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Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management strategy aimed at embedding awareness of quality in all organizational processes. TQM has been widely used in manufacturing, education, government, and service industries.
  • It provides an umbrella under which everyone in the organization can strive and create customer satisfaction.It is a people focused management system that aims at continual increase in customer satisfaction at continually lower real costs.
  • It is a description of the culture, attitude and organization of a company that aims to provide, and continue to provide, its customers with products and services that satisfy their needs. The culture requires quality in all aspects of the company's operations, with things being done right first time, and defects and waste eradicated from operations
  • Total Quality Management is an approach to the art of management that originated in Japanese industry in the 1950's and has become steadily more popular in the West since the early 1980's.Some of the companies who have implemented TQM include Ford Motor Company, Phillips Semiconductor, SGL Carbon, Motorola and Toyota Motor Company.
Historical Background
  • The history of quality control is undoubtedly as old as industry itself. During the Middle age, quality was to a large extent controlled by the long periods of training required by the guilds. This training instilled pride in workers for quality of a product. The concept of specialization of labor was introduced during the Industrial Revolution. As a result, a worker no longer makes the entire product, only a portion. This change brought about a decline in workmanship. Because most products manufactured during that early period were not complicated, quality was not greatly affected. In fact, because productivity improved there was a decrease in cost, which resulted in lower customer expectations. As products became more complicated and jobs more specialized, it became necessary to inspect products after manufacture. 
  • In 1924, W.A. Shewhart of Bell Telephone Laboratories developed a statistical chart for the control of product variables. This chart is considered to be the beginning of statistical quality control. Later in the same decade, H.F.Dodge and H.G. Roming, both of Bell Telephone Laboratories, developed the area of acceptance sampling as a substitute for 100% inspection. Recognition of the value of statistical quality control became apparent by 1942. Unfortunately, US managers failed to recognize its value.
  • In 1942, the American Society for Quality Control was formed. Recently, the name was changed to American Society for Quality (ASQ). This organization, through its publications, conferences, and training sessions, has promoted the use of quality for all types of production and service.

  • In 1950, W.Edwards Deming, who learned  statistical quality control from Shewhart gave a series of lectures on statistical methods to Japanese engineers and on quality responsibility  to the CEOs of the largest  organizations in Japan. Joseph M. Juran made his first trip to Japan in 1954 and further emphasized management’s responsibility to achieve quality. Using these concepts the Japanese set the quality standards for the rest of the world to follow. 
  • In 1960, the first quality control circles were formed for the purpose of quality improvement. Simple statistical techniques were learned and applied by Japanese workers. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, US managers were making frequent trips to Japan to learn about the Japanese miracle. These trips were really not necessary – they could have read the writings of Deming and Juran. Nevertheless, a quality renaissance began to occur in US products and services, and by the middle of 1980 the concepts of TQM were being publicized.

  • In the late 1980s the automotive industry began to emphasize statistical process control (SPC). Suppliers and their suppliers were required to use these techniques. Other industries and Department of Defense also implemented SPC. The Malcolm Baldrige  National Quality Award was established and became the means to measure TQM. Genechi Taguchi introduced his concepts of parameter and tolerance design and brought about a resurgence of design of experiments (DOE) as a valuable quality improvement tool.

  • Emphasis on quality continued in the auto industry in the 1990s when the Saturn automobile ranked first in customer satisfaction (1996). In addition, ISO 9000 became the worldwide model for a quality management system. ISO 14000 was approved as the worldwide model for environmental management system. The new millennium brought about increased emphasis on worldwide quality and the Internet.


Total Quality Management is composed of three paradigms.

Total = Quality involves everyone and all activities in the company.

Quality = Conformance to Requirements (Meeting Customer Requirements).

Management = Quality can and must be managed.

TQM = A process for managing quality; it must be a continuous way of life; a philosophy of perpetual improvement in everything we do.

As defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO):

TQM is a management approach for an organization, centered on quality, based on the participation of all its members and aiming at long-term success through customer satisfaction, and benefits to all members of the organization and to society.

The simple objective of Total Quality Management is "Do the right things, right the first time, every time".

Aspects of Total Quality Management

It includes customer-driven quality, top management leadership and commitment, continuous improvement, fast response, actions based on facts, employee participation, and a TQM culture.

