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In Summary: Total Quality Management (TQM)

In Summary: Total Quality Management (TQM)
Total Quality Management (TQM) is an ongoing process of detecting and reducing or eliminating errors and defects. It is used to streamline supply chain management, improve customer service, and ensure that employees are trained. TQM can be summarized as a management system for a customer-focused organization that involves all employees in continual improvement. 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. Most companies use TQM to improve customer value and to increase the sales and profitability from goods and services.
In this article we summarize principles and tools of TQM.

History of Total Quality Management

TQM history often dates back to the early 1900s when Walter A. Shewhart introduced modern quality control. Shewhart introduced a landmark piece of industrial work titled Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product in 1931. This exposition is considered one of the founding and basic principles of manufacturing quality control.
Decades later, further developments on Shewhart's work introduced new standards in quality management. Joseph M. Juran published a 1954 book called What Is Total Quality Control? -The Japanese way. The work was based on Juran's experience from being invited to Japan by Japanese scientists and engineers. Juran later co-authored Quality Planning and Analysis, another bestseller in TQM.
Another prominent figure in TQM history is W. Edwards Deming. Also posted in Japan after the Second World War, Deming became involved with the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE). His career work included several TQM frameworks (Deming's 14 Points, Deming's Seven Deadly Diseases of Management, and The Deming Wheel).

Importance of TQM

TQM can have a beneficial effect on employee and organizational development. By having all employees focus on quality management and continuous improvement, companies can establish and uphold cultural values that create long-term success for both customers and the organization. TQM's focus on quality helps organizations identify skill deficiencies in employees, along with the necessary training, education or mentoring required addressing those needs.
With a focus on teamwork, TQM leads to the creation of cross-functional teams and knowledge sharing. The increased communication and coordination across disparate groups deepens institutional knowledge and gives companies more flexibility in deploying personnel.

Principles of TQM

TQM prescribes a series of ways for organizations to accomplish this, with the pathway to successful continuous improvement centered on the use of strategy, data and effective communication to instill a discipline of quality into the organization's culture and processes.
More specifically, TQM highlights the processes that organizations use to produce their products, and it calls for organizations to define those processes, continuously monitor and measure their performance, and use that performance data to drive improvements. In addition, it requires all employees and organizational departments to be part of this process. The eight guiding principles that TQM uses to improve quality include the following:

1. Customer focus

The first of the Total Quality Management principles puts the focus back on the people buying your product or service. Your customers determine the quality of your product. If your product fulfills a need and lasts as long or longer than expected, customers know that they have spent their money on a quality product.
When you understand what your customer wants or needs, you have a better chance of figuring out how to get the right materials, people, and processes in place to meet and exceed their expectations.
To implement this TQM principle:
Research and understand your customers’ needs and expectations.
Align your organization’s objectives with customer needs.
Communicate with customers, measure satisfaction, and use the results to find ways to improve processes.
Manage customer relationships.
Find a balance for satisfying customers and other interested parties (such as owners, employees, suppliers, and investors).

The benefits of being customer-focused include:

More sales, increased revenue, market share, and mindshare.
Strong customer loyalty leading to repeat business
Increased possibility that satisfied customers will tell others about your products and services

2. Total employee commitment

You can’t increase productivity, processes, or sales without the total commitment of all employees. They need to understand the vision and goals that have been communicated. They must be sufficiently trained and given the proper resources to complete tasks in order to be committed to reaching goals on time.

To implement this TQM principle:

Clearly communicate and acknowledge the importance of each individual contribution to the completed product.
Stress that each team or individual accepts ownership and give them the responsibility and opportunity to solve problems when they arise.
Encourage employees to self-evaluate performance against personal goals and objectives, and make modifications as necessary to improve workflow.
Acknowledge successes and optimized performance to build confidence in your employees and your stakeholders.
Make responsibilities clear, provide adequate training, and make sure your resources are used as efficiently as possible.
Encourage people to continually seek opportunities to learn and move into other roles to increase their knowledge, competence, and experience.
Create an environment where employees can openly discuss problems and suggest ways to solve them.
The key benefits of total employee commitment include:

Increased employee retention because employees are motivated, committed, and actively involved in working toward customer satisfaction
Individual and team innovation and creativity in problem-solving and process improvement
Employees who take pride and accountability for their own work
Enthusiasm for active participation and contribution to continual improvement

3. Process approach

Adhering to processes is critical in quality management. Processes ensure that the proper steps are taken at the right time to ensure consistency and speed up production.

