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.

Total Quality Management: Selected full-text books and articles

TQM and Competitive Advantage: A Review and Research Agenda By Chong, Sze Thiam; Ooi, Keng Boon; Chong, Alain Yee Loong; Tan, Boon In International Journal of Business and Management Science, Vol. 2, No. 2, December 2009
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Effect of TQM Factors on Financial and Strategic Performance: An Empirical Test Using Manufacturing Firms By Barker, Katherine J.; Emery, Charles R Academy of Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 5, Annual 2006
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Improving Manufacturing Flexibility: The Enduring Value of JIT and TQM By Vokurka, Robert J.; Lummus, Rhonda R.; Krumwiede, Dennis SAM Advanced Management Journal, Vol. 72, No. 1, Winter 2007
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