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Principles of Total Quality Management (TQM)

July 22, 2013 Patrick Reynolds

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management approach focusing on the improvement of quality and performance in all functions, departments, and processes across the company to provide quality services which exceed customer expectations. TQM expands the scope of quality of every department from top management to lower level employees. It enables management to adopt a strategic approach to quality and put more effort on prevention rather than on inspection. Through TQM, all employees are trained in a professional manner and encouraged to make decisions on their own to improve the overall quality and attain higher standards. This is key to achieving the TQM results desired, because without your employees on board and feeling empowered, you might as well be swimming upstream.

Through TQM, companies increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and foster team work. Companies can also gain higher returns on sales and investment. The ability to provide quality services allow for higher prices to be charged. Total quality means better access to global markets, greater customer loyalty, wider recognition as a quality brand, etc.

TQM is broadly based on the following principles:

  1. Customer Centric Approach – Consumers are the ultimate judge to determine whether products or services are of superior quality or not. No matter how many resources are pooled in training employees, upgrading machines and computers, incorporating quality design process and standards, bringing new technology, etc.; at the end of the day, it is the customers who have the final say in judging your company. Companies must remember to implement TQM across all fronts keeping in mind the customers.
  2. Employee Involvement – Ensuring total employee involvement in achieving goals and business objectives will lead to employee empowerment and active participation from the employees in decision making and addressing quality related problems. Employee empowerment and involvement can be increased by making the workspace more open and devoid of fear.
  3. Continual Improvement – A major component of TQM is continual improvement. Continual improvement will lead to improved and higher quality processes. Continual improvement will ensure companies will find new ways and techniques in producing better quality products, production, be more competitive, as well as exceed customer expectations.
  4. Strategic Approach to Improvement – Businesses must adopt a strategic approach towards quality improvement to achieve their goals, vision, and mission. A strategic plan is very necessary to ensure quality becomes the core aspect of all business processes.
  5. Integrated System – Businesses comprise of various departments with different functionality purposes. These functionalities are interconnected with various horizontal processes TQM focuses on. Everyone in the company should have a thorough understanding of the quality policies, standards, objectives, and important processes. It is very important to promote a quality work culture as it helps to achieve excellence and surpass customer expectations. An integrated system ensures continual improvement and helps companies achieve a competitive edge.
  6. Decision Making – Data from the performance measurement of processes indicates the current health of the company. For efficient TQM, companies must collect and analyze data to improve quality, decision making accuracy, and forecasts. The decision making must be statistically and situational based in order to avoid any room for emotional based decisions.
  7. Communications – Communication plays a crucial role in TQM as it helps to motivate employees and improve their morale during routine daily operations. Employees need to be involved as much as possible in the day to day operations and decision making process to really give them a sense of empowerment. This creates the environment of success and unity and helps drive the results the TQM process can achieve.

It requires immense efforts, time, courage, and patience to successfully implement TQM. Businesses successfully implementing TQM can witness improved quality across all major processes and departments, higher customer retention, higher revenue due to improved sales, and global brand recognition.