Quality management practices adopted by sugar manufacturing companies in Western Kenya
Quality is widely recognized as one of the most important disciplines /strategies or competitive priority for an organizational development. In this era of global competition a company needs to apply quality methodologies in the form of strategic quality management; quality systems: quality assurance; quality control, etc.In other words, the organization has to implement the concept of quality management (QM). This is because the QM principles support the business practices of cost reduction, enhanced productivity and improved quality of products /outputs-i.e., it helps to support and fulfill The concept of QM provides the approach to realize the manufacturing strategy leading to fulfillment of corporate strategy. The principles and contents of QM philosophy would increase a firm’s commitment to quality and if they are applied correctly enhances the firm’s competitive position, hence the concept of excellence in manufacturing. The objective of the study was to establish the quality management practices used by Sugar manufacturing companies in western Kenya and to determine the challenges faced during implementation. The research methodology was based on a survey approach for establishing quality management practices and challenges of implementation by sugar manufacturing companies. Surveys are concerned with describing, recording, analyzing and interpreting conditions that either exist or existed. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data. The questionnaire was divided into two sections which were answered by the top level and the middle level management. The study found that the quality management practices that were practiced by the sugar factories were top management commitment, organization for quality, employee training/education, employee involvement, supplier quality management, customer focus, quality system improvement and statistical quality techniques. The study revealed the importance sugar manufacturing companies attach to quality management improvements. The quality management practice that was largely practiced was top management commitment indicating that top management is actively involved in quality management and is providing clear and consistent leadership. ; The second most practiced quality system improvement was organisation for quality implying the companies’ culture is conducive to quality strategy implementation and improvement. The third most practiced quality management practice was statistical quality technique implying that quantitative methods and statistical tools are used to provide workers and managers with the tools needed to quantify variation, identify cause and find solutions to reduce or remove unwanted variation and monitor progress objectively. The fourth most practiced quality management practice was employee empowerment implying the employees are part of the organizations decision making process and have a sense of family. Employees take pride and ownership in their work which may lead to improvement in their job performance and eventually increase organizational quality. The second objective of the study investigated the challenges of implementation of the quality management practices. The results indicate that there is good progress in quality management practices implementation though some challenges do exist.