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What is Total Quality Management (TQM) ? | Features, Definition, Importance & Limitations

Total Quality Management

What is Total Quality Management ?

Meaning and Definition of Total Quality Management :

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management ideology that focuses upon quality management and is derived from other management theories such as quality circles, strategic planning, etc. Total quality management consists of three words, which are explained below :

1) Total : 
The word 'total' in TQM signifies that it is the responsibility of each and every individual of the organisation to continuously regulate and maintain the quality of products and services. It is an all-inclusive mode of handling quality related issues by involving every employee and staff member of the organisation.

2) Quality : 
Quality is the degree of customer satisfaction. Organisations identify the demands of their customers by accurately analyzing their needs. This is essential for ascertaining the quality of products required by the customers. Hence, the term 'total quality' signifies the involvement of every employee and staff member towards the accomplishment of set quality standards.

3) Management : 
The term 'management under TQM, explains that in order to achieve total quality, continuous improvements should be emphasized or rather than quick changes. Hence, every employee and staff member of an organisation should emphasise upon continuous improvements in quality.

Hence, conjoining all, TQM provides an entire systematic view of quality management. It is a management system that emphasize upon the continuous improvements in qualitative aspects of products and services by involving all employees and workforce. It is most suitable for customer-centric organisations.

According to Professor Leopald S. Vasin, "Total Quality Management is the control of all transformation processes of an organisation to best satisfy customer's needs in the most economical manner".

Total quality management is a management system for a customer focused organisation that involves all employees in continual improvement of all aspects of the organisation.

TQM = Customer-Driven Quality Management

Total Quality Management

Total quality management is an integrative approach that focuses towards quality improvement by utilizing data, strategy, and effective communication and spreading quality principles in the work culture. TQM is a long-term process, which focuses on achieving customer satisfaction. The employees, workers and staff members of an organisation, with implemented TQM approach, participate in improving the quality of work processes, products and work culture.

Features of Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management Principles / Elements of Total Quality Management are as follows :

1) Customer Satisfaction :
In order to  sustain competitive market competition and a higher rank position, a firm has to attain customer satisfaction. For achieving customer satisfaction, firms have to develop and maintain their quality of products, as desired by the customers. For this purpose, they should accurately identify the quality standards of customers and must adopt TQM practices for meeting those quality standards.

2) Leadership : 
TQM entails leadership qualities that a top-level executive must possess. Such executives provide active leadership which establishes quality as the core value to be assimilated in the company's ideology.

3) Integrated Activities : 
Total Quality Management consists of integrated activities that clearly define the target quality standards. These standards systematically integrated within the company's management structure.

4) Corporate Culture : 
TQM establishes corporate culture within which every employee and staff member contributes towards quality improvement.

5) Strengthen · Employee Commitment : 
TQM enables companies to significantly focus on employee involvement, teamwork and training. With this, employee commitments strengthened as every employee is committed to work towards quality improvement.

6) Totality : 
TQM reflects totality, as it integrates and directs every member of the organisation towards the same direction, i.e., quality improvement.

7) Documentation : 
Documentation is the integrated machine-people data that enables TQM within an organisation. With the help of documentation, all the essential information is circulated and distributed among all employees, which certainly helps them in identifying their roles and responsibilities towards quality improvement.

8) Improvements : 
TQM focuses upon the improvements in quality activities of a firm that significantly achieves set quality standards and customer satisfaction.

Importance of Total Quality Management

Importance of total quality management is as follows :

1) Better Employee Relations : 
An organisation attains better employee relations and a highly motivated workforce, with the implementation of Total Quality Management. Various key. indicators are used by successful organisations for measuring improvement in employees' job satisfaction, behavior and attitude due to their concentration towards quality improvement. Such indicators include employee satisfaction, employee attendance, employee turnover, safety and health.

2) Improved Operational Performance : 
TQM improves the operational performance of the organisation, which can be measured through several operational performance indicators. These measures are used by successful companies to assess the influence of quality improvement on their operational performance. Such measures involve reliability, timeliness of delivery, order-processing time, production errors, product lead-time, inventory turnover, and quality costs.

