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The following categories represent typical process manufacturing industries:
- Forest and paper products
- Petroleum refining
- Soap and cosmetics
In groups of two or three, identify one company for each category (following your instructor’s specific instructions) and determine the following:
A. Typical products manufactured by the selected company, including brand names
Suppose you want to know the ages of moviegoers who attend the latest Harry Potter movie. What kind of sample is it if you
(a) survey the first 20 persons to emerge from the theater,
(b) survey every tenth person to emerge from the theater, and
(c) survey everyone who looks under age 12?
On December 31, Mars Co. had the following portfolio of stock investments with insignificant influence. Mars had no stock Investments in prior periods.
(1) After the fair value adjustment is made, prepare the assets section of Mars Co.'s December 31 classified balance sheet. Assume Mars plans to sell its stock investments within the next six months, (2) In which income statement section is the unrealized gain (or loss) on the portfolio of stock investments reported?
Solve this problem involving quantity, promotional, and seasonal discounts.
Suppose a firm is required to buy $10,000 worth of goods by September 15 in order to qualify for a 10 percent cumulative quantity discount. (A) Would a firm that purchased$8,000 worth of goods on September 1 get the discount? (B) What about one that purchased $11,500 worth on September 20?
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Review your business performance
Once your business is established and running well, you may be inclined to let things continue to run as they are.
However, it's actually time to plan again. After the crucial early stages, you should regularly review your progress, identify how you can make the most of the market position you've established and decide where to take your business next. You will need to revisit and update your business plan with your new strategy in mind and make sure you introduce the developments you've noted.
This guide takes you through this essential process, detailing the stages you should go through to assess how well your business is performing, highlighting your strengths and areas that could be improved and suggesting the actions you need to take to implement the improvements that you've identified.
Why it's vital to review the progress of your business
Assess your core activities, assess your business efficiency, review your financial position, conduct a competitor analysis, conduct a customer and market analysis, use your review to redefine your business goals, models for your strategic analysis, breaking down your strategic review.
It's easy to focus only on the day-to-day running of your business, especially in the early stages. But once you're up and running, it can pay dividends to think about longer-term and more strategic planning. This is especially true as you take on more staff, create departments within the business, appoint managers or directors and become distanced from the everyday running of the business.
Reviewing your progress will be particularly useful if you feel:
- uncertain about how well the business is performing
- unsure if you're getting the most out of the business or making the most of market opportunities
- your business plan may be out of date, e.g. you haven't updated it since you started trading
- your business is moving in a direction different to the one you had planned
- the business may be becoming unwieldy or unresponsive to market demands
It is also useful if you have decided that your company is ready to move on to another level.
Setting the direction
A clear business strategy will help to answer any concerns and show practical ways forward.
Questions you might want to ask include:
- What's my direction? To answer this you need to look at where you are now, where you want to go over the next three to five years and how you intend to get there.
- What are my markets - now and in the future? Which markets should I compete in, how will they change and what does the business need in order to be involved in these sectors?
- How do I gain market advantage? How can the business perform better than the competition in my chosen markets?
- What resources do I require to succeed? What skills, assets, finance, relationships, technical competence and facilities do I need to compete? Have these changed since I started?
- What business environment am I competing in? What external factors may affect the business' ability to compete?
- How am I measuring success? Remember, measures of performance may change as your business matures.
It's doubtful whether you will be able to answer these questions on your own - involving your professional advisers, your fellow directors and your senior staff will all help to make your review more effective.
A good starting point for your review is to evaluate what you actually do - your core activities, the products that you make, or services that you provide. Ask yourself what makes them successful, how they could be improved and whether you could launch new or complementary products or services.
Key questions about your products or services
It's useful to address these questions:
- How effectively are you matching your goods and services to your customers' needs? If you're not quite sure what those needs are, you could carry out further market or customer analysis. See the page in this guide on how to conduct a customer and market analysis.
- Which of your products and services are succeeding? Which aren't performing as planned? Decide which products and services offer both a high percentage of sales and high profit margins.
- What's really behind the problems of a product or service? Consider areas such as pricing, marketing, sales and after-sales service, design, packaging and systems during your review. Look for "quick wins" that give you the breathing space to make more fundamental improvements.
- Are you reviewing costs frequently? Are you keeping a close enough eye on your direct costs, your overheads and your assets? Are there different ways of doing things or new materials you could use that would lower your costs? Consider ways in which you can negotiate better deals with your suppliers.
Answering these questions will give you the basis on which to improve performance and profitability.
Many new businesses work in a short-term, reactive way. This offers flexibility - but can cost time and money as you move from getting the business going to concentrating on growing and developing it.
The best option is to balance your ability to respond rapidly with a clear overall strategy. This will help you decide whether the actions you take are appropriate or not.
At this stage you should ask yourself if there are any internal factors holding the business back, and if so, what can you do about them?
Consider the various aspects of your business in turn.
- What are your long-term commitments to the property?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of your current location?
- Do you have room to grow, or the flexibility to cut back if necessary?
- If you move premises, what will be the cost? Will there be long-term cost savings and improvements in efficiency?
- If you manufacture products, how modern is your equipment?
- What is the capacity of your current facility compared to existing and forecast demand?
- How will you fund any improvements?
- How do you compare with your competition?
- What management information and other IT systems do you have in place?
- Will these systems cater for any proposed expansion?
- Will they really make a difference to the quality of product or service your business provides? If they don't, can you change them to make sure they do?
