists and other inputprocesses are used to improve the quality of service.
The fourth process is quality control. This process involvesmonitoring of the service to tell whether they adhere to the qualitystandards that are requires (Hangeland, 2015 Al-Dhaafri et al.,2013). Any defects are noted and cleared in this process. Themonitoring is followed by the identification of errors on theproduction process to note the source of the problem. Some of the keytools involved are control diagrams, work-flow charts, sampling bystatistics and evaluation of the production trends. Havingestablished the source of errors, the management can implementstrategies and plans to control the service line and approve qualityservice.
Approaches to quality management
Edwards Deming asserts that quality is what the customers expect(Sallis, 2014). According to him, the management has to be encouragedto put plans in place for future challenges, and while doing this,engage everyone in the decision-making process. For an IT firm, oneof the implications is creating a partnership with other organizationand the public. This is because the dynamism in the IT industryrequires collaborative effort to overcome the industry and marketchallenges. This is evident with the partnership between HP andCompaq, which helped the companies to come up with solutions for theproblems they faced in design and logistics, and are associated withquality in the IT industry. Similarly, Joseph Juran introducedquality principles that are applicable to the service industry (Evans& Lindsay, 2012). Juran’s model involves quality planning,quality control and quality improvement. From his point of view, thecustomers are the center of focus for quality planning. His modelinvolves the leadership, project managers and employees in trainingprograms. Applying his model to the IT service industry, thedevelopment of quality services is a continuous process. Besides theeffort asserted by every player in the firm, Misra (2013) assertsthat the management, as the leadership, has the responsibility ofputting in place quality standards. The management therefore has toinstill an organizational culture that prioritizes qualityimprovement.
Similarities and differences between the different methods
Quality management approaches are all based on definite qualitystandards of the services. In quality control and quality planning,the approaches insist on the need to have corrective measures to thechallenges that are faced in the production line. The objective ofthese corrections is to control poor performance, and to ensure thatboth the management and the employees play their role in upholdingquality. Similarly, the approaches focus on the need to have theorganizations to evaluate the quality assurance and quality controlin the production. They also agree that quality control is amultifaceted procedure that is continuously evaluated.
The major difference between TQM and the other methods apply to theorigin, methodologies and tools. Prior planned quality levels are oneof the considerations in the quality-planning plan of the otherapproaches. The quality assurance level is the only element that isgiven priority in the plan. At the same time, there is a significantdifference in the manner that the approaches treat continuousimprovement of performance. Total Quality Management is also uniquein the manner it is applied to quality programs, especially in themanufacturing procedure.
Customer satisfaction is a measure of the extent to which thecustomers are happy with the services that they receive. In theservice industry, customers have an ideal image of the quality ofservice that will make them satisfied. The satisfaction, according toGriffin et al. (2012), is what convinces them that they have receivedvalue for their money. In the IT industry, customer satisfaction isachieved when a firm offers services that make the customers feelcontent and willing to pay for more. This includes theuser-friendliness of the applications that they purchase, longevityand flexibility, among others pertaining to the IT industry. Toachieve customer satisfaction, a firm can use questionnaires andinterviews to collect the feelings of the customers and to estimatewhat makes them feel satisfied with the services.
2.2Meaning of continuous improvement
Continuous improvement is a constant process with the aim ofimproving the quality of the services offered by a certainorganization. There are be two sides to it, which are incremental andbreakthrough. These define the efforts that the management puts inplace to evaluate and put progress to efficiency, effectiveness andflexibility of the services provided. The IT industry can applyEdward Deming’s ideology, where he asserts that customer value issupposed to be constantly evaluated and improved (Codman, Deming &Donabedian, 2012 Liao et al., 2012). The process involvesimplementing changes to the production line and improvement of therelationship between the firm and clients. By implementing continuousimprovement, repair costs are minimized, and the value of services tothe customers is assured.
2.3Types of values to be gained
In the service industry, four major types of values exist that firmsneed. The first one is the environmental added value. As the namesuggests, this involves protection of the environment (Howes, Skea &Whelan, 2013). The task is achieved by implementing systems that donot harm the environment. Besides working for the good of a firm’spublic relations image, it helps to do away with costs related toenvironmental clean up, hence, protecting the company finances. Inthe IT industry, some of the commonly applied strategies are usingrecyclable material and decreasing dependence on fossil fuel.
