Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management, or TQM, is an approach to management that originated in Japanese industry in the 1950s and become more popular in western nations from the early 1980s. The term "Total Quality Management," lost favor in the United States in the late 1990s, to be commonly substituted by "quality management."

TQM is a set of management practices designed to improve quality performance at every level of an organization in order to meet or exceed customer requirements. It places strong focus on process measurement and controls as means of continuous improvement. TQM has a customer-first orientation, where customer satisfaction is the highest priority. TQM recognizes that a perfectly produced product has little value if it is not what the customer wants.

Another concept of the TQM philosophy is the focus on continuous improvement of all operations and activities. The system is based on the perception that product quality and customer satisfaction are connected and that the product quality depends on the process quality. Thus TQM focuses on continuous improvement of the company's processes.

There are two approaches that companies implementing TQM can use to secure a constant improvement: the plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle; and benchmarking. PDSA cycle describes the activities a company needs to perform in order to incorporate continuous improvement in its operation. This cycle is also referred to as the Shewhart cycle or the Deming wheel. Its theoretical circular nature shows that continuous improvement is a never-ending process.

The ?rst step in the PDSA cycle is planning. Managers must evaluate the current process, identify problems and make improvement plans and speci?c measures to evaluate performance. The next step in the cycle is implementing the plan. During the implementation process managers should document all changes and collect data for evaluation.

The third step is to study the collected data collected and evaluate it in order to see whether the company is achieving the goals established in the plan phase. The last phase of the cycle is to act on the basis of the results of the ?rst three phases. The best way to accomplish this is to communicate the results to other members in the company and then implement the new procedure if it has been successful.

Another way for the companies to implement continuous improvement is by benchmarking, studying the business practices of companies considered "best in class." The benchmark company does not have to be in the same business, as long as it excels at something that the company doing the study wishes to improve.

In the TQM philosophy lies the understanding that all employees participate in improving processes, products, services and the culture in which they work. TQM companies reward employees for uncovering quality problems. The system also gives a high priority of the teamwork in solving quality problems. Using techniques such as brainstorming, discussion and quality control tools, teams work regularly to correct problems.

Flowcharts are schematic diagrams of the sequence of steps involved in an operation or process. It provides an easy-to-understand visual tool because give very clear picture on the way operations work and on the possible problems. Checklists are lists of common defects and the number of observed occurrences of these defects. This tool is simple and effective and allows the worker to collect speci?c information about the observed defects observed. Control charts are used to evaluate whether a process is operating within expectations relative to some measured value such as weight, width, or volume.

Scatter diagrams are graphs that show how two variables are related to one another. They are useful in detecting the degree of linear relationship between two variables. Pareto analysis is a technique used to identify quality problems based on their degree of importance. The logic behind Pareto analysis is that only a few quality problems are important, while others are not critical. Histograms are charts that show the frequency distribution of observed values of a variable.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Implementing Juran's Road Map for Quality Leadership: Benchmarks and Results
Al Endres.
Wiley, 2000
Understanding, Managing and Implementing Quality: Frameworks, Techniques and Cases
Jiju Antony; David Preece.
Routledge, 2002
The Quality Business: Quality Issues and Smaller Firms
Julian North; Robert A. Blackburn; James Curran.
Routledge, 1998
Corporate Culture and the Quality Organization
James W. Fairfield-Sonn.
Quorum Books, 2001
The Quality Management Sourcebook: An International Guide to Materials and Resources
Christine Avery; Diane Zabel.
Routledge, 1997
John Beckford.
Routledge, 2002 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 17 "Critical Systems Thinking" and Chap. 21 "Quality Management Systems," and Chap. 26 "Total Quality Management through Total Systems Intervention"
Management of New Technologies for Global Competitiveness
Christian N. Madu.
Quorum Books, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Part I "Total Quality Management"
Transforming Corporate Performance: Measuring and Managing the Drivers of Business Success
Michael A. Milgate.
Praeger, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Strategic Quality Measurement Frameworks and Approaches"
The Role of Organizational Climate in the Implementation of Total Quality Management
Emery, Charles R.; Summers, Timothy P.; Surak, John G.
Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. 8, No. 4, Winter 1996
Trends and Tools for Operations Management: An Updated Guide for Executives and Managers
Roy L. Nersesian.
Quorum Books, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Quality and Continuous Improvement"
Public Sector Performance: Management, Motivation, and Measurement
Richard C. Kearney; Evan M. Berman.
Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 15 "Adapting Total Quality Management (TQM) to Government"
The Influence of Organizational Structure on the Effectiveness of TQM Programs
Tata, Jasmine; Prasad, Sameer; Thorn, Ron.
Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. 11, No. 4, Winter 1999
Schools of Thought in and against Total Quality
Giroux, Helene; Landry, Sylvain.
Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. 10, No. 2, Summer 1998
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