Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management is "A process designed to focus on customer expectations, preventing problems, building commitment to quality in the workforce and promoting open decision-making

Total quality management is a comprehensive concept and not related only to the quality of goods and services. It suggests that high quality standards (e.g., ISO 9000) should be maintained in other aspects of management such as production cost, marketing, sales promotion, etc. For such quality/efficiency in all aspects of business management, consciousness/awareness needs to be developed at all levels and among employees working in all departments of the enterprise. Employees must be motivated for maintaining high quality standards. In addition, their cooperation/involvement is necessary for maintaining efficiency in all aspects of business management. In brief, quality management is not the responsibility of management alone. Participation/involvement of both parties (management and employees) is essential for achievement of quality and other benefits.

Total Quality Management TQM
The concept of TQM is closely related to the concept of quality circles which is very popular and also successful in Japan. Quality circles are work groups that meet frequently to study the ways and means to improve quality, reduce cost, eliminate wastages and solve other production problems. Here, employees are associated with quality, cost, efficiency, productivity, consumer service and satisfaction. This creates background for the concept of TQM.
TQM aims at improving the total performance at the work place. It covers all functions, activities and people who are responsible for competitiveness of an Organisation. The employees are expected to participate not only in maintaining quality but also in improving their total performance so that the wastages will be avoided, production cost will go down and the enterprise can earn more profit.
TQM means strategic commitment to improving quality by combining statistical quality control methods with a cultural commitment to seeking incremental improvements that increase productivity and lower cost.

Main Principles of TQM
The main principles that underlie TQM are summarised below:
Prevention Prevention is better than cure. In the long run, it is cheaper to stop products defects than trying to find them
Zero defects The ultimate aim is no (zero) defects - or exceptionally low defect levels if a product or service is complicated
Getting things right first time Better not to produce at all than produce something defective
Quality involves everyone Quality is not just the concern of the production or operations department - it involves everyone, including marketing, finance and human resources
Continuous improvement Businesses should always be looking for ways to improve processes to help quality
Employee involvement Those involved in production and operations have a vital role to play in spotting improvement opportunities for quality and in identifying quality problems

 The Primary Elements of TQM

Total quality management can be summarized as a management system for a customer-focused organization that involves all employees in continual improvement. It uses strategy, data, and effective communications to integrate the quality discipline into the culture and activities of the organization.
  • Customer-focused. The customer ultimately determines the level of quality. No matter what an organization does to foster quality improvement—training employees, integrating quality into the design process, upgrading computers or software, or buying new measuring tools—the customer determines whether the efforts were worthwhile.

  • Total employee involvement. All employees participate in working toward common goals. Total employee commitment can only be obtained after fear has been driven from the workplace, when empowerment has occurred, and management has provided the proper environment. High-performance work systems integrate continuous improvement efforts with normal business operations. Self-managed work teams are one form of empowerment.

  • Process-centered. A fundamental part of TQM is a focus on process thinking. A process is a series of steps that take inputs from suppliers (internal or external) and transforms them into outputs that are delivered to customers (again, either internal or external). The steps required to carry out the process are defined, and performance measures are continuously monitored in order to detect unexpected variation.

  • Integrated system. Although an organization may consist of many different functional specialties often organized into vertically structured departments, it is the horizontal processes interconnecting these functions that are the focus of TQM.
    • Micro-processes add up to larger processes, and all processes aggregate into the business processes required for defining and implementing strategy. Everyone must understand the vision, mission, and guiding principles as well as the quality policies, objectives, and critical processes of the organization. Business performance must be monitored and communicated continuously.
    • An integrated business system may be modeled after the Baldrige National Quality Program criteria and/or incorporate the ISO 9000 standards. Every organization has a unique work culture, and it is virtually impossible to achieve excellence in its products and services unless a good quality culture has been fostered. Thus, an integrated system connects business improvement elements in an attempt to continually improve and exceed the expectations of customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
  • Strategic and systematic approach. A critical part of the management of quality is the strategic and systematic approach to achieving an organization’s vision, mission, and goals. This process, called strategic planning or strategic management, includes the formulation of a strategic plan that integrates quality as a core component.

  • Continual improvement. A major thrust of TQM is continual process improvement. Continual improvement drives an organization to be both analytical and creative in finding ways to become more competitive and more effective at meeting stakeholder expectations.

  • Fact-based decision making. In order to know how well an organization is performing, data on performance measures are necessary. TQM requires that an organization continually collect and analyze data in order to improve decision making accuracy, achieve consensus, and allow prediction based on past history.

  • Communications. During times of organizational change, as well as part of day-to-day operation, effective communications plays a large part in maintaining morale and in motivating employees at all levels. Communications involve strategies, method, and timeliness.

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