- Do you make best use of technology such as wireless networking and mobile telephony to allow for more flexible working?
People and skills
- Do you have the right people to achieve your objectives?
- Do they know what is expected of them?
- Do you operate a training and development plan?
- Do you pay as well as the competition?
- Do you suffer from high staff turnover? Are staff motivated and satisfied?
- Do you have the right management team in place for growth?
- Do you have the skills available that you need in areas such as human resources, sales and IT?
- Do your staff need new or improved skills or to be retrained?
Businesses often fail because of poor financial management or a lack of planning. Often the business plan that was used to help raise finance is put on a shelf to gather dust.
When it comes to your business' success, therefore, developing and implementing sound financial and management systems (or paying someone to do it for you) is vital.
Updating your original business plan is a good place to start.
When reviewing your finances, you might want to consider the following:
- Cash flow - this is the balance of all of the money flowing in and out of your business. Make sure that your forecast is regularly reviewed and updated.
- Working capital - have your requirements changed? If so, explain the reasons for any movement. Compare this to the industry norm. If necessary, take steps to source additional capital.
- Cost base - keep your costs under constant review. Make sure that your costs are covered in your sale price - but don't expect your customers to pay for any business inefficiencies.
- Borrowing - what is the position of any lines of credit or loans? Are there more appropriate or cheaper forms of finance you could use?
- Growth - do you have plans in place to adapt your financing to accommodate your business' changing needs and growth?
Now that you have been running your business for a while, you will probably have a clearer idea of your competitors. Gathering more information may cost time, money and effort, but there are many benefits to knowing more about what your competition is doing.
What you need to know
The type of competitor information that will be really useful to you depends on the type of business you are and the market you're operating in. Questions to ask about your competitors include:
- who they are
- what they offer
- how they price their products
- what the profile and numbers of their customers are compared to yours
- what their competitive advantages and disadvantages are compared to yours
- what their reaction to your entry into the market or any product or price changes might be
You will probably find it useful to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. This will show you how you are doing in relation to the market in general and specifically your closest competitors. See the page in this guide on models for your strategic analysis.
How to find out more
There are three main ways to find out more about your competitors:
- What they say about themselves - sales literature, advertisements, press releases, shared suppliers, exhibitions, websites, competitor visits, company accounts.
- What other people say about them - your sales people, customers, local directories, the Internet, newspapers, analysts' reports, market research companies.
- Commissioned market research - if you need more detailed information, you might want to commission specific market research.
When you started your business, you probably devised a marketing plan as part of your overall business plan. This would have defined the market in which you intended to sell and targeted the nature and geographical distribution of your customers.
From that strategy you would have been able to produce a marketing plan to help you meet your objectives. When you're reviewing your business' performance, you'll need to assess your customer base and market positioning as a key part of the process. You should update your marketing plan at least as often as your business plan.
Revisiting your markets
A business review offers you the opportunity to stand back from the activity outlined in your plan and look again at factors such as:
- changes in your market
- new and emerging services
- changes in your customers' needs
- external factors such as the economy, imports and new technology
- changes in competitive activity
Asking your customers for feedback on your business' performance will help to identify where improvements can be made to your products or services, your staffing levels or your business procedures.
At the same time, it is important to remember that while reviews of this kind can be very effective - they can give your business the flexibility it needs to beat off stiff competition at short notice - it is important to think through the implications of any changes. In the new phase of your business you'll need to plan your finances and resourcing carefully at all times.
To remain successful it's vital that you regularly set time aside to ask the following key strategic questions:
- Where is the business now?
- Where is it going?
- How is it going to get there?
Often businesses are able to work out where they want to go but don't draw up a roadmap of how to get there. If this happens, a business will lack the direction needed to turn even carefully laid plans into reality.
At the end of any review process, therefore, it's vital that work plans are prepared to put the new ideas into place and that a timetable is set. Regularly reviewing how the new plan is working and allowing for any teething problems or necessary adjustments is important too. Today's business environment is exceptionally dynamic and it is likely that you will need regular reviews, updates and revisions to your business plan in order to maintain business success.
In addition, a simple planning cycle can greatly enhance your ability to make changes in your business routine if necessary. Good planning helps you anticipate problems and adapt to change more easily.
You may find at this stage in your business' development that you need external skills to help you with the changes you have to make. In this case you might consider:
- employing skilled consultants in areas where you cannot afford to develop inhouse skills
- appointing an experienced non-executive director who can provide a regular, impartial assessment of what you are doing
- using a management consultant to help you identify how you can strengthen or change your management structure to grow the business
There are a number of useful business-analysis models that may help you think more strategically about your business.
The SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) is one of the most popular. This involves looking at the strengths and weaknesses of your business' capabilities, and any opportunities and threats to your business. Once you've identified all of these, you can assess how to capitalise on your strengths, minimise the effects of your weaknesses, make the most of any opportunities and reduce the impact of any threats.
Opportunities and threats in the external environment
It's important to remember that opportunities can also be threats - for example, new markets could be dominated by competitors, undermining your position. Equally, threats can also be opportunities -for example, a competitor growing quickly and opening a new market for your product or service could mean that your market expands too.
A SWOT analysis can provide a clear basis for examining your business performance and prospects. It can be used as part of a regular review process or in preparation for raising finance or bringing in consultants for a review.
Once you have collected information on your organisation's internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats, enter this data into a simple table.
Other tools include:
STEEPLE analysis - a technique for understanding the various external influences on a business – Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, Legal and Ethical.
