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What is TQM? TQM's Past, Present and Future

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

What is TQM?

TQM stands for Total Quality Management. Total Quality Management focuses on the people, processes and equipment that are used to meet a customer's needs. Customers may be internal, such as the IT department's support of the rest of the company, or external customers, those who buy your product or service.

TQM's systems management approach focuses on the prevention of problems and acting proactively rather than managing reacting after the fact, putting out figurative fires when they arise. Total Quality Management focuses on designing production lines, manufacturing processes, service operations and management procedures so that they go right the first time. TQM includes a drive for continuous quality improvement, finding another area for improvement once current quality goals are met.

TQM is part and parcel with various process improvement methodologies.

TQM is part and parcel with various process improvement methodologies.

The History of TQM

Total Quality Management or TQM for short can be traced to Joseph Juran and Dr. W. Edwards Deming's statistical quality control work in the 1940s and their quality improvement methodologies first adopted by post-WW2 Japan.

Juran emphasized quality control, quality audits, process improvement and putting controls in place to maintain the new quality levels. Juran listed methodical means of ensuring quality levels through formal quality goals and periodic reviews of current quality levels against the quality goals.

Dr. Deming emphasized the need to improve the corporate culture, such as eliminating slogans and production quotas while encouraging open communication with management. Deming recognized that orders to produce so many widgets in a day with fear of losing one's job for not making the quota resulted in poor product. Both quality experts said that management must commit to the quality improvement effort, since they were the ones who made resources available and provided the vision that employees would follow.

Both experts also stated that quality improvement required employee empowerment, where the employee can take action to improve product quality as the need arose instead of waiting for a manager's approval or relying on the rejection of the product by an inspector before they could fix something.

TQM Standards

ISO 9000 describes the terms used in quality management and gives an outline of what a quality management system (QMS) is. ISO 9001 outlines the requirements of quality management. ISO 9002 originally described a model for quality assurance during manufacturing and service operations, while ISO 9003 applied to final inspection and test, prior to product shipment. ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 were later obsoleted and combined with ISO 9001.

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ISO 9004 gives the ISO's recommendations on balancing the effectiveness and efficiency of quality management systems. In short, ISO 9004 outlines how organizations balance the drive for perfection with the cost of quality. ISO 9004 also recommends that managers manage on a system approach, looking at the whole system, instead of one particular niche like the shipping department or product line.

ISO 9004 outlines quality system elements that can be applied to service providers such as doctor’s offices and financial service providers. ISO standards do not specify which TQM methodology must be used to achieve ISO quality standards.

Six Sigma, Lean Engineering and Lean Six Sigma can all be part of a Total Quality Management initiative.

Six Sigma, Lean Engineering and Lean Six Sigma can all be part of a Total Quality Management initiative.

TQM Methodologies

Total Quality Management has the overall goal of producing better product or performing better while using fewer resources. Six Sigma is a TQM system that focuses on quality, with fewer than 34 defects or mistakes per million opportunities.

Lean Manufacturing focuses on doing more with less. Lean Manufacturing seeks to revamp processes to use less material, fewer people, no waste and fewer manufacturing steps. By reducing system complexity, the number of opportunities for defects goes down.

Lean Six Sigma or LSS is a hybrid of Lean Engineering and Six Sigma, balancing the cost of re-engineering processes to do more with less and the need to make better product.


Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on July 05, 2012:

I am a Six Sigma green belt myself, as well as an industrial engineer.

KevinC9998 on July 05, 2012:

Great Hub, voted up, Kevin, LSS Certified Greenbelt.

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