Customer-Driven Quality:

TQM has a customer-first orientation. The customer, not internal activities and constraints, comes first. Customer satisfaction is seen as the company's highest priority. The company believes it will only be successful if customers are satisfied. The TQM Company is sensitive to customer requirements and responds rapidly to them. In the TQM context, `being sensitive to customer requirements' goes beyond defect and error reduction, and merely meeting specifications or reducing customer complaints. The concept of requirements is expanded to take in not only product and service attributes that meet basic requirements, but also those that enhance and differentiate them for competitive advantage.

Each part of the company is involved in Total Quality, operating as a customer to some functions and as a supplier to others. The Engineering Department is a supplier to downstream functions such as Manufacturing and Field Service, and has to treat these internal customers with the same sensitivity and responsiveness as it would external customers.

TQM Leadership from Top Management:

TQM is a way of life for a company. It has to be introduced and led by top management. This is a key point. Attempts to implement TQM often fail because top management doesn't lead and get committed - instead it delegates and pays lip service. Commitment and personal involvement is required from top management in creating and deploying clear quality values and goals consistent with the objectives of the company, and in creating and deploying well defined systems, methods and performance measures for achieving those goals. These systems and methods guide all quality activities and encourage participation by all employees. The development and use of performance indicators is linked, directly or indirectly, to customer requirements and satisfaction, and to management and employee remuneration.

Continuous Improvement:

Continuous improvement of all operations and activities is at the heart of TQM. Once it is recognized that customer satisfaction can only be obtained by providing a high-quality product, continuous improvement of the quality of the product is seen as the only way to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. As well as recognizing the link between product quality and customer satisfaction, TQM also recognizes that product quality is the result of process quality. As a result, there is a focus on continuous improvement of the company's processes. This will lead to an improvement in process quality. In turn this will lead to an improvement in product quality, and to an increase in customer satisfaction. Improvement cycles are encouraged for all the company's activities such as product development, use of EDM/PDM, and the way customer relationships are managed. This implies that all activities include measurement and monitoring of cycle time and responsiveness as a basis for seeking opportunities for improvement.

Elimination of waste is a major component of the continuous improvement approach. There is also a strong emphasis on prevention rather than detection, and an emphasis on quality at the design stage. The customer-driven approach helps to prevent errors and achieve defect-free production. When problems do occur within the product development process, they are generally discovered and resolved before they can get to the next internal customer.

Fast Response:

To achieve customer satisfaction, the company has to respond rapidly to customer needs. This implies short product and service introduction cycles. These can be achieved with customer-driven and process-oriented product development because the resulting simplicity and efficiency greatly reduce the time involved. Simplicity is gained through concurrent product and process development. Efficiencies are realized from the elimination of non-value-adding effort such as re-design. The result is a dramatic improvement in the elapsed time from product concept to first shipment.

Actions Based on Facts:

The statistical analysis of engineering and manufacturing facts is an important part of TQM. Facts and analysis provide the basis for planning, review and performance tracking, improvement of operations, and comparison of performance with competitors. The TQM approach is based on the use of objective data, and provides a rational rather than an emotional basis for decision making. The statistical approach to process management in both engineering and manufacturing recognizes that most problems are system-related, and are not caused by particular employees. In practice, data is collected and put in the hands of the people who are in the best position to analyze it and then take the appropriate action to reduce costs and prevent non-conformance. Usually these people are not managers but workers in the process. If the right information is not available, then the analysis, whether it be of shop floor data, or engineering test results, can't take place, errors can't be identified, and so errors can't be corrected.

Employee Participation:

A successful TQM environment requires a committed and well-trained work force that participates fully in quality improvement activities. Such participation is reinforced by reward and recognition systems which emphasize the achievement of quality objectives. On-going education and training of all employees supports the drive for quality. Employees are encouraged to take more responsibility, communicate more effectively, act creatively, and innovate. As people behave the way they are measured and remunerated, TQM links remuneration to customer satisfaction metrics.

A TQM Culture:

It's not easy to introduce TQM. An open, cooperative culture has to be created by management. Employees have to be made to feel that they are responsible for customer satisfaction. They are not going to feel this if they are excluded from the development of visions, strategies, and plans. It's important they participate in these activities. They are unlikely to behave in a responsible way if they see management behaving irresponsibly - saying one thing and doing the opposite.

