Quality Management Systems Implementation in Practice

Current research

According to Levine and Toffel (2010), quality management systems have evolved through many phases including quality control, quality assurance, and total quality management systems. However, current approaches to implementing quality management systems are based on the concept of quality, which enables organizations to provide services and products designed to meet the needs and expectations of customers and to gain competitive advantage (Hellsten & Klefsjö 2000). Douglas and Judge (2001) among other researchers agree that to be successful in implementing a quality management system, it is impeccable to follow the strategic approaches of establishing quality control, quality assurance, and quality improvement. However, other researchers such as Davis, Ledbetter, and Burati Jr (1989) argue that such an approach focused on organizations that operated in the 1980’s and proposed new approaches such as the use of quality planning as the core elements of a quality management. However, it is a common consensus that the core elements of quality control, quality assurance, and total quality management are critical for any version of quality management systems.

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Levine and Toffel (2010) maintain that the goal of the current versions of QMS was to develop quality management systems that provide the frameworks for pursuing and achieving quality goals by utilizing existing organizational structures that are designed to fulfill customer needs and expectations. Here, organizations use processes that define the desired quality elements, quality procedures that individuals use to implement quality systems, and the effective utilization of resources (financial, technology, material, and information) to ensure the successful implementation of QMS.

On the other hand, Goetsch and Davis (2014) maintain that Total Quality Management (TQM) TQM is another evolution of quality systems that focus on customer satisfaction and continuous quality improvements. TQM’s provide frameworks on the way things should be done and who should do the ‘what’ paradigm. Teamwork is used as a tool to create an organizational culture that focuses on implementing quality management systems with a specialized focus on quality. However, modern researchers such as Chaffey and White (2010) argue that the framework must be implemented in an environment that is thoroughly aware of the quality issues that form the prerequisites for implementing the quality management systems.

Massoud, Fayad, El-Fadel, and Kamleh (2010) view one of the pioneers of TQM systems, Professor Edward Deming as the one who proposed a quality management theory that made the quality guru to be satisfied at his work. Later researchers in quality and quality management systems agreed with the founding principles of Deming that quality should be implemented at each stage of the product development life cycle or service delivery. According to Yao, McKinney, Murphy, Rotz, Wafula, Sendagire and Nkengasong (2010), the structures such as quality planning must be in place to ensure that the total quality management framework works well. However, a manager must be able to understand the meaning of quality control, quality assurance, and total quality management to be able to implement the quality management system.

Deming identified fourteen points to focus on when implementing quality, which include creating constancy of purpose, teaching and directing employees to accept the new philosophy, avoiding relying on inspection, using a single and reliable supplier for the delivery of raw materials, and engaging in continuous improvements (Van der Wiele, Dale & Williams 1997). Other points include training others on the job, implementing the right leadership, removing the element of fear, removing barriers to effectiveness, removing slogans that do not communicate ideas clearly, removing the management approach that relies on management by objectives, educating employees and motivating them to invest in self-improvement, and providing every member of the organization with the responsibility of implementing change.

In each case, Young Kim, Kumar and Murphy (2010) and other researchers agreed that quality issues and problems arise not because of the poor quality of a product or service but because of management issues. Here, the key areas recommended to focus on include the approaches on how to handle quality implementation and the role and responsibility of an organization’s management.

Quality management systems’ models

Current research studies show that new approaches to implementing QMS have been suggested and developed by different authorities. One prominent model is based on the Shewhart Cycle that demonstrates how continual improvements play a significant role in the implementation processes (Sadikoglu & Zehir 2010). The model is based on the plan-do-act cycle that is consistent with the ISO 19001: 2000 quality standard. The study recommends that an effective planning component must be made to be part of the QMS. The planning component is defined by quality policies, QMS, service and product realization, control procedures, and accurate measurements based on a critical analysis of the product production or service delivery processes. Also, documentation, customer focus, the presence of a responsible authority, internal and external communication, use of appropriate inputs, and measurements of the monitoring processes contribute significantly to the integrity of the QMS (Milakovich 2006). In summary, the study concludes that the model is a new approach that provides excellent guidelines on implementing the QMS based on the ISO 1901: 2000 standard. The standard provides guidelines on how objectives, scope definition, quality policy, identification of procedures and processes for QMS, management involvement, organizational quality plans, organizational culture, monitoring and control procedures, internal auditing, and the correct use of forms, the fundamental part of the QMS are documented and used.