Scenario planning - a technique that builds various plausible views of possible futures for a business.
Critical success factor analysis - a technique to identify the areas in which a business must succeed in order to achieve its objectives.
The Five Forces - the theory that there are five defined factors that influence the development of markets and businesses - potential entrants, existing competitors, buyers, suppliers and alternative products/services. Using this model you build a strategy to keep ahead of these influences.
As owner-manager of your business or as a member of its management team, you should stand back once in a while and review your business' performance.
The areas you need to look at are:
- Your market performance and direction - how well you are performing through your sales results, which markets to aim for next and how to improve your performance.
- Your products and services - how long your existing products will meet your customers' needs and any plans for renewal.
- Operational matters - your premises, your methods, technologies used, your processes, IT and quality. Are there any internal issues that are holding your business back?
- Financial matters - how your business is financed, levels of retained profit, the sales income generated and your cash flow.
- Your organisation and your people - your structures, people planning issues, training and development.
The five steps above will give you a clear indication of any issues that you need to address quickly in order to maintain your business in its early stages.
If you feel all of the areas above are strong, you can start to plan for the next phase and build a cohesive strategy to develop your business. However, if there are areas that need attention, deal with them now so that you can move forward. There are a variety of growth options for every business - it's important that you settle on the right one for you.
Also, once you've isolated your best route for developing your business, you can boost your chances of success by planning it carefully and monitoring your progress against an updated business plan.
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Reassessing Your Business Model
The Importance of Reevaluating Your Business Plan
Business planning is not something done once and then forgotten. It must be something that is reassessed on a continual basis. Does that mean that a company should be reevaluating their model every quarter? Probably not. A company, however, should do full business reviews on a fairly regular basis, typically at least once or twice a year.
Why is this important?
No matter how closely a company tries to stick to their original plan and goals, business is fluid. It changes with each new hire and each new market change. And the latter is definitely a constant concern. Consumer demands, needs and dislikes never stay the same. So the selling point of a particular product or service may become obsolete in as little as a few months if a better, more capable product or service comes available.
Not responding to market needs is a sure way to cause the business to fail. So how does one go about assessing their business to ensure future growth?
Look at the Past and Plan for the Future
The first item to consider when reassessing the business model is to look at the current business plan. Review the plan with a discerning eye, and determine what still makes sense and what needs to be changed. Is the market still the same? Have the climate or competition drastically changed since the plan was written? Are the resources and revenue forecasts still on track? These will provide a baseline on which a company can build.
Review Financial Forecasts
The business plan might have been created when expected profits were higher than current projections. Look at profits versus costs. Is the company spending more on overhead than it should be? Are there areas that could be cut to make the business run more efficiently without losing productivity? Are there any unnecessary expenses that could be reduced or eliminated? Is there a particular product/service that is a financial drain on the company? Address any issues that aren't benefitting the company.
Many companies think that they're highly efficient. Most actually are not. It's hard to assess one's own efficiency so this may be a good time to bring in a consultant. This person can give an honest assessment of everything from employee productivity levels to manufacturing error rates.
No one should be discouraged by a low efficiency rate – especially if the business is making a good profit. This means that by improving efficiency the business can make even more money.
Look at Resources
If a major part of the plan was adding new products or services, verify that the needed resources are actually available. The current business model may have relied on quickly scaling up product/service offerings, but that may not be feasible if current resources are already stretched and new resources cannot be feasibly brought on.
See if current cash flows can even support the extra commitment needed for additional offerings. If not, then either additional resources need to be sought or the plan changed and new offerings postponed.
Don't Skimp on Marketing
Typically, the first area of the business that's cut is marketing. Yet, marketing brings in new leads, and new leads bring new business. If the current model emphasizes sales over marketing, then it may need to be reevaluated. Sales people compensation structures can be tweaked to allow for higher marketing budgets.
Reviewing what is going right and wrong with company will help determine what's needed to ensure continued growth. That may be more management or sales people or additional products. It may even mean cutting something that seemed like a big-win for the company, but was actually a money loser. Update the business plan with these new insights, and use it as a guide for business growth.
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6 ways to reevaluate your business plan this month.
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A business plan should be a given for companies of all sizes, types, and development stages. A polished, well-defined business plan provides companies with the structure they need to realize their ultimate potential.
Think of a business plan as a road map to getting your organization on the right path. They can help secure buy-in from your team, assist your fundraising efforts, and even connect you with potential partners. While a business plan is a helpful resource to help chart your company’s course, that plan doesn’t necessarily need to be set in stone. You should regularly revisit and reevaluate your business plan.
With December being National Write a Business Plan Month —and the end of the year looming—it’s a great time to check back in on your plan. In my experience, a business plan is only as good as a company’s willingness to modify it when necessary.
A business plan is never finished, and regular status checks allow businesses to see whether their big-picture objectives are still within reach. When reassessing your business blueprint, keep some of these things in mind:
1. Make goals and objectives paramount: Vince Cauvin, founder and CEO of Tabula Rosa
This one might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised. Ideas and endgames are sometimes buried beneath the surface to help companies maintain some kind of competitive edge. But as far as business plans are concerned, the whole strategy is designed to arrive at a destination.
To that end, these goals should be the focal point of your business plan. Each goal should be clearly communicated to ensure everyone is on the same page, a tactic Tabula Rosa CEO and founder Vince Cauvin knows well.
