11 Principles of Total Quality Management (TQM)

Updated Oct 5, 2022.
Principles of Total Quality Management (TQM)

Business owners and management teams are responsible for managing the organization’s day-to-day operations and ensuring it experiences growth and remains a success in the future. 

Quality is a critical success factor (CSF) for achieving success irrespective of the business level strategy used. 

The most successful business models never stop trying to improve their production system. Total Quality Management (TQM) is a process improvement methodology that identifies what the customer needs, tracks production results, and uses it for improvement.

This article will cover the Total Quality Management principles your organization can adopt to improve production and help it capture market share.

Let’s get started.

What is Total Quality Management?

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management approach based on employees' continual improvement to exceed customer expectations by providing overall quality products and services. 

Employees in an organization are obligated to provide quality services and products through manufacturing processes. TQM ensures employees' efforts are focused on the business goals and eliminates errors where they arise.

Every organization needs an integrated system for effective Total Quality Management. As a management process, TQM utilizes Total Quality Management tools to ensure all employees maintain product and service quality and overall process improvements. 

Total Quality Management expands the scope and quality of an organization's business processes. It improves the quality and performance of all departments and processes to exceed customer expectations. 

With TQM in place, top management is better positioned to implement a strategic plan to improve quality and manage interrelated processes that guarantee successful organizational performance. 

Companies get to increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs, deliver quality products, and improve their overall organizational culture when implementing TQM, which ultimately translates to a higher Return on Investment (ROI).

You can break Total Quality Management into four actual implementations:

  • Quality Assurance
  • Quality Planning
  • Quality Control
  • Quality Improvement

Principles of Total Quality Management

Like any other management technique or approach, the level of success varies across companies that choose to implement Total Quality Management. Ultimately, your organization's culture would significantly change when implementing TQM. 

Here are some essential Total Quality Management practices and principles to implement alongside your TQM strategic and systematic approach.

1. Customer Focus

Customer focus ensures the central focus is on the people that purchase your quality products and services. 

In every successful TQM approach, the customer defines the quality of the products. Ensuring your product or service lasts long enough to meet customers' specific needs and expectations guarantees customers a quality product or service for their money. 

Having a thorough understanding of your customer's needs puts you as an organization in a better position to achieve excellence and exceed customer expectations. 

Customer Centricity
Source: SuperOffice

Customers are the ones that justify the quality of your products and services. As a company, you need to ensure the business objectives are aligned with the needs and expectations of your customers. 

You need to carry out extensive market research for the following reasons:

  • Understand the needs and expectations of your customers
  • Align your business objectives with the needs of your customers
  • Manage relationships with customers 

Taking a customer-focused approach is key to successfully implementing TQM. Training employees, improving tools and processes, and introducing quality practices to your organization would all fall short if consumers do not buy into your product or service ideas. 

Customer focus as a principle offers organizations numerous benefits, including more sales and profits, strong customer loyalty, and free referral from satisfied customers. 

Satisfying customers should be at the top of your TQM approach. It improves the overall quality standards of your organization. 

2. Leadership

Leadership refers to how management takes up the responsibility of successfully selling and positioning their organization to implement the Total Quality Management approach. 

Besides the structure it brings to an organization, leadership plays a huge role in maintaining unity, especially among employees. 

Employees must often deliver on interdependent goals and interact with one another. Without leadership, it is difficult for employees to relate well. 

The organization's leadership must unite all employees and provide an environment where all employees are free to share and table their grievances to keep all quarters happy and maintain relative peace.

As a leader, you must set the tone for employees to perform well, which requires providing a convenient and enabling working environment. 

Leadership plays a significant role in ensuring the organization's goals are met. Every business leader must possess the right leadership qualities irrespective of the leadership styles used. 

3. Total Employee Commitment to Quality

Total employee involvement and commitment help eliminate errors and increase productivity of the processes and sales of a company.