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Quality as a strategic issue

Modern approaches to quality implementation have been evaluated by different analysts and critiques that view the processes in the modern sense and context of organizational involvement by arguing that quality is a strategic management issue that encompasses quality controls, quality assurance, and total quality management (Lambert, Emmelhainz & Gardner 1996). Here, it has been proposed that organizations should develop an in-house method of developing their quality management systems, quality manuals, and other tools that enable them to implement the right quality management systems. Such a process should reflect the organizational goals and objectives and the framework for the successful development of services and products that meet the customer needs and expectations. Here, quality control is seen as a strategic tool for an organization to develop, implement, and sustain quality using the recommended procedures and techniques (Kerzner 2013). The study implies here that a product or service must meet the recommended specifications to be seen to conform to quality. Here, quality control procedures outline the tasks and necessary rules of engagement that are required to achieve the desired level of excellence. Sadikoglu and Zehir (2010) and other researchers differentiate between quality control and quality assurance by designating quality control to be completely dependent on inspection. However, this approach has been criticized because it does not entail ensuring quality control is integrated into each phase of the production process but an ‘after’ process after the product has been produced. Such an approach has been seen as a ‘death certificate approach’ (Kerzner 2013).

A deviation from the legacy way of applying quality control in managing product quality led to the new approach where quality control was used as a tool to inspect and determine the quality products and services by using clearly defined points during the production or service provision cycles by ensuring that each product or service component or sub-component was certified for conformance to the desired quality before proceeding to the next development stage (Kerzner 2013). The new approach required the quality manager to develop new inspection methods and standards based on data collected and analyzed on quality control. Also, the strategy enabled the management to control the quality of products to correct any problems or issues that were encountered in the service delivery of product development. However, modern researchers and managers do not stop at quality control because they do not agree that quality control provides the best method for an organization to be assured that customer needs and expectations were met. However, a new approach known as quality assurance was developed to fill the gap (Kerzner 2013).

Organizations and stakeholders always talk about quality assurance and what it takes to institutionalize the concept to the extent that each section of the organization and those who are served by the organization are satisfied (José Tarí 2005). Here, quality assurance does not depend on inspections but depends on the necessary details such as the procedures that are required to make a product conform to the required quality specifications. To achieve the quality assurance goal, modern organizations base quality assurance on standards such as ISO 9000 that provides a framework for defining quality requirements and models, which are used to rate the systems that implement the quality standards and not the quality of the services or products provides to the customer.

The “ISO 9000 describes fundamentals of quality management systems and specifies the terminology for quality management systems” (Levine & Toffel 2010, p. 23). The system provides the quality environment that enables the manufacturer to specifically adhere to the prescribed standards for measuring the conformance of a service or product to the quality standards. A quality environment includes the employees, managers, the community, people, customers, stakeholders, suppliers, contractors, and investors among others. However, in each case, the first element is to make the customer happy and to be satisfied by consuming the product because it meets the specific needs of the customer (Antony 2004). Each product must meet the prescribed type of quality, which includes the product design, conformance to the degrees of specifications and set standards, and the ability to perform as required. However, new studies suggest that the specifications for quality should be surpassed to avoid the loss that occurs when a product or service merely meets the specified standards. Issues such as quality cost, features, dependability, and other quality elements come into play when implementing a quality management system.

