Total Quality Management, often abbreviated as TQM is the strategy used by organizations in improving internal operations and enhancing the satisfaction of customers. With proper implementation, TQM reduces the costs that are associated with corrective maintenance, creates satisfactory general performance and a high number of satisfied customers.
However, the concept of TQM is not implemented within a short period of time. Although there are many software solutions capable of assisting companies in the implementation of TQM systems, the companies must pay attention to philosophies that should be integrated in key departments and all managerial levels. Any other resources are usually adopted alongside the key principles of TQM (Robbins 8).
Principles of TQM
The first principle of TQM argues that since it is possible to manage quality in companies, this must be done. Many companies suffer from unending chaos and complaints from customers. They wrongly believe that it is not possible to manage their operations effectively because of their largeness.
The starting point in TQM is to be aware of the problems and that solutions can be found. The second principle of TQM is that the problem in most companies is the processes but not the people. If there are problems with the process, hiring new employees or conducting numerous training programs does not solve the problem. The first step should be taking corrective measures on the process then embarking on training sessions for the employees.
The third principle of TQM is that what companies should embark on is a cure as opposed to treating the symptoms. Finding short term solutions for an existing problem makes it difficult for the full potential to be reached. For instance, a falling shipping department may be an indication of manufacturing holdups.
The best way of solving the problem is to find the root cause and address it. The fourth principle of TQM is that all the employees should take part in enhancing quality. All the workers in a company from the junior ones to the most senior managers should realize that they play an important role towards improving the quality of their services and products. Each employee should leave the customers satisfied and happy (Kurtus 4).
Moreover, there should be mechanisms of measuring quality in companies. TQM systems can only function well if the results are quantifiable. This helps in monitoring the implementation process of the program to see if the anticipated effect is being achieved. In addition, it is easy to set future goals and push all the departments to work towards achieving the desired goals.
Apart from the results of TQM being quantifiable, improvements in quality should be a continuous process. TQM is not a process that can be done once then stopped. Unlike management steps that end with a solution to the problem, TQM processes are conducted regularly in order to increase the loyalty and satisfaction of customers.
Finally, it is important for companies to realize that TQM is an investment that goes for a long period of time. Companies can buy TQM software to improve the quality of products and services but it is important to note that the results are achieved gradually. The process is designed for realizing long-term success.
Evolution of TQM
TQM has been in existence for a long period of time but the meaning of the term has continued to change over time. In early 20th century, TQM referred to the inspection of goods to ensure that they conformed to the set specifications.
As time went by, TQM started becoming statistical in nature where statistical techniques were employed to determine the quality of goods. The concept embraced a broader meaning in the 1980s with the assistance of the quality Gurus. Quality was viewed as something that touched on the whole organization rather than being confined to the production process only.
This was based on the fact that the quality of the products was determined by all the functions of the organization and that the cost of poor quality affected all sections of the organization. The meaning of quality changed largely in the 1970s because before then, quality was viewed as an aspect that called for inspection and corrections. This period was marked by loss of market share of some companies as a result of foreign competition (Demming 509).
As a result of these changes in major companies such as Honda, Toyota and Toshiba, there was need to effect changes in the quality programs. Most of these companies solicited the services of training consultants and initiated programs for training their employees on quality management and this started changing the concept of total quality management.
Quality began attracting a strategic meaning and today, it is associated with competitive advantage in companies. The customer needs are given the first priority hence TQM is defined in terms of exceeding the expectations of the customers.
Since the 1970s, quality competition has been on the increase eliciting a lot of concern. Companies in various businesses are currently working towards improving the quality of their goods and services in order to win customer loyalty and attain competitive advantage. In many companies, excellence in quality has turned to be a standard for conducting business with companies that ignore quality being faced out of the market.
How Total Quality Management Shapes the Workplace
TQM is important in companies since it shapes the work place in different ways. Since it focuses on satisfying the customers and improving the quality of products and services, it definitely shapes the workplace and enhances the profits. The first way through which TQM shapes the workplace is that it leads to the production of high quality goods.
TQM emphasizes the importance of producing products of high quality hence companies focus on producing the best quality possible. Successful TQM emphasizes improvement of every process by searching all the problems in the company. Moreover, TQM requires that the products be tested for assurance of the quality hence it becomes easy to determine if the products meet the requirements of the customers.
