The concept of total quality management as a distinct discipline emerged in the United States in the 1920s. At that time, quality control was intended simply to control or limit the creation of defective items in the industrial processes. The process involved inspection of the output and then sorting the faulty products from good ones. The concept of quality underwent numerous refinements. The focus was on actions to prevent a defective product from being created, rather than simply screening it out. The philosophy also recognized that the concept of quality control need not be restricted only to the manufacturing process, but could also be applied to administrative processes and service industries. Several management theorists expanded this idea and started using statistics to control processes, to limit variations and improve quality. This was when Deming evolved the total quality management (TQM) philosophy. He believed that everyone in an organization should share quality. Deming recognized that most quality problems were system-induced and were, therefore, not related to quality. Crosby later promoted the “zero defects” concept and emphasized on adherence to quality requirements and employee motivation.
TQM is the conformance to the requirements that customers expect. TQM is about building quality rather than merely inspecting defects out.
TQM is an essential approach for achieving superior performance to satisfy customers with high quality, quick delivery, and low costs. The basic features of the TQM approach are
1. TQM is a business philosophy based on customer satisfaction.
2. It consists of quality of design and quality of conformance to design.
3. TQM cannot be purchased and installed like any other equipment. It is like planting a garden that requires continuous care and improvement.
4. TQM believes that quality reduces cost through reduced wastage, higher productivity and increased sales.
5. TQM aims at changing the system rather than bringing change within the existing system. For this, the concern for short-term profits must be reversed.
6. TQM requires managers to produce solutions instead of merely demanding results.
7. TQM aims at improvements both in the business processes and the functional operations. While the business processes are linked to the company goals, the operational processes are related to commands and authority structures.
Need and Importance of TQM
TQM is an integrative management concept aiming at continuous improvement in the quality of goods and services through the participation of all levels. It believes in making quality everyone’s concern and responsibility. Quality should become a habit and not a matter of chance. TQM ensures attainment of this objective generating some benefits to the organization such as:
a) Improved customer satisfaction: TQM aims at producing goods and services by customer expectation. This approach improves customer satisfaction and generates higher profits.
b) Enhanced quality: TQM helps in manufacturing better quality products at a lower cost. This increases the market share and profits of the organization.
c) Reduced wastage: TQM seeks to prevent poor quality rather than detecting and correcting defects. It stresses on things being done right the first time. This reduces wastage, and the related costs are eliminated.
d) Reduced inventory: TQM aims at eliminating shortage in the supply of inputs. It also ensures that the organization does not purchase excessive inventory. TQM believes that smaller the inventory better is the quality.
e) Improved productivity: Productivity is the input-output relationship. Productivity improves when the same output is attained at a lower cost or higher output is achieved at the same cost. TQM helps in attaining these goals, thus contributing to improved productivity.
f) Reduced product development time: TQM not only focuses on customers but it also analyses and improves the basic business systems and subsystems to match customer requirements. This helps in reducing the product development time.
g) Flexibility: TQM increases the flexibility in meeting market demands. It helps in ascertaining the needs of the customers and evolves systems to do a better job in a shorter time.
h) Motivated human resource: TQM demands employee involvement and empowerment. Employees who adopt customer satisfaction as their primary objective are rewarded with monetary and non-monetary benefits. All this motivates the employees to do a better job.
i) Enhanced competitiveness: Total quality management enables a company to face competition. Better quality products, lowest possible cost and a team of dedicated employees facilitate this.