Total quality management (TQM)

An evolution of the approach to QMS resulted in the Total Quality Management (TQM) that was developed by viewing quality as a process for continual improvements and not just an onetime event. The approach was used to enhance the perceptions about quality because the customer was seen as one to benefit when a good quality product was delivered at an affordable price. Logically, the support processes and services that enabled the timely delivery of the product could be efficient to meet the quality goal. Here, the internal processes were configured in such a way to satisfy the internal customer. A study by Bourne, Mills, Wilcox, Neely, and Platts (2000) recommended that the value addition processes should conform to the quality needs of the customer because each step of the process provides the opportunity to increase the product value and its quality. Also, total quality was been modified to focus on the internal and external customers to satisfy both of them (Chaffey & White 2010).

Different quality gurus have developed different concepts on total quality management by conducting the studies on different quality systems and requirements. While the old concept was based on product and quality control or inspections, newer approaches were based on the concept of customer satisfaction. Such an evolution was based on the desire to satisfy the needs that could arise, leading to the introduction of the new concepts. However, as the principles evolved with time, the new approaches deviated from the Japanese’s approach to the modern philosophy, which asserts that total quality management is a broad and systematic approach of managing organizational quality (Chaffey & White 2010). The principles invoke the use of international standards and emphasized on performance as the core element of competitiveness. Here, the managers were trained to be aware of the need to lead the people by changing their values and believes to reflect a new culture that reflects excellence in performance.

Role of management

On the other hand, modern approaches to the implementation of quality management systems focus on the role of management in implementing quality management systems (Milakovich 2006). It has been suggested that the role of management is to identify the right quality policies and objectives for an organization to follow. Also, the manager is required to put in place a framework to ensure that the quality policies and objectives are communicated throughout the organization by motivating employees to implement them and to get involved in the quality processes. On the other hand, the management is responsible for ensuring that the products and services meet customer needs and expectation and modern research points out that customer quality needs and expectations should be exceeded. Here, the critical component was to ensure that appropriate quality management processes or procedures were in place to ensure compliance with the required product specifications. Also, the manager was obliged to ensure that the right quality management system was put in place to pursue the desired quality objectives and goals (Sadikoglu & Zehir 2010).

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Here, management provides leadership by enabling each member to proactively participate in the implementation and management of the quality management system (Sadikoglu & Zehir 2010). In theory, the purpose of leadership was to create the vision and mission statements and to get involved in goal setting, motivate employees, and devise new and innovative ways of leading the people. On the other hand, a quality management system was used to clarify leadership roles and responsibilities, which includes the ability to formulate continual improvement processes.

Young Kim, Kumar, and Murphy (2010) argue that management should support the implementation of daily activities such as development, standardization, control movements, and the innovation of employee routines and activities in implementing QMS. Also, the leadership or management should enable housekeeping and the use of standardizations such as the Do-Study-Act cycle to implement the QMS. Here, the best practice in managing the quality system is to develop and define the standards necessary to maintain and improve quality methods for daily work. Here, the leader used the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle (Young Kim, Kumar & Murphy 2010). On the other hand, by managing and optimizing the leadership capabilities, the leader provides abilities and best practices to support cross-functional activities that support the implementation of quality management systems within the institution.

Fundamental quality management systems

The approach of implementing quality management systems has changed as organizations keep changing to respond to the changing needs in the operating environment. For instance, the new approach of implementing quality shows that the process is based on different steps to ensure that when each dimension of quality is developed, quality is reflected in the implementation process. Here, the dimensions through which quality has evolved include conformance to product or service delivery requirements, the fitness for use of a product or service, the continual improvement paradigm, conformance to the definition of the requirements of quality by the customer, the six sigma steps, and products and services that are free of defects (Milakovich 2006). Such approaches were viewed as the core elements to benchmark a good quality system. However, it has seen established that successive organizations have accumulated the points and developed quality management systems that not only integrate the historical approaches to QMS but reflect new requirements that are necessary for good quality management systems.

