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– Total Quality Management –

⇓  Introduction to TQM

⇓  What is TQM

⇓  Why Implement TQM

⇓  How to Implement TQM

⇓  Learn More About TQM

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Introduction to Total Quality Management (TQM)

An organizations reputation for providing quality products and services is more important than ever before, due largely to today’s highly competitive world market. When a customer invests in your product or service, they expect a certain level of quality. If you fail to meet their expectations, customers have the option of obtaining the same product or service from numerous other organizations. The quality of your product or service is vital to success. The entire organization must be involved from all levels, divisions and functions. Some may believe that the idea of quality control is a relatively new thing. However, quality control methods date back to the middle ages when the masters would inspect the work of the apprentices. Modern quality practices can be traced back to the 1920s with the first applications of statistics to quality control methods. An engineer named Walter Shewert, while working for General Electric, created a statistical quality control chart. He later went on to publish a book titled “Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product” in the 1930s. Later in the 1950s, Joseph Juran and W. Edwards Deming applied and built upon Shewhart’s statistical methods. During the rebuilding efforts in Japan following the Second World War, Deming taught and lectured on statistical quality control. He added some of his own ideas regarding process quality control. The quality control tools and methodology became known as Total Quality Management (TQM).  The implementation of TQM is credited as a major contributor to Japan’s economic recovery. Later, during the 1970s and 1980s, quality and productivity methods became popular in the United States. Organizations began adopting statistical quality control methods in an effort to compete in the increasingly global marketplace.

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)

The basic goal of Total Quality Management (TQM) is to involve all levels and functions of an organization in continually meeting and exceeding the customer’s expectations of their daily operations, products or services. In many organizations today, there remains an outdated belief that the quality department is solely responsible to assure that the product or service meets quality standards. Within TQM, organizations are viewed as a collection of processes that must be continuously improved through utilization of the knowledge and experience of associates in all functions and at all levels. TQM philosophy deems that everyone within the organization should focus their efforts on meeting the needs of the customer and achieving the goals of the organization.  The focus should not only be on doing things right, but doing them right every time.  Originally, TQM was primarily applied to manufacturing operations. However, TQM methods and tools are now becoming recognized as a universal management tool, just as applicable in service and public sector organizations. Some of the principles that form the foundation of Total Quality Management include:

  • Commitment by senior management and all employees
  • Development of systems to facilitate continuous improvement
  • Promote employee involvement, empowerment and process ownership
  • Reduced product and service costs through design and process improvements
  • Fact-based decision making based on data acquired through process monitoring and controls
  • Challenging the old line status quo and creating an environment that welcomes change
  • Incorporation of TQM in strategic planning, allowing for allocation of adequate resources for improvement
  • Celebration and recognition of achievements when improvements are successfully implemented

TQM methodology should be implemented at all levels, by all associates in all functions, including Manufacturing, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Material Planning, etc.   There are many different definitions and variations of application regarding TQM. However, the mission should always remain the same. Quality is everyone’s job, all the time.

Why Implement Total Quality Management (TQM)

The plain and simple truth is that properly planned and implemented TQM methodology will provide significant financial benefits to your business. TQM methodology not only benefits your customers, but your organization will become more efficient, effective and through continually meeting the customers need, your brand equity will increase. The stronger your brand equity the more likely you will experience long-term success. TQM methodology allows your organization to:

  • Understand your customer’s wants and needs or the Voice of the Customer (VOC)
  • Improve your customer focus and increase customer loyalty
  • Be more adaptable to changing market conditions and government regulations
  • Allocate proper resources and ensure capability to deliver high quality products or services
  • Focus on processes, measure performance and use data to drive continuous improvement
  • Reduce costs by reducing and eliminating waste in its many forms

Through implementation of TQM methodology, your company will realize many benefits beyond the list above. The involvement of all divisions, departments, functions, processes and individuals in the TQM activities will help in building a continuous improvement culture within your organization, which could have a tremendous positive impact on the bottom line.

How to Implement Total Quality Management (TQM)

Implementing Total Quality Management within an organization is no simple task. It takes time, resources and commitment. Before initiating any implementation of TQM, you should assess the current conditions and culture within the organization. This may be done internally, or in many cases is performed by a non-biased, external resource. The leadership of the organization and the corporate culture must be adaptable to TQM philosophy and prepared to support it during the implementation phase and beyond.  This will be a long-term process. Leaders will need to uphold their commitment to the process, maintain open lines of communication, provide support and ensure accountability.

Need for Change

One of the first things the leadership of any organization must do prior to launching any TQM initiative is to recognize the need for change within their organization. Does your organization have a firm grasp on the wants and needs of your customers? Do your employees feel empowered and responsible for making improvements in the processes they perform? Does your organization have clearly defined processes or a plan for improvement? If you answered no to any of these questions you may need a change.  But, are you prepared to and have the ability and desire to change? The success of any TQM implementation is dependent upon if the management and staff within the organization want the change to happen.

The Vision

TQM should be purpose driven and there should be a clear vision for the organization’s future. Proper communication is a key element of a successful TQM implementation. The entire organization should have a clear vision of the mission and goals of implementing TQM. It is the responsibility of the leadership team to communicate the plan, purpose, goals and benefits of implementing TQM methodology. Organizational management should draft a plan for implementation including the assignment of responsibilities, formation of improvement teams and allocation of adequate resources. This often includes acquiring external consulting and training resources.

