Total Quality Management or TQM for short is a process improvement methodology that helps organizations aim for improving the quality of their products and services in the long run. It provides policies and techniques to develop effective strategies that are suitable for the continuous improvement of various processes in the business enterprise.
Organizations that want to achieve their goals and objectives and sustain them for a long time must understand the importance of TQM. They hire quality management professionals trained and knowledgeable in the fundamentals of total quality management to improve their business processes. Also, these professionals have a detailed comprehension of the 8 key principles of total quality management.
What is Total Quality Management?
The term TQM or Total Quality Management originated in the 1950s in Japan. It is a management approach that aims to achieve long-term success through continuous quality improvement. In TQM all members of the organization play a vital role in improving the business processes. This also includes building a value addition culture in the organization at all levels from junior staff to senior managers, every person in the enterprise has a role to play. The main objective of total quality management is sustaining the continual improvement of the business processes to deliver “quality” products and services that effectively meet the requirements of their customers.
Importance of Total Quality Management for Continuous Improvement
The role of quality management in any organization is to improve the delivery of quality products and services to their customers. To achieve this, each process of quality development must be improved through the identification of defects or reducing variation. In TQM, this is given priority. Here, every professional works towards the common goal of attaining the organizational objectives. Total quality management promotes continuous improvement by encouraging the whole organization to adopt the principles of quality management.
One of the most important advantages of total quality management is the reduction of the total cost of quality improvement processes. It helps in identifying and mitigating risks. TQM also helps in resolving problems before they occur and during operations. And it increases customer satisfaction by delivering products and services that have low costs and meets their expectations. Every employee feels like they are contributing to the success of their organization. Thus, we can conclude that total quality management helps in achieving the organizational objectives by increasing the overall productivity of the organization.
Principles of Total Quality Management
TQM has several elements that when adopted together helps organizations attain their goals and objectives. Listed below are the 8 key principles of total quality management that are required for quality improvement:
- Customer Focus
TQM gives emphasis on the end-users or customers of the products and services delivered by the organization. This means the quality of these products and services is determined by the customers. This can be known by taking customer feedback and communicating with them about their requirements.
- Employee Involvement
This is a vital aspect of total quality management that focuses on the involvement of every member of the organization in the quality improvement process. From entry-level employees to the leaders of the organization, everyone feels empowered. This increases their satisfaction level from the work they are doing which reflects on the overall productivity of the organization.
- Process-centered Approach
Total quality management cannot be implemented without following a definite and consistent process-centered approach. Processes are predetermined and predictable, thus limiting variation. Monitoring and assessing predefined processes are easy and lead to an increase in performance or production.
- Integrated System
Organizations that adopt total quality management have an integrated system that allows them to run a flow of communication and understanding in a horizontal process. In this system, every employee understands the policies, strategies, and objectives of the organization. This will also help quality management professionals identify the areas that need improvement.
- Strategic and Systematic Approach
Policymaking and strategic planning is an integral part of total quality management. It provides a systematic approach to carrying out various operations involved in the quality improvement process. Quality forms the core component of the strategic plan. Thus, helping attain the visions and missions of the organization.
- Fact-based Decision Making
In TQM, decisions are made using facts or statistical data collected. These inputs are then analyzed to reach the required consensus. This allows organizations to make informed decisions based on data which can be sales and revenue figures, market research, customer retention rates, etc. It leads to making predictions based on past figures and producing accurate results.
Improvement cannot take place without effective communication within the organization. TQM allows every member of the organization to communicate the objectives of the organization as well as the requirements of the project effectively. Every strategy and policy aligned with objectives are communicated with the employees. This ultimately helps in adopting the principles of total quality management in the organization.
- Continuous Improvement
Attaining business efficiency and customer satisfaction is the primary objective of total quality management. This is done in a systematic manner through continuous improvement. Quality improvement is a continuous process in TQM. This helps organizations attain their objectives and sustain long-term success over their competition.
In organizations adopting the principles of total quality management, the leaders and decision-makers, growth, support, training, and communication, are emphasized. Thus, every employee is trained and made aware of the goals of continuous quality improvement. Their actions must align with the need of the organization. This is how quality products and services are delivered, by building an environment of continuous improvement through effective communication.
By following the key principles of total quality management, organizations can become analytical and creative in formulating strategies to meet the expectations of their stakeholders as well as stay ahead of their competitors. TQM helps organizations adapt to the changing dynamics of the global economy. To implement total quality management, the organization must invest in training their employees in quality management professional certifications and defining the goals clearly. It is a lengthy process and should be approached in phases to build a culture of continuous improvement.