A Short History and Introduction to Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total quality management was developed by an American statistician and management consultant named William Deming. The idea behind TQM was that there should be a focus of product and service improvement throughout the organization on all levels. Before TQM, improvements were centered around just improving a product or process and not utilizing an organization-wide approach.


The Key Pillars of Total Quality Management

TQM has about eight different elements. One of these is that the customer should be at the center of the quality improvement process. In other words, it is the customer that decides whether efforts are successful or not. Another key element is that employees need to be involved at all levels of service and production towards achieving the company goal.

Total quality management also involves a process-centered approach that aims to reduce uncertainty in areas such as supply chains. An integrated system that connects horizontally and not just vertically is used in the TQM approach to foster cooperation. Long-term and strategic plans are used to lay out a roadmap for the long-term vision of a firm. The focus is not the short-term goals but long-term goals of the company.

The last three key elements of total quality management are continual improvements, fact-based decision making, and an emphasis on communications. Continual improvement is an especially important part of TQM. It involves constantly thinking and looking for ways to improve a product and stay ahead of competitors.

The idea of fact-based decision making usually involves the use of statistics and big data. Fact-based decision making looks at past, current, and future data and attempts to make decisions based on that data. The element of communication looks at improving communications within the organization through the elimination of barriers and new technologies and methods.


The Application of Total Quality Management

Total quality management was originally designed to be used by manufacturing companies. Its principles can be used by many other industries, however. TQM is now used by banking, finance and healthcare companies.

The key point behind total quality management is that it aims to unify every person and process within a company to achieve a desired goal or objective. This is combined with the idea of continual improvement and customer satisfaction. The result is a highly effective organizational-wide approach to improving productivity and service quality.


Edmund Lazarus