What is Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) can be defined as a management approach that strives to continually improve product and service quality for ultimate customer satisfaction. Businesses continually improve products, processes, services, and even work culture as part of the TQM approach.

Originating in Japan, the TQM system utilizes data, strategy, and communications to inculcate quality into the culture and overall activities of the organization. It encompasses a customer-centered approach that consistently strives to improve business operations.

These continual improvements or kaizen ensure long-term customer loyalty and superior customer satisfaction.

Principles of TQM

The success of TQM can be attributed to the successful implementation of the following principles:

Customer focus

The total quality management system positions an unwavering focus on its customers. It believes that identifying customer needs and wants should be the primary priority of organizations if they wish to succeed.

Through a customer-centered approach, businesses are better apt at recognizing manufacturing requirements. Products and services integrate the customer’s voice, ultimately ensuring superior customer satisfaction and loyalty in the long run.

Total employee involvement

Next, the total quality management program emphasizes developing high-performance work systems. These systems are designed through employee empowerment, allowing employees to involve themselves entirely toward common goals.

Ultimately, this leads to all employees working to make the customers’ experience as smooth as possible.


TQM also makes sure that business operations are process-centered. This implies that any process within the business must have pre-defined steps to follow. Performance measures should be devised to see whether the process is going through successfully.

This type of approach is effective in pinpointing any unexpected variations that may emerge during the manufacturing process.

System Integration

Different processes carried out within a TQM environment must further integrate within a more extensive system. TQM ensures that these different processes are identified and managed through continuous monitoring and communication.

Integrated systems ensure all business processes follow continuous improvement to exceed customer expectations.

Systematic approach

Businesses in TQM incorporate a systematic approach to their operations. They formulate a strategic plan for realizing their business goals and put quality as a prime component.

The principle, in turn, follows strategic planning and management.

Continuous improvement

A significant part of TQM is the continuous improvement of business processes. This principle ensures that an organization continually strives to take small, incremental steps toward improvement.

Customer needs, wants, business landscape, and other factors are continually changing. For this reason, it is important that organizations continuously improve themselves to stay ahead of the competition and delight their customers consistently.

Decision-making and communications

Finally, TQM ensures that business data is continually collected and analyzed in order to assess how the organization is performing. This data ensures decision-making accuracy and allows for faster results.

Also, TQM asserts that effective communications are in place to boost employee morale and communicate strategies, timelines, and other important data.

Why Is Total Quality Management Important?

Through TQM, organizations can achieve long-term success for themselves and their customers. Following are the reasons why TQM is important and beneficial for any organization:

Improved Profitability

Philips Crosby rightfully asserts that “quality is free”. When an organization implements TQM, it greatly reduces its quality costs. They avoid these costs by doing things “right” the first time they do, thereby reducing costs and improving profitability.

Enhanced Productivity

Since a TQM environment supports a highly empowering workforce, it gives them the motivation to work at their best. They are entirely motivated to perform, which enhances levels of productivity and benefits the organization.

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Improved business processes

The principle of continuous improvement leads to improved business processes. Manufacturers work closely with their suppliers to manufacture only as needed. Other methods are also improved to ensure superior customer satisfaction.

Quality assurance

Finally, total quality management ensures customer feedback is a part of products and services. By ensuring customers are satisfied every step of the way, organizations can succeed in their mission and goals. If a customer is dissatisfied, the business will provide an immediate remedy.

Total Quality Management Use Cases

Toyota Motor Corporation is the most significant example of Total Quality Management in manufacturing. The automobile manufacturer adopted a Total Quality Management approach called Kanban in its system and processes.

The Kanban system is a system of inventory control that incorporates Just in Time manufacturing for production. The use of physical signs in Kanban allowed automobile parts to be requested for delivery only after they were used.

This method ensured the inventory was lean and there were no wastages in the production process. This quality management was a way to make sure that quality automobiles were produced by Toyota affordably.

Another famous case of TQM is Tata Steel. This Indian steel-making firm followed TQM principles to take itself to glory. By implementing TQM principles, the company delivered superior value to its customers.

Moreover, continuous improvement in its processes of iron making, flat rolling, steel making, log rolling, etc., resulted in a productivity of $150MM in the year 2009.

While Total Quality Management is widely appreciated for improving productivity and profitability levels, it is not a one-man show. This implies that all members in a TQM approach must ensure that they own what they do, including both faults and achievements.

Moreover, the improvement process is continual and must go on. Employing TQM principles and ensuring its importance is addressed will allow manufacturing organizations to reap true benefits from this phenomenon.

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