Voice of the Customer

Working towards meeting the customer’s wants and needs is one of the primary reasons for implementing TQM methodology. Therefore, establishing an effective Voice of the Customer (VOC) process is vital to success of the organization. VOC defines the needs, wants and expectations of the customer. This includes both external and internal customers. The Voice of the Customer process is a documented procedure for collecting, documenting and analyzing the feedback from the customer to improve a product or process. The VOC process should be proactive and continually refined to capture changing customer requirements. In addition, the process should include methods for effectively sharing and utilizing this valuable information within the TQM system to effect meaningful change. Any deficiencies discovered during collection and analyzing the VOC should serve as a starting point for your improvement process.

Define Success

Develop goals that are measurable in order to define success or failure. The Voice of the Customer is often a contributing factor in defining your goals. Goals should be clearly defined and measurable. A vaguely expressed goal such as “The product must perform better than the competition” is not clear or measurable. Do your homework, benchmark your competitors and document the performance of their product or service. Then set your goals in measurable terms. In some cases you may want to implement Statistical Process Control (SPC) to record the appropriate data and monitor the process. Establish your Critical to Quality (CTQ) criteria. These are the parameters by which achievement of goals are measured. They are quantifiers of success.

Train and Empower

A successful TQM implementation is largely dependent on the skills and acceptance of the employees. The first step is to educate your workforce. Provide your teams with the proper training, tools and system structure to allow them to succeed. Employee training should be a priority during the implementation of TQM and going forward.  While some training may require assistance from external consultants, much of the process training can be accomplished by management staff. Another key aspect of TQM success is the involvement and empowerment of employees in the TQM implementation process.  Bring them into the decision process where applicable. Reaping the benefits of your employee’s otherwise untapped ideas, innovative thoughts and creativity can make a profound impact on successful implementation and acceptance of TQM within your organization. A few ideas to keep in mind while implementing TQM:

  • Changes are more widely accepted and supported when employees have been directly involved
  • Associates that work directly with the process are more likely to identify opportunities for improvement
  • Involvement increases morale by creating sense of belonging within the organization

Through training and completion of the initial process reviews, the team members likely will begin to take mental ownership of their individual processes.  When this transfer of ownership takes place, the workers begin to view process improvements as their responsibility.  Employee involvement is crucial to TQM, and it can mean the difference between success and failure.

Identify Improvement Opportunities

When implementing TQM you should review the processes to identify opportunities for improvement. The following is some basic information for reviewing a process for possible improvement.

Map the Process

Obtain a Process Map and any Work Instructions, Control Plans or other process documentation that may exist. If you do not have a process map then build one. Gain a thorough understanding of the current state of the process. Find out what is really happening. If you do not understand your process, you cannot improve it.

Review the Process

Review the process and evaluate each task or step. Using the 5 Why and 2 How model, ask Why, What, Where, When, Who, How and How often questions.

Reduce Waste

Determine methods to reduce or eliminate waste in all of its forms.  Look for ways to eliminate any unneeded steps or tasks from the process. Combine process steps where possible. Rearrange the process sequence to ease assembly or simplify the process where possible.

Implement Prevention Controls

One of the basic beliefs of TQM is that mistakes will occur if not prevented and the majority of them are due to inadequate controls or systems. The Root Cause of mistakes can be identified and the mistake prevented. Mistake Proofing or Poke Yoke methodology can be implemented into any step within a process where errors occur.  Eliminate the need for inspection to achieve quality by preventing errors and building quality into the product in the first place.

Continue reviewing the processes until you have covered every one. Train yourself and your teams to look past the current state of the process, and envision the future improved process. Once all the processes have been reviewed and improvements identified, encourage your employees and teams to become aware of problems and look for ways to improve every day. By doing this you will be planting the seeds of a continuous improvement culture within the organization.

Measure and Report

Once process improvements have been implemented, the key process and product characteristics should be measured and monitored.  Manufacturing processes often incorporate SPC methodology. Other methods could include random inspections or routine audits of the process or products. The specific methods will vary depending on the organization’s size, structure, the process and potential risk. Measuring the effectiveness of the TQM implementation will require time, but will also help identify which areas or processes require additional improvement, adjustment or redesign. It is vital for leadership to recognize if an exercise was successful or not.  TQM is largely dedicated to achieving continuous improvement in all processes throughout the organization, from high level strategic planning and decision-making, to detailed execution of production processes on the shop floor and meeting the customer’s needs on a consistent basis.  Communicating and celebrating positive results of the TQM implementation will build employee morale and support for future improvement or Kaizen projects.

Implementing TQM has many benefits for an organization, but it is going to require commitment and continual support from management as well as an investment of time and resources. In most cases it is not an easy task. Implementing TQM will not happen overnight, as it is a comprehensive and long-term process. Organizational leadership must maintain their commitment, provide guidance and support and promote accountability to achieve the desired results. Keep mindful that TQM should be purpose and results driven. Have a clear vision for the future of the organization, share that vision and stay focused on the goal. Implementing and effectively utilizing TQM can be a powerful tool for unleashing employee potential, reducing costs and improving the quality of the organizations products and or services.

Learn More About Total Quality Management (TQM)

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