Total Quality Management (TQM)

Quality Control processes in business are aimed at ensuring a good or service is of the standard of quality that the manufacturer or supplier has determined. Under the concept of  Total Quality Management (TQM), quality control extends to every aspect of the way a business operates. In the case of a manufactured good it means that during design, production, and servicing the quality of work and materials must be up to the standard laid down.

The emphasis put on quality control in many countries in recent years was to a large extent a response to the competitive edge Japanese businesses had achieved by paying attention to quality. However, it was an American management consultant, W. Edwards Deming, who brought the message to the Japanese that “the consumer is the most important part of the production line”, and who taught them methods that would help them control quality. He was the pioneer of total quality management theories and practices, used the concept of quality as an instrument to increase the productivity and success of organizations throughout Japan in the 1950’s. The varieties of methods in which this quality concept can be implemented into an organization are solely dependent on the organizational mind-state. According to Deming, as quality is increased, costs decrease. This is fundamentally different than the typical business concepts taught in many management majors, which insist that an increase in quality comes at a cost to the company as a decrease in profits. Deming’s philosophy of quality can be broken down into four axioms:

  1. Quality and costs are not opposites, or trades-offs, with one being improved at the expense of the other. Instead both can be constantly improved.
  2. The meaning of quality is different from conventional views that mistake exotic materials and fail-safe designs for quality. Quality is best understood from the point of view of the customer, but one important component of quality is improvement of uniformity.
  3. Variation is a naturally occurring phenomenon. It is not an exception or fault. Variation is treated differently depending on whether we are dealing with a stable or unstable system. A stable system creates both success and failures. Lowering the number of defects in a stable system can only be achieved by working on the system.
  4. Cooperation is a fundamental ingredient that leads to improvement. Competition is often at work and helps determine which products and which companies survive, but there are times when competition is irrelevant and times when competition is inappropriate.

Another American, Joseph Juran, also played a key role in promoting the idea that quality is all-important and in developing quality control methods. Among the steps he laid down for improving quality were:

  • Build awareness of the need to maintain quality;
  • Recognize the opportunities for improvement;
  • Set goals and make changes that will help achieve those goals (set up projects to solve specific problems, for example);
  • Involve the workforce fully through training, communication, and recognition;
  • Review systems and processes regularly so as to maintain momentum.

The enthusiasm that emerged for total quality management in the 1980s has had a far-reaching effect in putting quality high on the list of corporate priorities and reducing or even eliminating the “quality lead” that Japanese companies had enjoyed. It is perhaps because such strides have been made that the Total Quality Management (TQM) concept has come into conflict with other corporate aims, as companies balance the desirability of quality with, say, the need to reduce costs.

The Japanese success story has, however urged some managers in western and other countries to wake up to the quality issue. People have recognized that Japanese success was not only due to national, cultural and social differences but reflected strongly a new attitude and desire of Japanese management to ensure that consumers receive what is promised. The 1980’s therefore became an era of competitive challenge with increasing number of companies adopting Quality Management System. The development of International Quality Assurance Management system (ISO 9000) standards in the 1980’s -1990’s has also acted as a catalyst in many countries. During 1990’s and beyond, the Quality Management has become International Management Philosophy.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a method for an organization to effectively implement quality enhancing strategies into their functional systems, as well as their managerial departments, in order to maintain continuous improvements of quality for all products and services. This implementation of quality improving initiatives can be facilitated not only by mathematical processes and models, but organizational consistency and excellence. Total Quality Management incorporates the features like: products that meet customers’ needs, and control of processes to ensure their ability to meet design requirements and quality improvements for the continued enhancement of quality.

Customer is the driving force behind quality of design. Customer satisfaction is based on the subjective comparison between the expectations and the actual quality received. The sales of the product clearly generate the hard currency; one must also recognize that customer satisfaction is derived from ancillary services associated with product and the sensitivity and timeliness with which the problems are handled. Quality system should possess a sound behavioral as well as technical perspective. To develop such a quality system, the management should research the customer preferences, train employees to be sensitive to customer needs and reward employees for making customer satisfaction a primary objective.         .

Total Quality Management (TQM) is based on the premise that any production and/or service can be improved and that successful organization must consciously seek out and exploit improvement. The essence of TQM is continuous improvement through collaborative efforts across functional boundaries and between organizational levels with the ultimate goal of providing customer satisfaction. Each work in TQM has a special significance. Total means here comprehensive ways of dealing with complex sets of interacting issues – involving everyone at all levels, addressing all major issues. It is also referred to as performance encompassing both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of product/service. “Quality” can be defined in variety of ways. The following definition takes into account several ideas expressed by quality Gurus. Quality means meeting customers (agreed) requirements, formal and informal at lowest cost, first time and every time.

Total quality means that everyone should be involved in quality at all levels and across all functions ensuring that quality is achieved according to the requirements in everything they do. The word “Total” injects a systematic meaning idealness into quality. “Management” in TQM denotes the system supporting the achievement of quality and performance on a continuously improving path. The management responsibility refers to the need for every one to be responsible for managing their own jobs, which incorporates managers with workers and all others concerned. Thus, Total Quality Management (TQM) portrays a whole systems view for quality management.

An organization that endures itself to the ultimate customer also fulfills commitments in terms of performance levels demanded by a number of related sets of customers. Such customers could be shareholders who expect a sizable return on their investment; employee’s serving such an institution. Naturally respects it for providing a livelihood, the suppliers to the company as well as the dealers who distribute products are very similar to employees of the company, they enjoy considerable confidence in being associated with its long term planning. In turn, they are motivated to make the best use of their services available. All these sets of people are referred to as stakeholders, whether they are users of the product, employees, shareholders, vendors or dealers. They all have the expec­tation of qualitative and quantitative performance being fulfilled by the organization they patronize and serve.

At the product level, a customer may consider performance reflected in material factors such as safety, reliability and value for money. In terms of service, performance can mean the delivery of the product on time at committed schedules without any hidden costs. However, a customer can equally evaluate organizational performance from the standpoint of qualitative measures e.g. prestige asso­ciated with use of the product and pleasure or ease of use associated with the product and the quality of the customer support. If the customer feels confident in dealing with the product, it generates brand loyalty on an ongoing process. This in turn generates a feeling where the customer confidently recommends the product and the company to friends and associates.

The relevance of Total Quality Management (TQM) to business is world-class productivity. Basically, the essence of TQM is value addition. A business unit draws on its resources and adds value in order to create an output that delivers customer delight. TQM perspective of productivity recognizes both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of relationship between inputs and outputs. It recognizes the qualitative aspects. of input other than considering organization as a mechanical system transforming inputs into outputs. It considers creative talent as well s the motivation with which people engage themselves in the’ creation of the final output. Value addition is not merely reflected in physical transformation in shape, size, structure but the organizational learning that occurs in the process and the patented know how. The output from the system does not confine itself only to physical goods but includes the added dimensions of prestige, pride of ownership, warmth and pleasure in long lasting relationships with customer.

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