Total Quality Management in the UAE Companies

Introduction

The process of implementing Total Quality Management is always a great challenge for many companies in the UAE and other companies across the world. There are hard and soft aspects of Total Quality Management that need to be fully considered for effective implementation of a Total Quality Management program (Janakiraman, 2006). This paper will compare and contrast the TQM implementation strategies in two companies based in the UAE. The first company is the Al kabeer Group that is one of the major food manufacturing companies in Dubai.

The company manufactures frozen and processed foods such as seafood, basic meat and vegetable products. The company sells most of its product locally but India and the United Kingdom are its major export destinations. The second company that will be discussed in this paper is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company that deals with oil refinery and production of petroleum products such as petrochemicals and natural gas. The company has a substantial stake in the international market as it exports its products to almost all parts of the world. The Abu Dhabi National Oil company has got almost seven subsidiaries that produce different oil and petroleum products. These two companies are the subject of discussion in this paper and the similarities and differences in the way they implement TQM programs will be explored.

TQM Implementation Strategies

Before comparing and contrasting the TQM implementation strategies in the two companies, it is important to first of all highlight the various TQM implementation strategies available today (Janakiraman, 2006). The type of TQM implementation strategies that a company decides to use depends on the nature of the company. Similar strategies can not be used in all companies because they may not work for some companies. It is therefore very important for the company’s management to be careful in choosing TQM implementation strategies for it to fully achieve the expected results (Samuel, 2004).

In order to improve the quality of products and services in organizations, it is necessary to apply the total quality management approach. The first strategy that an organization can use in implementing a Total Quality Management program is through involving the Human Resource department (Samuel, 2004). If an organization wants to introduce a culture shift through TQM, The HR department can play a vital role in training employees on both short-term and long-term basis. The HR department has the ability to recruit and select the right people to initiate changes within an organization based on the TQM philosophy. The TQM process should affect the whole company and the strategy that involves the Human Resource Department in implementing the TQM program is a very effective method of wholesome implementation (Samuel, 2004). The corporate culture and the type of products that a company produces are very important in the practical implementation of a TQM program.

There are companies that take the blanket approach where all the departments and areas of the organization are improved. When a company needs to make changes across the board, the blanket strategy of TQM implementation is the most preferred. The other strategy that can be used to implement a TQM program is the selective approach that involves the selection of some areas that need improvement (Samuel, 2004). These areas must be relevant and should be sensible for the intended TQM goals to be achieved. The TQM process should focus on improving the quality of products and services which in turn brings customer satisfaction. The ultimate aim of a TQM program is to bring customer satisfaction. All the stakeholders within an organization should be ready and willing to embrace any sensible changes that come with Total Quality Management (Allotey, 2008).

Companies can use TQM to improve their production processes as well as products. Marketing, production and the costs of production are broken down and thoroughly examined for quality improvement. Apart from customer satisfaction, the TQM process should improve the profit margins of a company by eliminating unnecessary costs and increasing sales. Benchmarking is another strategy for implementing a TQM program in an organization. A successful organization is benchmarked for reference in the areas that need improvement. Just like in other strategies of TQM implementation, it is important to stick to the general TQM principles (Allotey, 2008). The basic TQM principles include customer focus, leadership commitment, continuous improvement and most importantly employee involvement. Benchmarking initiatives come into place when the TQM principles have been understood by the management. After identifying what to benchmark, the company in question should take the initiative of accessing the data of a reference company. The company should identify what data to benchmark so that it gives them a clear direction on the changes that need to be made. The quality award strategy for TQM implementation involves a reward system where individuals and departments are appraised and rewarded according to the quality of their work.

There are other strategies that can be used in Total Quality Management implementation but the ones mentioned above are the most important ones (Samuel, 2004). It is not a guarantee that a particular TQM implementation strategy will work for all areas within an organization. TQM implementation can be a difficult process but if the right strategy which is relevant to the company’s corporate culture and strategic objectives is applied, it becomes much easier (Samuel, 2004).

