Total Quality Management (TQM) is a method by which management and employees can become involved in the continuous improvement of the production of goods and services. It is a combination of quality and management tools aimed at increasing business and reducing losses due to wasteful practices.
Total Quality Management (TQM) views an organization as a collection of processes. It maintains that organizations must strive to continuously improve these processes by incorporating the knowledge and experiences of workers. The simple objective of TQM is “Do the right things, right the first time, every time.” TQM is infinitely variable and adaptable. Although originally applied to manufacturing operations, and for a number of years only used in that area, TQM is now becoming recognized as a generic management tool, just as applicable in service and public sector organizations.
A preliminary step in Total Quality Management (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, Total Quality Management (TQM) implementation should be delayed until the organization is in a state in which TQM is likely to succeed. If an organization has a track record of effective responsiveness to the environment, and if it has been able to successfully change the way it operates when needed, TQM will be easier to implement. If an organization has been historically reactive and has no skill at improving its operating systems, there will be both employee skepticism and a lack of skilled change agents. If this condition prevails, a comprehensive program of management and leadership development may be instituted. A management audit is a good assessment tool to identify current levels of organizational functioning and areas in need of change. An organization should be basically healthy before beginning TQM. If it has significant problems such as a very unstable funding base, weak administrative systems, lack of managerial skill, or poor employee morale, TQM would not be appropriate.
The process of Total Quality Management (TQM) implementation in an organization can be organized in the following four stages:
1. Identification and Preparation
This stage is concerned with identifying and collecting information about the organization in the prime areas where improvement will have most impact on the organization’s performance and preparing the detailed basic work for the improvement of the organization’s activities. It is also important to find out the cost of quality, which incorporates the total cost of waste, error correction, failure appraisal and prevention in the organization. It is also required to understand the views and opinions of the customers, suppliers the managers and the employees. The differences between their views and opinions will provide an idea of the scale of the problem and task ahead. The measurements of the cost of quality made at the beginning of the Total Quality Management (TQM) process can be compared with measurement at a later stage to establish the achieved improvements. The initial measurements of the costs will also indicate the potential areas for improvement and direct efforts towards the areas where they are most needed. All data and information must therefore be identified, prepared and summarized in a manner to ensure that the managers get the correct information to make their decision.
2. Management Understanding
This step is concerned with making sure that the management understands the objective and methodology of Total Quality Management (TQM) and is ready to adopt them all the time. For many companies, Total Quality Management (TQM) means a major change in the management practice and it is difficult to implement over a short period of time. However, to make a significant change in management practice, it is necessary to educate the managers in their understanding and approach to TQM. Once they have mastered the principle and practice of TQM the managers can then demonstrate their total commitment and take the lead in the quality improvement process.
3. Scheme for Improvement
This stage is concerned with identifying quality issues and affects a resolution of them by management led improvement activities. To develop quality improvement scheme, it is necessary to identify the quality problems in each division, in each department and throughout the whole organization. A scheme of training for improvement can be established after the realization of the following aspects of the organization. They are:
- Purpose of the department,
- Customer’s and suppliers relationship,
- Meeting customer needs,
- Problem causes and best solutions,
- Prevention of recurring problems,
- Customer satisfaction,
- Priorities for improving efficiency
At this stage it is essential to know that any scheme for improvement requires substantial investment in training, management time and communication.
4. Critical Analysis
This stage starts with new targets and. take the complete improvement process to everybody indicating supplier and customer links in the quality chain. It also obtains information about progress and consolidates success. To focus quality aspects, everybody in the organization must assess the Total Quality Management (TQM) process. It is essential to incorporate the perception of both internal and external customers. It is also important to ensure that everybody in the organization gets some feedback of the success on a regular basis and at the same time the individual and team contributions are given the recognition. Setting up of new targets as required by customers at this stage will automatically upgrade the quality standard of the organization and maintain the competitive position in the market place.