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“If I could impart one tip, it would be not to hesitate in communicating your idea,” Cauvin said. “We got started in 2016, but we were so afraid of someone stealing our idea that we ended up playing it too close to the vest. An idea is only good if you share it and others agree, so get people in the know.”
2. Don’t let customer-centricity falter: Beatriz Winn, co-founder and CEO of MindMatch
When taking stock of your current business plan, MindMatch co-founder and CEO Beatriz Winn argues there’s one element that shouldn’t be taken for granted: the customer.
“Stay close to your customers, listen to understand their challenges, and be willing to adapt your business model as needed,” Winn said. “I highly recommend the book ‘Talking to Humans’ by Giff Constable, which is a great reminder of the importance of identifying the main problems your customers have and how your business can solve them.”
Without customers, there’s no business or need to create any sort of plan. When sifting through your business plan in its current form, don’t let customers get lost in the logistical shuffle. Customers should be a focal point throughout that plan.
3. Make it flexible: Brian Freeman, CEO of Heartbeat
As stated before, business plans aren’t meant to be permanent. The market changes, your customers change, and your capacity to serve both sometimes will change. Construct a business plan that can adapt to the many variables influencing your company.
Heartbeat CEO Brian Freeman notes how adaptability has been a hallmark of the pandemic business landscape. He believes a “go with the flow” mindset is vital for any business plan.
“While the pandemic has decimated sectors like hospitality, it has created unprecedented growth in other sectors, like e-commerce,” Freeman said. “If you can adapt quickly and introduce products that serve the shifting needs of consumers, there are still a lot of opportunities to help your business thrive in this new economy.”
4. Revisit messaging and training: John Sukup, founder and principal consultant of Expected X
Are your brand’s voice, narrative, and objectives still properly hitting their respective preferred notes? Are employees acquiring the skills necessary to stay current and credible with clients? You can ask these questions (and answer them) through an audit of your current business plan.
Training and messaging are paramount to the foundation of any business. The former ensures your team is ready for any task posed by the audience, and the latter informs how services and credibility are communicated. The status of each is something that every business plan must address to ensure all bases are covered.
John Sukup, founder and principal consultant of machine learning and data strategy company Expected X, understands the importance of both.
“The machine learning world develops and changes so rapidly that keeping content fresh and relevant is a constant struggle,” Sukup said. “We’re really trying to refine how we approach prospects and develop relationships—especially since the world requires that to be done virtually these days. Our messaging focuses on how every business today is a technology business regardless of its product or service.”
5. Create an infrastructure that supports nontraditional workplace settings: Brent Morrison, founder and principal of Morrison Co.
As recently as June, 42% of American workers were remote . Although that shift to remote work seemed like it would be temporary at the start of the pandemic, it seems more likely to become the norm for many businesses moving forward.
To that end, you’ll need to examine your ability to foster effective, flexible work policies. When reimagining your business plan, include principles of a flexible workplace that will enable your team to keep pace from anywhere—something Morrison Co. Founder and Principal Brent Morrison plans to do.
“While we expect some evolution in our service offerings, the main driver will be continuing to offer our services remotely when and where that is preferred, without losing our personal attention,” Morrison said. “This year was not our first experience with Skype and Zoom, but those and other electronic system interfaces with our clients are now a fact of life—and a key part of serving clients well.”
Remote and flexible work are realities that aren’t going away soon. Build a business plan that can evolve with the changing landscape.
6. Emphasize forward momentum: Seth Talbott, founder and CEO of Relief Factor
A business plan should keep the majority of your company’s big-picture and day-to-day responsibilities in focus. At the same time, it offers an opportunity to think of new and creative ways to generate buzz for your company.
In Relief Factor CEO Seth Talbott’s opinion, this task boils down to positioning your company as transformative and showing (instead of telling) consumers why that’s the case.
“If you have to convince someone that your product matters, you’re done,” Talbott said. “Your product needs independent momentum that people can’t live without.”
Business plans are blueprints that help companies build foundations that will ultimately put them on a path toward success. Spend this month taking a thorough look at your company’s game plan to make sure it’s viable for 2021 and beyond.
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Revising and Refining Your Plan
- Looking for investors Going beyond friends and family for capital will require refining your plan – particularly the financial projections – to appeal to investors and loan officers who need to assess risks and investment opportunities on a different scale than your relatives might.
- Reacting to market changes Altered client expectations, increased competition, or new regulatory requirements may cause a shift in your company’s direction and profit assumptions.
- Adding new products or services Any significant change or expansion in your business offering requires a new look at your long-term objectives.
- Achieving milestones As you hit and surpass sales and revenue goals, or employment numbers, you’ll need to set new goals, make new projections, and rethink your operations.
- Set a recurring date on your calendar for an annual business plan review.
- Commit to a revision of financial goals at the beginning of each quarter.
- Be objective in comparing your plan’s assumptions to your real world results.
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Despite the ubiquity of business planning education in entrepreneurship, there is little evidence that planning leads to success. Following a discussion oł the theoretical and historical underpinnings, three pedagogical models are compared, including two alternative experiential methods: simulations and the contingency approach. The contingency model, as introduced, utilizes Piageťs concept or equilibration, and is asserted to provide both cognitive tools and flexibility in accommodating unanticipated environmental factors faced by future entrepreneurs.
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Critical Success Factors in Business
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Documenting and updating an organization's critical success factors allows a corporation to respond to outside forces, redirect internal focus and plan for that success, now and in the future. Communicating your organization's goals and strategies to the entire company provides a relevant starting point and focus for all individual, team and corporate decisions and directives.
