Magazine article Personnel Journal

Just Exactly What Is Total Quality Management?

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Just Exactly What Is Total Quality Management?

Article excerpt

Total quality management (TQM) has become the corporate catch-phrase of the 1990s. But like many other oft-repeated expressions, its meaning may not be entirely clear, even to those individuals involved in quality improvement programs. In seeking a definition of this expression, PERSONNEL JOURNAL went to James F. Riley Jr., senior vice president of the Juran Institute Inc., in Wilton, Connecticut. The Juran Institute is a source of training and consulting for TQM, and its consultants have worked with thousands of organizations worldwide.

Q. What's TQM?

A. TQM is a transformation in the way an organization manages. It involves focusing management's energies on the continuous improvement of all operations, functions, and above all, processes of work. Quality is really nothing more, therefore, than meeting customer needs. To do this you must improve work processes, because it's the result of these processes that the customer cares about.

Q. Can you give me an example of a work process?

A. Take product development. New products begin in the research department with a concept. This progresses to the engineering department for the development of a prototype, which they then make ready for manufacturing. The manufacturing function designs a way to produce the product affordably, quickly and within production schedules. The product then must become ready to enter the market-place, which involves the marketing, sales and delivery functions. To achieve quality you have to improve work performance at each stage of this process so that you can make a product that's free of defects, meets customer needs and is manufactured in the least possible time, at the lest possible cost. By necessity, TQM emphasizes teamwork because: Processes cut through an organization; and no one function, employee or manager owns the entire process.

Q. What specific issues does TQM address best?

A. Total quality addresses, among other things, customer satisfaction, revenue, market share, productivity, cost and cycle time. …

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