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Convention on Quality Improvement

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Convention provided opportunity to participants to exchange expertise

By Syed M. Aslam
Oct 11 - 17, 1999

A two-day International Convention on Quality Improvement was held on October 5-6 in Karachi. The Convention was organized by the Pakistan Institute of Quality Control (PIQC) and co-sponsored by Pakistan 2010 Programme, Government of Pakistan; the National Productivity Organization— PITAC; the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) Japan; the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM); the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and the Export Promotion Bureau, Government of Pakistan.

The theme of this year’s Convention, which is being organized every year since 1995, was ‘Best in Quality Practices’. the Convention highlighted various quality management methodologies by a number of renowned companies that have excelled at national as well as international levels.

A number of local and foreign speakers presented their papers at the Convention to share experiences and foster a mutually beneficial learning environment aimed at improving quality practices. Delegates and speakers from Japan, Bangladesh, Iran, Sri Lanka, Singapore and the US attended the Convention.

The head of PIQC, Kamran Moosa, highlighting the quality culture in Pakistani organizations based on basic research findings said that the competition and rising quality and productivity standards are forcing organizations to institutionalize quality and productivity management. This stress on ‘Performance Improvement Management’ can only be achieved if management and technical skills, systems, and technology are regularly up-graded. This process of improving the performance of organizations is called ‘Total Quality Management (TQM)’ and the implementation state of this process is generally known as ‘Quality Culture’.

It is difficult to classify the quality culture of companies in terms of their practice levels in quality management because even poor companies have a few high level characteristics and vice versa. However, organizations can be divided into the following quality categories:

Level 0, companies which have no concern for their customers and do not incorporate management systems to control the quality of their products or services. Most government organizations in underdeveloped countries fall in this category and exist solely due to the monopoly which they enjoy.

Level I organizations are inspection-oriented only and defect is considered to be a defect only if it is detected. Most manufacturing companies in Pakistan, and other developing countries, under this category.

Level II organizations are the ones which try to control many processes that affect the quality of the products. The present popularity of ISO 9000 concept in Pakistan is basically an up-gradation of companies from Level I to Level II.

The companies which fall under the Level III category are the ones which realize that process improvements are directly proportional to the competence, commitment, and team-work of employees at all levels. For them the mere conforming to the defined specifications is not enough to compete. ISO 9000 certification becomes insufficient for these companies which mobilize company-wide campaigns for developing quality management at all levels up to workers. Few companies fall under this category in Pakistan.

Level IV companies are the global champions and dominate markets wherever they chose to market their products or services. These companies have mature quality culture, depicts long-term survival and are technologically advanced in introducing new products. In addition to Level III these companies also set trends and R&D. These companies show their superiority not only in management but also in technological skills and resources. They provide benchmark to others. Hardly any company in Pakistan falls under this category.

In his paper, ‘Avoiding pitfalls in implementing ISO 9000’, the Executive Director of SGS Iran, Dr Mir Mohammad Rouzbeh said, "There are indications that the year 2000 edition of the ISO 9000 standards will have a different grouping and reference than the ones in use today." In addition, there would probably be no more than 20 clauses as the requirements are going to be regrouped in four provisional categories— executive management, process management, measurement and evaluation and improvement.

He stressed the need to select the correct ISO 9000 model which may differ from organization to organization. While most companies are better off to acquire ISO 9002 for others which lack routine designing and development activities, 9001 would be a better choice. He also cautioned against the unfocussed training as some organizations tend to interpret the training requirement to require a training unit within the organization.

Twenty-one papers were read at the Convention each of which dealt with a specific aspect of quality improvement necessary for the enhancement of quality culture in Pakistan to help local entrepreneurs meet the changing demands of the consumers the world over. The speakers represented organizations engaged in diversified production in companies of various sizes and the Convention provided them a forum to share their experiences for a mutually beneficial learning environment.