TQM in Al Kabeer Group and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company

Al Kabeer Group and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company are among the most successful companies in the UAE that have the best Total Quality Management systems. There are some similarities as well as differences in the TQM implementation strategies applied by these two companies. Both the companies are involved in production and therefore they are almost of the same nature. Both the companies apply TQM programs that focus on customer satisfaction and continuous product quality improvement. The two companies consider the principle of continuous quality improvement as the key to effective total quality management (Janakiraman, 2006). The Al Kabeer Group faces a lot of competition from other companies that produce food products compared to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company that is the largest oil company with almost seven subsidiaries. Other oil companies in the UAE benchmark its processes and the quality of its products. It is therefore very difficult for this company to use the benchmarking approach in TQM implementation (Janakiraman, 2006).

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company can not use the blanket approach of TQM implementation because it has subsidiaries that specialize in producing different oil products. The management of the company therefore prefers to use the selective approach in TQM implementation. The Abu Dhabi National Oil company identifies areas, departments and subsidiaries that need improvement and initiates the necessary changes to improve its production processes and the general quality of the company’s products. On the other hand, the Al Kabeer Group prefers benchmarking and the blanket approach in TQM implementation. Since there is a lot of competition in the food processing industry, it is important to remain competitive throughout and therefore continuous quality improvement is essential in all areas of the company.

The Al Kabeer Group initiates changes from production to sales and marketing to ensure that all departments within the company put into full effect all the proposed changes. Comparing the two companies, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company does not prioritize Total Quality Management since the demand of oil and its product is always high and that is why the company’s TQM program is not comprehensive as that of the Al Kabeer Group. The management of the Al Kabeer Group has to invest in TQM for the company to remain competitive in the market since the food industry is very flooded. The quality of products and services is what determines if the company remains competitive in the market. The company is therefore forced to use the benchmarking approach of TQM implementation so that it makes the necessary changes to match the market leaders (Samuel, 2004). A wholesome approach to Total Quality Management is applicable to small companies compared to big companies.

The Abu Dhabi National Company does not have a good history of Total Quality Management and it always very difficult to implement TQM programs because the employees are normally very skeptical about the TQM process. Despite the skepticism, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has got a strong financial base to implement a TQM program compared to the Al Kabeer Group. The strategy used to implement a TQM program determines the total cost of implementing the whole TQM program. There are divergent views about which strategy is the most expensive but the one fact that is clear is that quality comes at a cost (Allotey, 2008). Although the blanket strategy used by the Al Kabeer is a bit expensive, its benefits are long-term compared to the selective strategy. The Al Kabeer Group has continued to register positive results as result of investing in Total Quality Management.

It has been a great challenge to implement TQM programs in the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company because it is difficult to coordinate change in all the subsidiary units at the same time. The nature of the TQM programs is slightly different in these two companies because of the nature of products that these companies produce (Allotey, 2008). Food products and oil products are very different in their production and handling and therefore it is obvious that the elements in the Total Quality Management program can not be the same.

Conclusion

The success of a TQM program depends on the implementation strategy used by the organization. There are various strategies such as the blanket approach, selective approach and benchmarking which are commonly used by many countries across the world. The corporate culture of a company and the nature of products and services produced by the company are the two main factors used to select a Total Quality Management implementation strategy. The Al Kabeer Group and the Abu Dhabi National Oil company are among the best performing companies in terms of Total Quality Management but the latter is yet to fully invest in comprehensive Total Quality Management because it is more of a monopoly in the UAE.

References

Allotey, A. (2008). Implementing Total Quality Management (TQM) – The issues of national culture. New York, NY: GRIN Verlag.

Janakiraman, B. (2006). Total Quality Management text and case. New York, NY: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Samuel, A. (2004). Total Quality Management. New York, NY: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.