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Essay: Reengineering and total quality management (TQM)

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  • Reengineering and total quality management (TQM)
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“Reengineering and Total Quality Management (TQM) are neither identical nor in conflict; they are complimentary” (Hammer ” Champy 239).

While Reengineering and Total Quality Management focus on processes, customers and higher efficiency, there are also differences between them. Reengineering moves a company where they need to be very quickly usually by radical change, whereas TQM moves a company in the same direction more slowly, usually with incremental adjustments. Reengineering is a top down, vision driven effort that requires continuous senior management participation and support, while TQM once implemented into a company’s processes can work day and day out without much attention from management.

Management trends have grown and died at an increasingly rapid rate throughout the decade of the 1990s. Two that became popular in the late 1980s often have been labeled as failures by organizations that did not fully implement their principles or else did not take enough care in their planning so that it would be possible to fully implement the principles of the underlying philosophies. The latest twist is that both TQM and Business Process Engineering have value, and that the initiatives can coexist for the improvement of the organization and for enhancing its competitive advantage in its market, a primary directive in today’s increasingly competitive business climate. Individuals have often described quality as a philosophy and reengineering as a methodology.

As is the case with most trends, organizations seem to want to chase after one, proclaim it failed before fully implementing it and certainly before allowing it time to become a part of the culture, and then chase off after another. The constant management trend chasing is demoralizing for the employees and costly for the organization in direct costs and the more indirect costs of momentarily sidetracked efficiency and productivity. Too often, there are no appreciable positive results.

Nevertheless, businesses must keep working to identify those areas where change is needed and then implement changes in a well-managed method. Today’s business climate is more competitive than at any other time, and it is imperative that internal processes operate as efficiently as possible and that businesses produce the product their customers want. J. Edwards Deming himself stressed that though Total Quality Management focused on manufacturing and gaining statistical control of it, the customer was at the end of each assembly line diagram and constituted the single most important section of it. This point has been either ignored or obscured in many failed attempts to implement TQM.

“Business organizations can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage by integrating total quality management and business process reengineering. TQM seeks continuous improvements in product/service quality over time, while BPR takes advantage of information and telecommunication technology to achieve dramatic changes in organizational processes that facilitate performance improvements. While the two management approaches both seek to enhance performance and quality, they are often perceived as complete opposites because of their dissimilar pace, time requirements and change initiatives” (Lee and Asllani 409).

Lee and Asllani however, argue that the two philosophies and approach to management control the course of the business “have many similarities and can be combined to form the ‘endless quality improvement’ management approach” (Lee and Asllani 409).

Similarities between reengineering and TQM out number differences, both; are initiated by senior management, focus on enhanced quality, seek the contribution of all employees, are team oriented, allows the blurring of pre-existing departmental boundaries, and both requires full management commitment. However there are some differences between these concepts. “Quality programs work within the frame work of a company’s existing processes and seek to enhance them by means of what the Japanese cal Kaizen, or continuous incremental improvement” (Hammer and Champy 52). The idea here is to do what you already do, however only do it better. With QTM the process is never truly completed, whereas with BPR the process can be quickly called completed. Also with QTM the process is evolutionary and utilizes a democratic management style, however with BPR more measurable results are recognized and departments do not become isolated from one another.

The differences that exist are diverse and can be wide-ranging, but similarities far outnumber differences. In an ideal world, the organization with experience in neither would set out to implement TQM in full, meaning that it ensures it maintains the proper management style so that employees feel their most comfortable in contributing their thoughts based on their experience with their own jobs. After the philosophy has been fully integrated into the organization, a swift meeting with BPR can work to change all those sticking points that the time requirement of TQM has not effectively brought changes to, as the organization ensures that any BPR initiative is executed in the spirit of and under the support of TQM.

TQM and BPR can peacefully coexist, as they each work for the common goal of satisfying the end customer. Both have many similarities, and some differences. One may ask, which approach is best for a company to use? This answer is not black or white and should be left for the senior manager of the company to decide.

Works Cited

Hammer, Michael and Champy, James. Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001.

Lee, Sang M. and Arben Asllani. “TQM and BPR: Symbiosis and a New Approach for Integration”. Management Decision, vol. 35. May-June 1997.

Manganelli, Raymond L. and Mark, M. Klein. “Your Reengineering Toolkit”. Management Review, vol. 83. August 1994.

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