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This article explores one of the most popular and widely imitated quality management philosophies, known as total quality management (TQM), and its meaning.
We’ll briefly examine what it means, where it comes from, the main principles involved, and some examples of how it is used in modern project management.
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Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management technique based on the idea that all employees continuously improve their ability to provide on-demand products and services that customers will find of particular value. TQM relies on data-driven decision-making, teamwork, and supplier partnerships to achieve excellence and efficiency in an organization’s operations.
The word “total” implies that all employees in the organization, from development to production to fulfillment, must improve operations. “Management” suggests that this methodology should be a focused effort. It is not a passive or casual approach to quality improvement but a well-organized and structured management philosophy. TQM requires a strong commitment from leadership and a clear direction for the organization.
Put more simply, TQM is a management system where a company achieves organizational advancement through a commitment to customer requirements.
The roots of the principles and practice of TQM go back to the early 20th century and Frederick Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management, which advocated a consistent method for performing tasks and inspecting finished work.
In the 1920s, the industry began applying the concept of statistical process controls. Fast forward to Japan in the 1950s, when manufacturers in the country began to apply quality theory to production.
By the 1960s, seeking continuous quality improvement had become synonymous with Japanese business techniques. Japanese companies, led by industry giants like Toyota, adopted various quality control techniques such as Kaizen (continuous improvement), Poka-Yoke (error-proofing), and Just-In-Time production, contributing to their exceptional product quality and efficiency.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, US companies started noticing the remarkable success of Japanese businesses and sought to learn from their methods. As a result, they began importing and incorporating Japanese quality management ideas and principles into their own operations.
The concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) gained significant popularity in the United States and started spreading to other countries around the world.
Total Quality Management (TQM) offers numerous benefits to organizations, including improved product and service quality, enhanced customer satisfaction, increased efficiency, and employee engagement. We selected the most important, which are:
Most of these benefits derive directly from the eight core principles of Total Quality Management, which we explore in the next section:
Besides Total Quality Management (TQM) numerous benefits, we advise also looking at and acknowledging potential disadvantages.
Some of the disadvantages of TQM include:
At its core, TQM is guided by a set of fundamental principles that serve as the foundation for successful implementation. These are:
When you understand your customers’ wants and needs, you can now work out which materials, people, and processes you must implement to meet and exceed their expectations.
To implement this principle, you must research and understand your customers’ needs and expectations, align your organization’s objectives with those needs, measure customer satisfaction and ask for customer feedback that you can use to drive improved processes.
Your employees need to understand your company’s vision and goals. More than that, you must ensure they are trained and given the resources they need to complete tasks and retain their motivation.
To achieve this principle, you must clearly communicate your goals, encourage each team and individual to accept ownership and responsibility for problems and self-evaluate performance against personal goals and objectives. Celebrating successes and improvements is important, as this helps build employee confidence and commitment.
If you set out clear responsibilities and provide the necessary training, you can also then create an environment where employees can openly discuss problems and suggest ways to solve them.
It’s essential to ensure that everyone in the organization takes the proper steps at the right time to ensure consistency and speed up production. Implementing this principle means you need to measure and analyze your current processes to look for potential improvements or bottlenecks to remove. You also need to evaluate the impact your processes could have on all your stakeholders, from customers to suppliers to employees.
This means you must break down whatever silos are in your business. In a truly integrated system, every individual in every department should understand all relevant policies, standards, objectives, and processes. This helps more effective collaboration and the drive toward continual improvement.
This is another critical part of TQM and helps to achieve an organization’s vision, mission, and goals. This process, called strategic planning or strategic management, includes formulating a strategic plan that integrates quality as a core component.
Continuous improvement is about improving processes and adapting products and services to reflect shifting customer needs. To implement this principle, you should implement policies to establish product, process, and system improvements as measurable goals at the individual, team, and department levels. You also need to recognize and encourage innovative solutions to problems, partly by encouraging employees to upskill themselves and take on enhanced responsibilities.
To know how well an organization is performing, it needs to collect and analyze data on its performance. TQM requires an organization to improve decision-making accuracy and achieve consensus continually.
Everyone in your organization must be clear on your goals and the plans, strategies, and methods you are implementing to achieve them. Try to ensure that everyone in your organization understands their roles and how they fit in with the rest of the company. Involve employees in decision-making where you can, and communicate all your updates, policy changes, and news as often as possible.
When planning and implementing a TQM, there is no one solution for every situation or workplace. Each organization is unique in terms of its culture, people, and processes, and so the strategy can vary from company to company.
Because of this, we can find multiple examples of TQM within modern approaches to quality management. Here are some of those examples:
Now you know more about the Total Quality Management approach to project management, why not browse our ever-expanding library of project management resources? Or download our Ultimate Project Management Guide.
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TQM in operations management is about optimizing processes for efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction. It involves continuous improvement, employee involvement, and data-driven decision-making to deliver better products and services. TQM creates a culture of excellence, making organizations more competitive and successful in the market.
TQM in project management is a customer-focused approach that aims for continuous improvement and high-quality outcomes. It involves data-driven decision-making, risk management, and employee empowerment to deliver successful projects that meet or exceed client expectations.
Here are key five examples of Total Quality Management (TQM) implementation in various industries:
Toyota Production System: Toyota’s renowned TQM approach, also known as the Toyota Way, emphasizes continuous improvement, waste reduction, and employee empowerment. It has been instrumental in making Toyota one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers.
Motorola’s Six Sigma: Motorola pioneered the Six Sigma methodology, which is a data-driven approach to process improvement aiming to reduce defects and improve quality. Six Sigma has been widely adopted by various organizations across industries.
Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company: Ritz-Carlton is known for its commitment to exceptional customer service. By integrating TQM principles, the company ensures consistent quality and customer satisfaction across its luxury hotels and resorts.
FedEx: FedEx, a global courier delivery services company, implemented TQM to enhance its operational efficiency and customer service. TQM practices have played a significant role in establishing FedEx as a leader in the logistics industry.
Indian Railways: Indian Railways, one of the world’s largest railway networks, adopted TQM to improve safety, efficiency, and passenger satisfaction. The implementation of TQM principles has resulted.