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Total Quality Management (TQM) System:

Learning objective of the article:

  • Define and explain total quality management (TQM).
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of total quality management.

  1. Definition and explanation of Total Quality Management
  2. Advantages
  3. Disadvantages

Definition and Explanation of the Concept of Total Quality Management System :

Total quality management (TQM) is an improvement program which provides tools and techniques for continuous improvement based on facts and analysis; and if properly implemented, it avoids counterproductive organizational infighting.

The most popular approach to continuous improvement is known as total quality management (TQM). There are two major characteristics of total quality management (TQM) (1) a focus on serving customers and (2) systemic problem solving teams made up of front line workers. A variety of specific tools are available to aid teams in their problems solving. One of these tools is benchmarking which involves studying organizations that are among the best in the world at performing a particular task. Perhaps the most important and pervasive TQM problem solving tool is Plan-do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle. The plan do check act cycle is a systematic fact based approach to continuous improvement.

Plan-do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle:

Plan-Do-Check-Act-Cycle (PDCA)The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle applies the scientific method to problem solving. In the plan phase, the problem solving team analyzes data to identify possible causes for the problem and then proposes a solution.

In the Do phase, an experiment is conducted. In the check phase, the results of the experiment are analyzed. And in the Act phase, if the results of the experiment are favorable, the plan is implemented. If the results of the experiment are not favorable, the team goes back to the original data and starts allover again.

Perhaps the most important feature of TQM is that "it improves productivity by encouraging the use of science in decision making and discouraging counter productive defensive behavior. Thousands of organizations have been involved in total quality management (TQM) and similar programs.

Advantages of Total Quality Management:

  1. Improves reputation- faults and problems are spotted and sorted quicker (zero defects)
  2. Higher employee morale– workers motivated by extra responsibility, team work and involvement in decisions of TQM
  3. Lower costs – Decrease waste as fewer defective products and no need for separate
  4. Quality Control inspectors

Disadvantages of Total Quality Management:

  1. Initial introduction costs- training workers and disrupting current production whilst being implemented
  2. Benefits may not be seen for several years
  3. Workers may be resistant to change – may feel less secure in jobs

Real Business Example:

Dramatic Improvement:
TQM is not just a big company phenomenon. Penril DataComm is a maryland designer and producer of data communications and equipment. Before embarking on TQM, defect rates were so high that the company was reworking or scrapping one third of everything it made. Applying TQM techniques resulted in an 81% decrease in defects, an 83% decrease in failures in the first three months of use, and a 73% decrease in first year warranty repairs. TQM was credited with taking the company "from the brink of financial disaster" to excellent financial health.

Source: "Poor Quality Nearly Short Circuits Electronics Company," Productivity, February 1993.

You may also be interested in other useful articles from "business and quality improvement programs" chapter:

  1. Just-in-Time (JIT) Manufacturing and Inventory Control System
  3. Total Quality Management (TQM) System
  4. Six Sigma
  5. Business Process Reengineering (BPR)
  6. Theory of Constraints (TOC)


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