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Tqm in Software World

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Total Quality Management in the Software World

This paper examines total quality management (TQM) against the backdrop of the software world. First an overview of the background and evolution of total quality management will be detailed, then an article will be examined that discusses total quality management on an organizational level, and how it can be beneficial. After that an empirical study is reviewed that discusses the relationship between TQM and software quality. Finally this paper is wrapped up with a look at how TQM development methods should be introduced and the different ways in which is benefits both the employee and customer.
Keywords: tqm, total quality management, software total quality management, tqm software methodologies

Total Quality Management in the Software World According to Dale, Dewhurst, and Martínez-Lorente (1998), Total quality management is now being applied by a considerable number of companies and the topic itself is now a popular subject of many books and papers. While total quality management began to be used in the mid 1980’s (Dale et. al., 1998) it wasn’t until the late 1980’s it became a part of quality related language and even later still until it was put to use in the world of software and I.T. (information technology). This paper will examine the following total quality management topics: 1. What is the background and history of total quality management? 2. What value does TQM add to software quality? 3. What, if any, value does TQM add to software development? 4. Does TQM add value to a software organization, on an organization level?
These four primary questions will be examined to provide an overview of research concerning total quality management and the software world. While there are several separate overviews of TQM and software, this paper will bring these together to create an overview of total quality management and how it fits into the world of I.T. and software. This will then provide a good overview of what’s involved with utilizing total quality management and what benefits a given organization and team can expect from adopting it.
The Origin and Definition of Total Quality Management In Dale et. al.’s (1998) review article summarizing the origin and evolution of total quality management they state that TQM has many different meanings. It can vary from writer to writer and business to business. Even though there is no common definition aside from the international definition of TQM in ISO 8402(1994), there are a number of common elements that each distinct definition will always contain: customer and supplier relationships, employee involvement, and top management support. It is with that in mind that appreciating the history and origin of total quality management helps one understand what it entails as a quality management methodology and appreciate what it means for an organization and given software team.
Powell (1995) makes the points that: “TQM’s origins can be traced to 1949, when the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers formed a committee of scholars, engineers, and government officials devoted to improving Japanese productivity, and enhancing their post-war quality of life” and “American firms began to take serious notice of TQM around 1980.” Another commonly agreed upon origin of where total quality management came from was by substituting the term “management” for “control” (Crosby, 1979). It was to this end that Crosby argued that control doesn’t necessarily mean a zero defects level is achieved, so the term management was more appropriate for what was trying to be achieved. Another interesting aspect of TQM is that most of the theoretical developments and concept advancements have been made in the USA whereas Japan has held the initiative in terms of application (Dale, et. al., 1998). This lack of cohesion prevails into expert opinion as seen by Dale et. al.’s (1998) interviews with recognized TQM “gurus.” No consensus was found regarding the application of TQM and while a lot of the principles are agreed upon, a lot of elements of TQM are disregarded due to culture or region of origin.
TQM and the Software World Yet even with this inability to construct a unified definition of TQM, it is still being adopted by most major industries including the software world. How TQM affects software quality, development, and whether organizations are ready to adopt the style are issues that are currently being researched. Next this paper will utilize a study (Rahman, Siddiqui, 2006) performed on an organization level to determine if the organization was ready to use total quality management methods and ideals. After that an empirical study (Nath, & Parzinger, 2000) will be discussed that goes into detail on TQM implementation factors for software development. Finally this will all be put into perspective by examining how and if total quality management is beneficial to software development in general.
TQM and Software Organizations According to Rahman and Siddiqui (2006), total quality management is a process of embedding quality awareness at every step of production or service while targeting the end customer. To this end, in their article they set forth a questionnaire-based survey conducted amonst IS professionals that utilizes multivariate analysis to quantify the extent of top management support for TQM, the extent of benefits realized by TQM, and TQM principles implemented. It is this article’s position that top management support is the most important factor needed for an organization to successfully implement TQM, so being able to tie total quality management to better quality of services is one of the primary goals of the research performed in this article. One of the main issues with software professionals being hesitant and apprehensive about adopting TQM is the overall misunderstanding of its practices and principles (Zadrozny & Tumanic, 1992). With this in mind a survey was sent to 500 top companies, with 120 responses being included for analysis and to draw an inference. The questions ranged from gauging the awareness of TQM to appreciating the relationship between TQM and the principles implemented (Rahman & Siddiqui, 2006). Given the limitations of the study, the results showed that total quality management is spreading in Indian companies, those that were surveyed. Every single respondent had heard of TQM and were convinced that it had a good impact for information systems organizations. The perceived benefits of TQM were the primary reason why companies either were using TQM or were looking to implement it. Chief among those benefits was greater customer satisfaction, increased productivity, and enhanced quality of service and products. Finally, the most important influencers of TQM benefits were customer centric advancements and top management’s support. With such the companies polled were much better able to take advantage of total quality management while visibly demonstrating its benefits.
