Total Quality Management, TQM, is a method by which management and employees can become involved in the continuous improvement of the production of goods and services. It is a combination of quality and management tools aimed at increasing business and reducing losses due to wasteful practices.
TQM views an organization as a collection of processes. It maintains that organizations must strive to continuously improve these processes by incorporating the knowledge and experiences of workers. The simple objective of TQM is “Do the right things, right the first time, every time.” TQM is infinitely variable and adaptable. Although originally applied to manufacturing operations, and for a number of years only used in that area, TQM is now becoming recognized as a generic management tool, just as applicable in service and public sector organizations. There are a number of evolutionary strands, with different sectors creating their own versions from the common ancestor. TQM is the foundation for activities, which include:
- Commitment by senior management and all employees
- Meeting customer requirements
- Reducing development cycle times
- Just in time/demand flow manufacturing
- Improvement teams
- Reducing product and service costs
- Systems to facilitate improvement
- Line management ownership
- Employee involvement and empowerment
- Recognition and celebration
- Challenging quantified goals and benchmarking
- Focus on processes / improvement plans
- Specific incorporation in strategic planning
TQM is considered a customer-focused process and aims for continual improvement of business operations. It strives to ensure all associated employees work toward the common goals of improving product or service quality, as well as improving the procedures that are in place for production. Special emphasis is put on fact-based decision making, using performance metrics to monitor progress. High levels of organizational communication are encouraged, for the purpose of maintaining employee involvement and morale.