Original Date: 11/17/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Total Quality Service Program
The process of developing a Total Quality Service (TQS) program for Plant Operations began with the arrival of a new Department director in 1992. Prior to this time, the Department performed well, but functioned as an isolated support unit. Most employees felt insignificant to the overall mission of Elizabethtown College. They were physically isolated on a peninsula at the north end of the campus, and half worked on the night shift without contact with the rest of the campus community.
The Department director immediately began a process to create a team atmosphere and develop a quality ethic. The process focused on building a continuously improving, service-oriented organization that would be accepted as an integral part of the College’s educational mission. The first step was introspective to develop credibility within the Department and then expand this outwardly to customers, students, and the entire campus community. The process required a major change in culture and attitude. Foundations for this change were rooted in the concepts of W.E. Deming and Total Quality Management. Plant Operations’ management worked to create an environment which supported effective communication, an open flow of ideas, self-esteem enhancement for employees, customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement. Key changes included placing all employees on the day shift, and initiating measures that improved communication and integration within the campus community.
Plant Operations’ TQS program consists of six fundamental principles: Customer Focus Customers include both internal customers (e.g., department staff) and external customers (e.g., students, faculty). Service calls are treated as opportunities for improvements rather than complaints. The objective is to change the Department from a producer-centered to a customer-centered culture.
Leadership Leadership maintains the vision, defines the strategy, and provides the resources for continuous improvement.
Improved Communication Quality service is attained by understanding what the customer wants, and involves effective internal as well as external communications.
Continuous Improvement This principle represents the core of the TQS philosophy. Quality service is a direct result of continuous improvement. Even small, incremental improvements must have a well-defined direction stemming from the other fundamental principles.
Accountability Management is responsible for the process of service delivery, but is dependent upon the staff to ensure that the process is efficient and meets the needs of the customer.
Quality of Work Life Management must understand that staff satisfaction is a prerequisite to customer satisfaction. Therefore, they must work to enhance individual self-esteem and create an environment in which employees can become valued members of the team.
Based on these principles, Plant Operations structured and developed a new system to ensure continuous improvement. Changes in the Department were an evolutionary process, achieved through leadership, education, and communication. The new attitude and outlook also brought about dramatic improvements. Between 1992 and 1997, Plant Operations reduced its budget by 20%, primarily due to cost savings and improved efficiencies, without reducing the number of employees. At the same time, campus facilities expanded by 13% and all employees received annual wage and salary increases. Most importantly, the students and faculty consistently rate Plant Operations among the top performing organizations on campus. The Department repeatedly receives awards and commendations from Elizabethtown College’s administration and campus organizations for its excellence in customer service.
The development of Plant Operations’ TQS program is significant because it has helped the Department become one of the top performing organizations at Elizabethtown College. Typically, the facilities management group is not often seen as a leader or trend setter in most organizations. Plant Operations has worked steadily over the past six years to build credibility at all levels and to develop an attitude of continuous improvement and customer service. Success is achieved by adopting simple, small, incremental changes and implementing them every day with an empowered workforce.
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.