Internal critical success factors add direction to strategic choices and allow businesses to reach goals and achieve new milestones. Consider internal critical success factors when positioning your company for gains related to marketing efforts, the development of production strategies and dealing with internal barriers and influences. Examples of internal critical success factors include cultivating stronger supplier relationships to enhance market share and meeting quality standards set forth to meet production schedules and demands. When it comes to internal barriers and influences, critical success factors, such as implementing a successful training program or providing advancement opportunities to current employees, can help your company meet or exceed goals.
Various factors influence external critical success factors. They include environmental factors, such as economic health and vitality, the current business climate and technological advancements. Changing economic times may lead to the need to adjust production levels and differentiate your products and services. The critical success factors that may help your corporation achieve adjusted goals and meet new challenges in this arena include attracting new customers with value added services or securing financing for a new product line. Remaining competitive within the current marketplace also requires keeping an eye on the industry and competition. Capitalizing on new developments, technologies and services may serve as a critical success factor when it comes to securing your share of the market.
Consider critical success factors as the vehicle for completing projects, meeting objectives and growing your business. Work on identifying goals, and then initiate a series of critical success factors that can help you achieve them. For instance, the desire to expand internationally would require recruiting and retaining qualified executives. Other critical success factors can include everything from maintaining positive cash flow to ensuring controls are in place to satisfy inventory needs while preventing overstocks and out-of-date situations. Critical success factors change over time and require a constant re-evaluation of motives and measures of success.
- MindTools: Critical Success Factors
Nicole Long is a freelance writer based in Cincinnati, Ohio. With experience in management and customer service, business is a primary focus of her writing. Long also has education and experience in the fields of sports medicine, first aid and coaching. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati.
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- Section 1. Achieving and Maintaining Quality Performance
Chapter 40 Sections
- Section 3. Obtaining and Using Feedback from Participants
- Section 4. Establishing Oversight Mechanisms
- Section 5. Creating Formal Public Reporting Processes
- Main Section
Why is quality important to you?
What are the basic principles of tqm, what is tqm and its relevance to your organization, how do you achieve quality performance, using tqm and other principles, how do you maintain quality performance, the fourteen points.
W. Edwards Deming, a businessman who was influential in American industry during World War II and Japanese industry afterwards developed successful management principles based on quality. These principles encouraged the development of a flexible, dynamic system which involved everyone in a company in the production of goods that exactly met the customer's needs, did precisely what they were supposed to do as effectively as possible every time at the best possible price, and were constantly being improved. His ideas are often referred to as Total Quality Management (TQM), and they have led to a number of similar theories of management and numerous innovations in businesses around the world.
Why is quality important for you?
Exactly what does quality mean in the context of advocacy, community development, health, or human service organizations or initiatives.
A quality program:
- Responds as effectively as possible to the needs it was designed to meet
- Is totally consistent with the mission and philosophy of the organization or group carrying it out
- Is sensitive to the needs and culture of the target population
- Is a model of ethical behavior
But why is quality important for a grass roots organization?
- Quality makes a group more effective at meeting the needs it's concerned with
- Quality adds strength and credibility to your organization or initiative
- Ethically, you're bound to provide the absolute best quality of service or advocacy you can
- Quality is always more economical in the long run
Developing a "culture of quality" can have a number of positive effects on your organization itself
- If staff members and volunteers know that they and the organization are doing the best job possible, it builds their morale and makes them proud of themselves and the organization
- Striving for quality helps to develop organizational and individual competence, thus continually improving the organization
- A quality program continually increases its performance level and improves its service delivery, which gives your organization credibility and ultimately benefits your target audience
(Much of the following discussion is based on material contained in Introduction to Total Quality: Quality Management for Production, Processing, and Services, 2nd Edition. Full source citation can be found under Resources .)
There are some basic assumptions that underlie the idea of TQM. In this section, we'll look at how they might relate to your organization or initiative.
Key elements of total quality
- Customer Focus : Everything an organization does should have the needs of the customer as its starting point. In your work, the "customer" is the target population or the community that will benefit from what you are offering or doing. What are the needs to which you are responding? How can you meet those needs effectively, appropriately, and with respect for the people you're intending to serve?
- Obsession with Quality : Quality has to be something that's considered from the very beginning and built into everything a business or organization does. Planning carefully, monitoring your work, and constant reevaluation and adjustment are all extremely important. You don't ensure quality by catching mistakes before they reach the customer; you ensure it by setting up a system in which you don't make the mistakes to begin with. Everyone in the organization must understand and adopt this point of view if the organization is truly going to have quality performance.
- Continual Improvement of Systems : The work of an organization must be viewed as a process that is never finished. Any program can always be improved, and must be changed as the needs of the community or the target population change.
- Unity of Purpose : In order for quality to be achieved, everyone in an organization or business has to work together toward common goals. That means mutual support throughout the organization , not turf battles, not jealousy, not unnecessary competition. All interactions among people in the organization should be mutually helpful and aimed at achieving the best possible performance of the organization as a whole.
- Teamwork : Working in teams, rather than individually, people make better connections with their colleagues and the organization, and create better results. Teamwork removes performance pressure from the individual and usually coaxes better performance from everyone.
- Employee Involvement : If everyone in an organization is to be committed to quality performance, then all staff members should have the ability to contribute to its achievement. That means that people must have enough control over their own jobs to do them effectively, and that everyone's opinions and ideas must be respected and taken seriously.
