British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study

British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study
British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study

British Airways Total Quality Management


Assignment Overview

Total Quality Management (TQM) has an important role in any company; with the implementation of this program, companies can continuously improve their performance. Thus, organizations will be able to considerably meet their internal and external clients’ needs in terms of services and product quality, and develop an efficient and profitable business.

The paper below analyzes how this concept was implemented by British Airways, since it is among the first companies to implement such a program.Anca MADAR, Implementation of total quality management Case study: British Airways, Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov Series V: Economic Sciences

• Vol. 8 (57) No. 1 – 2015, Retrieved from

Case Assignment

  1. Identify the quality problems for British Airways
  2. Summarize the implementation of TQM by British Airways and the outcomes.
  3. Provide suggestions to improve implementation and results.
  4. Comment on how effective it would be if British Airways employed Six Sigma techniques.

British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study

Assignment Expectations

  • Use the information provided in the Background readings. Do any additional research as necessary.
  • Review the information in the British Airways case study and become familiar with the products and processes.
  • There is no set response to the case questions, so do not hesitate to think outside the box.
  • It is essential to provide a well-written paper with detailed analysis.

Quality Management (TQM) is the organization-wide management of quality that includes facilities, equipment, labor, suppliers, customers, policies, and procedures. TQM promotes the view that quality improvement never ends, quality provides a strategic advantage to the organization, and zero defects is the quality goal that will minimize total quality costs. While this special topic on TQM is not a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of TQM, several key concepts will be discussed.

An important basis for justifying TQM practice is understanding its impact on total quality costs. TQM is rooted in the belief that preventing defects is cheaper than dealing with the costs of quality failures. In other words, total quality costs are minimized when managers strive to reach zero defects in the organization. The four major types of quality costs are prevention, appraisal, internal failure, and external failure.

Prevention costs are the costs created from the effort to reduce poor quality. Examples are designing the products so that they will be durable, training employees so they do a good job, certifying suppliers to ensure that suppliers provide quality in products and services, conducting preventive maintenance on equipment, and documenting quality procedures and improvements. In a traditional organization that does not practice TQM, prevention costs typically comprise the smallest percentage of total quality costs.

A good example of good product design occurs in all Honda products. Honda produces a wide variety of items, including automobiles, ATVs, engines, generators, motorcycles, outboard motors, snow blowers, lawn and garden equipment, etc. To say the least, Honda engines last a long time. For example, Honda Accords typically run for well over 200,000 miles.

Employee training is also a very important prevention cost. For instance, employees in a vegetable/fruit packaging warehouse need to know what a bad vegetable/fruit looks like, since customers will not want to find spoiled produce in the store. Lifeguards at a swimming pool must know proper procedures for keeping swimmers safe. In many circumstances in both manufacturing and service businesses, the training of employees can make an enormous difference in preventing defects.

Supplier selection and certification are critical prevention activities. A product or service is only as good as the suppliers who partner with an organization to provide the raw materials, parts and components, and supporting services that make up the final products and services that the end customers receive. For example, a home furnishings store might use an outside subcontractor to install carpeting, but if the subcontractor fails to show up on time, tracks mud into the customer’s home, or behaves in a rude manner, the store’s reputation will suffer. Similarly, a car manufacturer who purchases defective tires from a supplier risks incurring high costs of recalls and lawsuits when the defects are discovered.

Preventive maintenance is necessary for preventing equipment breakdowns. Many manufacturing companies use sophisticated software to track machine usage, and determine optimal schedules for regular machine maintenance, overhauls, and replacement.

Documenting quality is a necessary prevention cost because it helps the organization track quality performance, identify quality problems, collect data, and specify procedures that contribute to the pursuit of zero defects. Documentation is important to communicating good quality practice to all employees and suppliers.

Appraisal costs are a second major type of quality cost. Appraisal costs include the inspection and testing of raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods. In addition, quality audits, sampling, and statistical process control also fall under the umbrella of appraisal costs.

Inspection and testing of raw materials is very important, since substandard raw materials lead to substandard products. Raw materials used for a bridge determine the strength of the bridge. For example, soft steel will erode away faster than hardened steel. Moreover, the concrete bridge decking needs to be solid, as concrete with air pockets will erode and crumble faster, creating an unsafe bridge.

Finished goods and work-in-process inventory also need inspecting and testing. For example, worker error is quite common in the home construction industry, and this is why inspections occur frequently on newly constructed homes during and after the construction process is complete. Building inspectors ensure that the house has the proper framing, electrical, plumbing, heating, and so forth.

Quality audits and sampling are also important appraisal costs. Quality audits are checks of quality procedures to ensure that employees and suppliers are following proper quality practices. With sampling, a company can ensure with confidence that a batch of products is fit for use. For example, a wooden baseball bat manufacturer may test 10 out of every 100 bats to check that they meet strength standards. One weak bat can signal that quality problems are present.

