Illustration C

To determine where the errors are being made, a flow chart of the billing process was prepared and evaluated. (See Illustration D)
Flow charts help visualize the flow of a process, step-by-step. This evaluation led to the conclusion that most of the errors were occurring between the creation of the quote and the creation of the sales order. Preventative measures were put in place and work began on a way to automate this function. By automating this function many errors and the double effort will be eliminated, which will reduce costs and increase profits and most importantly, customer satisfaction.
Illustration D

Data collection continued during the next three months to determine if any changes would occur due to corrective measures put in place in the billing process. A run chart was prepared using this information. (See Illustration E) A run chart plots performance information for a period of time in a line graph to show the changes due to corrective measures.

The customer must be the focal point of all efforts in the TQM process. Customer needs should be determined and analysised for proper planning. It should also be realized that everyone in your company serves the end user either directly or indirectly. In addition to the external customer, you also have internal customers. For example, the accounts receivable clerk’s customer is the sales department. Internal customers should be treated just as external customers receiving the highest quality product or service available.

Managers must become leaders focused on fulfilling the needs of the customer. They must pose as a role model, foster team concepts, encourage creativity, support employee decision making, constantly communicate the vision of the company and the progress being made. They should also provide the time and money needed for training of employees and praise individuals and teams for accomplishments.

Also, Employees should understand their purpose in the vision of the company and strive to work as a team with one common goal, satisfy the customer. They should take pride in their work and constantly look for ways to improve the systems and processes.

We have looked at some of the TQM tools and a few examples of the many ways they can be used. Instilling quality in your business takes time and a commitment from every single person, owner, manager, and employee. In order to obtain commitment from everyone, you must educate them on the quality concept and get their involvement in the process. Everyone should know the company vision and goals and how their jobs fit into the scope of things. The message here is that total quality is a key to lower costs, higher profits and most importantly, customer satisfaction, which will ultimately keep you in business.