- Education and Training: Achieving quality requires constant learning for everyone in an organization, and that learning needs to be part of the organizational culture. Not only should staff members be learning from others in the organization, but they should also be encouraged to take courses, to attend organization-sponsored trainings and workshops, to visit other organizations, etc., to continually learn more about their work, and to get new ideas and perspectives on it.
- Scientific Approach : For grass roots and community-based organizations, this means using the best research available, as well as the experience of others, to construct an effective program or initiative. That approach is much more likely to result in success and high quality than relying only on intuition or on what seems politically correct.
The founders of a Massachusetts community-based adult literacy program, with backgrounds in both developmental psychology and reading theory, based their program on the best available research in both areas. They made sure that the educational and support elements of the program fit together properly, and trained staff with that in mind. Initially, since it was doing something that hadn't been done with adults before, the program was severely criticized by others in the field. The founders were accused of cheating their students by not using a strict, phonics-based approach to reading, and by paying too much attention to other matters - students' concerns, community issues, etc. As time went on, however, and the program's drop-out rate remained extremely low and its students' success rate extremely high, others began experimenting with similar ideas. 15 years later, the program is a model for the state, but it keeps changing, responding both to student needs and feedback and to new research findings.
- Long-Term Commitment: The best work in the world is ultimately useless if it's not maintained. Quality is a long-term concept: you have to keep striving for its improvement, even after you've achieved an acceptable level of performance. "Acceptable" is never good enough. In fact, you're never really at an endpoint, because the level you're trying to reach is "the best that can possibly be."
The Deming Cycle
The assumptions above underlie the "Deming Cycle," which is really a process for creating and selling a quality product. We'll revisit the Deming Cycle later to examine how it can be used in an advocacy, community development, health, or human service context.
- Plan - conduct consumer research and use it for planning the product
- Do - produce the product
- Check - check the product to make sure it was produced in accordance with the plan
- Act - market the product
- Analyze - analyze how the product is received in the marketplace in terms of quality, cost, and other data
It is important to note that the principles of TQM were designed for the business sector, so while some aspects are relevant to organizations concerned with advocacy, community development, health, and human services, other aspects may be contrary to the goals of those organizations.
Some elements of TQM that would work toward quality in any environment include:
- The need for careful planning, monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment
- Teamwork and the empowerment of all in the organization
- Constant education and training for all staff
- Attention to the needs of the target population and to the results for them
- Identifying and changing what doesn't work well
- Encouraging and rewarding, rather than discouraging, new ideas
- Developing an organization-wide culture of quality
- Keeping at it over the long term
Some elements which may not work toward quality for your organization are those that assume that the goal is the success of a business, such as:
- The emphasis on products and production, which may take the focus off the human needs and consequences your organization is concerned with
- The assumption of a hierarchical structure where those in authority "let " others have a say in the achievement of quality, and where leadership always comes from the top, which may conflict with the way your organization operates
- The definition of everyone as either a supplier or a consumer/customer, which may provide the wrong metaphors for grass roots work where everyone is, on some level, a participant
Using the Deming Cycle while keeping some of the basic TQM principles in mind can help you design, deliver, refine, and maintain an effective program or initiative.
Conduct consumer research and use it for planning the product. The "product" here is the actual program you intend to conduct, and the "consumer research" is an examination of actual needs of the target population, the community, and others who will be affected.
Thus, the "Plan" part of the cycle might include the following:
- Conducting a needs assessment , involving everyone concerned
- Deciding what the desirable outcomes are, from the perspectives of the target population, the organization, and the larger community
- Determining ways to reach those outcomes that are feasible, consistent with the guiding principles of the organization, inclusive (respectful of all and beneficial to as many people and groups as possible), and consistent with the needs and culture of the target population
- Developing indicators to show when you have reached either outcomes themselves or significant points on the way to reaching those outcomes
- Inviting all stakeholders to participate in the development of the plan
Produce the product. The "production" part of the process is the actual design of the program, outreach effort, treatment strategy, etc. that will meet the need determined in the "Plan" part of the cycle. Much of the actual work here depends not only on TQM principles (teamwork, employee involvement, scientific approach, obsession with quality, and customer focus), but also on common sense and organizing principles.
The following are important elements of designing an effective program:
- Finding out what has already been tried in the community, and how well it worked
- Discovering whether there's any residual bad feeling attached to certain methods or approaches -- or people -- which may resurface if they're proposed again
- Using as examples other communities that have successfully mounted similar programs, while remaining aware that not everything that works in one place will work in another
- Consulting the research to see what has worked in this situation
- Involving all stakeholders in the development of the program or initiative, especially the people who will do the actual work
- Taking care of the logistics: a place to operate, equipment and supplies, the proper staff and/or volunteers on board, etc.
Check the product to make sure it was produced in accordance with the plan. Compare the details and overall shape of the program or initiative to the plan. Does it align with the needs assessment? Does it look like it will address the desired outcomes in desired ways? Is it inclusive? Was everyone involved in its development? Is it feasible? Is it ready to go?
Market the product. "Marketing the product" here means actually running the program or initiative that you've planned.
If it's going to work well, there are some non-TQM standards that need to be applied:
- Everyone involved should understand the process that led up to this program, as well as the philosophy, concept, and workings of it
- Everyone involved should be committed to making every effort to bring about success. A program or initiative should never fail because people don't follow through or do their jobs. (This doesn't mean that you shouldn't expect mistakes; it means, rather, that mistakes shouldn't happen just because people weren't trying, or because they simply didn't bother to do something they knew they had to do.)
