Discuss the salient features of Total Quality Management (TQM) approach with
respect to the present competitive environment.
Total quality management (TQM) is the continual process of detecting and reducing
or eliminating errors in manufacturing, streamlining supply chain management,
improving the customer experience, and ensuring that employees are up to speed
with training. Total quality management aims to hold all parties involved in the
production process accountable for the overall quality of the final product or service.
Total quality management is a structured approach to overall organizational
management. The focus of the process is to improve the quality of an organization’s
outputs, including goods and services, through the continual improvement of
internal practices. The standards set as part of the TQM approach can reflect both
internal priorities and any industry standards currently in place.
Industry standards can be defined at multiple levels and may include adherence to
various laws and regulations governing the operation of a particular business.
Industry standards can also include the production of items to an understood norm,
even if the norm is not backed by official regulations.
Approach of Total Quality Management
While TQM originated in the manufacturing sector, its principles can be applied to a
variety of industries. With a focus on long-term change rather than short-term goals,
it provides a cohesive vision for systemic change. With this in mind, TQM is used in
many industries, including, but not limited to, manufacturing, banking and finance,
These techniques can be applied to all departments within an individual organization
as well. This helps ensure all employees are working toward the goals set forth for
the company, improving function in each area. Involved departments can include
administration, marketing, production, and employee training.
Principles of Total Quality Management
TQM is considered a customer-focused process that focuses on consistently
improving business operations management. It strives to ensure all associated
employees work toward the common goals of improving product or service quality,
as well as improving the procedures that are in place for production. There are a
number of guiding principles that define TQM.
Focus on Customers
Under TQM, the customers define whether or not your products are high quality.
Customer input is highly valued, as it allows a company to better understand the
needs and requirements in the manufacturing process. For example, customer
surveys may reveal insufficient durability of goods. This input is then fed back into
TQM systems to implement better raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes,
and quality control procedures.
Commitment by Employees
For TQM to be successful, employees must buy into the processes and system. This
includes clearly communicating across departments and leaders what goals,
expectations, needs, and constraints are in place. A company adopting TQM
principles must be willing to train employees and give them sufficient resources to
complete tasks successfully and on time. TQM also strives to reduce attrition and
maintain knowledgeable workers.
As a company learns more about its customers, processes, and competition, it should
gradually evolve and strive for incremental, small improvements. This concept of
continuous improvement helps a company adapt to changing market expectations
and allows for greater adaptability to different products, markets, customers, or
regions. Continuous improvement also drives and widens the competitive advantage
a company has built over related companies.
Adherence to Processes
TQM’s systematic approach relies heavily on process flowcharts, TQM diagrams,
visual action plans, and documented workflows. Every member along the process
must be aware and educated on their part of the process to ensure proper steps are
taken at the right time of production. These processes are then continually analyzed
to better understand deficiencies in the process.
Strategic and Systematic Approach
A company’s processes and procedures should be a direct reflection of the
organizations vision, mission, and long-term plan. TQM calls for a system approach to
decision-making that requires a company to dedicate itself to integrating quality as
its core component and making the appropriate financial investments to making that
The systematic approach of TQM only works if feedback and input is given to
evaluate how the process flow is moving. Management must continually rely on
production, turnover, efficiency, and employee metrics to correlate the anticipated
outcomes to the actual results. TQM relies heavily on documentation and planning,
and only by utilizing and analyzing data can management understand if those plans
are being met.
One way to utilize data is to integrate systems. TQM strategies believe systems should
talk to each other, convey useful information across departments, and make smart
decisions. When goods or inventory is used in one area, another department should
have immediate access to that ERP information. By linking data sources and sharing
information across systems, TQM strives to allow everyone to be on the same page at
the same time.
Though data may transfer between departments freely, there is a human element to
coordinating processes and making sure an entire production line is operating
efficiently. Whether it is normal day-to-day operations or large organizational
changes, effective communication plays a large part in TQM to motivate employees,
education members along a process, and avoid process errors.