by Kedar Prasad Bhandari
The concept of quality is still in its incipient stage in Nepal. Many people in both the public and private sectors are not aware about the importance of quality. However, the need for quality has been on the rise as Nepal embraces globalisation.AppreciationQuality is the perception of superiority or a sense of appreciation by customers to satisfy their needs. It is perceived by different people differently. Total quality management (TQM) is the process of creating an organisational culture committed to constantly enhancing the skills, teamwork, process and product and service quality to satisfy the needs of the customer. It is a management strategy designed to bring awareness about quality in all organisational processes. It provides an umbrella under which everyone in the organisation can attempt to create a satisfied customer. TQM consists of three qualities. Quality of return on investment to satisfy shareholder needs, quality of products and services to satisfy customer needs and quality of life - at work and outside work � to satisfy employees' needs. Total quality management ensures that things are done right the first time, and defects and waste are eliminated from operations. An organisation that adopts TQM must implement changes in all areas of management. TQM is the substitution of earlier management theories, which were based on the belief that low cost is the only way to increase productivity. It must now review its strategies, plans, policies, procedures and practices depending upon the market needs. The basic purpose of TQM is to produce better quality products or services, respond quickly in processing customer needs, show greater flexibility in adjusting to customer needs, minimise cost through quality improvement and eliminate the overlap of effort. Managers committed to successful implementation of total quality management must emphasise on both the human resource development model and organisational development model together. A successful TQM requires both behavioural and cultural change. It brings other management systems together with a behavioural and cultural commitment to improving quality. Organisations can apply several tools and techniques to improve quality. The popular among them are benchmarking, outsourcing, speed, ISO 9000 and statistical quality control techniques.Benchmarking is the process of searching the best practice among competitors that leads to superior performance. It is an evaluation and comparison of one's products and processes with the very best competitors. It is a very specific form of environmental scanning. Benchmarking involves looking at similar firms to understand how they have achieved the best performance levels. It helps to examine the process behind excellent performance. This helps organisations to develop the best practices to improve the performance level. Application of benchmarking involves: understanding in detail the existing business practices, analysing the business process, comparing one's business performance with that of others and taking the steps necessary to close the performance gap.Outsourcing is the process of subcontracting some of the jobs to another organisation to bring quality and get the benefit of specialisation. It is an important means of reducing cost and improving quality. An organisation performing each and every activity by itself may not be able to perform its activities efficiently and effectively. Therefore, every organisation needs to identify the functions that can be outsourced to minimise the cost of output to produce higher quality. Speed is the time required to perform a specific activity for an organisation. It is required in all areas including development, production and distribution of goods or services. Speed has become an important competitive advantage today. Increasing speed will give organisations a strategic advantage and help them to complete the task more effectively. It involves not only doing the same thing faster but also rethinking and redesigning the whole business cycle. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives of standard bodies from various nations. It was established in February 1947 with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The organisation produces worldwide international and commercial standards. There were 158 member countries in the ISO in 2006. There are five sets of standards covering areas such as product testing, employee training, record keeping, supplier relations and repair policies and procedures starting from 9000 to 9004. Firms that meet these standards apply for certification and are audited by a firm's domestic affiliate. The Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology adopts this standard in Nepal. This office reviews every aspect of the firm's business operation in relation to standards and grants the ISO 9000 certificate. It develops quality standards over a wide range of quality systems, which add value to the business operations. Statistical quality control is a set of specific statistical techniques applied to monitor the quality of goods or services. It measures the degree of conformance of the various factors involved in processing the products on the basis of specifications. It is based on statistical and probability theories. It seeks to control quality through incoming materials, processing and outputs produced. Acceptance sampling is applied for testing materials and final output to ensure that quality standards have been met. Process sampling is used to evaluate products during the course of production to ensure that defective pieces are not produced. Acceptable qualityControl charts are constructed to set acceptable lower and upper limits of an aspect necessary for control in an item. All finished products may, therefore, not be exactly the same; some limits or tolerance must be set so that should the finished product fall within these set limits, it can be considered of acceptable quality.