Product Development in a TQM Environment

Product development in a TQM environment is very different to product development in a non-TQM environment. Without a TQM approach, product development is usually carried on in a conflictual atmosphere where each department acts independently. Short-term results drive behavior so scrap, changes, work-arounds, waste, and rework are normal practice. Management focuses on supervising individuals, and fire-fighting is necessary and rewarded.

Product development in a TQM environment is customer-driven and focused on quality. Teams are process-oriented, and interact with their internal customers to deliver the required results. Management's focus is on controlling the overall process, and rewarding teamwork.

1. Recognize that what you are doing is a "PROCESS"
2. Identify the commodity
being processed.
- Process Inference

3. Define some measurable characteristics of value to the commodity.

4. Describe the "PROCESS"
o Process Flow Analysis's
o Flow charts
o List of steps
5. Identify the "Big"  problem
o Brainstorming
o Checklists
o Pareto analysis
6. "BRAINSTORM" what is causing the problem.
7. Determine what past data shows.
o Frequency distribution
o Pareto charts
o Control charts
- sampling
8. Determine the relationship
between cause and effect
o Scatter diagrams
o Regression analysis
9. Determine what the
process is doing now
o Control charts
- sampling
10. Determine what change would help
  • Your knowledge
    of the process
  • Scatter diagrams
  • Control Charts
    - sampling
  • Pareto analysis
****Then make
the change.
11. Determine what change worked (confirmation).
  • Histograms
  • Control charts
    - sampling
  • Scatter diagrams
12. Ensure the fix is embedded in the process and that the resulting process is used.

Continue to monitor the process to ensure:

A. The problem is fixed for good.

B. The process is good enough
o Control charts
- sampling
****To ensure continuous
improvement, return
to step 5.

Awards for Quality Achievement 

The Deming Prize has been awarded annually since 1951 by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers in recognition of outstanding achievement in quality strategy, management and execution. Since 1988 a similar award (the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award) has been awarded in the US. Early winners of the Baldrige Award include AT&T (1992), IBM (1990), Milliken (1989), Motorola (1988), Texas Instruments (1992) and Xerox (1989).

Success and Failure in Application of TQM

Several companies like Corning (Shapoff, 1996), AT&T (AT&T, 1992), General Motors, Motorola, IBM, Kodak, and Westinghouse (Eskildson, 1995) have implemented TQM in their organizations and have achieved glowing results in terms of performance and productivity.  In fact many of them were successful in winning the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for their high quality performances.  However, at the same time, several reports of TQM failures also flood the literature. Wallace Corporation filed bankruptcy shortly after winning the Baldrige Award; and Federal Express lost $1.5 billion and had to cut back its operations especially in Europe.  Florida Power & Light, the first American firm to win the Deming Award, cut back and downsized considerably as it felt that the costs of the TQM program outweighed the benefits (Eskildson, 1995). 

The problems appear to be related more to the implementation of TQM rather than the method or theory in itself.  These include:

1.     Lack of statistical emphasis. 
2.     Individual reward system rather than group incentives.
3.     High cost problems
4.     Cultural differences in work environment
5.     Inappropriate implementation

6.     Misunderstanding the role of TQM

Advantages and Disadvantages of  Total Quality Management


Higher productivity, increased morale, reduced costs, and greater customer commitment are the most frequent advantages of TQM. These are mostly long-term. Short-term there are fewer, because it requires initial training. Eliminating errors and doing things right the first time saves time and resources. The savings may then be used for expansion of services or made available to employees in their efforts to increase service quality. TQM gives employees the experience of problem solving and using their knowledge and experiences in a collaborative effort.


TQM may limit an organization’s flexibility. At some point the TQM long-term plan may become a goal in itself. The organization may reach a stable point and stagnate. An organization must react quickly to changes in the community and not be restricted by its management style. TQM critics also argue that TQM does not demand radical organizational reform whereas real quality improvement requires radical structural change, such as flattening organizational structures. Another critic of TQM is that it is based on “pure science”, such as statistics and eliminates employee creativity, which may stop motivation.


Total Quality Management (TQM) encourages participation amongst shop floor workers and managers. It is a discipline and philosophy of management which institutionalizes planned and continuous... improvement ... and assumes that quality is the outcome of all activities that take place within an organization; that all functions and all employees have to participate in the improvement process; that organizations need both quality systems and a quality culture.


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