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What is TQM?

A core definition of total quality management (TQM) describes a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. In a TQM effort, all members of an organization participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work.

Total quality management consists of organization-wide efforts to "install and make permanent climate where employees continuously improve their ability to provide on demand products and services that customers will find of particular value.

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management framework based on the belief that an organization can build long-term success by having all its members, from low-level workers to its highest ranking executives, focus on improving quality and, thus, delivering customer satisfaction.

A primary focus of TQM and most Quality Management Systems is to improve customer satisfaction by having a customer focus and consistently meeting customer expectations. It emphasizes the need for your business to clearly communicate to the customers exactly what you will deliver to avoid misunderstandings.

Principles of TQM

The key principles of TQM are as following:

Management Commitment
  • Plan (drive, direct)
  • Do (deploy, support, participate)
  • Check (review)
  • Act (recognize, communicate, revise)
Employee Empowerment
  • Training
  • Suggestion scheme
  • Measurement and recognition
  • Excellence teams
Fact Based Decision Making
  • SPC (statistical process control)
  • DOE, FMEA
  • The 7 statistical tools
  • TOPS (Ford 8D – team-oriented problem solving)
Continuous Improvement
  • Systematic measurement and focus on CONQ
  • Excellence teams
  • Cross-functional process management
  • Attain, maintain, improve standards
Customer Focus
  • Supplier partnership
  • Service relationship with internal customers
  • Never compromise quality
  • Customer driven standards
Continual Improvement by TQM

TQM is mainly concerned with continuous improvement in all work, from high level strategic planning and decision-making, to detailed execution of work elements on the shop floor. It stems from the belief that mistakes can be avoided and defects can be prevented. It leads to continuously improving results, in all aspects of work, as a result of continuously improving capabilities, people, processes, technology and machine capability.

Continuous improvement must deal not only with improving results, but more importantly with improving capabilities to produce better results in the future. The five major areas of focus for capability improvement are demand generation, supply generation, technology, operations and people capability.

A central principle of TQM is that mistakes may be made by people, but most of them are caused, or at least permitted, by faulty systems and processes. This means that the root cause of such mistakes can be identified and eliminated, and repetition can be prevented by changing the process.

There are three major mechanisms of prevention
  • Preventing mistakes (defects) from occurring (mistake-proofing or poka-yoke).
  • Where mistakes can’t be absolutely prevented, detecting them early to prevent them being passed down the value-added chain (inspection at source or by the next operation).
  • Where mistakes recur, stopping production until the process can be corrected, to prevent the production of more defects. (stop in time).
Implementation of TQM

A preliminary step in TQM implementation is to assess the organization’s current reality. Relevant preconditions have to do with the organization’s history, its current needs, precipitating events leading to TQM, and the existing employee quality of working life. If the current reality does not include important preconditions, TQM implementation should be delayed until the organization is in a state in which TQM is likely to succeed.

Steps to Creating a Total Quality Management System

Clarify Vision, Mission, and Values

Employees need to know how what they do is tied to organizational strategy and objectives. All employees need to understand where the organization is headed (its vision), what it hopes to accomplish (mission) and the operational principles (values) that will steer its priorities and decision making. Develop a process to educate employees during new employee orientation and communicate the mission, vision, and values as a first step.

Identify Critical Success Factors (CSF)

Critical success factors help an organization focus on those things that help it meet objectives and move a little closer to achieving its mission. These performance-based measures provide a gauge for determining how well the organization is meeting objectives.

Develop Measures and Metrics to Track CSF Data

Once critical success factors are identified, there needs to be measurements put in place to monitor and track progress. This can be done through a reporting process that is used to collect specified data and share information with senior leaders. For example, if a goal is to increase customer satisfaction survey scores, there should be a goal and a measure to demonstrate achievement of the goal.

Identify Key Customer Group

Every organization has customers. Those that understand who the key customer groups are can create products and services based on customer requirements. The mistake a lot of organizations make is not acknowledging employees as a key customer group.

Solicit Customer Feedback

The only way for an organization to know how well they are meeting customer requirements is by simply asking the question. Create a structured process to solicit feedback from each customer group in an effort to identify what is important to them. Organizations often make the mistake of thinking they know what is important to customers and ask the wrong survey questions. This type of feedback is obtained through customer focus groups.

Develop a Survey Tool

Next, develop a customer satisfaction survey tool that is based on finding out what is important to customers.

Survey Each Customer Group

Create a customized survey for each customer group. This survey will help to establish baseline data on the customers’ perception of current practice. Now you will have a starting point for improvements and will be able to demonstrate progress as improvement plans are implemented.

Develop Improvement Plan

Once the baseline is established you should develop an improvement plan based on customer feedback from each group. Improvement plans should be written in SMART goals format with assignments to specific staff for follow through.

Resurvey

After a period of time (12-18 months), resurvey key customers to see if scores have improved. Customer needs and expectations change over time so being in-tune to changing needs and expectations is critical to long-term success.

Monitor CSF

It is important to monitor CSF monthly to ensure there is consistent progress toward goals. This also allows for course correction should priorities and objectives change during the review period.

Incorporate Satisfaction Data into Marketing Plans

Once you’ve achieved some positive results with your satisfaction data, use it as a marketing tool! A lot of successful organizations miss the boat by not letting others know what they do well. Customers want to know how an organization’s internal processes work, especially if those processes help to deliver an outstanding product or service!

Technology

Make sure technology is user-friendly and supports targeted improvements. For example, a website should be easy to navigate as well as easy to find (SEO) and the content should be easy to understand.