What is Total Quality Management

Susmita B.


Quality management has always been one of the highest priorities of businesses that aim to lead their industry. Total Quality Management (TQM) is a complete quality control system that maintains quality throughout the whole manufacturing process, from start to finish.

There are many different opinions from many quality experts (like Phillip Crosby, Dr, Joseph Juran, W Edwards Deming and more), about how to define TQM. In simple words, it is the art of managing quality in the most practical way possible by involving everyone in the business to avoid any chances of defects or rework.

Historically, quality checking used to take place only after the manufacturing of a product. However, according to TQM theory, quality should be observed at every step in the business process. Quality should be organization-wide and should involve everyone (from top management to trainee and even customers) related to the business. The TQM philosophy focuses on three points: a) Continuous and consistent improvement, b) Teamwork and c) Customer satisfaction.

There are many tools, methodologies and techniques to run TQM successfully. Let’s take a look at few of those tools, methodologies and techniques.

PDCA cycle: This tool reinforces the repetition of four steps (Plan, Do, Check, Act/adjust) to achieve improved quality throughout the business process.

- Plan: Define the goal and plan necessary processes to achieve the goal.

- Do: Implement the planned processes.

- Check: Analyze the outcome and check for any loopholes, productivity issues and any deviations from goal achievement.

- Act/adjust: Take corrective measures and act towards achieving zero defects.

Seven must-follow, basic quality tools: There are seven basic tools (which can be applied together in combination or individually) that prove to be effective in analyzing and solving quality related issues in various business niches. Every business should be monitoring their production processes using at least one of these tools if they are aiming to be as cost-effective as possible while ensuring high quality products. The analysis tools are:

- Cause and effect/fishbone analysis

- Check sheet

- Control/Shewhart chart

- Histogram statistics

- Pareto analysis

- Scatter plots

- Stratification

Quality Circles: Consisting of groups of workers that share the same working platform and work under the same supervision, quality circles can leverage their specific knowledge & unique skills to achieve the highest quality in the delivery of their component of a product. In order for quality circles to be effective, employees must be motivated and taken seriously. They can turn into true, fully stand-alone quality circles over time. Companies such as Toyota have implemented quality circles in their manufacturing plants an have achieved astounding success and advancements in quality because of them.

Deming’s 14 points of quality: W. Edwards Deming describes an all-in-one 14 point guide to drive success in TQM. The maxims in his guide are as follows:

- Create constant purpose to improve quality

- Adopt new philosophy/accept change

- Inspections don’t always guarantee quality, it only costs more

- Minimize suppliers for an item

- Improvement should be constant and indefinite

- On the job training is effective

- Implement and embrace leadership

- Stop fearing

- Have a flat organizational structure and culture

- Avoid vague notions

- Have as few goals as possible and stop discriminating between levels or position

- Minimize competition among workers and have a simple performance analysis system

- Encourage education and self-improvement

- Involve everyone in a company’s ‘transformation’.

Finally, while TQM isn't for every company, it is a fantastic way to conduct business. The benefits reaped by businesses following a TQM regime include a more dedicated and knowledgeable workforce, happier customers, leaner business processes, fewer manufacturing defects, and the list goes on. TQM is an integral part of becoming a leader in any industry.