The effect of quality management systems on service provision by university employees: the case of Strathmore University
The success of the implementation of Quality Management Systems (QMS) in the manufacturing sector has gradually led to the introduction of similar systems in the service sector and especially in the field of higher education. The focus for most policy makers has moved from mass production to the quality of education which is now being enhanced by global and regional growth trends, an increasing appreciation for knowledge and skills and high levels of competition among institutions of higher learning. To keep up with this trend universities both globally and regionally have adopted Quality Management Systems to improve the quality of their operations with the intention of providing the highest levels of quality service possible to both their internal and external customers. This study explored the effect of QMS on the quality of service provided by employees in a private university in Kenya. Standard operating procedures, training and quality evaluation were the three elements of QMS on which dimensions of quality service were analysed. These dimensions included the responsiveness of employees to customer requirements, the ability of employees to provide timely and consistent service and the ability of employees to demonstrate empathy and confidence while providing a service. The study further delved into the challenges faced by employees when using a QMS in a university. The study adopted an exploratory survey design with the population of the study being employees of Strathmore University who had received quality training and were conversant with the QMS of the University. A purposeful sampling procedure was used whereby the researcher selected the Internal Quality Auditors of the University. The data tools used to collect data included self-completed questionnaires and structured interviews. The findings of the study revealed that QMS used by employees in Strathmore University offers them a platform for providing quality service to both internal and external customers of the University. Employees conversant with QMS are better able to respond in a timely manner to the needs of customers and are able to provide a more reliable service in terms of promptness and accuracy. The existence of well documented procedures brings about a certain feeling of confidence in employees. This confidence is based on the knowledge of what is expected of the employee and what is required by the customer. The findings of the study further revealed challenges faced by employees in using the system especially in regard to the time it takes to carry out audits and implement corrective action. Although the QMS in Strathmore University supports the quality objectives of the University in so far as it enables its employees to provide quality service the entire concept of quality was seen to initiate from the person rather than from the system. Top management support and training in soft skills and human values were noted to be critical for both understanding quality and living it in accordance with the aspirations of Strathmore University.
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