Implementing a quality management system

The European method of implementing quality management systems was based on the European Foundation of Quality Management (EFQM) that provides the foundation for the accelerated adoption of quality management systems to enable institutions to adopt quality into their quality management systems (Young Kim, Kumar & Murphy 2010). Among the defining elements of EFQM include how people and teams agree to work among themselves to fulfill quality objectives. The framework defines the processes necessary to achieve total quality management. According to the framework, the management and the employees within the organization view the processes as those that add value to the processes for developing products or services within the organization. Here, the core elements that were defined by EFQM include the approach organization use to define the processes that are critical to their success, the approach organizations use to manage the processes, performance measurements that provide indicators of success or failure, the approaches used to innovate quality management in the development of products and delivery of services, and the strategies used to implement the processes and evaluate the return on investment. Here, the theme of the entire framework was customer satisfaction, people satisfaction, which shows the employees feel about the organizations, the effects of implementing a quality management system under the EFQM framework on the financial, non-financial operations and the business benefits of the organization.

How the organization manages the QMS and consequences of actions

Statement of the theme

The theme of this study was to investigate how Holland College manages its quality management systems and the consequences of the institution’s actions. The college uses a quality manual as a framework to implement and manage the quality management system the provision of services and products.

Aim

This research aims to demonstrate how quality management systems are implemented and managed, the quality management problems and issues, and how such problems are addressed.

Holland College QMS

Themes include:

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  1. Measuring and analyzing quality improvements
  2. Implementing and managing QMS
  3. Results of implementing QMS
  4. QMS problems and issues and how well to deal with the problem
  5. Suggested solutions
  6. Prerequisites
  7. Management support

Overview of the quality system

The college’s management is aware of the need for a quality management system and has taken steps to implement the system to be able to assure the students, stakeholders, and parents of the quality of the institution’s work. The institution is ISO 9001:2008 Certified and has defined the quality management strategies under different headings, namely program design and delivery, student entry and exit, support services, quality assurance, and strategy, human resource issues, and other miscellaneous issues (Holland College 2015). Each section of the quality management system is defined by the purpose, procedures, and scope of implement the features detailed in the document and consequences of failing to address the emerging quality needs.

Under the first heading, each program is designed to ensure compliance with established quality standards on program and curriculum development, which provides a systematic review of the degrees and diplomas that students apply for. It consists of related procedures and policies that provide guidelines on how such policies and procedures should be implemented to assure quality. Other areas of the quality management system include injuries that students incur and how to ameliorate the injuries, program planning and delivery, academic progress of the students, students’ attendance, misconduct, and on-the-job training. Also, the quality management system outlines policies and procedures for the supply of products and services, production of course materials, adult, and community education programs. In each case, the implementation and management of the quality management system is the responsibility of the top management that has convinced and trained lower-level management on how to manage and sustain quality (Holland College 2015). Also, the college has a quality assurance and strategy that covers the procedures for making complaints, continual improvements, documentation and data control, management reviews, roles and responsibilities of the staff, internal quality audits, and an overview of the main academic processes.

Implementing and managing QMS

A critical review of the quality college’s quality management system shows that is based on eight quality principles, which include leadership that is provided by those in the leadership positions, customer focus to satisfy students and other stakeholders, people involvement that includes every member of the organization, process approach which is based on different procedures of managing quality within the learning institution, and systematic approach to management that includes the entire university quality management systems (Holland College 2015). Also, continual improvement, empirical evidence in decision making, and mutual benefits to the stakeholders and suppliers of products to the college define the quality issues and approaches that are used to manage the quality management system.

In theory, the quality manual is based on the ISO 1900 standard, which clarifies the issues and approaches of implementing service and product quality. Here, the college provides product quality in the context of books and other library services. The specific approach to quality management is based on management reviews that are consistent with the requirements of the ISO 19000.

The college relies on a quality manual that is regularly reviewed to ensure that it is consistent with emerging challenges in the academic and business environments. The details of the quality manual are defined in the colleges’ strategic quality management plan for implementing the quality management system. The key elements of the implementation plan includes clarification of the values, vision, and missions statements throughout the institution, identifying critical success factors, identifying the key players such as parents, students, and teachers, soliciting feedback, developing a survey plan, and implementing recommended changes to the current quality system. The vision and mission statement creates the direction the colleges need to go and the constancy of purpose to pursue the constant implementation of service delivery in each department to stay focused on being competitive and to stay in the service of providing education to the students. Also, each departmental head is always keen on adopting new philosophies that arise within the jurisdiction of the responsibilities they are assigned. Typically, the philosophical foundation of the quality circle includes defining the belief that employees within the organization take pride and interest in their work and providing autonomy to ensure that they make effective contributions towards the successful implementation and management of the quality systems. Also, the employees and students get a sense of belonging that leads to intrinsic motivation and for making the college a better place for learning. Here, social belonging, security, stimulation, and esteem provide the foundation for managing quality.

