TQM or Total Quality Management came into existence as a measure from US companies to deal with an increasing market share of Japanese Automobile and electronics companies by using cost reduction measures. TQM is a management technique that works on the concept of continuous improvement to provide maximum value to the customer. A study by the leading procurement agent in UK infers that techniques and implementation vary across companies and so does the success of the TQM initiatives.
8 Principles of Total Quality Management
1. Customer focus
Customers determine the value of the product. If the customer received the value he expected and paid for, then they classify the product as a high-quality product. So, understanding the needs and wants of the customer becomes a crucial factor for building a product. To understand the customer, the following can be done –
- Research customer needs and understand the expectations.
- Align the product or service to the needs of the customer.
- Make a channel for soliciting feedback from the customer.
- Make a model that satisfies the customer as well as other important stakeholders such as the suppliers, vendors, etc.
2. Total employee commitment
It is imperative to understand the crucial role of employees in making a business successful. Employees need to be explained the vision and mission of the company so that they can contribute towards the proper alignment of the product. The employees should also be trained and provided the required set of tools. Following things can be done for the same –
- Appreciate employees and their contributions to maintain motivation.
- Delegate responsibilities clearly and ensure proper understanding and ownership.
- Promote self-evaluation for continuous improvement.
- Create and promote a forum for addressing employee queries and concerns.
3. Process approach
Properly define the processes across the organizations and ensure the consistent and fluent flow of the processes. Following steps can be taken –
- Construct and follow process flowcharts.
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities.
- Analyse current activities and identify the improvement areas and bottlenecks for each step of the current process.
- Undertake measures for streamlining current processes.
- Evaluate the impact of processes and the relevant stakeholders for each process.
4. Integrated system
Every business has divided itself into verticals with different departments working on different things. These things then come together for the business to function properly. For a good business, the integration is smooth and these different departments work closely for continuous improvement of this integration. The steps that can be taken are listed below –
- Promoting quality as an essential virtue of the work culture. This can also employ the use of quality control subcontractors.
- Define flowcharts that can simplify the business structure and how one process is related to another.
- Define an as-is process with proper Value stream mapping to look at possible improvement areas.
- Create opportunities for employees to move into other roles and gain cross-functional expertise.
5. Strategic and systematic approach
It is important to look at a collection of processes as a system and have a system-wide approach for management. For that, we need to understand the inter-relation between processes and also identify different dependencies. Following are some of the steps that can be adopted –
- Upgrade the tools and equipment regularly to prevent delays due to outdated infrastructure.
- Provide proper training opportunities to keep the employees updated with industry trends.
- Acknowledge improvement initiatives and implement proper reward mechanisms for the same.
6. Continual improvement
Most procurement agents in UK have advocated the fact that process improvement is a continuous and continual process. Efficiency in processes is not attained overnight.
- Implement policies to drive continual improvement and a way to measure the improvement done by individuals and teams.
- Recognize and acknowledge process improvement initiatives as a means of positive reinforcement.
7. Fact-based decision-making
One of the major mistakes in business is decision-making based on gut feeling. While this may work sometimes, it is important to promote a more structured data-driven decision-making approach that relies on facts rather than opinions. Following steps can be taken –
- Develop a reliable and robust mechanism for data collections.
- Form a dedicated team for data analysis. This team can be trained in data handling and can later leverage these skills to give insights.
- Share insights with shareholders for decision-making.
It is important to have a shared understanding which can be achieved by establishing transparent communication channels across the organization.
- Establish a line of communication and share it with all employees.
- Conduct skip-level meetings.
- Proper communication of roles and responsibilities to all members of the team along with SOP documents.
Above are the core principles of TQM for process improvement. It is also advised to regularly audit with the help of using quality control subcontractors to identify improvement opportunities at a high-level to catalyse the process of Total Quality Management.