- All the planning in the world is useless if everyone involved doesn't go into the experience expecting to do their best, and if there aren't good people implementing the functions of the organization
Analyze how the product is received in terms of quality, cost, and other data. Analysis in this context - looking at what you're doing, evaluating it, and trying to improve it - needs to be conducted on the basis of the original plan, with discussions among participants, staff, and others.
- Does the program or initiative actually address the identified needs? Are these needs the same as when the original assessment was conducted?
- Does the program or initiative reach, or help participants reach, the desired outcomes? Were those outcomes the right ones to aim for, or do they need to be changed? (Looking at the indicators you've developed should help you answer both these questions.)
- Is the plan in fact feasible? Can the program or initiative be run with the time, resources, and personnel available? Is it accessible to participants? Are staff and volunteers able to do their jobs without having to work to exhaustion, or beyond reasonable expectations? Is the program or initiative accepted by the community and other organizations?
- Is the program or initiative consistent with the vision, mission, philosophy and guiding principles of the organization (and are those still the same as when the plan was formulated)? Does what actually goes on in the program or initiative -- working conditions, empowerment, relations among staff, participants, volunteers, and the community -- mirror its desired effect on the community and society?
- Is the program or initiative inclusive and respectful of the target population and the community?
- Is the program or initiative ethical? Are you skirting your own principles in any way? Are you ignoring basic principles of fairness, honesty, civility, democracy, or responsibility for your actions?
Although the two are usually congruent, ethical is not always exactly the same as legal. The exercise of civil disobedience may be profoundly ethical, while being, at the same time, inarguably illegal. The civil rights marches and actions led by Martin Luther King and others during the 1950's and 60's often fell into this category.
Restart the cycle
Your analysis should naturally lead into a new planning sessions, and where necessary, lead to rethinking and reworking the program or initiative, or even the task of the organization itself.
While the maintenance of quality is, to some extent, built into the Deming Cycle, it requires some particular commitments and action.
Institutionalization of dynamism
An organization needs to be dynamic , always moving and always seeking continued improvement, and to institutionalize its dynamic character.
- An assumption of dynamism needs to be part of the organizational culture, with everyone understanding and buying into it.
- Encouraging and providing support -- to staff, volunteers, and participants -- for learning.
Organizational support for education includes providing, or coordinating with another organization's provision of, professional development or university courses, training, certification, etc., that help staff and volunteers to build their skills. If financial resources are not available, other means of institutional support -- release time or leave time, special recognition, a library for the organization, study circles or reading groups, etc. -- need to be considered. Everyone in the organization, including administrators and Board members, should be encouraged to take advantage of learning opportunities and to model learning behavior.
- Listening to and carefully evaluating ideas from everyone.
- Encouraging openness to change and experimentation with new ideas and strategies
Administrators and Board members need to model such openness by being willing to reexamine and change procedures, policies, etc. when needed. Staff and volunteers should be given room to try out even things that others may be skeptical about, as long as they can justify the attempt ("It worked elsewhere" and "I learned about it in a course" are both reasonable justifications.). If such an attempt is honestly carried out, it should be seen as a positive even if it fails: it provided new information, and is another building block in the construction of a quality program.
- Never being complacent and always being open to the idea that the work could be done differently -- and better.
- Incorporating constant reevaluation, including feedback and ideas from the target population.
- Always being aware of the original mission, but not being afraid of change. While the mission itself may change as the community and circumstances do, it should nonetheless remain consistent with the principles and philosophy upon which the organization was founded.
Long-range strategic planning
To maintain quality, an organization needs to continually look at itself over and for the long term.
It needs to ask some questions about its role and its future:
- Is it meeting an ongoing need effectively? If not, what does it need to do to become more effective?
- Have community needs changed? Are they likely to? If so, how can the organization regroup to meet new needs?
- Are there more or different things it should be doing? Does it need to expand its present activities to meet current or projected community needs?
- Does it need more resources, or will it in the future? What are some likely sources?
- Is its structure appropriate to what it's doing, and consistent with its mission and guiding principles? (An organization dedicated to empowerment, for instance, may not be consistent if its internal structure is hierarchical and authoritarian.)
- Are its goals, vision, and philosophy still relevant to the realities of the community and in keeping with its organizational mission and guiding principles?
One way to explore these questions is through the use of another device partially borrowed from TQM: SWOT analysis . SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Each of the questions above can be examined in the light of SWOT analysis. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your organization in regard to each question? What opportunities exist for the organization in each area of its functioning? And what threats or challenges will the organization have to overcome if it is to continue to be successful, and to maintain quality performance?
Strengths and weaknesses : Strengths and weaknesses may be trends, rather than specifics. A level of service that is currently appropriate, for example, is not a strength if it is more or less than will be needed in a year. A new program that's not ready to implement yet is not a weakness if it's unready because the developers are taking the time necessary to make it effective.
By the same token, strengths and weaknesses don't necessarily lie only in the success of programs or the skills of staff members, but in such areas as relationships, contacts, and reputation. An organization running a great program may still be have serious weaknesses because it lacks some of these other features, no matter how well it carries out its day-to-day activities.
Opportunities: Opportunities can take many forms.
