The level of risk and uncertainties in operation of contemporary business requires that managers of businesses come up with unique decision-making that will bring about strategies, which their rivals would find difficult to imitate. This will position them in a vintage point of curving a niche over their competitors. Information technology is a useful tool that enhances the modeling process for business organization; which ensure effective decision making process.
Business intelligence tool in recent times have greatly assisted business organizations in fashioning out effective strategies that would position their organizations i9n meeting their objectives and goals by adequately utilizing its resources to cope with the environment they operate in. an organization need to carry out a vibrant, pragmatic and effective strategy for it to adequately compete in an industry with high dynamic level of ways of conducting business, and high level of uncertainties and risks. Thus, to have that strategy that would give the organization a niche over its rivals, business intelligence tools are used by reorganization in supporting their strategic planning and strategic management.
According to Vriens (2004), Due to the increasing complexity and dynamics of the environment the need to produce relevant actionable intelligence is increasing as well. Because, of, for instance, increased global competition, (speed and impact of) political changes, and rapid technological developments. With the rapid changes and stiff competition the selection of the right business intelligent tool would go along way in bringing about effective strategic management which result in total quality management.
CONCEPTUALIZATION OF TERMS
Quality: According to Dale (2003: 4), the term quality has no universally accepted definition. But it is usually associated with distinguishing one organization product, service, event, person, result, action or communication from another. Internationally definition of quality is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements. It is also defined as that which gives complete consumers satisfaction. (Bert Dearborn Ltd, cited in Dale 2003)
USING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AS BASIS FOR TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT (TQM) WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION
TQM entails the delivery of quality in every process of organizational operations. Through information technology tools, which comprises of business intelligence tools, adequate planning is ensured, which result in quality delivery.
Business Intelligence tools, such as data mining, data warehousing, OLAP etc, support an organization in its strategic management plans. This, they do by providing the organization with the necessary data in which its strategic plans are based upon. Effective strategic management, which entails immediate strategic planning and long-term forecast plans, has to depend on the availability of vital information for it to adequately meet the organizations objectives and goals. This information needed to support the strategic management of an organization is derived from the database provided by different business intelligence tools.
Database derived from business intelligence tools, such as Data Mining (DM), forms the bases on which strategic management information are derived for planning for an organization. According to Thearling (1995), Database marketing supports a variety of business processes. It involves transforming a database into business decisions. For building a new catalog for a retailing business, the historical database of customers would be utilized; this will include information on their location, zip code, sex, age etc. database marketing software would use this information to build a model of customer behavior that would generate a mailing list of customers most likely to respond to a new catalog.
The catalog built, would enable the marketing organization to strategize in line with the information derived from the data mining process. This goes to show that data mining business intelligence tool is a supporting tool for strategic planning and not a solution-proffering tool for business problem (ibid). The importance of generating vital information for effective decision making through the aid of business intelligence tool, is further buttressed by Vriens (2004), To (re-) formulate their strategy; organizations need to collect and process information about their environment- about, for instance, competitors, customers, suppliers, governments, technological trends or ecological developments.
FOUR STAGES OF TQM THAT IS OPERATED THROUGH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN AN ORGANIZATION
The aim of TQM in an organization is to bring about perfection in the processes of an organization. This perfection leads to qualitative service delivery, which results in the satisfaction of clients needs. There are four stages in the implementation of Total quality Management (TQM) for an organization. Information technology plays significant roles in the effective and efficient accomplishment of these four TQM stages.
The four identified stages to a successful implementation of TQM in an organisation include:
The diagnostic phase: under this phase the organisations seek to find out those ways and pattern it would operate in order to bring about the delivery of quality service to its customers. In TQM diagnostic stage, it is mostly focus in analytical thinking. Its strength is in developing simple problem-solving algorithms that can be easily disseminated for mass use.
Its Diagnostic methods are based on linear- cause-and-effect relationships. This makes TQM most effective in dealing with physical properties and the types of problems that can be isolated. The Diagnostic phase involves the setting out of questions that is vital in brining about a positive turn around in the quality state of products or services to the consumer. Diagnostic methods of TQM are based on linear- cause-and-effect relationships. This makes TQM most effective in dealing with physical properties and the types of problems that can be isolated.
The diagnostic phase in TQM has to with raising questions about those functional part of the organisation activity, that is not well carried out. Thus, solutions on how these observed problem are prescribed the planning stage of TQM has to do with the drawing out of ways in which the diagnosed problem and intended functions for improvement, how they would be carried out.Diagnostic methods of TQM are based on linear- cause-and-effect relationships.
