After 20 Years TQM Still Fashionable For IT

Jay DeNovo acknowledges while total quality management (TQM) was, as he puts it, “a business fad” in the 1980s, that doesn’t stop him from applying the principals of TQM to enterprise IT projects.

“There’s not much TQM going on any more,” said DeNovo, who is CIO of Home Savings Bank in Madison, Wis. “People found out how hard it was to do. But I never viewed it as a fad. I view it as a way of life.”

DeNovo says most strategic IT projects he is in charge of follow TQM guidelines and the results are typically gratifying. For example, using TQM principals in a recently completed a help desk project netted his department more time for other things good for the business.

“Before, we were a 3.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) shop and IT was all we did,” he said. “After the project, we were a 2.5 FTE shop and we are now facilities managers and we have some compliance responsibilities.”

While DeNovo, who studied quality management in graduate school, admits that TQM is not widely embraced anymore, he and other CIOs agreed many of its principals have infiltrated the thinking of technology executives.

Built Into Projects

Ben Gaucherin, CTO for Sapient, a business and technology consultancy, said he is a big believer in Six Sigma, which is a statistical approach used by TQM advocates to reduce the error rate of specific processes. While Six Sigma initially was a tool for manufacturing, it is very applicable to IT projects.