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What is Total Quality Management?


Total Quality Management (TQM) is a business management strategy that is aimed at embedding awareness of quality in all organizational processes. This process has been widely used in manufacturing, but is also used in education, hospitals, call centers, government, and service industries, as well as NASA space and science programs.

Total Quality Management is considered to be the organization-wide management of quality. The management process consists of planning, organizing, directing, control, and assurance.

Manufacturers often refer to this process in order to help achieve more cost efficient and timely results.Total quality is called total because it consists of two different qualities: quality of return to satisfy the needs of the shareholders, and quality of products.

When used together as a phrase, the three words in this expression will have the following meanings:

  • Total: Meaning involving the entire organization, supply chain, and/or product life cycle

  • Quality: To achieve the highest level of production.

  • Management: The system of managing with steps like Plan, Organize, Control, in reference to production of goods or services

Total Quality Management is an approach for an organization that is centered on quality, based on the participation of all its members and aiming at long-term success through customer satisfaction, and benefits to all members of the organization and to society.
One of the major aims is to reduce variation from every process so that greater consistency of effort is obtained.

In Japan, Total Quality Management is comprised of four process steps:

  • Kaizen-This fact focuses on "Continuous Process Improvement", to make processes visible, repeatable and measurable.

  • Atarimae Hinshitsu-This is the idea that things will work as they are supposed to.

  • Kansei-Examining the way the user applies the product will lead to improvement in the product itself.

  • Miryokuteki Hinshitsu-This is the idea that things should have an aesthetic quality.

Total Quality Management requires that the company maintain this quality standard in all aspects of its business. This requires ensuring that things are done right the first time and that defects and waste are eliminated as much as possible from operations.

It is interesting to note that the origin of the expression Total Quality Management is unclear. Noted Author Bill Creech claims to have coined the phrase in his book "The Five Pillars of TQM", comparing the functionally centralized approach to organization with the team-oriented, decentralized approach pioneered in Japan after World War Two.

However it evolved the expression Total Quality Management started to appear in the 1980s and there are two theories of its origin.One theory is that Total Quality Management was created as a misinterpretation from Japanese to English since there no difference that exists between the words "control" and "management" in Japanese. The other theory states that The American Society for Quality says that the term was used by the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command in 1984 to describe its Japanese-style management approach to quality improvement since they did not like the word control in Total Quality Control.

Total Quality Management has not functioned independent of its environment. In the context of management accounting systems it has been n that incentive pay enhanced the positive effects of Total Quality Management on customer and quality performance.It has also been demonstrated that product focused Total Quality Management was linked to timely problem solving information and flexible revisions to reward systems. Manufacturing experts summarize the findings from contingency-based research concerning management control systems and Total Quality Management by noting that that process is associated with broadly based manufacturing operations including timely, flexible, externally focused information; close interactions between advanced technologies and strategy; and non-financial performance measurement.

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