This makes TQM most effective in dealing with physical properties and the types of problems that can be isolated. In this stage of TQM implementation those fundamental question can be diagnosed through business intelligent information tools, such as data mining, data warehousing. These business intelligient tools provide the data on which diagnoses could be applied on for effective planning. Careful planning and goal setting during the diagnostic stage can overcome many of the problems of evaluation and institutionalization, especially where TQM is in place.
Diagnostic information can be obtained from observations, questionnaires, interviews, and records. This stands as a major source of deriving a useful tool in analyzing and seeing those sphere of the organizational activities where quality performance can be improved upon. Thus, vital questions are raised in this effect. (Jamshid 2005).
Under this phase, decisions are made on those alternative that best suit the situation at hand. Also, decision on who should operate the different functions in the organization is decided upon and which material option is preferred to the other and that should be adopted. The importance of the diagnostic stage of TQM is that it is used in identifying problems and solving problems. Thus, it is very vital in the process of an organisations TQM implementation.
The next stage is the Planning stage in the TQM implementation. Planning consists of strategic planning and developing more short-term detailed plans. Thus, in the TQM planning stage, this involves a strategic plan on which course to take in implementing the companys TQM, to make it a successful venture. Furthermore, according to Thomas (1995), TQM must be built into other systems, particularly those involving planning and rewards. Leaders should expect a long-term process, including a transition period. They will need to be persistent, using constant reinforcement, for example, through continuous training.
Cohen and Brand suggest that TQM should eventually be made an invisible part of the organization, permeating all areas and the responsibility of everyone. In the view of Nurre (2005), in the planning stage, managers make decisions concerning which alternatives should be selected. Financial information is often a vital component of this decision-making. Once the alternatives have been selected, detailed planning is possible.
These detailed plans are usually stated in the form of budgets. The control function of management is aided by performance reports that compare actual performance to the budget. This feedback mechanism directs attention to activities where managerial attention is needed. That data presented by information technology tools gives the decision maker the choice to make the right by choosing the most feasible and productive alternative.
The strategy preparation stage has to do with the identification and solving of quality issues by involving all management and supervision in a proper scheme of training and communication. Here, the organisation is oriented along the organisations move to bring about top quality in all its services, targets are set and these information are further relayed to subordinates to keep them abreast with the organisation strategy. The role of information technology comes to play in the area of information dissemination to top-level managers who are to partake in the implementation of the organization strategy on TQM. In addition, suggestions from the senior workers are welcome in drawing the strategy on which the organisation seeks to operate.
This is also derived by the proper utilization of information technology tools. TQM strategy preparation requires systematic changes in management practice, including the redesign of work, the redefinition of managerial roles, the redesign of organizational structures, the learning of new skills by employees at all levels, and the reorientation of organizational goals. These make all the organizational functions to be directed at bringing out the best quality as outcome in every stage of the organizational activities. The strategy is based as the systems concepts and structured around the business processes of an organization.
Such an approach makes the entire system documentation user-friendly and therefore easily implementable and upgradeable, in response to changing needs. (Nandi, 2005). TQMs strategy preparation stage, thus requires systematic changes in management practice, including the redesign of work, the redefinition of managerial roles, the redesign of organizational structures, the learning of new skills by employees at all levels, and the reorientation of organizational goals. It becomes very important in the TQM implementation because it gets the organization ready for the proper implementation of the TQM. Thus, this leads to the organization success.
The implementation stage is the carrying out of service or giving customer the quality product to meet their needs as they envisage it. Under this stage, everybody including the supplier and consumer are linked in the quality chain of the TQM of the organisation.
Current approaches to total quality implementation initially, when managers do TQ they tend to utilize exemplars specific to, and introduce bundles of activities primarily from, one mindset Many managers measure the success of their TQ implementation programmes in terms of increases in systems predictability, reductions in waste or system leakage, and improvements in system outputs per unit of input (Ibid). In this stage, there is the need to rely always on a control measure as a way of checking and preventing the TQM strategy from derailing and missing its target. Thus, statistical data need to be taken to see the satisfaction of clients from time to time. This information is derived from business intelligent tools.
The contribution of information technology to an organization strategic process is of great importance when such organization which to embrace total quality management. Through basic business intelligence tools like Data mining, Data warehousing, Online Analytical Processing (OLAP), Queries etc. the vital information needed for effective strategic planning is derived from databases.
Also, these tools give the organization the medium of transmitting its information across the organization. Data mining brings about those hidden information unknown to an organization to utilize this for its advantage, while Data warehouse through its software collate those redundant data in the organizations database and formulate a database useful for its planning process.
The utilization of business intelligence tools requires that it is structured to suit the organizations problem. Hence, it requires that a great understanding of an organization is known to the experts and practitioners of these business intelligence tools for it to be effective in aiding the organization in strategic drives in meeting its objectives and long term goals.
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