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Historical and practical, quality initiativesHow can learning from the past, inform the present, when trying to embed continual service improvement?


 Abstract

Service economy has experienced a tremendous growth in the past years due to service-oriented thinking. IT departments have adopted approaches like the IT service management (ITSM) especially the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). This paper will show how ITSM and Total Quality Management form a good recipe for Continuous Service Improvement. Continual service improvement deals with aligning and realigning the services of IT in accompany to the changing needs of a business.


The main essence of Continual Service improvement is to align IT services to the changing needs of a business by implementing and identifying improvements to IT services that support the processes of a business. CSI on improvement perspective is also the perspective of a business towards service quality. This is despite the fact that the aim of CSI is to improve efficiency, process effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the IT process within a whole lifecycle. For CSI to manage improvements, there is the need to define the aspects to be measured and controlled. This paper will provide an in-depth literature review of various academic sources and publications that focus on the existing approaches of quality management.


These sources will be used to research information and data on quality management frameworks and theories.The vital theories on quality management and vital contributions are specifically linked to quality gurus who will be discussed in the first section of the literature review. The paper will present the main success factors of total quality management proposed by these gurus, and how they have impacted contemporary quality management frameworks. There will also a detailed review of best practice frameworks, and relevant, quality management standards. After the literature review section, there will be the second part where I will synthesize the key points that show how the mentioned practical and historical quality initiatives can help us to learn from the past in informing the present by incorporating the earlier practices as part of continual service improvement.


 Introduction

The main goal of service management is to ensure that the services of IT align to the needs of a business and to support IT activities. It is essential for IT services to assist in the business processes and to enact IT act as the vital agent towards change and in business transformation. All organizations rely on IT for their success. When IT services and processes are implemented and supported in an appropriate manner, a business will be more successful and will suffer fewer losses and disruption of productive hours, increase revenues, reduce costs, achieve business goals and objectives and finally improve public relations.


Studies have shown various quality aspects that have to be considered in resource management, contract administration and management of relationships. These aspects further add value to a business. There are many aspects to learn from practical and historical quality initiatives that can be used to inform the current practices of continual service improvements. This study will use practitioner, publications and academic paper dealing with quality improvement and its benefits to a business process, products, partners and people. The quality improvement issues are based on various techniques, frameworks, approaches and models that will be analyzed in this paper. From the past studies I will be able to draw conclusions on change, security and ethical elements that impact quality practices of an organization and the overall success of the organization.


 Literature review

Total Quality Management

This section will present literature related to Quality Assurance, quality control and Total quality Management. The main contribution is from quality gurus and a summary of the vital success factors of TQM will be highlighted. ITIL as successors or of TQM will be discussed by showing its relation to TQM.The American Society for Quality defines quality as the subjective word that every sector and the person has its definition (ASQ, 2002, P 56). This association goes ahead to show that the technical usage of quality has two main roles. First is that it is a service or product of deficiencies and the second meaning I the service or products characteristic that determine the ability to satisfy an implied or stated need.


Crosby (1979) and Shewhart (1931) showed that quality acts as representatives of two states that are different. They can be the actual or preferred states. Thus, the aspects of quality are defined on the basis on whether or not they conform to a given set of requirements. Juran (1974) and Feigenbaum (1986) define quality on the basis of customer satisfaction and an instance where the satisfaction of customers is the preferred state and the received concrete service or product are the actual state. Garvin (1987) presented the 8 dimensions of product quality, which are conformance, reliability, performance, durability, features, aesthetics, perceived quality and serviceability.The Deming prize committee defines TQM as a set of different systematic activities conducted by the whole organizations so as to efficiently and effectively achieve the objectives of a company.


This is with the goal of providing services and products at top quality level so as to satisfy customers at the best price and time (JUSE, 2007, p2).The philosophies of Crosby, Juran, and Deming do provide the vital principles that form the basis of total quality (Mohseni, 2003, p 293). TQM is a framework that is commonly applied as an approach for quality management. TQM focuses on the satisfaction of customers, its result –oriented and emphasizes on participatory management (Milakovich 2004). The main principles of TQM according to Dean and Bowen (1994) are continuous improvement and customer focused. Others have suggested other principles based on the teachings of Deming (Deming, 1982), such as process improvement as being the central element of TQM initiative (Hickman & Wageman 1995).


