More often than not, laymen employ the term quality management into the aspects of product and process related operations. In fact, quality and quality management, in a business context, involve a great deal of interactive functions including product quality management, processing and performance management, as well as risk and crisis management, just to name a few.
A comprehensive quality management infrastructure scrutinises more than procedural data as in policy-making, process and documentation of the production of specific commodities or services. "A total quality management system covers also quality cultural development, crisis management, risk management, change management as well as leadership," emphasises Patrick Fung, programme director, Graduate School of Business, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).
Successful implementation of such a comprehensive quality management system goes beyond meeting customer needs, Dr Fung notes. "It should enable a company to outperform its competitors and meet the various stakeholder requirements including the safety regulations laid down by governments and regulatory institutions," he adds.
The only professional programme in quality management offered by a local university at a master's degree level, the PolyU's MSc in quality management programme is designed to address three interrelated aspects of quality management. Advocating outcome-based learning, the programme prepares students for the installation, implementation and monitoring of quality management system standards. Additionally, it helps students to facilitate effective applications of quality management techniques for trouble-shooting and improvement in quality-related issues at work. "The programme also enables students to facilitate changes and implement total quality management programmes for self-assessment, continuous improvement and innovation," Dr Fung remarks.
Correspondingly, the curriculum is sufficiently diverse to provide students with a broad understanding of issues related to quality management. "Courses are subject to constant and timely reviews so as to provide students with the most up-to-date information, essentially helping them to grasp the very core of problems that they may encounter in real life situations," Dr Fung concedes. This also ensures a sound balance between academic studies and professional practice in the field.
The programme draws on the multidisciplinary expertise of teaching staff from the university's Faculty of Business, with full support from other departments such as Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Institute of Textiles and Clothing.
"Our teaching staff expect all our students to engage in the discussion of theory and case studies, taking the opportunities to find the best possible solutions to an array of problems and in so doing, seeking ways for continuous improvement," Dr Fung notes. "Ideas for improvement are examined to delve deeply into organisational functions and explore how the many organisational levels can be aligned to generate and subsequently espouse changes in product, process, and innovation in quality management systems."
According to Dr Fung, the programme is intended for people from different professional backgrounds such as engineering, design, quality control, business and manufacturing. "While some of our students aspire to become quality managers or consultants, others seek to raise their competence levels in operational and strategic thinking which will enable them to lead and manage quality initiatives in their organisations," he says.
Applicants for the programme should have a bachelor's degree or equivalent professional qualifications in engineering, technology or applied science. Graduates from disciplines such as business and marketing will also be considered. Preference will be given to applicants with at least one year of work experience in the quality management or quality assurance field.
Graduates of the programme, who have at least five years' work experience in the quality management field are eligible for a full membership of the Chartered Quality Institute in the UK. "We also encourage our students and graduates to participate in seminars and professional activities organised by local quality management associations," Dr Fung says.