The term “TQM” or Total Quality Management appeared in the 60s and defined Japanese approach to the management of companies. This approach meant continuous improvement of quality in various scopes of company activities - production, procurement, sales, organization of work, etc. TQM is considered as a philosophy of company management in the modern sense.
TQM – Total Quality Management
TQM is neither a system, nor a tool, nor a management process.
Total Quality Management involves various theoretical principles and practical methods, tools of quantitative and qualitative data analysis, elements of economic theory and process analysis. They are pointed at one objective - continuous quality improvement.
TQM can be defined as an approach to company management which focused on quality. Quality is achieved through the involvement of all personnel into improvement activities. The objective of quality improvement is customer's satisfaction and benefits all stakeholders (employees, owners, subcontractors, suppliers, society).
Many companies build quality systems based on the TQM philosophy. These systems are called TQM systems. But it is pay attention to the difference between philosophy of TQM and the quality systems based on it.
The principles of TQM
The philosophy of Total Quality Management is based on several basic principles.
Understanding and implementing in practice these principles allows organizations to do the "right" things the first time.
- customer orientation - The fundamental principle of TQM is the consumer sets the quality level. It does not matter what actions the organization takes to improve quality (it trains staff, integrates quality management into processes, improves software and hardware, or purchases new controls and measurements) - the consumer determines whether the spent money and efforts will lead to success.
- the involvement of employees - This principle of TQM provides continuous collaboration people to achieve the goals of organization. The involvement of employees can be achieved when staff less fear of losing their jobs, when they have trust to changes, when they are given the authority to carry these changes out, when top management creates the necessary conditions for changes.
- process approach - Any activity of the organization is considered as a process in TQM. Process is a set of actions that transform objects from suppliers (inputs) to some results (outputs) and pass these results to the consumers. Suppliers and consumers can be both external and internal in relation to the organization. Set of process actions must be clearly defined and all actions must be interrelated. The execution of the process must be monitored in order to detect deviations from the established order.
- integrity of the system - The organization can consist of various specialized departments that have a vertical hierarchy of subordination. These departments are linked by processes that provide horizontal interaction. Each department can has own processes. These processes are part of the common processes of the organization. The processes of departments are integrated into larger processes throughout the organization. It allows the organization to achieve strategic objectives. Each organization has its own unique corporate culture. It is necessary to “cultivate” the culture of quality in all departments of the organization at the same time in order to achieve high results in the products or services.
- strategic and systematic approach - It is one of the most important principles of TQM. Continuous quality improvement should be part of the strategic plan of the organization. It is necessary to perform systematic and continuous work in order to achieve the quality improvement objectives.
- continuous improvement - This principle is the point of TQM support. Continuous improvement allows the organization to apply both analytical and creative methods to find ways to improve its competitiveness and efficiency.
- factual approach to decision making – Data is needed in order to understand how an organization works. It is necessary to continuously collect and analyze data about the work in order to make improvements. The right management decisions can make on the basis of actual data only.
- communications - Effective communication has a huge role in supporting the morale and motivation of employees at all levels of organization. It is necessary that the interaction between employees have become a daily action like ordinary process.
These principles included in ISO 9000 standards with some changes.
A strategy for using TQM
Several strategies can be used to develop a quality management system based on the TQM philosophy.
The company can select the most appropriate strategy based on conditions of work:
- step by step implementation of TQM strategy. This strategy involves various quality management tools to improve key business processes and departments functioning. It is used by companies when the TQM philosophy is implemented as specific parts. Examples of implementation of such tools are - quality circle, statistical process management, Taguchi methods (6 Sigma), quality function deployment ("quality house").
- strategy of TQM theory application. This strategy is based on the implementation of TQM statements that were developed quality management gurus – Deming, Crosby, Juran and other. The organization studies the theories and principles developed by these specialists in order to determine exist disadvantages in practice in comparison with these theories. Actions are taken to eliminate these disadvantages after that. Execution of “Deming`s 14 points”, “Deming's 7 Deadly Diseases” or “Juran trilogy” are examples of TQM implementation based on this strategy.
- applying the model for comparison (benchmarking) - A team of organization specialists or individual employees visit another organization in order to study processes and factors of successful implementation of TQM. The benchmark organization must have a leading role in the implementation of TQM. The top management of the organization develops a model adapted to its working conditions based on the received information.
- strategy of applying quality award criteria. The criteria of various quality awards are applied to develop a quality system. These criteria are used to identify scopes for improvement in their work. Examples are the Deming Prize criteria, the European quality award (EFQM) and similar.
TQM implementation methodology
Each organization is unique in relation of culture, management practices, processes used to create products or provide services. There is no single approach to implementing TQM. The approach changes from one organization to another.
There are however several key elements of the TQM implementation methodology:
- Top management should study TQM and decide to follow the TQM philosophy. TQM philosophy should be positioned as an essential part of the organization's strategy.
- The organization should assess the existing level of corporate culture, the level of customer satisfaction, and assess the condition of the quality management system.
- Top management should identify key principles and priorities and communicate this information to all employees of the organization.
- It is necessary to develop a strategic plan for the implementation of the TQM philosophy in the organization.
- The organization must identify priority customer requirements and align products or services with those requirements.
- It is necessary to create processes map that can help organization to meet the requirements of customers.
- Top management should create teams to improve the processes.
- It is necessary to promote self-management process improvement teams.
- Management of organization should demonstrated leadership to the implementation of the TQM philosophy.
- It is necessary to perform continuous, daily control of business processes and their normalization. Normalization – it means the stable execution of processes with minimal deviations from the established requirements.
- It is necessary to regularly assess the progress of the TQM implementation plan and correct it if there is a need for change.
- Keep employees informed of changes in processes. It is necessary to stimulate employees to make suggestions for improvement.
TQM implementation problems
Implementation of TQM philosophy has a number of problems that significantly reduce the effectiveness of changes.
The most common problems include the following:
- management involvement missing. Top management of the organization speaks about TQM, but the actions contradict the philosophy of continuous quality improvement. The expectations of the effect from TQM in employees are collapsed as a result. It becomes very difficult to make another attempt to implement TQM principles. Top management must clearly and regularly inform everyone about the benefits of TQM in order to achieve objective. It should be successive in the application of TQM principles and don`t use TQM as a temporary hobby for quick benefits.
- missing of change in the corporate culture. Changing of corporate culture is an extremely complex and lasting process. Employees do not want to change their work because they doubt that changes in processes can lead to a change in corporate culture. The implementation of TQM will cause a negative attitude of employees if the motivation to change will be low.
- poor preparation of changes. Top management should explain to the employees the mission and objectives of the implementation of TQM and vision of the benefits of TQM. Employees will not have confidence in the changes if preliminary training is not provided and will not be involved in the improvement process as a result.
- missing of objective information and data. It is necessary to use objective data to make decisions. Data should be regularly and timely collected and analyzed in order to implement and support TQM. It is difficult to make the right decisions if there are not enough data, or they do not arrive regularly. This may lead to failure of TQM implementation.
There are other problems that significantly complicate the implementation of TQM.