The testing procedure is done by taking a sample from the production process. If it is discovered that there are some failures in the products, the specific issues are noted and acted upon to make the necessary changes.
In addition, a discussion is held to identify the reasons that led to the failure with the help of statistical approaches and/or distributions to understand the circumstances better. By evaluating certain failures and the statistics, it is possible for companies to device ways of redesigning the products and using cheaper corrective methods in the future.
This shapes the workplace in that the quality of the product is constantly improved. The company also has a chance of monitoring the quality of the products on a regular basis. In addition, it is possible to change the design and materials used in production in order to economize materials and produce quality products for the customers (Demming 510).
The second way through which TQM shapes the workplace is through positive product reviews from the customers. TQM contributes towards the satisfaction of customers with the work done by the company. Companies are interested in customers or clients who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the products in the customer chain.
Since quality assurance testing is part of TQM, the products always meet the requirements of the customers. The satisfaction of customers and good performance enables the company to get reviews in business publications and newspapers. This is a factor that increases the reputation of companies and increases their profitability.
The third way through which TQM shapes the workplace is increasing employee production. TQM pays more attention to ensure that the needs of employees in a company are met. This enables employees to put more effort in achieving TQM goals hence boosting workplace morale. To increase the level of production, sometimes employees are given incentives such as salary increments.
This might be done after training them on the operations of TQM and the roles they are supposed to play in implementing the programs. Giving employees incentives and training them on the operations of TQM ensures that the programs work effectively because the employees are knowledgeable and feel motivated. This leads to satisfaction in customers, the employees and a general feeling of fulfillment in the workplace (Demming 514).
The fourth way in which TQM shapes the workplace is that it has a philosophy that focuses on empowering employees to identify quality problems and come up with remedies. Creating a new philosophy is an important strategy of TQM. The old concepts of quality did not allow employees to identify quality problems since they feared being reprimanded for doing that. Poor quality was blamed on individuals working with the organizations.
The new concept of TQM provides a platform where employees are rewarded for identifying problems in quality. TQM gives employees at the workplace a chance to make decisions touching on the quality of products in the production process. The employees are considered to be important people in implementing the quality hence the suggestions and decisions they come up with are highly valued and respected.
In stressing the role of employees in improving quality, TQM differentiates between external and internal customers. External customers are the ones who purchase products and services from the company while internal customers are employees who handle goods from other employees of the same company.
For instance, the department concerned with packaging of goods is regarded as internal customer because it receives goods from assembling department. TQM ensures that defective goods are not passed to the internal customers thus the external customers do not receive defective goods. In this way, TQM shapes the workplace by ensuring that the value of employees in maintaining quality is recognized
The fifth way through TQM shapes the work place is by encouraging team approach in dealing with issues. Team work relies on the management principle of breaking barriers in the workplace (Walton 36). TQM emphasizes that quality is achieved as a result of efforts of all members of the organization.
Quality problems are better solved through team work where discussion and quality controls are employed in solving problems. The contribution given by teams in companies is considered an important way of achieving success. As result, companies find it important to set some time for regular team meetings. The formality and structure of teams vary with different companies.
In addition, the types of problems solved by different teams also vary. For example, a quality circle is a team of production employees together with their supervisors who volunteer time to address quality problems. The circle is made up of between eight and ten members where consensus is the basis of the decisions made. Most of the meetings for such a team are held every week in a designated location.
A certain procedure is followed in addressing the quality issues and criticism is not allowed in the discussions. By encouraging team work, TQM shapes the workplace since issues that disrupt the smooth running of operations at the workplace are addressed comprehensively. A group is able to share views and make the necessary considerations before coming up with the right decisions (Walton 36).
Quality is one of the most important aspects that most companies strive to achieve and maintain. Total Quality management is an improved version of quality management which focuses on improving the internal operations of companies and ensuring maximum customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is crucial for companies since it portrays a good image and builds the reputation of the company. In addition, customers who gain satisfaction from a company continue being loyal to the company. All the aspects of internal operations of a company and customer satisfaction are addressed by TQM which has been adopted by many companies. It is a trusted way of shaping the workplace by addressing all quality problems.
Demming, Edward. Out of the Crisis. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000. Print
Kurtus, Ron. Basic Principles of Total Quality Management . 2001. Web. 06 Dec 2011.
Robbins, Stephen. Management. New Jersey: FT Press, 2008. Print
Walton, Mary. The Deming management method. New York: Perigee, 1986. Print