Total Quality Management

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Total Quality Management
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Methods and techniques
  • See list of methods at the end of article

Total Quality Management (TQM) is an approach to organization management, in which every aspect of the business is carried out taking into account quality issues (pro-quality approach). It involves all employees through teamwork, commitment and continuous improvement of their skills. The objective is to achieve long-term success through customer satisfaction and benefits for the organization, its members and to the public.

Total Quality Management is based on Japanese methods of management, however the term was coined in USA in early 80-ties. The original Japanese approach was known as Company-Wide Quality Control, later Company-Wide Quality Commitment (CWQC). Other source of TQM was Total Quality Control - term coined by Armand Feigenbaum. See more in section about development of TQM below.

Assumptions of TQM

Quality management is based on several assumptions:

  1. The involvement of every employee in the company in improving the tiniest aspects of its operations. This improvement is done through frequent small improvements rather than large investments (see: Kaizen).
  2. Optimizing processes. The use of simple and universal tools and equipment that can be easily and quickly rearm, maximizes the time when you can produce. Synchronization of the individual positions can minimize inventory costs. The execution of tasks right the first time limits number of amendments during the work.
  3. The cause of the vast majority of quality problems is improper management of the company, work organization, motivation. Only a few percent of the errors caused by employees at the production line. Improve managers first, then employees.
  4. The success of the quality management implementation is postponed, because only the long-term use of above mentioned principles can result in a competitive advantage. The success can be reflected not only in the activities of the organization, but also on the benefits to society, the environment, etc., Therefore the company needs to take on social responsibility.

Since 2000 amendment, ISO 9001 requirements have been changed to be more compatible with TQM ideas. Quality management principles refer to Total Quality Management assumptions, and therefore can be used as first step to its implementation in the company.

Development of TQM

Development of quality approach

The concept of Total Quality Management emerged in the late 70s and 80s in the United States and quickly became fashionable, although - as proven by the experiences of enterprises - poorly understood concept. However, the TQM sources can be found as early as the 20th century.

Beginnings and Japanese period

Study conducted in the 20s by Walter A. Shewhart on a statistical description of the variation in production resulted in the development of the statistical process control. These methods have been used already during World War II in the armaments industry of the United States. But the boom in demand that took place after the war meant that quality issues have been relegated to the back burner.

Japanese engineers in the late 40s became interested in the quality control and statistical methods. It happened thanks to William Edwards Deming, a former student W.A. Shewhart, who delivered in Japan a series of lectures on the subject. This event is considered to be the beginning of a new approach to the development of quality products. Since the early 50s knowledge of statistics and quality have been promoted in Japan by Joseph M. Juran.

In the early 60s a book Total Quality Control was published. It collected experience and achievements of US-Japanese cooperation in the form of several principles. These rules were revised and greatly expanded a few years later with introducing the concept of Total Quality Commitment also known as Company-Wide Quality Commitment.

Popularization of TQM in USA and Europe

The oil crisis in the United States meant that Americans were interested in small and cheap cars from Japan. It turned out that those cars are more reliable than vehicles of domestic production. Sales of Japanese cars to grew rapidly. Concerned competitive US automotive companies have started to look for the causes of their failures. The result of this search was the first overseas attempt to implement Total Quality Commitment. The name of Total Quality Management was adopted in the US approach (called by some authors "the philosophy"). Not all of TQM methods came from Japan, some were developed by American corporations (eg. Six Sigma, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis).

In the 80s TQM became popular in the United States and Europe. It soon turned out that the effects are far from the achievements of Japanese enterprises. It was found that the main cause of failures was trying to copy methods without taking into account different national and organizational culture. Western companies focused on:

  • short-term projects to improve,
  • bringing profits to shareholders,
  • evaluating their employees based on performance over short periods.

They were unable to meet the philosophy of long-term improvement of the organization in every aspect of its business. Thus, in the 90s idea of reengineering was proposed - concept of revolutionary changes throughout the company. The introduction of reengineering turned out to be very expensive. After the failure of several large implementation projects, the authors revised their views concept and limited to only revolutionary changes in key processes. It turned out that it is impossible to achieve the effects of TQM in the short term.

Quality awards

In order to popularize the Total Quality Management several national and international award have been established. The most important are:

Future of TQM

The postwar period motto of Japanese industry was to catch up with the west. However, when in the mid-90s it was realized that Japan is the leader, company management faced the challenge of change of the policy. The quality management ideas are oriented to interior of the company. But when organization is a leader it has to create new directions of development, not follow the others. While developing new direction in quality philosophy the Japanese reach for Western methods and concepts and adapt them to their culture.

Related concepts

Lean manufacturing, and later lean management and lean administration are the movements that draw from Total Quality Management. In fact, they are a copy of TQM, but in new packaging. Some authors even show history of lean management starting with 40s and not realizing other aforementioned concepts.

Most influential people in TQM

Methods of Total Quality management

5S method - 7 TQC Methods - Fish diagram - Control chart - Pareto chart - Poka yoke - Kaizen - Hoshin kanri - Kanban - Just in time - Single minute exchange of die - Total productive maintenance - Failure Mode and Effects Analysis - Quality Function Deployment - House of total quality model


Author: Slawomir Wawak