Here, each department does not rely on inspection as a tool for quality management, but on the feedback of students and stakeholders. The quality policy of the college is continuous improvements and on the job training, devolved leadership, and the ability to take action when needed to ensure quality service delivery. Each departmental head and section outlined in the quality manual provides a detailed description of the specification and quality requirements for each element in the manual and how to complete documentation for a successful quality management system.

Documentation deals with the College having a system in place to ensure that manuals are prepared for each task, instructions are detailed enough to enable the tasks being implemented comply with the academic goals of the college and the students. For instance, a student who is expelled from the college is given a chance to appeal because of misconduct, receives a poor grade, is rated to be performing below average, and is accused of other forms of misconduct.

However, implementing the quality management strategies is a management responsibility that needs to identify the products and services that are delivered and how to maintain and improve the production operations to the designated excellence levels. For the student, the responsibility to deal with the case rests on the president of the college, the appeal tribunal, and the Executive Director/Director. Each offense for which the student is expelled is classified under a specific category and can be invoked when applying for a hearing.

Measurement analysis and improvement

The colleges’ management usually collects information and data on each element of the quality management program to evaluate how successful the implementation has been based on feedback from workers, students, lecturers and stakeholders (Holland College 2015). Also, the stakeholders and the community are allowed to make contributions to the assessment of the quality management system that could have a long term impact on the effectiveness of the quality management system. The rationale is that the College has adequate resources for the quality assurance, quality controls, and total quality management that provide a framework for the assessment of the implementation of the quality management systems. In most cases, the feedback provided by students and other stakeholders matters a significant deal in providing the direction for quality improvements, which makes the quality management system to be consistent with the requirements stipulated in the ISO 1900 standard.

Results

The results of implementing and managing the quality management system were investigated for the university and it was established that the university was benefiting from the implementation of the QMS, despite some issues and problems that were experienced with the QMS. The results were greater consistency in running academic programs, higher grades, higher student and lecturer satisfaction, better service deliveries, good stakeholder relationships, better student performance, and better management practices. Also, there was noted less rework, increased student enrolments, better motivation, factual approach to decision making, and good documentation of various university activities.

QMS problems and issues and how well to deal with the problem

A criticism of the quality management system used by the college shows significant problems associated with different components of the QMS. One of the problems is the lack of a clearly outlined quality management plan (José Tarí 2005). Here, the quality management system is implemented with the assumption that the planning component is automatically a constituent part of the QMS used by the university. The results have been the lack of foresight regarding the critical success factors for implementing and managing the QMS. Also, the university lacks the prerequisite necessary to ensure the successful implementation and use of the QMS to optimize its success. Another problem has been poor employee awareness in identifying the common goal for which employees are supposed to work. Typically, it was evident that lacking the quality plan was leading to a lack of a sense of direction and failure to identify the implementation priorities of the QMS. Sometimes it was established that needed resources were not secured in implementing the QMS and lack of a well-thought-out plan contributed to the quality problems affecting the university. Sometimes there were excessive, inconsistent, inadequate, and inaccurate QMS documentation because it had direct implications on what was documented, how it was documented, and what was documented (José Tarí 2005).

A salient problem with the QMS is the failure to benchmark the implementation and measure the progress against a well-established plan. Also, the failure to assign adequate human resources to deal with quality problems such as handling of students’ complaints in time, and declining students and lecturers’ morale because the direction of implementing the QMS is not properly defined, which has adversely affected workers and students in participating fully in the implementation of the QMS.

