Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a comprehensive and structured approach to organizational management that seeks to improve the quality of products and services through ongoing refinements in response to continuous feedback. TQM requirements may be defined separately for a particular organization or may be in adherence to established standards, such as the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 9000 series. TQM can be applied to any type of organization; it originated in the manufacturing sector and has since been adapted for use in almost every type of organization imaginable, including schools, highway maintenance, hotel management, and churches. As a current focus of e-business, TQM is based on quality management from the customer's point of view.

TQM processes are divided into four sequential categories: plan, do, check, and act (the PDCA cycle). In the planning phase, people define the problem to be addressed, collect relevant data, and ascertain the problem's root cause; in the doing phase, people develop and implement a solution, and decide upon a measurement to gauge its effectiveness; in the checking phase, people confirm the results through before-and-after data comparison; in the acting phase, people document their results, inform others about process changes, and make recommendations for the problem to be addressed in the next PDCA cycle.

Principles of Total Quality Management

1. Quality can and must be managed

Many companies have wallowed in a repetitive cycle of chaos and customer complaints. They believe that their operations are simply too large to effectively manage the level of quality. The first step in the TQM process, then, is to realize there is a problem and that it can be controlled.

2. Processes, not people, are the problem

If your process is causing problems, it won’t matter how many times you hire new employees or how many training sessions you put them through. Correct the process and then train your people on these new procedures.

3. Don’t treat symptoms, look for the cure

If you just patch over the underlying problems in the process, you will never be able to fully reach your potential. If, for example, your shipping department is falling behind, you may find that it is because of holdups in manufacturing. Go for the source to correct the problem.

4. Every employee is responsible for quality

Everyone in the company, from the workers on the line to the upper management, must realize that they have an important part to play in ensuring high levels of quality in their products and services. Everyone has a customer to delight, and they must all step up and take responsibility for them.

5. Quality must be measurable

A quality management system is only effective when you can quantify the results. You need to see how the process is implemented and if it is having the desired effect. This will help you set your goals for the future and ensure that every department is working toward the same result.

6. Quality improvements must be continuous

Total Quality Management is not something that can be done once and then forgotten. It’s not a management “phase” that will end after a problem has been corrected. Real improvements must occur frequently and continually in order to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

7. Quality is a long-term investment

Quality management is not a quick fix. You can purchase QMS software that will help you get things started, but you should understand that real results won’t occur immediately. TQM is a long-term investment, and it is designed to help you find long-term success.

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