To implement this TQM principle:

-Use Total Quality Management tools such as process flowcharts to define and delineate clear roles and responsibilities so everybody knows who does what at certain times.
-Create a visual action plan so everybody can easily see the specific activities that need to be completed to achieve the desired result.
-Analyze and measure current activities to see where improvements can be made or where steps in the process are creating bottlenecks.
-Evaluate the impact your processes and activities may have on your customers, suppliers, and all stakeholders.
Benefits of a process approach include:

-Faster development and production cycles, lower costs, and increased revenue
-More consistency and predictable outcomes
-Focus on continued improvements and success

4. Integrated system

Typically a business has many different departments, each with their own specific functions and purposes. These departments and functions should be interconnected with horizontal processes that should be the focus of Total Quality Management. But sometimes these departments and functions operate in isolated silos.
In an integrated system, everybody in every department should have a thorough understanding of policies, standards, objectives, and processes. Integrated systems help the company to look for continual improvement in order to achieve an edge over the competition.

To implement this TQM principle:

Promote a work culture focused on quality.
Use flowcharts and other visual aids to help employees understand how their functions fit in with the rest of the company.
Use as-is process analysis to see where improvements can be made.
Make training available for employees who need to learn new processes and who want to explore opportunities for advancement.
Benefits include:

Focus on quality that will help your business achieve excellence and meet or exceed customer expectations

5. Strategic and systematic approach

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) describes this principle as:
“Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.”
Multiple processes within a development or production cycle are managed as a system of processes in an effort to increase efficiency.
To implement this TQM principle:
-Provide your people with the proper training and resources that will help them complete their individual steps in the process.
- Continually improve processes and products, and upgrade equipment as necessary to reach goals.
- Make continual improvement a measurable objective for all employees.
- Recognize, acknowledge, and reward innovations and process improvements.
Benefits include:

An ability to quickly identify, react, and fix process bottlenecks or breakdowns
- Overall improved organizational capabilities and improved performance

6. Continual improvement

Optimal efficiency and complete customer satisfaction doesn’t happen in a day—your business should continually find ways to improve processes and adapt your products and services as customer needs shift. As previously stated, the other Total Quality Management principles should help your business keep an eye toward continual improvement.
To implement this TQM principle:
Implement policies to establish product, process, and system improvements as measurable goals for individuals, teams, and departments.
Recognize, acknowledge, and encourage innovation to improve processes and development.
Encourage employees to participate in available training sessions to learn and take on new and additional roles.
Benefits include:
Improved knowledge and capabilities to increase performance
Improvement goals strategically aligned with organizational capabilities and goals
Quick reaction times to recognize and fix bottlenecks and broken processes

7. Fact-based decision-making

Analysis and data gathering lead to better decisions based on the available information. Making informed decisions leads to a better understanding of customers and your market.

To implement this TQM principle:

Analyze and check data to ensure that it is reliable and accurate.
Make relevant data available to stakeholders.
Use valid methods to gather and analyze data.
Make decisions based on the facts learned from the data in addition to your experience and intuition.
Benefits include:

Ability to make informed decisions
Ability to analyze and defend past decisions by referencing factual records
Ability to change past decisions based on data review

8. Communications

Everybody in your organization needs to be aware of plans, strategies, and methods that will be used to achieve goals. There is a greater risk of failure if you don’t have a good communication plan.

To implement this TQM principle:

Establish an official line of communication so that all employees know about updates, policy changes, and new processes.
Where possible, involve employees in decision-making.
Make sure everybody in every department understands their roles and how they fit in with the rest of the company.
Benefits include:

Boost in morale and motivation when employees understand how their contributions help the company achieve its goals
Interdepartmental coordination and cooperation
Connection of silos
Ability to more accurately measure the effectiveness of current policies and procedures
Higher motivation from employees to achieve goals because they are part of the decision-making process.

Total Quality Management Tools

There are a wide range of TQM tools; the size of this article does not permit a detailed discussion of them along with appropriate examples. The following is a list of widely used tools. There is no tool that is best for every application; the knowledgeable practitioner is aware of a rich variety of tools and uses the appropriate one(s).

