Implementing Total Quality Management in an engineering environment

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 88, No. 987, 1995
Brien A. Perry and Art Wichert, TeamPro Services Ltd., Calgary, Alberta
Many organizations which have implemented Total Quality Management (TQM) are finding that the process has either stalled or is not working as well as originally envisioned. This can be particularly evident in an engineering environment where the uniqueness of engineers and their particular culture has not been adequately considered. Winning the commitment of a highly educated group of professionals to the TQM concepts, which are often initially seen as too simplistic, poses special challenges.
Successful TQM implementations are found among technical groups where employees have significant input into creating the new work culture, feel empowered to make changes and are well trained in teamwork. A coach who is knowledgable in implementation problems can, when working closely with the technical teams, help them circumvent obstacles and guide them successfully through the difficult early phases. The remaining key ingredient for success is supportive management which leads the change and is both informed and appreciative of the accomplishment being made.
This paper is based on first-hand experience with common problems and results encountered in implementing TQM in an engineering environment. Described in the paper are ways of avoiding these problems through awareness of the unique nature of engineering groups, implementation planning, just-in-time training and coaching people in the TQM process. The paper concludes with a focus on the opportunities and results from a successful implementation.
These opportunities and results include the benefits each engineer can realize through process thinking, empowerment and teamwork.
Keywords: Human resources, Total Quality Management, Work environment, Engineers.
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