Total Quality Management

The Beginnings

W. Edwards Deming may be the most recognized figure in the development of what is now called TQM, but he built on the efforts of others.  As early as 1911, Frederick Taylor introduced the concept of product inspection, which led to the creation of inspection departments and the first quality control.  In the 1940’s, the Japanese invited Deming,  Joseph Juran and others to learn to produce high quality innovative products and change the world’s perception of Japanese products as shoddy and poor quality.  Philip Crosby later introduced quality circles to involve employees in the quality process.  The Japanese achieved their goal, and the world took notice.  The U.S. and other countries flocked to Japan to learn the secret to their success and in the 1980’s and 1990’s, TQM became a company culture shift as well as a system for improving product and service quality.

TQM Principles

Total Quality Management is based on the principles of the early leaders.  W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points stressed exceeding customer expectations, elimination of defects, continuous improvement, and inclusive participation in the quality improvement process.   Joseph Juran added the managerial component to quality, and Philip Crosby‘s “zero defects” stressed that catching errors through inspection was not enough.  The only acceptable quality standard was 100%.  This could be achieved by quality teams of management and subject matter experts (the workers who did the job) working through a defined quality improvement process, statistical data analysis and measurement to exceed customer expectations.

The Encyclopedia Britannica gives this definition of Total Quality Management:

Total Quality Management (TQM), Management practices designed to improve the performance of organizational processes in business and industry. Based on concepts developed by statistician and management theorist W. Edwards Deming, TQM includes techniques for achieving efficiency, solving problems, imposing standardization and statistical control, and regulating design, housekeeping, and other aspects of business or production processes.

TQM Tools

The primary TQM tool for continuous improvement is the PDCA Cycle:

  • Plan – In this phase, the quality team defines the problem, gathers and analyzes data, sets measurements and formulates solutions to improve quality.
  • Do – The team implements the new process and test the results against the desired resultsQuality Management System, Quality Management System Software.
  • Check- The team measures effectiveness and makes adjustments to refine the new quality process until the desired results are achieved.
  • Act – The new improved process is implemented, all parties are notified and trained on the new process and metrics are set in place to monitor the quality process effectiveness.

Quality Action Teams – These teams are comprised of “stakeholders,” of those who do the work, are affected by the problem, or use the product or service.  They can be SMEs, customers, managers and workers from other departments that contribute to or are end users of the product or service.  The four stages of team development – Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing was a popular training topic for new quality teams to overcome difficulties and be productive.

Quality Team Tools – TQM introduced tools such as statistical process control, brainstorming, flow charts, fishbone diagrams, data gathering by observation, and decision making tools like rank order and nominal group technique.

TQM principles and methodology have been adopted and expanded in other quality systems such as Six Sigma and the ISO series of global quality certifications.

What began as a way to eliminate errors and rework has become a global benchmark for quality management system that focuses the value of every worker’s contribution to quality improvement and exceeding customer quality expectations.

Additional Reading on Total Quality Management

The Importance of a TQM Plan
Perhaps the most important aspect of a quality system plan is that it clearly sets in place, for the whole organization, a reference point for the quality management system by answering critical questions.

Use an Integrated QMS to Manage Diverse Requirements
What if you have several quality systems to manage? The benefit of an integrated quality management system is a lower cost and a better return quality management investment.

Risks of Not Having a Quality Management System
Most businesses without a formal total quality management program are not getting the benefits that a total quality management system offers. Here are some of the signs of not being fully engaged in the TQM process and the risks businesses face.

The Top 5 Quality Management Failures of All Time
Most of us are fortunate. When the Quality Management System fails to function and important requirements are missed or processes run amuck, it doesn’t make the national news. Not so with the Top 5 Quality Failures of All Time.

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