According to the American Society of Quality (ASQ), “Total quality management (TQM) describes a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. In a TQM effort, all members of an organization participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work.”
How often do we encounter a firm that does not communicate their commitment to quality? I cannot readily recall any company in a B2B environment (or any other channel for that matter) that does not market, sell, or otherwise promote the quality of its goods and services.
Today, quality is often prima facie, in relationships between firms engaged in a business partnership. Quality is often assumed and a minimum requirement for doing business. Most companies tout the quality of its products, its superior processes and efficiencies, and its management processes, all designed to deliver quality goods and services to achieve customer satisfaction.
So, if every company in business today is “all about quality,” how is it we’re sometimes disappointed in the goods and services we purchase? Is the quality being sold by one firm an exact, or near comparable, to that being sold by its competitor? Are the firms measuring the same factors to define and quantify quality? As the consumer, do we place the same or similar value on the same measures being sold by competing vendors? How do we as consumers, evaluate potential suppliers, in terms of their quality?
In a series of blog posts, I plan to discuss how as consumers in the B2B environment, we can improve the quality of our vendor/partner selection through improving how we evaluate potential business partners and improve the vendor selection process.
How we, as B2B consumers, evaluate, select, and partner with suppliers, will impact our own TQM outputs. That is, if the purchaser follows TQM processes in supply chain management and vendor selection, the purchasing organization will have a more positive impact on their own organization’s quality outputs.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming, one of the leading architects of TQM, addressed supplier selection in Point 4 of his famous 14 Points of Management, “End the practice of awarding business on the basis of the price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.” Deming’s rationale has proven to be valid because it works in conjunction with the remaining 13 points, to reduce variability, improve quality, reduce overall costs, and ultimately improve the satisfaction of the end user.
There are specific and significant reasons to follow the TQM principles in vendor selection and I will present those thoughts in my next blog edition.