On the other hand, it was established that the quality manual has issues such as hard copy manual issues, manual control issues, manual revision and distribution within the university and among the university community members. Other issues include team leader who can take care of the implementation process to ensure the effectiveness of the team change agents.

The issues of content about the quality manual have been established to the core area of misunderstanding and misapplication of the ISO 1900 standard requirements for compliance. The issues are in contrast with the application of the procedures and documentation forms that are easily understood and applied by those who create them. Here, the manual contains detailed accounts of how things are done, separated, and put together and not how the policies are formulated to put into practice.

Suggested Solutions

Research studies point to many solutions for addressing the problems and issues that arise when implementing the QMS within the university quality systems. Among the recommended solutions include investing resources and time to develop a strategic plan to implement the quality management system to preclude the problems. The results could lead to a better blueprint of a later implementation of the QMS because it should be the de facto component in QMS implementation. There is a need to create documentation that provides an accurate description of the core competencies of the institution that define the policies, procedures, and processes that provides a framework for supporting QMS. On the other hand, the university needs to create effective structures to accommodate the QMS that demonstrates the effectiveness of the process, implementation of the processes that are core to the effective functioning of the QMS, and develop a documentation of the core competencies of the QMS structures.

Another approach to achieve an effective QMS implementation and management is to educate employees on the QMS objectives, goals, and metrics to make them own the QMS processes by contributing to the documentation process. Researchers have established that the QMS should be made to evolve by empowering the managers to work towards evolving team-based techniques for quality management (José Tarí 2005). Here, an implementation baseline for daily tasks should be made and the effectiveness of the entire process should be based on continual monitoring of the implementation data to ensure that adequate strategies are in place for effective QMS implementations. Here, the operational integrity of the QMS can be assured if the three pillars of documentation, implementation, and evidence of effectiveness form the quality planning framework. Also, the university should establish the best strategies to document the quality management plan based on well-established prerequisites and other items as discussed here.

Prerequisites

The prerequisites lead to the successful implementation of the QMS because it is adequate to address the quality needs that arise within the institution. The QMS has to be properly deployed within the institution based on critical success factors such as being designed and developed to accept inputs and provide outputs or feedback for those who are affected by the institution. Here, everyone who is affected must be made to participate in the process of implementing the QMS. Prerequisites include identifying unique needs, management commitment, and change agents. Management is necessary to address the resistance to change that usually occurs when new changes are made within an organization. Typically, significant investments in other resources such as money are necessary to support the new changes that happen within the organization.

Management support

Management is important because it expresses the need for the institution to meet and exceed student and stakeholder expectations, design a quality policy that reflects the quality needs of the institution, and integrate the quality objectives into the performance objectives of the organization to ensure successful implementation of the QMS (José Tarí 2005).

On the other hand, it has been suggested that providing continuous management support at different levels of the implementation and evaluation phases provides support for the change agents of the quality program to become effective. Also, management is indispensable in providing continuous monitoring capabilities, which includes an assessment of the satisfaction levels, corrective actions to take, goals establishment and evaluation, providing support for quality improvement and innovation processes, and putting in place quality assessment frameworks using existing standards, and ensuring management commitment to quality.

Conclusion

In conclusion, research has shown that the strategies of implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) have evolved from the quality control approach to quality assurance and total quality management approaches. Also, new research into QMS points out that quality models from part of the indispensable components of implementing the quality manuals. Current research on implementing QMS depends on a variety of elements that are not restricted to the three elements of controls, assurance, and TQM, but depends on other elements that are defined in different QMS standards such as the ISO 1900:2000. The investigation revealed that Holland College has defined a QMS that is implemented based on six key areas, which includes the quality management approach of program design and delivery, the requirements and standards for student entry and exit from the college, quality support services, methods of ensuring quality assurance and strategy are implemented appropriately, how human resource issues affect quality, and other miscellaneous issues that affect quality management systems implementation. However, the issues of planning and implementation of the QMS can be ameliorated if the management takes the responsibility to continuously revise the implementation strategies by factoring the views of all stakeholders.

References

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