The importance of integrating quality practices into strategic management
Over the past ten years, intense global competition, changing customer needs and the changing business environment have forced many organisations to examine their organisational goals and to re-evaluate how to meet their challenges. Extreme global competition has forced many organisations to develop action plans to respond to an increasingly competitive market. One such action plan identified was the integration of quality practices and principles with strategic planning of the organisation. This research investigated the importance and usefulness of integrating quality practices in the strategic management process of organisations in the Printing and Packaging industry in the Ethekweni Municipality. This study included a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The review of literature represented the qualitative research method, acknowledged the importance of, and advantages and disadvantages of integrating quality practices with the strategic management process. It also identified selected quality practices that can improve the strategic planning process. The quantitative method included a preliminary study and a main study. The preliminary study was conducted using questionnaires and interviews consisting of 10 and 5 organisations respectively. The main study consisted of questionnaires administered to 30 organisations. The results of the pilot study showed that although many organisations were aware of the integration, they did not have the support from employees, nor the time to implement it. The main study indicated that the majority of the organisations integrated the two practices. 97% of the organisations found that this integration was difficult initially, but with some perseverance achieved success, while 3% of the organisations did not implement the integration. The latter are now considering the integration process. Hence, it can be accepted that the integration of quality practices within the strategic management process has directed the organisation toward continuous improvement, a competitive advantage, a greater market share and sustainability, greater customer satisfaction and increased profitability and sales.