This document clearly explains about the basic definitions of quality circles and importance of the quality circles in a software company / IT industry and also the history of quality circles from when it is started in Japan. It also explains about how quality circles is involved in the in the software project/company with an real life article about the software company called NEC America corporate where quality circles is used in problem solving of company and how it is used and methodology of the quality circles followed by the company which made them successful in the organization and about quality & quality circles in the IT industry
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Among all of the above quality circles plays a vital role because in this the workers are divided in teams were they discuss about the problems faced by the company regarding the productivity and they use to solve the problems regarding the quality and productivity. In past quality management and the quality testing and quality control has been used by manufacturing companies like general electric, Cincinnati Milacron, ford motor company, Dover corporation, core brewing company established quality circle programs in their organizations and began using the similar team problem solving approaches. Later service organizations such as hospitals, schools, software companies began establishing the quality circles in their organizations.
History of quality circles:
Quality circles were one of the first types of teams to focus specifically on quality. The concept of quality circles was developed by “Kaoru Ishikawa of the University of Tokyo”, and quality circles exploded in Japan. The union of Japanese scientists and engineers estimated that registration in quality circles grew from 400 members in 1962 to 200000 members in 1968 to more than 700000 members in 1978. Today millions of workers are involved in the quality circles in their organizations.
“Dr. W. Edwards Deming developed the concept of PDCA i.e., Plan, Do, Check, act in the quality circles”.
Fig-1: “Out of the Crisis’, W Edwards Deming, MIT 1989”
The main concept of the quality circles is based upon the recognition of the value of the workers as a human being, as someone who willing to activise on his job, his wisdom, intelligence, experience, attitude and feelings. It is based on the upon the human resource management considered as one of the key factors in improving of product quality and productivity. Quality circle concept has three major attributes:
Quality circle is a form of participation management
Quality circle is a human resource development technique
Quality circle is a problem solving technique
Benefits and limitation of quality circles:
The major benefits of quality circles are like improvement in the productivity, greater upward flow of information, improvements in workers attitude, job enrichment, and greater team work. These are some of the benefits to the organizations.
When there are lots of benefits of quality circles there are some limitations to that, they are like lack of management commitment and support, resistance by middle management, resentments by non participants, in adequate training.
Quality circles commitment in the IT industry/software companies:
Now in the present day almost all IT industry has established quality in their particular companies, were each and every company is associated with the quality standards like ISO 9000:2000, ISO/IEC 9126 software engineering certification is generally used for the software certifications on the quality standards. “The main objective of the standard is to address the well known human biases that can affect the delivery and perception of software development project”. Before the introduction of quality standards there were many crisis in the IT industry is that the project is not delivered in time and the project has taken larger time and the projects have many defects in them. To solve the problems the companies have motivated the quality circles programs in their organizations and they have introduced some other techniques like software testing, quality awareness, goal setting, zero defect programs, management training, error cause removal, quality councils etc, were introduced in the IT companies to solve the problems of the concerned project and deliver it to the customer in a given date by using this quality techniques and quality circles, then there was a new system of quality testing which made the quality circle teams to solve the problems it is the software inspection called “The Fagan inspection methodology which was developed by “Michael Fagan” of IBM, it has a seven steps process to identify and remove errors in work products and to identify and remove systemic defects in the processes which leads to defects in the work products.”
Example of quality circle commitment in IT project success:
To start with, this article is about a multinational IT based company called “NEC CORPARATION OF AMERICA”. In this company they have used the quality circles in solving their problem in 1991. This article clearly explains about the success of quality circles in NEC AMERICA and is qualified to the efforts of many organizations within NEC and in managing the quality by software quality control in an organization. The method used in the quality circles is explained in this article. Finally at the end it is proved that all the employees in the company has accepted that the quality circle is very much useful in the problem solving and solving “development related problems and implementing process improvements.”
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In a nut shell is the brief of the company, “NEC Corporation of America is a leading provider of innovative IT, network and communications products and solutions. Empowered by innovation, its solutions, products and services are backed by the leadership and expertise of one of the most successful global companies of more than 100 years. NEC Corporation of America delivers one of the industry’s broadest portfolios of technology solutions and professional services to carrier and both SMB and large enterprise clients across multiple vertical industries. Today NEC Corporation is a Global Fortune 500 company with more than 154,000 employees worldwide and $41 billion in revenues. NEC is a leader in technology solutions to meet the needs and demand for broadband network, e-commerce and enterprise business solutions. NEC is a provider of core technologies and services for the connected world, ranging from advanced semiconductors and device solutions, to high-speed optical communications, systems integration, enterprise-class hardware and e-commerce software applications.”
