Development of a Total Quality Management Framework for the Downstream Petroleum Industry in Uganda
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Uganda’s downstream petroleum industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the East African Region due to the rapidly growing middle class and potential development of the crude oil wells in the Albertine region. However, the industry is infested with a huge Quality Management (QM) awareness and enforcement gap in all activities across the value chain. Effective quality management systems within fuel stations do not only cushion customers from limited quality products and poor service quality but are also key in improving customer retention, firm specific productivity, profitability and reputation both on the local and regional stage. This study aimed at development of a total quality management framework for the downstream petroleum industry so as to address the quality awareness and enforcement gap within the downstream petroleum industry in Uganda. Information on the effectiveness of the existing quality management practices based on the six core elements of quality management system were collected from “Twenty-five (25) fuel stations belonging to four fuel firms”. The six core elements were: quality leadership, customer focus, quality education and training, employee involvement, continuous quality improvement and supplier quality management. Perception survey questionnaire, interviews, inspection, observation, audit and risk assessment methods were used to determine the effectiveness of quality management practices in the selected firms. A comparison of the existing practices with best practices was used to develop the quality management framework. In addition, a quality monitoring and evaluation tool was developed by carefully developing a quality inspection and audit checklist tool that collects information sufficient enough to cater for both products and service quality dimensions at a typical fuel station. The results obtained showed that the effectiveness’ of quality management practices was between 37% and 47% far below the recommended 75% by ISO. Overall, there were limited QM awareness and enforcement efforts by the relevant regulatory authorities. To address these gaps, a quality management framework and a quality monitoring and evaluation tool with an average evaluation score of 8.3 out of 10.0 were developed. The tool was validated by a team of experts so as to establish its suitability and effectiveness in conducting quality monitoring and evaluation activities within the downstream petroleum industry. The low QM system effectiveness’ in the study firms calls for the need to regularly develop and implement advanced quality management frameworks and system performance monitoring/evaluation tools for continuous improvement within the downstream petroleum industry.