Tqm in Construction

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Implementing Total Quality Management in Construction Firms
Low Sui Pheng1 and Jasmine Ann Teo2
Abstract: As building projects get larger and more complex, clients are also increasingly demanding higher standards for their delivery. Total quality management TQM has been recognized as a successful management philosophy in the manufacturing and service industries. TQM can likewise be embraced in the construction industry to help raise quality and productivity. Two case studies of construction companies showed how TQM can be successfully implemented in the construction industry. The benefits experienced include reduction in quality costs, better employee job satisfaction because they do not need to attend to defects and client complaints, recognition by clients, work carried out correctly right from the start, subcontractors with proper quality management systems, and closer relationships with subcontractors and suppliers. TQM performance measures were also reflected through top management commitment, customer involvement and satisfaction, employee involvement and empowerment, customer–supplier relationships, and process improvement and management. Finally, a framework for implementing TQM in construction is recommended. DOI: 10.1061/ ASCE 0742-597X 2004 20:1 8 CE Database subject headings: Quality control; Project management; Construction industry; Engineering firms.

Total quality management TQM is often termed a journey, not a destination Burati and Oswald 1993 . Much research has been done with regard to the implementation of TQM and it is believed that the benefits of higher customer satisfaction, better quality products, and higher market share are often obtained following the adoption of TQM by construction companies. It requires a complete turnaround in corporate culture and management approach Quazi and Padibjo 1997 as compared to the traditional way of top management giving orders and employees merely obeying them. It is believed that the single most important determinant of the success an organization in implementing TQM is its ability to translate, integrate, and ultimately institutionalize TQM behaviors into everyday practice on the job. TQM is a way of thinking about goals, organizations, processes, and people to ensure that the right things are done right the first time. Motwani 2001 feels that implementing TQM is a major organizational change that requires a transformation in the culture, process, strategic priorities, beliefs, etc. of an organization. TQM is an approach to improving the competitiveness, effectiveness, and flexibility of the whole organization. Oakland 1995 observed that it is essentially a way of planning, organizing, and understanding each activity that depends on each indiAssociate Professor and Vice-Dean, School of Design and Environment, National Univ. of Singapore, 4 Architecture Drive, Singapore 117566. E-mail: sdelowsp@nus.edu.sq 2 Research Assistant, Department of Building, National Univ. of Singapore, 4 Architecture Drive, Singapore 117566. Note. Discussion open until June 1, 2004. Separate discussions must be submitted for individual papers. To extend the closing date by one month, a written request must be filed with the ASCE Managing Editor. The manuscript for this paper was submitted for review and possible publication on September 17, 2002; approved on August 16, 2003. This paper is part of the Journal of Management in Engineering, Vol. 20, No. 1, January 1, 2004. ©ASCE, ISSN 0742-597X/2004/1-8 –15/$18.00. 1

vidual at each level. Ideas of continuous learning allied to concepts such as empowerment and partnership, which are facets of TQM, also imply that a change in behavior and culture is required if construction firms are to become learning organizations Love et al. 2000 . Idris et al. 1996 showed that the electrical and electronic engineering industry in Malaysia has widely adopted TQM and the main benefits that resulted were improved customer satisfaction,...
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