The second one is culture added value. IT service firms can use thisas a marketing tool, which works by making the clients feel like theyare part of the firm’s tradition. Given that different customershave different cultural backgrounds, through the findings ofcontinuous improvement, an organization can recognize and distinguishthis element and apply it categorically. For instance, producingsoftware in different languages is a demonstration of culturalawareness.
Quality added value is perhaps the most influential. This enables afirm to satisfy its clients’ needs and ensure that they do not haveto ask for refunds, or worse still, move on to competitors. In the ITindustry, firms can offer services that give permanent solutions toclients’ problems, instead of temporary solutions.
Public relations related value is another added value that serviceindustry firms can gain from continuous development. Besides being asignificant marketing strategy, it helps the firm to establish strongrelationship between it and the public (Liao et al., 2012). This canbe achieved by contributing funds to public courses, for instance,community education and talent growth. One of the IT firms that hasdone this effectively is Google. Besides contributing to numerousscholarships across the world, the company has acquired and improvedtalent, as one way of tapping into community resources (Smith, 2013). This strategy has over years placed Google above its competitors,making it a valuable IT company.
2.4Types of information made available to customers and the importanceto effective marketing
One of the most important factors for customers choosing services istheir understanding of the same. As such, the organization has toensure that it provides all relevant information regarding theirservices in a comprehensible format. In the service industry, keencustomers are more interested with the mission and vision of acompany. Bryson (2011) asserts that this information paints aperspective image in the minds of the customers, and goes a long wayin influencing their decision about using the services of aparticular company. Given the nature of services in the IT industry,an organization needs to give more interactive information regardingits services. A better move is giving room for the clients to reportany problems through feedbacks, which allows the company to improvethe quality of its services and products. Lia et al. (2012) call thisstrategy a “customer psychology” move. Embracing all channels ofinformation in the IT industry helps a company to improve itsservices in the long-term, which is key to business success. AsDeming puts it, improved quality is the main ingredient to improvedsales (Codman et al., 2012).
3.1Measuring quality management
Quality can be measured using different ways. For instance, anorganization can count the number of requests by the customers toimprove the quality of their services. In modern application, one ofthe most commonly applied quality management measurement is throughcustomer feedback (Kama, 2014). By using this technique, the companycreates its own log of quality marks, and uses them againstindustrial benchmarks. A more technical approach is using the ISO9000 family of standards. These standards are a framework for helpingorganizations to ensure that the customer and stakeholder needs aremet adequately.
3.2The benefit of user and non-user surveys in determining customerneeds
Foremost, every company must learn how to satisfy the customers’needs. Survey is one of the most widely applied procedures forunderstanding customer needs. However, every organization mustunderstand the type of survey that it needs to use in evaluating theneeds of their customers. Many businesses in the service industry optto use user-based surveys (Chambers & Clark, 2012). This kind ofsurvey is applied to determine the company’s SWOT. The firm getsfeedback from properly structured questions, which are designed todetermine the needs and demands of the customers. While at it, anorganization can look at the opponents’ services, and placethemselves within the competitive spectrum. Using the information,the management can tell the reason behind rejection of certainservices. Despite the amount of time and resources that are used inconducting this kind of exercise, the results are worthwhile. Themain advantage of user survey is that informs the management whetherthe firm is doing profitable or non-profitable business. On the otherhand, non-user survey informs the management whether or not they aremeeting the customers’ needs and demands. The customer satisfactionthresholds can be determined by obtaining proper response from userand non-user surveys.
3.3:List of methods of consultation employed in one quality scheme toencourage participation by under-represented groups
Thereare six major methods that can be used in the service industry toencourage the participation of under-represented groups.
Mail surveys: The management can pick representatives of under-represented groups and communicate with them through email. In these emails, they can give brief responses to the problems that they face
Electronic surveys: The method has similarities with email surveys. However, the under-represented groups can respond to online questionnaires and give their grievances in the form of digital documentation.
Form surveys: This is a manual method, where information from the under-represented groups can be collected through rough papers. However, the information can be analyzed just the same as the digital methods.
Group interviews: This is a collective approach employed to obtain mass information from the under-represented groups.
