Implementation of Total Quality Management at Wal-Mart

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Total Quality Management (TQM) is an approach that is employed by the management to satisfy employees and customers and to supply relationships by continuous improvement of systems and business processes to design quality products and excellent services. TQM aims at integrating all functions of an organization such as finance, engineering, marketing, production, and customer service to meet the company’s goals and satisfy customer needs. TQM philosophy views a company as a collaboration of several processes which it must strive to improve perpetually by incorporating experience and skills of the employees. TQM focuses on continuous improvement in decision-making, strategic planning, and work execution (Goetsch & Davis, 2016, p. 23). TQM was initially applied to manufacturing processes, but currently, it is an essential tool for managers and in public sector companies. In this discussion, I will present the situation of Total Quality Management in Wal-Mart Company, the way it has been implemented and factors to consider when implementing TQM in an organization.

             Wal-Mart has, for the past thirty years, applied quantitative management through its supply chain system. This method has made them world leaders because of product and service differentiation. The company uses advanced technology which enables them to carry out operations efficiently, track sales, and minimize inventory turnaround due to the timely provision of information to their suppliers. The supply chain system assists suppliers and managers to keep track of fast-selling goods and determine the amount of stock required. Through this strategy, the managers will be able to make informed decisions regarding the inventory. Wal-Mart uses the operations management system which gives managers required tools for decision making and performs their duties efficiently (Grean & Shaw 2014, p.166).

            The operations management system allows Wal-Mart managers to systematically receive input from the workers and respond to the needs of the customers. The managers are also able to oversee control of conversion processes, acquisition of data, and disposal of services and goods to evaluate which area needs improvement.  These procedures assure the executives of Wal-Mart that the decisions they make will yield desired results with minimum expense, labour, and materials. Wal-Mart has been able to give to its customer's good variety of products and quality services at low prices due to successful implementation of supply chain system and operations management system.

             Wal-Mart has employed Total Quality Management tools which depend on the principles of participative management. The policies focus on education of employees, and the customer needs. TQM emphasizes improving the quality of products and services of the company, and all the activities that add value to its products are directed towards achieving this objective. Wal-Mart has applied the concept of TQM to enhance its competitive advantage. For instance, the employees show hospitality to their customers as they enter the Wal-Mart store. This act builds the good rapport with customers and inspires trust and loyalty among the buyers. The company also implements TQM by perpetually looking for the best products to its customers at affordable prices which are way cheaper relative to other international competitors around the world.

            Wal-Mart understands the importance of taking the interest and welfare of the customer at heart. In keeping with this promise, the organization has continued to offer products and services that are beyond reproach and exceed customers’ expectations. The company gives the good variety of goods at low prices. Wal-Mart ensures that the quality of products, the variety, marketing, and how they are sold are very competitive to satisfy customers and even attract more buyers. The company benchmarks with other partners and work closely with their suppliers who have adopted the TQM concepts to ensure the goal of customer satisfaction is achieved while remaining competitive.

            An organization that has embraced TQM is required to work in tandem with its customers and the suppliers. One of the most significant advantages of Wal-Mart is the implementation of the supply chain management system in its retail industry. The company has to work closely with its suppliers which enable it to gain merchandise more easily as compared to its competitors in the sector. Therefore, to implement TQM well in an organization, it is critical to emphasize the concept of close relationships. Wal-Mart enjoys this advantage of closing a working relationship, and it has allowed the company to get high-quality raw materials with faster shipping and at discounted rates. The managers of Wal-Mart have built the excellent rapport with the customers. This organization has a stable relationship with the customers, and therefore, they can listen to what the buyers want and the issues that they may raise against the company (XU, XU, & LIU 2014, p.155).

            Customers are always a crucial force for any business company that has direct links with them because they purchase goods and services that the organization offers, and therefore, ensuring its survival. Reports indicate that close to eighty percent of United States residents buy their products and services once every year and that the Wal-Mart stores in the United States receive over a hundred million customers every week. Wal-Mart identifies the needs of its customers and focuses on those wants to satisfy them and prove their reliability and dependability. For instance, when the demand for plus-size clothing increased, the organization added new outlets to maintain and attract new customers at low prices. Wal-Mart came up with a strategy that would address the increasing demand by creating a plus-size department both nationally and internationally. This division was developed in such a way that it could neither be indifferent to the customer’s needs nor demeaning.

