What is Total Quality Management?

Total quality management (TQM) ensures that organisations products and/or services are consistent.

However, TQM is focused not only on product and service quality but also on the means to achieve it. Most notable are the four main components of quality management: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement.

Forms of TQM were emerging in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that TQM became a large topic with many organisations attempting implementation. Today TQM is not the most influential Quality Management methodology. This is due to ISO 9000, Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma have more refined and specific practices. 

International Organization for Standardization definition:

“A management approach of an organisation centred 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 organisation and society.”

The main purpose of TQM is to provide a method for employees and management to become continuously improve their products and services. Though originally applied to operations in manufacturing TQM has infinite flexibility and adaptability. By incorporating the knowledge and experiences of workers as a collection of processes. You can recognise how to “Do the right things, right the first time, every time.”

The key concepts of TQM

The key concepts for TQM according to the United States Navy include:

  • “Quality is defined by customers’ requirements.”
  • “Top management has direct responsibility for quality improvement.”
  • “Increased quality comes from systematic analysis and improvement of work processes.”
  • “Quality improvement is a continuous effort and conducted throughout the organisation.”

The Navy used the following tools and techniques:

  • The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle to drive issues to resolution
  • Ad hoc cross-functional teams responsible for addressing immediate process issues
  • Standing cross-functional teams responsible for the improvement of processes over the long-term
  • Active management participation through steering committees
  • Use of the Seven Basic Tools of Quality to analyse quality-related issues

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