Total Quality Management (TQM)
Total quality management (TQM) is a management practice that seeks to derive long-term success from an organization-wide focus on quality improvement and overall customer satisfaction.
In order for TQM to be successfully implemented, all members of a company or organization must buy into the process with total engagement. Everyone from floor workers to the C‑suite must be completely dedicated to improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work.
TQM is a strategic, data-driven method that incorporates effective organization-wide communication to institute a culture of discipline and engagement at full scale.
What Is TQM and How Does It Work?
What is TQM and where did it originate? Total quality management was developed in Japan in the 1950s. Dr. Joseph M. Juran, the father of several quality management techniques, believes the term “enterprise excellence” is a more precise translation for TQM.
While enterprise excellence implies an organization-wide standard, it is important to remember that the “total” in TQM refers to the entire operation — every employee, team, and department, from top to bottom — must be involved in the discipline.
The concepts that TQM arose from were developed in the 1920s when the science of statistics was applied to industrial quality control for the first time. After Western Electric and Bell Telephone Laboratories engineer Walter A. Shewhart created a statistical control chart for production, many began calling it the Shewhart cycle.
This became the Deming cycle — named after W. Edwards Deming, who is referred to as the father of TQM — and later the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) method, which became one of the founding principles of Lean thinking.
Deming developed Shewhart’s statistical quality control measures in post-World War II Japan’s reconstruction during the 1940s and 1950s.
Both Deming and Juran taught these new statistical quality control concepts in Japan, and many experts have cited the widespread adoption of TQM in Japan as having a significant impact on the nation’s economic recovery and long-term economic success after the war.
In the United States, many organizations began to apply TQM principles and other quality management techniques in the 1970s and 1980s, and they helped lead to modern practices like Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing, which are more directly adaptable to organizations and industries of the modern era.
There are a number of ways TQM helps organizations achieve higher-quality products, more satisfied customers, and greater long-term success, but the key is a reliance on measurable, empirical data to keep team members accountable to the process and comprehensive strategies for systematic improvement.
Organizations must define processes of production or knowledge work that represent opportunities for improvement — where waste can be eliminated and efficiency improved. Organizations must then continuously monitor and measure the performance of these processes, using that data to drive their comprehensive improvement strategy and implementation.
While TQM was initially implemented in the manufacturing industry, its application in service and knowledge work has increased significantly over the years, and it is now used in all industries.
TQM can move any organization closer to long-term success and business excellence.
The Eight Principles of TQM
Let’s go over the eight major total quality management principles and their purpose:
1. Customer Focus
The customer is always right, right? In TQM, the ultimate focus is the customer’s satisfaction. Customers determine whether your efforts in process improvement prove wise — regardless of what you think of your practices, the customer determines the level of quality in the product.
This means the only way to know if your TQM efforts are successful is to receive feedback directly from customers. This can be direct, such as in the form of a survey or review, or indirect, using stats like return rates and other data.
2. Total Employee Involvement
Employees must be engaged and empowered to make their own decisions, so good management is essential. Communication from the top of the organization to the bottom must emphasize common goals and total commitment.
Providing teams with a sense of autonomy and a clear, transparent set of achievable goals is the best way to develop an organization-wide culture of engagement.
3. Process Approach
Process thinking is a major key of TQM. A system will fail unless there is a clear focus on developing an optimal process. Most problems can be attributed to failures in the process.
Processes must be clearly defined, measured, and monitored in order to identify and correct variances and achieve total buy-in at every level of the organization.
4. Integrated System
Vertically structured organizations must have a completely integrated — and horizontally interconnected — system in order to achieve effective total quality management.
All processes, at every level of the organization, must be defined, measured, and monitored as part of a cohesive quality management operation. Communication between departments must be constant and all employees should share the ultimate common goal of customer satisfaction.
5. Strategic and Systematic Approach
A clear strategy that is systematically rolled out at every level of the organization is a critical part of quality management.
The formulation of a strategic approach to process and system improvement with a core focus on the quality of the finished product is essential, and this strategic planning must be clearly defined and communicated to everyone involved.
6. Continual Improvement
The continual improvement of processes is a key aspect of quality management — and it drives the growth of the process. Organizations must constantly measure and analyze processes, identifying new opportunities for improvement.
The principles of Six Sigma and Lean work hand-in-hand with quality management, implementing an organizational culture of continuous improvement that pushes everyone in the organization to identify and reduce waste and limit variances in the process. This leads not only to a more efficient operation but also increased customer satisfaction with the product.
7. Fact-Based Decision-Making
Reliance on empirical, statistical data and measurable, fact-based reporting is crucial to implementing optimal quality management. Opinions are of no value in quality management — even those of customers — unless they are backed up by relevant information such as sales data, revenue growth, return rates, and customer retention.
Quality performance must be consistently measured with defined metrics. Data must be continually collected and analyzed in order to continually improve processes and predict — and conquer — future obstacles and blockers.
Communication must be clear, constant, and organization-wide in order for quality management measures to succeed. Every member of the organization must know the strategy, timelines, and goals — not only what they are being asked to do, but also why they are doing it.
Effective wide-scale communication within an organization allows it to adapt to changes, improve processes more efficiently, and maintain a high level of morale, since every employee is aware of their part in the overall strategy.
Benefits of Incorporating TQM to Workflow
TQM engages every employee — at all levels of your organization — in a widespread focus on quality management and continual process improvement, helping to create a strong organizational culture and foster long-term success.
Total quality management principles can also help organizations identify waste and variance in processes, deficiencies in employees, and communication gaps.
The increased communication from instituting TQM principles gives every employee a better understanding of the organization as a whole and provides greater organizational flexibility, while building a culture focused on teamwork.
Here are a few of the key benefits:
- Less variance in products and processes
- Greater efficiency and lower production costs
- A strong, cohesive organizational culture
- Highly satisfied customers
What You’ll Learn in This TQM Course
In many organizations, quality control is merely responsible for monitoring and maintaining a certain level of quality in a finished product — it doesn’t improve quality throughout the organization.
This is a missed opportunity to improve the long-term customer experience by building a strong organizational culture of TQM and continuous improvement. After all, many factors affect customer satisfaction — not just the finished product.
This course will teach you how to move your organization from a product focus to an enterprise focus, managing quality at all levels while improving products, services, and processes.
Benefits of Gemba Academy’s TQM Course
Other benefits of Gemba Academy’s TQM course include:
Reducing and mitigating risk when developing new products or processes — or adapting to industry-wide changes
Resolving typical defects and variance in operations
Predicting future trends and understanding how to adapt to them seamlessly at scale
Increase employee productivity at all levels