In NEC America corporate, the company has quality circles in their organization based in the past when they introduced it in their Japan branch. They had the quality circles in the company in an informal way which did not help the organization in improving the defects and quality and the cost of the error checking in the company. So the company decided to raise the higher degree involvement in the company to succeed their project. So we will see how the company has changed its quality circles to get success in their projects.
To manage a new quality circle the company has introduced the software quality control in the organization for the effective improvement in managing the present quality in the company. Quality circle management was responsible for the software quality control in organization. The major motivation used for this circle is process improvement for improving the ‘internal customer- supplier relationship’. This improvement was realized when they implemented the quality circles. The management team asses the new process with a committee called “Group activity management committee”, were they will be interacting with the quality circles and software quality control team.
The main purpose of quality circles at the company was to identify and solve the problems in a small group. The phenomenal goals of the quality circles are the ‘eradication of problems that exist in the software design community which leads to several benefits for the company like improving the morale, and improving communication between the groups’ and proper solutions to the problems which was troubling the designers in the company. So, these are the major benefits for NECAM in focusing much on the quality circles.
Then the software quality control team provides necessary guidelines and training for the quality circles and their idea of planning was to select an issue or problem and solve it which would be a permanent solution like ‘increase productivity, improve quality, and remove recurring errors’.
After the above the software quality control team formed new quality circles according to the design community and requested all the members of the circles needed a full participation and they have allotted a leader and the alternate to the leader to each circles. When there are meetings to be held, the quality control team gives training for the leaders and the alternatives to understand the problems so that they can get it achieved by the quality circles members, then after the training the problems have been properly discussed the with the members and later the solutions have been studied by the circles and the best one will chosen by the management. The next is approving the quality circle issues and resolving the problems, giving ideas for improving the software related things.
Finally it is proved that the quality circles plays a vital role in the resolving development related problems and process improvements in NEC America corporation. In this context the company has focused mainly on the quality circles which motivated the employees in their organization so that the quality circles programme which helped them to solve the problems of the company. So, this is the success factors of enhancing the commitment of an IT project success using the quality circles.
The success of any type of quality is dependent on several factors, but the most critical influences are the strong management and support which we saw in the above example of NEC America. Like all business processes the quality circles have to be managed and the prerequisite should include a document endorsed by the management setting out the purpose, policy and objectives of the quality circles. The basic philosophy of the quality programme must be known to everyone before the programme is started. Employees and managers of all the levels must be aware of their roles they play whether they are participants, facilitators, agents for change. Employees willing to participate must generate recommendations to improve working lives for all the members of the organization. Individual desires and preferences should not be ignored but settled within the context of organizational objectives to give recognition for quality circles achievement. Management has to accept the principles of participatory management and be receptive to the recommendations made by the quality circles.
In the present days people have high expectations regarding quality and worth of the products and expect very high standards from all the organizations. These organizations not only include the manufacturing companies but also the service organizations and the IT industry. Even there are many quality software products in markets developed by the companies, there are tasks of producing high quality software products consistently on time is ‘non-trivial’. The projects have been delivered late due to the quality problems. These types of errors may cause minor irritation to the customer. So there will be a loss of reputation to the companies, the late delivery of the project may leads to the extra cost and affects the revenue, profitability, and which may affect the new projects which the company has owned. So, due to this none of the companies come out of the projects successfully. Now the companies are mainly focusing on the quality and outcome of the project using the quality circles and the accepting the opinions of the members and applying those opinions to the projects leads to the success. Now the IT companies are not only using the quality circles and other methods to solve the problems but they are using tool called software testing which is used by the experts to remove the errors in the project so that the work is done so quickly and firmly but these costs more when compared to the old methods used by the companies. They are even outsourcing some types of projects which the outsourcing companies solve the problems or issues in the project.
So from my point view quality circle or involvement of employees in software project is very important because when employees meet each other and discuss about the problem or issues in the project so there will be a good results and some outcomes which may be required for solving the current problem in the company. This would be possible only if the companies provide commitment and support to these quality circles and other methods of problem solving. The example of the company in the article clearly states that formation of quality circles and methodology of quality circles used in this company shows the improvement and implementation made in their company.
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