 Quality gurus

Walter Shewhart is perceived as the founder of the modern movement of quality (Sower & Fair 2005; Wilcox 2004). He urges that quality has a subjective and objective aspect. He also urges that though it is possible to measure the objective elements of quality since they are part of human existence, the subjective aspects do have a greater importance. These aspects of quality include how we sense, feel and think (Shewhart, 1931, p 53). Processes do also have subjective variations on both the meeting of customers needs (subjective aspect) and conformance to requirements (objective aspect). These processes according to Shewhart are two variations coming from two different sources which are.


 1. aspects that detect a problem in the system

2. A chance that occurs as part of the system (Stewhart, 1925).


 Based on these two branches, he established a chart that indicates the statistical basis to help in differencing these two categories of variations. He also came up with the continual improvement cycle known as the Plan- Do-Check –Act that was later enhanced by Deming (1982).Deming Edward, in most of his career time, in America, developed the earlier work of Shewhart. He adapted the Plan - Do-Check –Act cycle by Shewhart and is now referred to as the Deming Cycle on Plan -DO-Study-Act. He is also known for improving the fast recovering of the Japanese manufacturing sector after the Second World War (Petersen, 1999). At the Japan manufacturing sector, he pushed senior managers to be involved actively in initiatives for quality improvements (Bendell, Penson & Carr 1995).


Based on his teaching, he influenced the development of Japan Product quality that is now known all over the world (JUSE, 2007). Deming (1982) viewed quality as predictable dependability and uniformity at a low cost in the production of a product desired by the market (p.176).Deming further emphasized that quality improvements lead to an improved competitive position and productivity. He states that the customer is the most central person within the whole production line (p 174). On the top management, Deming showed that they are the most responsible people in cases of quality challenges in the organization caused by their failure of lack of providing appropriate working environment and poor quality standards.


The commitment of the top management to quality improvement according to Deming is vital to any efforts of TQM.Though this philosophy by Deming was earlier based on improving services and products through reduction of variability in manufacturing processes and design and other uncertainties that were only based on statistical quality control, he later started to focus on management aspects. He proposed fourteen points that support TQM (Deming 1982), which are currently viewed as the 7 action plan.


Generally the management proposed by Deming is about the development of an organizational system that supports learning and corporation and which result to the facilitation of implementing management practices within processes leading to continuous improvement of services, products and processes so as to attain employee satisfaction and finally customer satisfaction leading to the survival of a business ((Anderson, Rungtusanatham & Schroeder1994, p. 473).Juran also lectured in Japan. He stated that [problems of quality are due to top management. His definition of quality is based on the ‘fitness for use” concept which emphasizes on the importance of satisfy the needs of customers and to identify their needs. Juran is credited for presenting the costs that result from poor quality and how these costs can be used to improve the quality. The four main aspects that Juran identified related to quality costs (Juran 1974);


 • Prevention costs such as training and quality planning

• Appraisal costs like quality audits

• Costs for external failure, such as defects after shipment of products and

• Internal costs failure ; defects found before shipping.


 Juran further argues that quality does not occur by accident. It has to be planned (Juran & Gryna 1988), thus leading him to establish his quality trilogy that comprises of quality improvement, quality control and quality planning ( Juran, 1988).Feigenbaum Armand is considered as the founder of quality control (Bendel, Penson, and Carr, 1995). He urged that an important element in the organization is quality since it is the force behind growth and success of an organization. He identified that quality control has four main stages which are (Feigenbaum, 1986):


 • Setting the standards of quality

• Appraisal conformance to the set standards

• Taking the right actions when standards are not followed

• Plans on improvements.


 Feigenbaum urged that when the operating quality reduces, the end results for developing a total quality system will fail due to lack of effective and existing customer- orientated standards of quality. Therefore, this means that the optimal quality of products will not be attained. Another reason that Feigenbaum gave for the failure is due to expenditure for prevention costs that lead to reduction of external and internal failure costs (Feigenbaum, 1886).Isikawa Kaoru promoted and integrated the seven tools for quality improvements during the 1960s (Mach & Guaqueta 2001). He also showed the effect and cause diagram known as the fishbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram.