Active participation is one area that improves your organization’s quality. Top management needs to provide sufficient training and the resources needed to understand and interpret the vision and goals of the organization into substantial results.

A straightforward communication approach ensures your employees understand the significance of their contribution to the organization's objectives. This approach goes a long way in solidifying total employee commitment to your organization. 

Top management needs to involve employees in various organization responsibilities and give them a free hand to solve problems.

Motivating Employees

Employees' performance, as measured against the goals and objectives of the organization, helps employees with a sense of their role in the organization and relative impact. Motivating employees to improve where they fall short keeps them committed to the cause. 

By acknowledging successful and high-performing employees, you motivate and build the confidence of other employees to show more commitment to the organization's objectives. 

Total employee commitment leads to increased employee retention. Employees are more satisfied and actively working towards customer satisfaction as they contribute to continual improvement.

Total Employee Commitment to Quality
Source: Empuls

4. Process Approach

Taking a process approach is one of the ways of guaranteeing the success of the Total Quality Management approach. Processes are designed to create a path of consistent steps that all work to deliver a speedy production and output. 

Subscribing to process-led thinking as an organization is one of the key TQM principles. Processes are one of the Total Quality Management tools that help define the roles and responsibilities of every individual associated with the organization. 

Creating visual aids in your organization's strategic planning ensures everyone can identify activities, tasks, their respective timeline, and their impact on the organization's expected performance. 

You analyze and measure activities and identify areas to be improved upon or steps in the process plagued by bottlenecks. This move ensures you have significant direct resources to deal with before they spin out of control. 

Organizations can better evaluate their impact on customers, suppliers, and all interested parties with a process approach. 

A process approach helps fasten the development and production cycles due to the relative consistency in the expected outcomes. It focuses on continual improvements and customer satisfaction as criteria for success. 

To yield a profitable output, companies must focus on consistently improving their processes to guarantee quality improvement of their products and services. 

5. System Approach

The systematic approach involves identifying, understanding, and managing interrelated processes that a system has to offer to improve an organization's effectiveness and efficiency in delivering on its objectives. 

In the system approach of TQM, the system contributes to increasing the organization's overall efficiency by better managing multiple processes within a production cycle.

Providing all employees and interested parties with proper training and resources to help them complete all steps that characterize a process is a great way of implementing the system approach. 

Continual improvement must be a measurable objective for all parties involved in the system approach. Continually improving and upgrading processes goes a long way in helping an organization meet its set goals while satisfying customers. 

In the system approach, innovations and improvements in processes need to be acknowledged and rewarded as a way of motivating others to come up with more innovative ways to improve processes. 

The system approach affords organizations the unique ability to identify and fix bottlenecks that tend to plague processes, guaranteeing an improved overall organizational capability and performance. 

6. Continual Improvement

Seeking ways to improve processes and make changes to your products and services based on your customers' needs and expectations is a way of guaranteeing maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction. Still, it is essential to note that it is a gradual process. 

In its entirety, the principles of TQM are designed to help organizations keep an eye on the continual improvement of their processes, products, and services. 

Continual improvement requires implementing quality policies to establish improvements in the product, service, process, and system measured in the long run as goals for individuals, teams, and departments. 

One way to implement continual improvement is to recognize, encourage, and acknowledge different innovation types designed to improve processes and development. Focusing on quality standards brings about quality assurance. 

Besides innovations, instituting training for employees to learn and take on additional roles in the organization is an ongoing basis for continual improvement so long the training is centered on customer satisfaction. 

Organizations have much to gain from continual improvement. They gain improved knowledge and capabilities that improve their performance as the improvement goals are aligned strategically with the organization's goals. 

There is swiftness in identifying and dealing with issues that tend to hinder or limit processes when continual improvement leads to improved and higher quality processes. 

Continual improvement ensures companies come up with newer and more innovative ways to deliver better quality products and be more competitive when exceeding customers' expectations. 

7. Data-Driven Decision-Making

With the available information, proper analysis and gathering of data help organizations reach a better and more informed decision.

