Free «TQM: Influence of Information Technology» UK Essay Sample

TQM: Influence of Information Technology

The role of technology increases in its significance among many organizations, and it has a phenomenal impact on global trading platforms. IT has become one of the essential factors in harnessing organizational productivity and the reduction of operating and production costs. The growth and adoption of information technology comes at a time when various organizations are trying to improve quality, reduce costs and increase productivity. Some of the approaches adopted by companies to attain their end goals in cost reduction and foster productivity include TQM, business process re-engineering, just in time, total productive maintenance, and self-direct work teams. All these approaches tend to rely heavily on information technology to emancipate the required end goals (Xiang, Lee, & Kim, 2012).

Technology acts as a feedback mechanism to the users and allows the users to measure productivity (Burli, Bagodi, & Kotturshettar, 2012). Furthermore, information technology improves communication, facilitates the adoption of modelling tools and techniques, and leads to the harnessed integration of core components in a company. The role of technology has transitioned from the back office processes application to become a central strategic approach in businesses. There is no doubt that information technology has become a backbone of most operations of organizations, ranging from the management decision-making processes to customer service (Lee, Lanting, & Rojdamrongratana, 2016). Therefore, it can be successfully argued that technology has positively impacted TQM.

The Role of IT in TQM

TQM encompasses a comprehensive management approach adopted by an organization, involves all the departments and employees, and extends backwards to include other stakeholders like the suppliers in a bid to foster a continuous improvement in the production process (Manuel, 2012). The aim of TQM is to foster customer satisfaction while focusing on the provision of fault free products in the long-run. TQM is characterized by different dimensions that focus on the implementation of information technology. Barata and Cunha (2015) argue that IT is an enabler of TQM. IT plays a key role in TQM initiatives through the strategic human resources and the technology spheres. At the same time, the role of IT in measuring, understanding and improving organizational sustainable quality standards cannot be forfeited. Proper integration of information technology can aid the facilitation of self-assessment and statistical processes. Information technology is vital in the collection of information owing to its real time features. For example, companies can interact with customers by using social media and the customer relationship management systems (Xiang, Lee, & Kim, 2012). The information attained within a short period will enhance the decision-making processes, especially when the issue at hand needs a quick solution. Dhillon (2002) depicts the complex computational and communication tools in addition to the high quality storage platforms that improve TQM in businesses. The author goes on to asset that IT offers an easier framework of management and integrates various aspects of a business, which makes it easier to enhance TQM (Dhillon, 2002). To properly analyze the impact of IT on TQM, it is crucial to map IT onto the various dimensions of TQM.

The Mapping of IT onto TQM

To Management Support

Information technology has played a key role in harnessing the decisions of the top management. Through the executive support systems and the decision support systems, the top management can now make crucial decisions pegged on the authenticated data in the company. Further, IT has provided an easier connection path between the top management and the lower level employees. Managers can now communicate with other employees in real time without the need for physical presence (Barata & Cunha, 2015). Thus, any inquiries are easil made, which saves time and costs. Through the enhanced communication platform, managers are able to focus on the TQM objectives. However, there are instances when technology becomes an impediment in an organization, but the solution lies entirely on how the technology is used. Wrongful applications of technology will likely backfire and lead to wrong results (Manuel, 2012).

Customer Relationship

Customer relationship denotes the approaches that an organization utilizes to communicate and engage with the customers. The use of customer relationship management systems, social media, teleconferencing tools, and other communication platforms like mobile phones has paved way for the enhanced customer relationship (Nasierowski, 2000). Further, the point of sale systems in addition to the use of the bar code readers improves the accuracy and speed of the services delivered to the customers. Companies like Walmart have vehemently leveraged on their customer relationship programs to foster their sales on the market. Thus, the latest forms of technology have played a critical role in enhancing customer relationships. This means that the TQM objectives in an organization that embraces technology stands to succeed. For example, Toyota Company has recognized the need to incorporate quality communication infrastructure to realize the improved customer management approaches (Xiang, Lee, & Kim, 2012).

