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Total Quality Management Explained: A Tool For Effective Quality Control

Implementing the principles presented by Total Quality Management can rapidly boost the final result of products and services. Read our guide to get enlightened on TQM and how it is an imperative tool for effective quality control.

What is Total Quality Management?

Total quality management (TQM) can be defined in many sophisticated ways. Still, the main anchor of the term TQM is the goal to bolster the quality of products and services in any organizational framework. Like ISO 9001, Six Sigma, or Lean Manufacturing, TQM is a standard for quality management systems. In simple terms, total quality management can be defined as an organization-wide effort to create and maintain an atmosphere where employees consistently improve their ability to provide excellent products and services.

Total Quality Management can be broken down into three steps for better understanding. The Total encompasses all organisational sectors like construction, agriculture, sales and marketing, engineering and design, and so on in the culture. Quality refers to the improvement of the quality of products and services. And Management emphasizes how executives should implement the principles of quality control by adequate funding, training or coaching, staffing, strategy formation, goal setting, etc.

TQM is an ideal that captures the internal practices of a business organization and reflects them. A “total” quality management system supports the upgrade and improvement of customer service and goods. While employees do their part and management authorities take the right steps, improved quality control can be achieved for all goods and services. Business organizations and organizational structures can install the principles of total quality management for more effective and productive manufacturing and production processes.

Total quality management also reflects an organization or business system’s internal practices and industry standards. Internal practices are the measures business management and personnel take to bolster quality control, while industry standards are the various norms governing the operation of a particular business.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the following:

1. The history of Total Quality Management

2. What the 8 principles of Total Quality Management are

3. The pros and cons of implementing TQM

4. The defining features of Total Quality Management

5. The goal of Total Quality Management

Two colleagues discussing numbers on paper

The History of Total Quality Management

TQM history stems from the 19th century when Walter A. Shewhart, American physicist, statistician, and engineer (seldom referred to as the father of statistical quality control), introduced modern quality control. Following his ideals on quality control, Shewhart published a book called Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Products in 1931, which laid the foundation for the principles of total quality management.

Over the years, Shewhart’s theory and methodology were studied, and further improvements were made in various countries and for multiple industries. One of the most influential developments came from Japan, the birthplace of lean manufacturing, where a Japanese organizational theorist and a professor in the engineering faculty named Karou Ishikawa published What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way. Ishikawa was later recognized as the father of the Company Wide Quality Circle (CWQC) . He contributed to the idea of Total Quality Management and quality in Japan.

Another important person behind the history of total quality management is W. Edwards Deming. Edward was also posted to japan after the Second World War. Being sent to Japan allowed Edwards to get in touch with the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (UJSE). His research on the matter were summarized in his publications The Deming Wheel, Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases of Management, and Deming’s 14 Points.

In the United States, the concept of TQM spread throughout the federal government when the US Navy asked researchers to observe the statistical process control of various prominent quality consultants and how to apply their methods and ideas to US Navy operational activities. From the Navy, the concept of total quality management gave rise to the following:

  • Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Federal Quality Institute
  • Adoption of its concept by United State Coast Guard, United States Department of Defense, and the United States Army.

What Are The 8 Principles of Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management is a concept aimed at improving employees’ competence and the quality of processes involved in manufacturing goods and services. It strives to secure a permanent climate of progress where all employees working in synchrony and processes are as full-proof as possible. It also involves the detection and elimination of errors in the process of product establishment by quality managers and the improvement of the manufacturing procedures in place. The following principles guide the concept of Total Quality Management:

1. Customer Focus

Every business organization aims to make sales from whatever business project, operation, or idea they have. The most typical way for them to achieve this is by having many customers like their products or services. As a result, business systems and organizations try to improve their ability to satisfy customers by implementing internal practices that will enhance their quality according to customers’ preferences.

When a product or service is delivered to the public, the customers are responsible for determining the quality of the product or service, whether it’s good or bad. The feedback from customers is a big part of what management systems hold on to, as part of the goal of TQM is to achieve premium customer satisfaction. Hence, one of the principles required by staff, employees, quality managers, and business systems is to always focus on customer feedback to develop better quality control measures.

2. Employee Commitment Level

Total quality management in an organization cannot be successful if employees do not fully buy into the processes and systems involved in achieving better quality management. First, employees must be fully trained and provided with the necessary information and resources to complete various tasks. Employees can stay on track with the organization’s goals, needs, and constraints to know what way they can help alleviate current issues and work towards a better quality management system.

If all employees develop a high commitment level to their tasks and duties, the quality and productivity of an organization’s output will help TQM to succeed.

3. Continuous Improvement

One of the most crucial aspects of total quality management is the idea of always improving, no matter how small, just like in many of the Lean management structures, such as Kanban. Once a company or an organization gets used to its systems, procedures, customers, and competition, it should strive for a new development of an improvement plan. Taking progressive steps by introducing new marketing strategies, production processes, and manufacturing procedures can make a company adapt to changes in pace, products, customers, and regions quickly.

Steady and continuous improvement also maintains the competitive value of an organization. It stretches the competitive advantage a business organization might have built over the years.

4. Adherence To Processes

Every manufacturing and production company has a permanent process to ensure a successful operational activity. Sticking to this process as an employee or executive goes a long way to maintaining the qutility of products and services. All employees should know what they’re supposed to do during the implementation of these processes to ensure that the right steps are taken at the right time. And if processes change or experience a little modification, all workers and personnel should be informed beforehand to avoid mistakes and failure to adhere to processes.