3) Greater Customer Satisfaction : 
Contrary to traditional viewpoint, which entails that right quality is achieved by meeting the technical requirements of the product, companies have now understood that quality is defined by the demands of the customers. Organisations can achieve greater customer satisfaction by offering them what they want, i.e., high quality of products. Such products can be developed through successful implementation of TQM.

4) Increased Financial Performance : 
Total Quality Management “significantly increases the financial performance of the company. As higher quality of products are offered to the customers, their demands will be fulfilled, which will ultimately result in higher profits and increased financial performance. Companies assess their financial performance with the help of several measures, which include market share, sales per employee, sales per a comparable retail store, return on assets and return on sales.

5) Creates a Good Corporate Culture : 
Under TQM ideology, customer is considered as the ultimate focal point of the organisation, instead of individual departments or business units. Thus, quality improvement becomes important not only for the production department, but for all business units. With this, a good corporate culture is created that focuses on customer satisfaction through quality improvement.

6) Increases Efficiency : 
Along with increasing the concentration of every employee towards quality improvement, increasing the process efficiency and productivity of the firm are also among the main functions of TQM. It eliminates work hurdles and misunderstandings by effectively handling critical areas of production.

7) Organisational Development : 
TQM is not solely responsible for educating and training employee about the importance of quality, rather, it also helps in eliminating and preventing their mistakes in business activities, which ultimately helps in the development of the organisation.

8) Flexibility : 
TQM is not a rigid structure that concentrates on quality improvement, but it helps in developing creative and flexible methods for attaining high quality standards. It also creates departmental teams within different business units that widen the skills and expertise of employees, thereby fostering improved performance and flexibility in business operations.

9) Promotes Supplier Satisfaction : 
As Total Quality Management helps in developing communication between organisation and suppliers, it also fosters satisfaction of the suppliers. This will also be useful for the organisation as supplier will provide high quality of raw materials and semi-finished products.

Limitations of Total Quality Management

The Limitations of TQM are as follows :

1) Lack of Top Management Commitment and Vision : 
TQM will only be beneficial when it is successfully implemented. However, if it lacks top management's commitment, it cannot be successfully implemented. Often, the top managers fail to visualize the importance of TQM and do not choose to implement it.

2) Resistance to Change : 
Resistance to change is the biggest limitation of TQM. Most of the employees and workers stand against TQM implementation in the organisation. They believe that their occupations will be at threat as they may fail to adopt new changes.

3) High Costs : 
There are usually high costs associated with the implementation of a TQM programme. Also, the advantages of implementing a TQM will become visible after long period of time. This acts as a big disadvantage.

4) Reduces Morale and Affect Attitude : 
For successful implementation of TQM, the mind-set, attitude and behavior of the employees and workforce needs to be changed. This often reduces the morale of employees as they resist changing their way of doing work. This also affects the attitude of employees towards work and certainly hinders their job satisfaction.

5) Company Culture and Management Style : 
Implementing TQM means to change company's culture and its management style, which is not an easy task to perform. It takes years to change the culture of an organisation and implementing a new one.

6) Resisting Ideology :
As TQM aims at improving quality to achieve customer satisfaction, it does not signify the end point of the process. Customer demands will never end, making TQM a continuous process. Due to this,' employees will have to make TQM a habit, which is difficult to attain in the current practical business environment.

7) Department Based Thinking and Actions : 
For successful implementation of TQM, organisations have to leave department-wise 'thinking strategy and must direct whole organisation towards quality improvement. This is often not feasible in many companies with different and customized organisational structures.

8) Poor Appreciation of TQM : 
Many companies do not appreciate the concepts and principles of TQM, by considering solely on its drawbacks. This creates a negative psychology towards TQM system, which is forwarded to other companies as well.

9) Lack of Structure for TQM Activities : 
Despite of training given to employees about Total Quality Management practices, it cannot be properly taught. These practices can be learned only through experiences. Moreover, training programmes of TQM are not as effective as they should be. This also restricts successful implementation of TQM within an organisation.

10) Deciding How to Start : 
TQM activities are difficult to start. It is a continuous process without a starting or ending point. Most of the companies waste their time and resources in figuring out "how and where to start" total quality management.

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