Deciding on well-analyzed data helps businesses better understand their customer's expectations and the overall market in which their business activities are conducted. 

Seeking data based on the measured performance of your processes helps provide an organization with a broader view of how their company is fairing compared to other companies in the same business line. 

Companies need to make data-driven decisions for effective TQM. It improves the quality and accuracy of decision-making and helps forecast future occurrences. 

Emotions usually come into play in any process and system. By basing your decision-making solely on data and relevant statistics, you get the desired result expected. 

To effectively implement data-driven decision-making as part of your TQM approach, you need to check the available data's validity, accuracy, and reliability. Only after doing this do you make the relevant data available to necessary stakeholders in your organization. 

Many methods are often used to gather and analyze data. Using valid and proven methods is best as you would be required to make decisions based on the data gathered. You risk being led on by inaccurate data obtained from an unreliable source. 

As an organization, you can make informed decisions and changes to past decisions by choosing a data-driven approach. You can refer back to the data at any time. 

Decision-making based on facts is one of the surest ways of achieving customer satisfaction. 

8. Measurement of Quality

Quality helps distinguish a product or service from other similar options available to customers. This TQM principle is a measurable entity. Customers can see if what is offered to them meets their standards and expectations of what they need now. 

As an organization keen on delivering quality products and services to meet customers' needs and expectations, you can measure quality through three steps:

  • Identifying your products' and services' current quality levels
  • Understanding the needs and expectations of your customers
  • Deciding what quality levels to aspire for to deliver your customers' identified needs and expectations

9. Communications

Effective communication involves making everyone in your organization aware of the plans, strategies, and methods to deliver on the organization's goals and objectives.

A good communication plan reduces the risk of failure to the barest minimum. With awareness created by communicating effectively and regularly, there are more available and capable hands to help deliver the expected outcome. 

An official line of communication must be created as part of the organization's effort to ensure all employees are carried along. This channel serves as a medium for updating everyone about changes in policies and processes. 

Also, where necessary, the top management involve employees in respective aspects of decision-making. It is helpful to get contributions from all quarters before concluding. 

Periodic communication boosts employees' morale by acknowledging employees' efforts and contributions to the company meeting its goals and objectives. Employees are motivated to do more in the future with the right acknowledgment.

Communication also helps improve employees' morale during their day-to-day operations. Involving them in decision-making allows employees to feel empowered. This mindset creates a general atmosphere where success and unity thrive. 

10. Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a system or method where organizations measure their organizations against industry best practices to ascertain how it fares to the established standard. 

This Total Quality Management principle aims to utilize these standards to help organizations develop best practices that would help spur them to better performance on the international stage. 

By studying these best practices and standards, companies can learn and incorporate them into their business operations with a high guarantee of success if implemented thoroughly and adequately. 

With benchmarking, an organization can weigh its efforts against the industry's best performance in the field where they operate and cut the lapses or gap between its efforts and the industry standard where applicable. 

Benchmarking is an effective technique for continuous improvement. 

11. Preventing Rather than Detecting Defects

This Total Quality Management approach is practical because it checks the quality of products and services before customers consider them poor products or services. 

As a principle, prevention has always been proven to be better than cure. This TQM principle is best used to look for poor-quality products and services instead of detecting and sorting out defects.

In your TQM approach, you need to structure your processes and systems and introduce measures where the need arises to prevent defects. 

Among other popular techniques in Total Quality Management is statistical process control, continuous process involvement, problem-solving, and system failure analysis. 

As an organization, you need to consider these TQM techniques to help prevent defects when delivering quality products and services to customers. 

If not correctly checked, defects, in the long run, tend to undermine the whole Total Quality management approach. Defects prevent TQM from being maximized to deliver the required and expected results. 

As an organization, you owe it entirely to your customers to give them the best value for the money they have committed into your hands. 

You must ensure your organization's processes and operations are not plagued by defects that limit them from reaching their full potential.

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Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.