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What is TQM or total quality management?

[] Total quality management is built upon a Japanese management system called Kaizen, which believes in small but continuous improvements in the management system

What is TQM?

TQM stands for total quality management. TQM is a continuous process of detecting and eradicating manufacturing or supply chain errors, improving customer experience and providing world-class training to the employee.

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In TQM, every employee is responsible for the overall quality of the final product or service of the organisation. Total quality management is built upon a Japanese management system called Kaizen. Kaizen believes in small but continuous improvements in the management system. TQM was introduced by William Deming, a management consultant whose work was influenced by the Japanese style of manufacturing. While TQM was first implemented in the manufacturing sector, it is now applied to every sector.

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Total quality management: Primary elements

  1. Customer-focused: Every company aspires to have better customer relations. Customer reviews ultimately decide whether the product is worth purchasing at a given price. Therefore, every element of improvement focuses on delivering the utmost customer satisfaction to improve the company’s market standing.  
  2. Total company involvement: A self-motivated employee participates in the company’s common goals. An employee can attain self-motivation through a stick or carrot reward system in a hospitable working environment. With continuous improvement, a self-motivated employee will achieve a higher level of productivity.
  3. Process-oriented system: A manufacturing unit works according to a flowchart. Every component in the manufacturing unit is defined to perform with continuous supervision to detect unforeseen errors. 
  4. Integration of system: A company has two types of integration, horizontal and vertical. However, TQM focuses on horizontal integration and provides continuous improvement points to create a larger, seamless process to aggregate and implement cost-beneficial strategies in the company. Here, total company involvement is necessary. An employee needs to understand the vision, mission, quality policies and manufacturing process of the company, to curate a seamless, integrated system. 
  5. Strategic planning: A company must improve the quality of the management by placing a strategic and systematic plan to achieve the company’s desired goal. 
  6. Continuous improvement: Total quality management preaches continuous improvement of the management system. A company should improve slowly but steadily to have an advantage over its competitors in the market. 
  7. Fact-based improvement:  A company should collect performance data to measure the level of improvement and productivity. Continuous improvement drives a company to have analytical thinking that improves decision-making and strategic thinking.
  8. Communication: Communication is vital for continuous improvement. Every employee should update their supervisors about their level of productivity daily. Effective communication also acts as a motivator, as it can make an employee feel like they are a part of the organisation.

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TQM advantages

  1. Cost-effective implementation: TQM reduces the scope of error. Therefore, a company can order raw materials using a just-in-time approach. It means the raw material will arrive when the necessity arises, thus, reducing warehouse costs. Moreover, the cost of rework, defect, and scrap reduces immensely, as there is a low margin for error.
  2. Productivity improvement: TQM preaches continuous improvement; it leads to error-free productivity management. Employees are given training at a regular interval that propels them to get the product right through the initial stage of production. Here, the employee can focus on increasing their productivity rather than spending time correcting the error.
  3. Customer satisfaction: The company strives to produce defect-free products. Error-free customer service provides a higher level of satisfaction. Moreover, with good customer satisfaction, the company’s image will improve and provide competitive advantages in the market.
  4. Company’s value: TQM develops strong values around quality control management that preach continuous improvement. Moreover, TQM is spread across the company’s horizontal and vertical integration. Every employee is trained to follow the company’s value of providing a high level of productivity and customer satisfaction.

What are the 6 Cs required to implement TQM?

  1. Commitment from the company: An organisation shall develop a TQM approach that binds employees towards a common goal. Each employee should be aware of his role in the company and strive to increase productivity for the company. Each employee should participate in improving the quality of the product and should commit to the cause.
  2. The culture of the company: The company cultivates a mindset for continuous improvement. An employee should not succumb to mediocre improvement and always strive to attain continuous improvement. A company should establish two-way communication and encourage employee feedback. The company should provide better working conditions for employees to grow and reach their utmost potential.
  3. Continuous improvement: TQM is an ongoing process toward sustainable improvement and not an end goal. It requires continuous employee training, related policies and control, to achieve error-free improvement. The company should introduce and implement various new methods to achieve error-free improvement and motivate employees to commit to the task at hand.
  4. Employee cooperation: TQM is sustainable if employees are fully vested in the process after the implementation of the same. The experience of the employee with the TQM process can provide an error-free productivity unit. 
  5. Customer requirements: Several multinational companies spend millions of dollars conducting market research to know customers’ requirements. Therefore, having TQM in place will help the company provide the product at the earliest possible time with very few defects. TQM is pertinent in a technological company. For example companies like Samsung and Apple keep updating their security patches to provide conducive customer experiences.  
  6. Effective control: Companies need to monitor production growth by reviewing and analysing data related to production details. These controls help in recognising and rectifying any lag in the production belt to attain utmost productivity. 

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What is PDCA in TQM?

P – Planning Phase: The company’s employees need to place a unique TQM to rectify any problem arising within the company. The top-level hierarchy needs to listen to problems that may erupt in due course and need to be ready with a solution. They need to spend time conducting research and collecting data to understand the problem and provide a logical solution.

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D – Doing Phase: Employees will execute the planning and create a doable system that solves the problem. Several strategies and planning will be implemented to solve challenging problems faced by employees. Finally, employees will measure the efficiency and effectiveness of solutions presented in this phase.

C – Checking Phase: The company will compare the level of production before and after implementing TQM and assess the effectiveness of the solution and strategy.

A – Acting Phase: Here, employees will document their results and prepare themselves to face newer challenges. 

Core principles of TQM

  • Ensure customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
  • Continuous improvement
  • Every party is important to sustain productivity
  • Regular analysis of productivity is vital
  • TQM requires strong leadership

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Category: Must Knows

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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