What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?
A core definition of total quality management (TQM) describes a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. In a TQM effort, all members of an organization participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work.
- Primary elements of TQM
- Benefits of TQM
- Implementing TQM
- History and evolution of TQM
- Deming’s 14 Points for TQM
- TQM resources
TQM can be summarized as a management system for a customer-focused organization that involves all employees in continual improvement. It uses strategy, data, and effective communications to integrate the quality discipline into the culture and activities of the organization. Many of these concepts are present in modern quality management systems, the successor to TQM. Here are the 8 principles of total quality management:
- Customer-focused: The customer ultimately determines the level of quality. No matter what an organization does to foster quality
improvement—trainingemployees, integrating quality into the design process, or upgrading computers or software—the customer determines whether the efforts were worthwhile.
- Total employee involvement: All employees participate in working toward common goals. Total employee commitment can only be obtained after fear has been driven from the workplace, when empowerment has occurred, and when management has provided the proper environment. High-performance work systems integrate continuous improvement efforts with normal business operations. Self-managed work teams are one form of empowerment.
- Process-centered: A fundamental part of TQM is a focus on process thinking. A process is a series of steps that take inputs from suppliers (internal or external) and transforms them into outputs that are delivered to customers (internal or external). The steps required to carry out the process are defined, and performance measures are continuously monitored in order to detect unexpected variation.
- Integrated system: Although an organization may consist of many different functional specialties often organized into vertically structured departments, it is the horizontal processes interconnecting these functions that are the focus of TQM.
- Micro-processes add up to larger processes, and all processes aggregate into the business processes required for defining and implementing strategy. Everyone must understand the vision, mission, and guiding principles as well as the quality policies, objectives, and critical processes of the organization. Business performance must be monitored and communicated continuously.
- An integrated business system may be modeled after the Baldrige Award criteria and/or incorporate the ISO 9000 standards. Every organization has a unique work culture, and it is virtually impossible to achieve excellence in its products and services unless a good quality culture has been fostered. Thus, an integrated system connects business improvement elements in an attempt to continually improve and exceed the expectations of customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
- Strategic and systematic approach: A critical part of the management of quality is the strategic and systematic approach to achieving an organization’s vision, mission, and goals. This process, called strategic planning or strategic management, includes the formulation of a strategic plan that integrates quality as a core component.
- Continual improvement: A large aspect of TQM is continual process improvement. Continual improvement drives an organization to be both analytical and creative in finding ways to become more competitive and more effective at meeting stakeholder expectations.
- Fact-based decision making: In order to know how well an organization is performing, data on performance measures are necessary. TQM requires that an organization continually collect and analyze data in order to improve decision making accuracy, achieve consensus, and allow prediction based on past history.
- Communications: During times of organizational change, as well as part of day-to-day operation, effective communications plays a large part in maintaining morale and in motivating employees at all levels. Communications involve strategies, method, and timeliness.
These elements are considered so essential to TQM that many organizations define them, in some format, as a set of core values and principles on which the organization is to operate. The methods for implementing this approach come from the teachings of such quality leaders as Philip B. Crosby, W. Edwards Deming, Armand V. Feigenbaum, Kaoru Ishikawa, and Joseph M. Juran.
More TQM Information
- Benefits of Total Quality Management
- Implementing Total Quality Management
- History and Evolution of Total Quality Management
- Deming’s 14 Points for Total Quality Management
Why And How TQM Leads To Performance Improvements (Quality Management Journal) Evidence shows that TQM improves organizational performance, but researchers disagree on why and how such improvements occur and on who really benefits. This study tests hypotheses relating to TQM adoption and the path from wealth creation to wealth appropriation.
The Relationship Between ISO 9000 Certification, TQM Practices, And Organizational Performance (Quality Management Journal) There is no consensus among the research community about the relationship between ISO 9000 certification and TQM, and the effect of each of these quality management practices on organizational performance is still debated. This paper developed a conceptual model to study the relationships between ISO 9000 certification, TQM practices, and organizational performance.
The Role Of Strategic Planning In Implementing A Total Quality Management Framework: An Empirical View (Quality Management Journal) This empirical study examines the significant role of strategic planning as an important dimension in successfully implementing TQM and confirming that strategic planning is likewise extremely important.
TQM: The History and the Now (ASQTV) This episode explores total quality management’s beginnings and how it’s used to build and sustain a culture of quality today.
Adapted from The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook, ASQ Quality Press.