Total Quality Management Theory
Several USA companies, for example, Motorola, Xerox, and Texas Instruments have been using system wide programs, which directly address the concerns of this management approach. They aim to meet the needs of the customer by providing a quality-based service of efficiency and effectiveness. Total Quality Management programs have also met customer needs by giving them greater responsibility.
Total Quality Management is a pragmatic approach which involves everyone within the organisation. It is an approached- based on striving for improvement and the active involvement and commitment of staff within the organisation. Its decision making is based on facts rather than opinion and encompasses both quality systems and quality culture. It also usually works towards standardised improvement of quality such as ISO9000, or the Malcolm Baldridge Award, which identifies these key areas.
TQM can tell the analyst and developer what the ultimate aims and objectives are: that of quality and with the main focus on the customer. This will give the analyst and developer an insight into the nature of problems that the organisation may have. This theory also implies that analysts and developers must not lose sight of the people within the organisation itself.
For example, the use of TQM in the public sector, and the consideration of the political boundaries that can affect system efficiency, and the measuring of performance. The analyst has to formulate the problem by identifying boundaries, conflicts, elements and constraints, e.g. law, government administrative guidelines, etc.
Problem areas within this approach often accumulate in customer complaints, backlogs of work and errors in information, or products being passed through the system, and overall performance levels. It is important how analysts and developers use information in problem solving. They need to see that users know the reasons behind why they are doing things in order to perform effectively. In TQM, the relevance is that analysts and developers will want to know if the users have the tools and resources to provide a good quality service and product.
Analysts and developers can study the ways in which information is used. This can be done by looking at reports and hard copy files. They can talk to users about what information requirements would help them improve their performance. This would be beneficial for TQM as quality derives from all the activities carried out within the organisation. Analysts will also use procedure analysis to see if information is being used effectively. They will use data flow diagrams and structure charts.
Input analysis always follows output analysis. Input analysis involves reviewing and cataloguing the information that the organisation collects, stores, and uses.
TQM often involves the development of a set of standardised procedures. Analysts and developers will want to know how people make use of the information they receive. They need to talk to and observe the tasks performed by end-users (those non-computer specialists that use computers as part of their day-to-day work).
The system needs to be developed to make retrieval of information quick and efficient and not a source of frustration for users. This in turn will lead to a quicker more efficient service for the customer. Data Image Processing Systems have been developed for use in Total Quality Management organisations and contribute, to not only the quality of the service, but the speed and efficiency of tasks being performed within it.
This system speeds up processes by eliminating needless duplication, and by making it possible to carry out a range of different tasks at the same time. Performance can easily be monitored and statistics readily produced. Total Quality Management procedures and work instructions can be built into the system so as to be accessible to all users, as can document templates to ensure standardisation of letters reliant on a quality-based format.
It is not enough for analysts and developers to gather information about the organisation. They need to gather the right sort of information in order to ensure the quality of the information system to be installed. They also have to fully understand a system in order to evaluate it and they should recognise the relevance of a Systems Thinking Approach to problem solving. The analyst and developer may not only need to consider how the users interact with the system, but how they interact with each other.
Thus, it can be concluded that management theory is indeed relevant to the work of a Systems analyst and a developer. Management theory highlights the objectives and goals within the organisation, and the nature of the problems that may occur within the system.
There are many techniques and methods involved in analysis and development. The analyst and developer need to be able to use their judgement and knowledge to gain a balance of these in their approach to problem solving. Management approaches may direct the analyst and developer to the source of the problem, but not necessarily to its solution. Systems need to constantly evolve in order to adapt to the growing needs and general expansion of the business. This can include the installation of virtual desktops for homeworking and sharing resources though cloud computing.
No one source of data is reliable whether it is obtained by qualitative or quantitative methods. Soft systems thinking alone is not enough to reach a solution to a problem. Critical path analyst acknowledges that there are hard facts within the system that cannot be ignored. The Workflow Systems Analyst Development Approach called for a change in the way information systems management and personnel, view systems and technology. “The organizational transformation requires transformation of management philosophy and methodology.” (Zhao and Steier, 1993).
The approach looks at the level of analysis for the information system being evaluated. The relevance of the information/data collected for the problem-solution process management bears a direct relationship to managerial approaches within an organisation. Management theories assist in the prevention of the analyst and developers being misled by individual conflicts of interest and opinions. It also prevents them making assumptions on their own about the aims and objectives of the organisation.