Through his work, Ishikawa managed to advance the idea of quality control for companies in Japan by use of various quality tools and quality circles that help to understand the main causes of laity problems. Ishikawa (1986) states, “practice quality control is aimed to design, develop, and produce a quality product as services in a useful, economical and in a satisfactory way to customers” (p 44).Crosby Philip is mainly known for his published work, “Quality his Free” (Crosby, 1979). To Crosby, quality is about conformance to quality, and he coined the terms “zero defects” (Crosby, 1979, p 15).


Motwani (2001a) indicates that authors who implement the zero defect principle do give the right attitude of getting it right at the first time within a quality program (Motwani, p 295).Crosby suggested fourteen steps for quality improvement and was the first one to propose the idea of maturity. The maturity grid for quality improvement has five main levels that describe the various stages and aspects involved in quality management maturity. The first is the management of attitude and understanding, followed by quality organization status, followed by handling of a problem, then cost of quality in sales percentage, actions for quality improvement and finally a summary of quality posture within the organization. Researchers and organizations have polarized and adapted this concept proposed by Crosby (CMU/SEI 2006).


 Conclusion

From the discussion above, it is clear that TQM is all about customer satisfaction. ITIL mainly uses the idea of Deming cycle of total quality management. The Plan- Do-Study-Act do form the main components of ITIL. The framework suggest that the use of Deming Cycle enhances the services provided through quality management by ensuring that results are consistent with quality standards.The ITIL framework follows a lifecycle approach. ITIL HAS five main elements in its lifecycle, which are transition, designs, strategy, continual improvement and operation which are closely related to Deming PDCA model. ITIL uses functions and processes which build up one another. ITIL labels its components as activities or processes. Within this framework, the PDCA improvement approach is applied all through the framework. This results into a best-practice guidance that can be followed partly or fully in addressing problems.


The ITSM language is consistent within the framework. ITIL has the ability to separate incident calls from requests of operational services and in Case of request changes. ITIL works from the documented best practice at every single phase.The Concept on quality is free as proposed by Cosby in addressing the manufacturing aspect of the time. This method addresses the same elements on quality, reliability, consistency and peace of mind involved in the delivery of IT services. Operations are part of a business and have to be measured as one (Crosby, 1979). Randy Steinberg in the book, “Measuring ITIL” indicates that IT needs to act and run like a business and that IT has to incorporate most practices involved in businesses management through the operating services.


Quality is everything in ITIL. This is because when a customer faces problems and seeks help from the service desk, the help desk will try to find solutions through IT.Ishikawa Diagram IS a useful diagram for the process of problem management and is often used by many businesses, and it is a very crucial tool when used with other processes that investigate the root causes of problems such as PROACT and ITIL (Gacenga, Cater-Steel, Telemann, Tan, 2011).Feigenbaum insists on having frameworks and guidelines to help organizations meet customer demand. This same aspect is emphasized by ITIL in need of continual improvement through improving organizations capabilities, and flexibility to respond to opportunities.


Adopting ITIL framework involves benefits such as service improvement on best practice processes, reduced costs, improved customer satisfaction, improved productivity and improved skills and experience. From the literature review studies have not examined the factors that impact on the implementation of IT and ARE functions. Studies indicate various common aspects that help in Continuous quality improvement and ITIL framework. First is the concept of process management mentioned by Deming (1986) and Crosby, (1996). Quality management is the belief that product and service improvement are all about improving processes (Deming, 1986 and Crosby 1996). Deming urges that processes are the main cause to quality problems.


These previous studies show that management of processes will lead to proper performance of CSI (Praeg, Claus-Peter, Spath, 2011).Deming, 1986 also shows that measurement has a vital role in the implementation of quality management no matter the size of an organization. This shows that it is essential to designs features for measures that identify the current CSI capabilities and indicate areas for improvement in order to attain the expected goals. Carroll (1995), however, urges that measurement establishment for software development is not valid, straightforward, and reliable in software use (Steinberg, 2006).


On continuous improvement, Deming (1986) argues that it is vital to have a systematic approach for continuous improvement. This shows that improvement is not a one-time event as seen in his Do-check-ACT cycle. This concept is now part of the CSI field as seen in the studies (Rai and Ravichndran 1999; ISO90003 2004 and Isaac et al, 2004).The studies also place emphasis on customer focus (Crosby, 1996, Deming 1986). These studies encourage organizations to understand the needs of customers and what they will want in the future. Therefore, focus on customers play a significant role in improving customer satisfaction and quality of services for the success of the whole system (Lin and Shao, 2000).


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