Award reveals mark of quality

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 March, 1997, 12:00am

Companies, whether they are large or small, can benefit from entering the Hong Kong Management Association Quality Award.

The annual award, launched in 1991, promotes Total Quality Management (TQM), an essential, systematic, management tool that allows organisations to strengthen their competitive advantage.

TQM has been defined as 'continuously satisfying customers' requirements at a low cost by having everyone in the organisation totally committed to quality'.

Po Chung, deputy chairman of the HKMA and chairman of the HKMA Quality Award Organising Committee, likened the award to an Oscar.

'It recognises those who devote time and resources to create the right conditions for their companies to do better,' he said.

'The award tells the customers about these achievements.' Winners under the award will be announced at a presentation ceremony on May 30.

Mr Chung said companies that resisted TQM would find that, over time, they were likely to become relatively less competitive.

'[Meanwhile], those companies which can successfully harness the enthusiasm and abilities of their workforce will, in the long run, be more successful . . . not only in evaluation, not only in coming up with valuable ideas, but also in the implementation and execution of operations of a business,' he said.

Since TQM was first implemented in Japan in the 1950s, its importance has grown.

'TQM has also moved into industries which provide services. In fact, TQM in Hong Kong, a regional and global service centre, has become increasingly important, although it is more difficult to achieve and it is more intangible,' he said.

'Customer reaction and satisfaction are vital yardsticks - and so is staff satisfaction. And that leads you to check, step by step, on whether you have achieved satisfaction, on a daily basis.

'With Hong Kong companies facing increasing competition, both locally and globally, it is important that high standards of quality are maintained.' TQM aimed to strengthen competitive advantage, he said.

In order for TQM to be a success, people throughout the company must be aware of its importance. People doing a certain job should be encouraged to set themselves goals and to achieve them.

'If you have no goals, or if the goal posts are always shifting, people lose heart,' Mr Chung said.

It was sometimes said that the smallness of companies in Hong Kong, which lacked the resources to invest in specialist advice, would hinder the application of TQM.

'But being small can actually be an advantage,' Mr Chung said.

'If the boss is aware of the importance of TQM, then the smallness of the company allows him, through direct contact with all his employees, to communicate that importance powerfully. He himself is probably the person who ensures quality in the company. That direct interest and ability to communicate can get lost in larger companies.

'Whatever the size of the company, it has always been the case that the leader of the company has to see quality management as essential if the company is going to be a successful one. Companies which are not led in that way, which do not have a quality culture, get clobbered by their competitors.' The award is sponsored by American Express International, Bank of China (Hong Kong), Hong Kong Jockey Club, the KCRC, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Ogilvy & Mather, Xerox (Hong Kong), South China Morning Post Publishers and Asia Television.