• Process maps:

One of the important keys to understanding how to improve a process is to map the process. While there are several different approaches to process mapping, the key is to determine who does what at each step of the process.
Often, the simple drawing of a process map is sufficient to solve many quality problems because the map makes it so obvious where defects can be introduced.

• “Poke-A-Yoke”:

This concept of the Japanese management philosophy is to make a process foolproof. The idea is to design the process in such a way that it is self-checking or incorporates process steps that cause immediate detection and possible correction of any defect. Simple examples include color-coding and special keying of parts to ensure that they are assembled the correct way.

• Statistical Tools:

One of Deming’s major contributions to the quality movement was the introduction of statistically grounded approaches to the analysis of defects.
Without the use of these tools, one can often make incorrect decisions regarding the cause of a problem. This can often lead to exactly the opposite effect of that being sought. Included in this set of tools are statistical process control (SPC) charts, Pareto Charts, and histograms.

• Force Field Analysis:

This tool asks one to diagram the forces (policies, culture, and so forth) that are resisting a desired change and the forces that support the change. This assists one in clearly determining the degree of difficulty of making change and exactly where effort will be needed. The supporting forces are places where assistance can be expected.

• Root Cause Analysis (Five Whys):

The Japanese popularized this tool. It consists of asking a series of questions (whys) until one uncovers the root cause of a defective product. The objective is to determine why a defective product was produced; this is to be contrasted with the usual approach of just fixing the defective product or replacing it.

• Fishbone Diagram (Ishakawa Diagram):

This tool is also called a cause-and effect diagram. It is used in a brainstorming session to examine factors that may influence a given situation or outcome. The causes are often grouped into categories such as people, material, method or process, and equipment. The resulting diagram takes the shape of a fishbone, hence the name.

• Loss Functions:

In many manufacturing situations, one creates tolerance limits for a product. Products that fall outside of the limits are defective and those that are inside the limits are deemed well. Several difficulties arise with this approach.
First, there is always the temptation to reclassify products that are just outside the limits into the acceptable category, especially if there is a great push for quantity.
Second, and perhaps more important, the accumulative effect of several parts which are all on the extreme limits of acceptability, may lead to defective performance.
The loss function tool is used to recognize that there is a cost associated with any deviation from the ideal value.

• The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle:

This tool is also known as the Shewhart Cycle. Deming popularized it in Japan; as a result the Japanese refer to it as the Deming Cycle. The tool emphasizes a new plan for change. It carries out tests to make the change on a small scale, observes the effects, and finally, studies the results to determine what has been learned. The cycle is repeated as needed.

• Brainstorming:

This process has become a staple of the TQM movement. The concept is to invite participants to suggest “solutions” to a problem without any evaluation of the usefulness or correctness of their ideas. Several approaches are possible, including open suggestions, rotating suggestions, or blind suggestions.
There are several computer tools that have been developed to assist in this process.
After a fixed period of time, or after all suggestions have been made, there is discussion of the “value” of the suggestions.

• Affinity Diagram:

The affinity diagram tool is used to organize large amounts of non-quantitative (ideas, opinions, issues, etc.) information into groupings based on natural relationships between the items. It is largely a creative rather than a logical process. In a very loose sense, the affinity diagram does for ideas what statistics does for numbers, viz. extract meaning from raw data. The affinity diagram process is often used with the results of a brainstorming session to organize the resulting ideas.

• Interrelation Digraph:

This tool takes complex, multi-variable problems, or desired outcomes, and explores and displays all of the interrelated factors involved.
It graphically shows the logical and often causal relationship between factors. It is often used in conjunction with the results of an affinity diagram exercise to seek causes and effects in order to determine why corrective action needs to be applied.

• Tree Diagram:

This tool is used to systematically map out, in increasing detail, the full range of paths and tasks that need to be accomplished to achieve a primary goal and every related sub goal. Graphically, it resembles an organization chart or family tree.

• Prioritization Matrices:

Prioritization matrices are one of a group of decision-making tools that help to prioritize tasks, issues, or possible actions on the basis of agreed upon criteria. While these tools cannot make decisions, they can help to ensure that all factors are evaluated and that logical decisions are reached.

• Activity Network Diagram:

This class of tools includes a wide range of project management tools used to plan the most appropriate schedule for a complex project.
Typical examples are Gantt Charts and PERT charts. These tools project likely completion time and associated effects and provide a method for judging compliance with a plan. Several excellent computer programs exist for automating the work associated with this class of tools.

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