- An organization may be able to meet other needs with its current structure. For instance, an organization that publicizes and provides prenatal care to pregnant teens could be in an excellent position to also publicize and provide vaccinations, nutrition information, and help with parenting skills after the babies are born.
- It may be possible to expand into other areas of service, or into a larger arena (another town, another county, national instead of just one state).
- Increased funding may be available from new sources, or because of changed circumstances. A new census, for example, can result in an increase in federal funds to a region, or an economic downturn may bring a demand -- and increased funding -- for adult education or retraining.
- Collaboration with other groups , leading to increased resources, may become a prospect.
- Invitations or awards offered to your organization or staff members or good press may lead to your organization being viewed as more "legitimate."
Taking advantage of any opportunity can have both positive and negative consequences for your organization, so it's important to analyze the situation carefully before committing yourself.
Threats (Challenges): Some of the challenges that go along with any opportunity can be truly daunting if they're not thought through carefully. Many of the opportunities above require some sort of organizational restructuring or growth, processes that are always difficult, and require a lot of planning. Some even represent rethinking the purpose of the organization, which may become a different organization in the process. In becoming larger or more accepted, for instance, an organization may forget its roots or its guiding principles, and lose much of its effectiveness.
Other threats may come unaccompanied by opportunity. Your organization may experience difficulty finding -- and keeping -- ongoing funding and other resources, including competent staff; sustaining continued effort in all areas of functioning (advertising, recruitment, public relations, programming, evaluation, etc.); dealing with controversy; and addressing antagonism from individuals, other groups, or the community.
Applying SWOT analysis to all the areas your organization has to deal with makes it easier both to anticipate and prepare for the negative, and to remember to identify and build on the positive.
Other facets of the planning process
Some specific areas that long-range strategic planning needs to address at regular intervals:
- Reexamining the organization's vision, guiding principles, and mission statement . Are they still relevant to what the organization does, and are they still what the organization believes? Do they need to be restated or redefined?
- Reexamining the goals of the organization . Are they still relevant to the needs they were originally meant to address? Are they consistent with the vision and mission statement?
- Reexamining the current strategies of the organization for meeting those goals . Are current methods effective? Are they consistent with the organization's vision, mission statement, and guiding principles? Are they feasible? Do they play well in the community? Are they inclusive and respectful? Are they ethical?
Keeping at it
The single most important thing to understand about maintaining quality performance -- or maintaining an organization, for that matter -- is that you can never stop working at it. No effort at maintaining quality will work any longer than it is applied. No matter how institutionalized dynamism becomes, no matter how good your planning process is, they take constant care.
The Fourteen Points Deming used the key elements listed above in "Basic principles of TQM" to define the "Fourteen Points," fourteen things that he felt businesses needed to do in order to achieve quality performance. Create constancy of purpose toward the improvement of products and services in order to become competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs. Adopt the new philosophy. Management must learn that it is a new economic age and awaken to the challenge, learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change. Stop depending on inspection to achieve quality. Build in quality from the start. Stop awarding contracts on the basis of low bids. Continuously improve the system of production and services to enhance quality and productivity, and thus constantly to reduce costs. Institute training on the job. Institute leadership. The purpose of leadership should be to help people and technology work better. Drive out fear so that everyone may work effectively. Break down barriers between departments so that people can work as a team. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force. They create adversarial relationships. Eliminate quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership. Remove barriers that rob employees of their pride of workmanship. Institute a vigorous program of education and self improvement. Make the transformation everyone's job and put everyone to work on it.
Achieving and maintaining quality performance is important to the target population, to funders, and to the community.
Using some TQM principles and, specifically, the Deming Cycle ( Plan, Do, Check, Act, Analyze ) can be helpful in getting to a high level of quality and continuing to improve.
In general, achieving and maintaining quality is a result of:
- Careful planning
- Program or initiative development that adheres to that planning
- Implementation that takes quality into account
- Constant reevaluation of implementation and of the organization
- An assumption of the dynamic character of the organization, and a willingness to change continually in striving for a better way to accomplish goals
- Keeping at it indefinitely
If you can carry out and institutionalize these steps, especially the last, success is in your grasp.
ASQ: The Global Voice of Quality is a global community of people passionate about quality, who use the tools and their ideas and expertise to make our world work better.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) publishes International Standards which ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade. ISO 9000 WWW Pages , provided by Simply Quality , lists websites that provide information on ISO 9000. The ISO 9000 family of standards is related to quality management systems and designed to help organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product. ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems.
Little-Bitty Quality Steps is an article on small steps to quality on the website of Bacal & Associates, management and training consultants to the public sector in Canada.
Publich Health Quality Improvement Exchange (PHQIX) allows people to submit short explanations of their initiatives and observations/lessons-learned.
Total Quality Management provides a dictionary of TQM terms.
Deming, E. Out of the Crisis . (1986). Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study.
Deming, E. Quality, Productivity, and Competitive Position . (1982). Cambridge, MA: M.I.T., Center for Advanced Engineering Study.
Goetsch, D., & Davis, S. Introduction to Total Quality: Quality Management for Production, Processing, and Services , 2nd Edition. Merrill, an imprint of MacMillan Publishing Co.
Hunt, D. (1992). Quality in America: How to Implement a Competitive Quality Program . Homewood, IL: Business One Irwin.
Latzko, W., & David, M. Four Days with Dr. Deming: A Strategy for Modern Methods of Management . (1995). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.
Sashkin, M., & Kenneth, J. (1993). Putting Total Quality Management to Work . San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
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