            Wal-Mart has superior approaches as compared to its competitors in addressing the desires of the customers. For example, Wal-Mart has a task environment that comprises of an amalgamation of forces that come directly from customers, suppliers, competitors, and distributors. These departments affect how the company gets its raw materials and its capacity to extract quality products. These forces influence how the top executive officers of the organization run their duties on a daily basis and affect their short-term decisions.

            Besides, Wal-Mart has managed to effectively utilize the approach of market segmentation by involving people with particular interest like the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The company tries to adopt an anti-discrimination policy to expand its customer base. The Wal-Mart has modified its United States stores which used to employ the strategy of one-size-fits-all merchandising to a design that suits all customers. The merchandise currently fits the six demographic groups including Hispanics, the affluent, African-Americans, rural residents, suburbanites, and the empty-nesters. The organization has also designed several strategies that inspire customers’ loyalty which include Wal-Mart TV exclusive concerts, special broadcasts from the in-store radio.

            Competition and industry that is full of large-scale discount stores such as Kmart, Target and Costco Wholesalers make Wal-Mart struggle to improve its products continually. Wal-Mart has positioned itself in such a way that despite obstacles such as product monopolies and lower prices from its competitors, it can still sell four times more than the rival companies. Since Wal-Mart is keen to secure its survival in the business, it seeks to satisfy its customer wants by employing sophisticated technology, and managing its production processes. Wal-Mart eliminated old worn-out brands like Bobbie Brooks and Kathy Lee and replaced with new stylish brands to remain competitive. The new brand called George has no intermediaries. Therefore, it enables the setting of lower margins than other brands and guarantees the company a business strategy.

            Wal-Mart has embraced the use of the state-of-the-art machines and latest information technology which is the indirect force that has caused tremendous progress. Advanced information technology has enabled Wal-Mart to modernize its stores by the introduction of scanners of bar-codes and enable quick information sharing with the suppliers. The effective use of technology such as Just-In-Time inventory management system allows the organization to track logged sales and identify the needed stocks.  This system also allows the employees to store products according to the level of demand, and hence reducing the cost of storage of inventory. The company has also installed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology that assists to cut the cost of supply operations and deter incidences of theft. RFID technology uses radio frequencies to transmit information regarding the commodities, and therefore, replacing the hand scanning (White 2004, p.785).

            Wal-Mart has taken the advanced technology to be innovative in foreign markets. For instance, it launched a sophisticated photo product that enables the customers to create exceptional coffee table books by use of their favourite pictures through the online website of the Wal-Mart Photo Centre. These advanced features create perfect memories for the customers, and they will desire to come back and experience more.

            Changes in people’s perception and characteristics of a population like social class, age, and ethnic group have made Wal-Mart remain innovative using new demographics. This company understands that the diversity of customers is a critical force as the economy opens more to globalization. This force informs the selection of products, employees, location, and marketing strategies. As a result, Wal-Mart has built more stores in different areas with ethnically dense neighbourhoods. The organization also uses the Store of the Community strategy to attract many local customers. Wal-Mart employed workers from diverse ethnic groups who carry out marketing campaigns using their native languages.

            The biggest stores of Wal-Mart in the United States is designed to contain an international aisle that offers products which satisfy the needs of different ethnic groups such as the Jamaicans and the Latinos. This strategy increases their market shares because their products are priced reasonably, and it is hard to come by in other competing retailer shops. The provision of cheaper cashing and money wiring services has enabled Wal-Mart to adequately cater to the middle class and lower class people in the society.

How to Enhance TQM Implementation in an Organization

            To manage a successful transition to TQM, the company needs to identify tasks to be carried out such as the creation of management structures, developing mechanisms to communicate the impending change, assigning resources, and designing strategies for building commitment. Total Quality Management implementation depends on if the employees of the given company are willing to allow changes to take place. If the organization is responsive to new ways of doing business, the implementation of TQM can be done without much strain. However, if the workers of that particular organization are very conservative and strictly adhere to some foundational principles, then adoption of TQM will be unsuccessful. In such a situation, an implementation should be delayed to allow people working in the company to realize the need for change. When the workers have been stressed by the existing structure and want to make a change, then that will be the right time to introduce the concept of TQM. The reason is that when the working environment is disoriented and things appear to have hit a deadlock, selling TQM as a solution is easy.

            TQM is a collection of several forces that work together to achieve one goal of customer and employee satisfaction. Based on this idea, successful implementation of TQM requires all hands to be on deck from top executives to the lower level employees. Therefore, the mission and vision of the company should be made clear from the onset both to the management and workers. There is need to have a proper means of communication from the executives, board of management, and heads of departments to ensure that every person is aware of what role to play in the process of implementing total quality management. Apart from that, TQM newsletters can be effective tools for communication to keep abreast the workers as things unfold (Ahire, Golhar, & Waller 2011, p.44).