TQM and Software Quality Given the spread of total quality management techniques in software development, determining whether it improves software quality and how to do so is one of the prime concerns with adopting TQM. The article by Parzinger and Nath (2000) set forth to answer these questions by examining the relationships between TQM and implementation factors by utilizing several measures of software quality including user satisfaction, the Capability Maturity Model, and the extent of compliance with ISO 9000-3 guidelines. The research performed by Parzinger and Nath (2000) utilized a questionnaire as the primary means of data gathering and a subset of this data was analyzed.
In the end all TQM implementation factors were found to have a significant positive relationship with all measures of software quality except change in cost of quality. Overall the results of this study and article do a great job of indicating that any organization that emphasizes TQM concepts, tools and techniques showed a marked improvement in customer satisfaction and degree of compliance with ISO 9000-3, a quality management and assurance industry standard. The findings in this study are significant in that it is one of the only articles to offer empirical evidence that links total quality management implementation and software quality.
TQM and Software Development In addition to appreciating the difference that TQM can bring about in software quality, a better understanding of how to embrace TQM in development also needs to be understood. The article by Li, Chen, & Cheung (2000) sets discusses the essences of TQM and identifies the principles of successful implementation. In their article the quality seven and management seven tools, which are both used commonly in the TQM process, are contrasted. The quality seven tools consist of the following articles: Cause-and-effect diagram, checksheet, control chart, histogram, graphs, pareto chart, and scatter diagrams. On the other hand the management seven tools consist of the following: Affinity diagram, arrow diagram, matrix diagram, matrix data analysis diagram, process decision program chart, relations diagram, and tree diagram. By using these prescribed sets of methods organizations as a whole are able to embrace TQM and begin the trend towards increasing productivity and profitability (Li, et. al. 2000). These two approaches can also be leveraged with existing processes and tailored to fit the team’s style, while still giving the benefit of the TQM outlook on quality. Another important finding from the article by Li et. al.(2000) was that the primary driving force to implementing total quality management processes was encouraging employees to embrace the TQM philosophy and methods before jumping onto the bandwagon. Gaining a critical mass and ensuring that every employee, regardless of their rank, understands and internalize TQM was paramount to its successful adoption. According to their findings, in order to do so the given companies goal should be to improve the quality of work life for their employees through improving work conditions, work methods, work compensation, work relations, and providing the employees with opportunities for professional development. This gives incentive to apply the teachings of TQM while also gaining a significant professional skill set. To this end, Li et. al argue that smaller groups such as software development teams are the perfect size for introducing and gaining significant employee buy in for a team wide concept like total quality management.
Conclusion and Summary After examining the background of total quality management and the different aspects with which it is involved in the software industry, I think that there are a lot of lessons to learn and improvements to be gained. The teachings and values of TQM can be seen from software engineering to agile management techniques, as they preach that customer satisfaction is the number one goal and that this ideal always needs to be reexamined and improved upon. Given the third article’s empirical results that show the effect that total quality management has on software quality, more research should be performed on which specific aspects of tqm affect it the most. This then should be leveraged in nearly every software company as a project management As far as a unified definition of TQM I think the following quote by the department of defense puts it best and sets forth a standard that goes well beyond software and should be common sense in the business world.
"TQM is both a philosophy and a set of guiding principles that represent the foundation for a continuously improving organization. TQM is the application of quantitative methods and human resources to improve the material and services supplied to an organization, and the degree to which the needs of the customers are met, now and in the future. TQM integrates fundamental management techniques, existing improvement efforts, and technical tools under a disciplined approach focused on continuous improvement.” [Department of Defense, 1991]

Angel R. Martínez-Lorente, Frank Dewhurst, Barrie G. Dale, (1998) Total quality management: origins and evolution of the term, The TQM Magazine,10(5), 378 – 386.
Department of Defense. (1991). TQM Guide, Vol. 1, Key Features of the DOD Implementation.
DOD 5000.SIG.Final Draft 15 FEB 1991, p. 2.
Li, e., Chen, H., & Cheung, W. (2000). Total quality management in software development process Parzinger, M., Ravinder, N. (2000), A study of the relationships between total quality management implementation factors and software quality, Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 11(3).
Powell, T. C. (1995), Total quality management as competitive advantage: a review and empirical study, Strategic Management Journal, 16(1), 15-37. Crosby, P. B. (1979), Quality is free, McGraw-Hill, New York. Rahman, Z., Siddiqui, J. (2006), TQM for information systems: are Indian organizations ready?, Interdisciplinary journal of information, knowledge, and management, 1, 135-136. Li, E., Chen, H., & Cheung, W. (2000). Total quality management in software development process, The journal of quality assurance institute, 14(1), 2-6 & 35-41.
Zadrozny, M.A. & Tumanic, R.E. (1992). Zero-defects software: The total quality management approach to software engineering. CIO, 4(4), 10-16.…...

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