Statistical process control (SPC) is the final type of appraisal cost. SPC tracks on-going processes in manufacturing or service environments to make sure that they are producing the desired performance. For example, a restaurant might statistically track customer survey results to make sure that customer satisfaction is maintained over time. In manufacturing windshields for automobiles, SPC might be used to track the number of microscopic air bubbles in the glass to make sure the process is performing to standard.

Internal failure costs are the third category of quality costs. This cost occurs when quality defects are discovered before they reach the customer. Examples of internal failure costs include scrapping a product, reworking the product, and lost productivity due to machine breakdowns or labor errors. Internal failure costs are typically more expensive than both prevention and appraisal costs because a great deal of material and labor often has been invested prior to the discovery of the defect.

If a book publisher prints 10,000 books, then discovers that one of the chapters is missing from every copy, the cost of reworking or scrapping the books represents a major loss to the company. It would have been much cheaper to have procedures in place to prevent such a mistake from happening in the first place.

In the case of internal failure cost due to machine failures, FedEx and other courier services cannot keep up with demand when a conveyor belt breaks down in the package distribution center. Major delays and costs occur when such incidents occur. Other examples include a road construction company having a road grader break down, a tool and die shop having a CNC machine break down, and a farmer having a combine break down during harvest time.

External failure costs are the fourth major cost of quality. External failure costs occurs when the defect is discovered after it has reached the customer. This is the most expensive category of quality costs. Examples include product returns, repairs, warranty claims, lost reputation, and lost business. One spectacular example of external failure cost was when the Hubbell telescope was launched into space with mirrors that were ground improperly. When the telescope was turned on, instead of a magnificent view of stars, planets, and galaxies, the scientists could see only blurred images. The price of correcting the problem was over USD 1 billion.

External failure costs also occur when the wrong meal is delivered to a restaurant customer, when a computer breaks down shortly after it was purchased, when the wrong kidney is removed from a patient, and when a poorly designed automobile causes the death of drivers and passengers. Because of the enormous costs of internal and external failures, all companies should strive for zero defects. Successful TQM practice dictates that pursuing zero defects will result in the minimization of total quality costs by spending more on prevention and appraisal activities in order to reduce the much higher costs of internal and external failure.

British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study


Global Text Project (2017), Operations management: Special topic: Total Quality Management. OpenStax CNX. Retrieved from

Required Reading

British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study

Optional Reading

British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study

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British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study

Among the top goals of modern organizations is the improvement in the efficiency of operations. The increase in operational efficiency of the firm ties in to the improvement of performance, an increase in the quality of products and services, as well as an increase in profitability. One of the metrics and procedural strategies used by organizations to ensure the achievement of the listed improvements is the use of Total Quality Management approach.

This approach is a philosophy within business management that ensures the improvement of the quality of products and services offered to consumers through a firm-wide incentive to manage quality in the entire organization (Madar, 2015, p. 126). This paper looks into an example case of British Airways by highlighting a number of quality problems and the process of implementing Total Quality Management in the firm.

Quality problems facing British Airways

Prior to the implementation of a Total Quality Management approach to improving the operations of British Airways in September of 1988, the company had a number of issues that were perceived to be behind the inefficient operations at the organization. These problems were the focus of the TQM program in an attempt to increase quality at British Airways. The following section contains an outline of these quality problems facing the organization.

Engineering based company

Since the formation of British Airways, the company had been operating primarily as an engineering-based firm. The focus of operations in the company hangars was the main contributing factor to the operational focus on the engineering element of the business (Madar, 2015, p. 128). This was problematic for the company since the processes from the engineering operations were not directly measurable from the satisfaction of their customers. In essence, therefore, by focusing mainly on engineering processes, British Airways was flying blind to the quality expectations of the consumers of their services.

Absence of quality control measures

Prior to September 1988, British Airways did not have in place a system to monitor the quality of operations across the firm. While there may have been individual processes to monitor the service delivery or the manufactured parts in the engineering division, there was no firm-wide incentive to have a measure of quality control for the entire organization. This has been a particularly problematic concern since any attempts at progress did not have conclusive measures to determine progress. The various quality concerns and measures to rectify the problems would not be efficient without quality control measures in the organization.

Absence of cost control measures

A significant cause of losses for any business venture is high and uncontrolled costs. In the generation of the Total Quality Management plan, it was a requirement to collect data on the various costs affecting British Airways (Madar, 2015, pp. 128 – 129 ). This was instrumental in the development of a focused plan that could help increase efficiency in the operations of the organization. The costs involved in the implementation of Total Quality Management in British Airways included monetary costs, time costs, and labor costs among others. The identification of such costs that ate into the resource allocation of the organization occurred in order to stamp out unnecessary costs, ensure efficient allocation of resources, and therefore better overall management.

Summary of implementation of TQM by British Airways

The implementation of Total Quality Management in British Airways has been a long and continuous process. This process began with the privatization of the company in 1987, and the benefits from the project have continued to trickle down to date. There was only one way to achieve the new vision by management, which was the creation of a leaner firm that would be a global leader through better management of resources and development of relationships between the managers, staff, and the customers. This way was to employ better management strategy, of which Total Quality Management approach carried the day…..

British Airways Total Quality Management Case Study

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