            One critical aspect of implementing TQM is to seek the views and inputs of crucial customers through a survey. Since the most significant reason for introducing TQM is to meet the needs of customers, it is imperative to find out they desire and want to be fulfilled so that you can add into the improvement plan. The company should first identify their groups of customers who are involved in the current business operations such as suppliers, employees, vendors, customers, and financiers. Through the survey, the management will obtain complaints and suggestions from these groups then design a course for solutions to such challenges.

            It is essential to identify crucial success factors before introducing the concept of TQM in an organization. These factors are the little measures that can be undertaken to enable the ultimate goal to be met. The managers can utilize the actionable data to keep them in line with the set objectives so that TQM is successfully implemented and be able to tell when the implementation is fully accomplished. Therefore, the involved parties need to have some tools that can assist in tracking the useful information that is useful in planning each step. The critical success factors should be easily quantifiable such as balance sheet figures, market shares, customer complaints, quantity sold, and the number of customer calls answered per day.

            Given that complete total quality management is based on processes, it is important to lay out significant sub-processes and processes to ensure continuous improvement. When you begin a process, there are crucial sub-processes that occur in between before you head to the next. For instance, your process could be about improving the satisfaction of the customers, and the sub-processes could be the decline in the number of sales, increases in benefits and bonuses, or improve after-sales services. These sub-processes should be measured to evaluate your progress in accomplishing the significant process (Gundogan 2009, p.382).

            The success of TQM relies heavily on the level of adoption by the organization’s employees. Therefore, it is critical to train and retrain the employees to enable them to fit well into the new structure. Although specific functions may demand services from outside consultants in staff training, the intricate process of TQM should be left open to all the employees in the company. Also, duties should be specified, and roles defined as the consultants relate with the internal team. When there is increased training, workshops, and conferences, the employees gain more skills and become more innovative. Participation of workers in severe levels of decision-making ensures that the customer will receive quality product since employees relate with them directly. Training as a factor ensures that there is an improvement in the creation of services that are rendered to the consumer

            An organization that wants to adopt TQM needs to develop a plan for improvement. This means that the management should come up with a clear roadmap on how to implement the TQM process. For the program to be successful, it should contain essential rudiments and principles. The plan should also incorporate appropriate amendments that the workers can adapt. A proper plan contains process improvement initiatives, draft that include duties and functions, leadership development and training to inspire the implementation, and performance evaluation techniques that monitor job executions.

            Leadership styles and organizational culture also affect the successful implementation of TQM. The structures and techniques need to be congruent with TQM. Since the process is tedious, comprehensive, and long-term, the leaders should assure of their commitment, give the necessary support, and hold employees accountable for the outcomes. TQM should always be purpose-driven and focuses on the vision of the organization (Kanji 2010, p.337).

            In conclusion, it can be noted that TQM is a very crucial tool that encourages participation and working together with employees and managers to satisfy customer needs.  TQM can unleash creativity and potential of the employees. This concept is beneficial in reducing bureaucracy, cost, and improve service provision to the clients and production of quality goods. This notion is based on the belief that all activities and functions in an organization and all the employees must participate in the improvement process to achieve both quality culture and quality systems.

References

Ahire, S. L., Golhar, D. Y., & Waller, M. A. (2011). Development and Validation of TQM Implementation Constructs. Decision Sciences, 27(1), 23-56. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5915.1996.tb00842.x

Grean, M., & Shaw, M. J. (2014). Supply-Chain Partnership between P&G and Wal-Mart. Integrated Series in Information Systems, 155-171. doi:10.1007/0-306-47548-0_8

Goetsch, D. L., & Davis, S. B. (2016). Quality management for organizational excellence: Introduction to total quality.

Gundogan, M. (2009). Total quality management: A way towards total integration. Total Quality Management, 7(4), 379-384. doi:10.1080/09544129650034738

Kanji, G. K. (2010). Implementation and pitfalls of total quality management. Total Quality Management, 7(3), 331-343. doi:10.1080/09544129650034882

White, C. (2004). Wal-Mart: the cost-reducing machine. Strategic Management, 783-789. doi:10.1007/978-0-230-55477-1_32

XU, L., XU, Q., & LIU, X. (2014). Wal-Mart and Carrefour’s Supply Chain Management Strategies in China. International Journal of Business and Management, 9(7). doi:10.5539/ijbm.v9n7p155

January 19, 2024
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