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Supplier Relationship

Just like with the customers, IT systems can be used to foster the communication links between companies and suppliers. Through electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, a fruitful relationship can be cemented, leveraging on cost efficiency, timely response, and high quality communication (Besterfield, 2003). A good example of how IT enhances supplier relationship can be taken from Walmart. Through the EDI systems, Walmart has given the suppliers the mandate to monitor the stocks in the stores. Suppliers will immediately replenish the stock when they realize that it has gone down to the limit that requires top-up. This approach gives the management an avenue to focus on other important aspects of the company. At the same time, technology helps link suppliers to the customers (Ang, Davies, & Finlay, 2001). Through technological systems, suppliers are able to know what the customers want and ensure that they meet the specific needs of the customers. The end goal is that TQM is attained in an organization (Simon, Bernardo, Karapetrovic, & Casadesus, 2013).

Workforce Management

The automation of organizational processes and activities is one of the major approaches that many organizations have adopted to get rid of wastages and delays that are occasionally caused. Through the automation of key processes, companies are able to reduce their lead times and ensure the timely delivery of products to the customers. According to Simon et al. (2013), automation leads to the decrease in the hierarchy levels in an organization. The reduction of hierarchy levels means that workers are able to make critical decisions within a short time span. However, if technology is not well integrated, it may lead to the reduction of worker satisfaction and diminish the skill requirements. IT offers a better platform of consolidation of workforce skills and knowledge levels and properly assigns the employees the tasks that match their skill set (Wang et al., 2012).

Employee Attitude and Behaviors

When technology is used as a replacement of employee roles, then employees will tend to resist the introduction of the technology. However, when technology is introduced as an enabler of employee tasks, there will be a positive reception of the technology. Technology will aid in the sharing of crucial information among different stakeholders and, especially among the main functions of an organization (Lee, Lanting, & Rojdamrongratana, 2016). The provision of such infformation is crucial, as it will enhance the coordination and togetherness in a bid to attain the TQM objectives. Emphasis should be placed on the resource sharing if an organization wants to attain the TQM objectives (Besterfield, 2003).

Product Design Process

Innovation capacity in an organization increases with the adoption of technology. For example, CAD technologies are crucial in the process of design. By using CAD technologies, companies design products that meet the specific needs of the customers. Essentially, it is faster to use CAD in the design process, which makes it easier to get rid of delays and high costs. It is important to note that IT does not change the way an organization applies different design tools and techniques, but it facilitates the use of the tools and eases their application (Nasierowski, 2000).

Process Flow Management

Process flow management has significantly improved owing to the adoption of technology. Through a wide range of technologies, companies can foster their maintenance functions through the automated systems that provide easy detection mechanisms and determine when to maintain their machines and diagnose the various aspects of these machines (Dhillon, 2002). Electronic detection systems and signaling devices aid in the reduction of the process variance. The end result is that the applications reduce the required number of inspection activities to be undertaken (Wang et al., 2012).

Quality Data and Reporting

IT skills are fundamental precepts required in data management in businesses. Access to a wide range of database systems fosters the analysis of the data to aid the decision-making processes. Database systems offer an essential platform of storing huge junks of data and ensure the security of the data. Furthermore, the use of data mining techniques will enhance the retrieval of the data to foster the decision-making processes. Some IT applications offer automated means of data collection, recording, and manipulation to provide insights into the best strategies to adopt to enhance product development (Simon et al., 2013).

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The Quality Department

The introduction of IT improves the role of the quality department. IT does not act as a replacement but as an enhancer of the processes and activities of the department. The technologies will foster data collection processes from different linked departments. The quality management division will be in a better position to answer queries associated with product development and service delivery with the use of IT (Dhillon, 2002).

Benchmarking

The use of IT in benchmarking processes will enhance communication and exchange of crucial data among the stakeholders. It will offer an easier platform of analyzing the different performance thresholds of employees the premise of the set standards. Furthermore, the internal collection and dissemination of the data collected is made faster (Wang et al., 2012).

Conclusion

Information technology plays a key role in applying TQM in an organization, and it affects all the ten TQM dimensions illustrated in the research. The theme of the relationship between TQM and IT is mainly positive, owing to the massive benefits reaped from the integration of the two. For example, employee management systems offers easier mechanisms of making sure that employees report to work, complete their tasks, meet their goals, and are compensated adequately in relation to their efforts. However, it is always crucial to analyze the underlying factors such as employee reception before the adoption of different forms of technologies. All stakeholders must be informed about the benefits they are likely to harvest from the technologies adopted in their organization in a bid to avoid the clash of interests.

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