Telephone surveys: This is a direct method where information is collected from one representative.
Interviews: The situation is analyzed by a procedural collection of relevant information from the underrepresented groups.
Using the above methods, information about the expectations,requirements and challenges facing underrepresented clients can becollected and be used to improve the quality of services.
3.4:Value of complaint procedures and how they may be used to improvequality
Complaints help to improve the quality of services, which is achievedthrough the identification of errors in the same. According to Kaplan& Atkinson (2015), the customers have the highest affinity tonote any shortcomings in quality, making their feedback valuable toquality management. For instance, the ratings of a particularproducts or service guide the management to noting errors in theproduction. In fact, Bryson (2011) suggests that the information usedfrom customer feedback guides the planning and quality managementactivities. A service company can identify the weakness of itsservices through active customer engagement in quality management.Besides structural and organizational standards, complaints can beuseful in improving cultural standards, which affect quality.
4.1Role of self-assessment to determine organizational ‘state ofhealth’
In any organization in business, Greenberg (2013) and Liao et al.(2012) assert that self-assessment plays a key role in success. Itenables the management to determine the organization’s‘state-of-health’, which is an evaluation of the extent to whichthe operations are profitable. There are different activities thatcan be used to achieve organizational objectives. For instance, themanagement can implement a system to collect information about thehealth of operations from the employees. During this process, theorganization will be in a position where they can determine theextent of success that they have achieved. In determining theorganizational strengths and weaknesses, the management can usebenchmarking, which is characterized by comparisons with otherbusiness within the industry. In the IT industry, firms can use thetop performers’ annual reports to place themselves within thecompetitive spectrum. Another measure is internal assessment, whichis done by distributing questionnaires to groups of employees atdifferent levels. By using the feedback, the management can note theloopholes and address them adequately.
4.2Importance of communication and record keeping
Communication is a key part of quality management systems(Shockley-Zalabak, 2011 Haugland, 2015). There are internal andexternal communication procedures, all which have positive impacts toimprovement of organizational activities. For IT firms in the serviceindustry, constant communication with the employees helps them todetermine any challenges that hinder quality, while externalcommunication with the clients guides the quality managementpractice. The clients give important information regarding thequality of the services, given that they are the ones directlyimpacted by the same.
Recordkeeping, as well, is an important task in quality tracking andmanagement. All internal functions of production rely on records forpurposes of quality. The information that is kept in organizationalrecords is obtained from both internal and external communications.The records guide the production and management teams in improvingthe qualities of services. Similarly, records can be used to devisenew strategies to and come up with new services to fit the clients’needs.
4.3:Guideline on the stages of staff consultation necessary for effectiveimplementation of quality scheme
In the IT industry, growth and development are achieved throughstakeholder collaboration. Stakeholder collaboration involves theexchange of opinions and viewpoints regarding the services, whichguide discussions about improvement. The management also implementstactical plans alongside quality schemes to achieve the sameobjectives. For the quality management systems to yield prospectiveoutcomes there should be an all-level engaged communication andconsultation. The leadership of the firm must ensure that it movesswiftly to consult the lower levels, who are in most cases withdirect contact with the clients, given the nature of the IT serviceindustry. While doing this, the leadership must ensure that the lowerlevels do not feel dictated and treated as minors, rather as part ofthe solution finding team. According to Oakland (2014), satisfiedemployees are most likely to yield better results in the serviceindustry, which has positive implications for quality.
4.4:New systems and modifications to existing systems that can improveservice quality
The management should embrace the concept of unsolicited ideasubmission policy. This is where the clients provide information thathas the greatest impact in the frameworks for improving the qualityservices. Additionally, the IT firm needs to offer better customerexperience. While the customers may be satisfied with the servicesthey buy, the same faces a possible decline if they are not offeredcomfortably. For instance, the management can work to reduce thewaiting hours for services, and the delivery time for products. Toimprove on this front, the firm can use statistics from customerservice scoreboards, which are used to rate the mode of servicedelivery for IT firms. At the same time, the management shouldimprove activities directed at improving customer loyalty. Loyalcustomers are most likely to point out any defects in the servicesoffered, making them valuable assets to continuous qualityimprovement (Greenberg, 2013). As such, by treating them with theintention of retaining them means that the management’s qualitymanagement is kept in check.
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