TQM relies on visual actions, diagrams, process flowcharts, and workflows. Therefore companies should make sure that all these are carefully observed.

5. Strategic and Systemic Approach

A company or organizational structure that wants to achieve total quality control should be able to come up with systemic and strategic ideas for improving effectiveness and workflow. The process and approach to various concerns in quality management must align with the company’s vision and long-term goals. Every decision-making must be handled carefully by executives and people who understand the best strategies for implementing quality management techniques.

6. Utilization of Data

The systematic installation of TQM in a company’s organizational system can only be fruitful if enough feedback and data showcase how well the process has been going. Data planning and documentation are among the most important principles of total quality management. With accurate feedback and thorough data evaluation, management can clarify if everything is going well in the organization or not.

7. System Integration

For effective total quality management, business management can utilize data by integrating systems. The generation of systems allows for sharing information across different departments and smart decision-making. TQM aims to provide information to everyone involved in improving quality management so that they can all be on the same page. Integrating more systems allows for more precision and efficiency in handing out tasks. For example, a task that involves two aspects of a profession can be split into two systems for the easier and faster accomplishment of goals and plans.

8. Communication

Effective communication is one of the most important principles of total quality management in any structural process or system. Communication enables regular data sharing across various systems and departments of an organization. Constant communication keeps everyone informed about the right thing to do if errors occur during any process. Proper and effective communication helps TQM by motivating employees, educating staff on various tasks to perform, providing thorough operational instructions, and instructing on how to avoid, mitigate or combat administrative errors and mishaps.

Employee looking at TQM statistics on a tablet

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management surely helps a business operative produce quality products and secure loyal customers. Some concerns can still arise from implementing total quality management in a way that doesn’t offset the pace of the business or system in place. If you truly understand the concept of total quality management, you should know that enjoying the full privilege comes after you’ve implemented all the principles involved. This means that all departments in an organization have to buy into the actualization of these principles. This can sometimes be difficult to achieve; however, if it is successfully achieved, what are the benefits and the downsides of TQM implementation?

PROS OF TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT

  • Better quality products and services to customers: As mentioned before, the full implementation of TQM principles will result in better quality of products and services to meet customer’s expectations. The delivery of quality products and services will be certain and consistent.
  • Lower company-wide cost: When implemented appropriately, TQM promotes the drop-down in the cost of companies’ products and services.
  • Minimize waste: A proper implementation of TQM in a company minimizes waste through the general process of production and manufacturing.
  • Adaptability: When a company is able to consistently improve its quality control by observing the principles of total quality management, it will be able to adapt easily to different situations and scenarios.
  • Personnel and system upgrade: Applying the principles of total quality management results in upgrading various systems in a business or organization. All personnel and staff involved will be forced to become better than they were every time, as long as quality control is concerned.

CONS OF TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT

  • More financial investment: Observing the practices of TQM calls for more financial investments as executives have to fund various ideas and projects to improve the quality of services and goods from the company, business, or organization.
  • Lengthy duration of change: During the conversion of a company’s internal practices to TQM practices, depending on the scale of the organization’s operations and how large the organization is, an entire transverse into TQM principles might take a very long time to achieve.
  • Chances of refusal: The idea of total quality management might not always be welcomed by a company’s constituents. For example, some employees might refuse to accept a TQM process if it doesn’t utilize their various skill sets appropriately.
  • Requires an organizational-wide effort to succeed: The implementation of TQM practices and achieving the purpose of total quality management will not be successful if all departments and constituents of a company do not buy into the plan. While this requires a lot effort, it is usually well worth the while.

The 5 Key Features of Total Quality Management

Aside from the 8 operational principles of total quality management, some core elements exist that support the success of TQM practices in an organization. These elements are features that help both the employees and the company work together in perfect synchrony to achieve results in the best way possible. These features are:

1. Good leadership

One of the most important features of TQM and one of the driving forces of successive quality management is good leadership and successful management. If there is a knowledgeable and professional head directing the practices and process of TQM, companies will be able to deliver quality products and services seamlessly. In companies and organizations, the top leaders are usually the executives in charge of decision-making, goal-setting, and strategy formulation. Leaders can also be appointed in various departments of an organization to lead specific types of tasks.

2. Emphasis on Quality

When you think about what the features of total quality management are, the word Quality will indeed cross your mind. Comprehensive quality management is all about quality management in business and companies, so it only makes sense that the emphasis on quality is a significant feature of total quality management.

3. Error-correction

TQM aims at rewriting a company’s operational procedures and instructions. In so doing, it eliminates and corrects every error that might be wrong with a production process or even changes it entirely. To improve production and manufacturing quality, you must be able to identify defects and errors in a process or procedure. This is one crucial feature of total quality management that is ever prevalent.

4. Customer priority

One of the purposes of TQM is to meet customers’ expectations by providing quality products and services consistently. If companies don’t consider customers in their business plan and operational strategies, then there is no reason for TQM in the first place. The remote reason for improving the quality of products and services is to satisfy customers.

5. Improvement

Another vital feature of total quality management is an improvement in standards. The immediate reason for implementing TQM practices is so that a company can improve the quality of whatever it offers to the consumer market. With improvement in quality, there is no total quality management.

What Is The Goal of Total Quality Management

The main goal of the strategic framework of TQM is to improve the quality of managerial processes, production, and manufacturing procedures and serve customers with top-notch services and products. Total quality management also aims at causing constant improvement in a company or organization’s operational activities as well as internal practices by streamlining supply chain management, urging employee training, and system upgrades.

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