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Using TQM to reduce costs and improve quality

Developed in the 1980's, Total Quality Management (TQM) has been established at various companies to help manage quality through various processes. TQM is another approach to improving effectiveness, competitiveness, efficiency, and flexibility in order to best suit the customer's needs. TQM is broken down as follows:
Total Quality Management (TQM)
= Quality involves everyone and all activities in the company.
Quality = Conformance to Requirements (Meeting Customer Requirements).
Management = Quality can and must be managed.
TQM = A process for managing quality; it must be a continuous way of life; a philosophy of perpetual improvement in everything we do.

The process of TQM involves various responsibilities such as; meeting customer satisfaction and requirements, reducing time, demand flow manufacturing, improvement teams, reducing costs of service and cost, and improving training. TQM has been successful at reducing costs and improving quality at several companies. Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Company and Motorola are just a few of the major companies who have used the TQM process.

The TQM process involves ten steps to success:

  1. Pursue New Strategic Thinking

  2. Know your Customers

  3. Set True Customer Requirements

  4. Concentrate on Prevention, Not Correction

  5. Reduce Chronic Waste

  6. Pursue a Continuous Improvement Strategy

  7. Use Structured Methodology for Process Improvement

  8. Reduce Variation

  9. Use a Balanced Approach

  10. Apply to All Functions

In order to follow the TQM process, it must be managed and constantly improved. A team needs to sit down together and write out the goals. These may include: defining the process, measuring and reviewing performance, analyzing problems and shortcomings, and clear communication between all parties.

Why would a company use TQM?
The driving factor behind TQM is to become profitable by lowering costs due to efficiencies achieved, higher customer retention, greater attraction to new customers, and potential to charge higher prices.

Keeping your company in a competitive position is also a key factor to successful TQM. In the analysis of your company you should set apart key questions such as; why is my company unique? How is my company different from others? Why would potential customers choose my company over competitors? Keeping competitive is a unique advantage to your company especially if your competitors have not yet adopted TQM.

Another driving factor to using TQM is the employee involvement. Each employee involved in the process is responsible to the overall goal and if they do not hold up their end, the process will fail. These employees feel a sense of power because they can "make or break" the system. It is up to them to carry out the activities and look for ways to improve them. They feel the trust from the management and know they will be held responsible if their end of the bargain is not kept.

Implementing TQM
First, you must sit down with a team and go over the 10 steps of TQM and decide if they are right for your company. Then, you can list out your goals and begin implementing the program. In order to be successful, customer feedback is a must! TQM is about changing the way you do business. The program is designed to improve quality of products and services while increasing profits. It does take some time to implement the process and see it work, but it will not be long before you begin to see results.

Communication is a key tool to having a successful TQM process. Communication encourages everyone to improve in specific areas and it shows commitment from each member working on the process. TQM is definitely about the customer. TQM puts the customer at the center of every activity and considers the whole process as customer driven.

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