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What you need to know about TQM

chair30393486.JPGTotal Quality Management (TQM) provides organizations with the ability to improve its effectiveness, competitiveness, efficiency, and flexibility in order to best suit the needs of its customers. Many companies quickly catch onto the philosophy of TQM but they struggle with the implementation of it.

TQM is a little different from other lean manufacturing philosophies because it focuses more on the needs of the customer. You need to review your production process and take a look at the following:

  • Are we meeting customer satisfaction requirements?

  • How long is our production time? Can this be reduced?

  • Do our employees need training on TQM?

  • