Continuous improvement is a requirement of any company which has introduced a Total Quality Management (TQM) system but to set these goals it is necessary to assess present levels of performance. The Institute of Quality Assurance HK (IQA) is co-organiser of a seminar on quality assessment on Monday to help companies resolve this problem. 'A lot of people implement TQM but they don't know whether it is effective,' said Leslie Lee, branch secretary of the Hong Kong branch of the IQA. 'We have asked two companies to explain what they measure, how they set about it and how they obtain feedback,' he said. The companies are Motorola, a winner of the US Malcolm Baldrige Award, and Integrated Solutions, a winner of the Hong Kong Management Association Award. Another IQA-organised seminar will be about fixed levels of adoption for TQM. It will feature Professor Bowie Dale from the quality management department of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. Professor Dale has determined six categories among companies that are concerned with TQM - uncommitted, drifters, tool pushers, improvers, award winners and world class. 'Because he has been trying to promote TQM for a number of years and has contacted a lot of companies and spoken to their managers, he believes most of them, other than multinationals, are in the first three categories,' Mr Lee said. The uncommitted were companies which were implementing ISO 9000 or TQM but without the commitment of top management. Drifters wanted to improve quality but did not know how. Meanwhile, tool pushers were companies that wanted quality using re-engineering or benchmarking because it was the latest fad. 'Companies should consider where they are in terms of quality and why they are trying to improve,' Mr Lee said. 'A good consultant will match a product to a company's need but a consultant can only act as a guide - the company must decide what it wants from the consultant.'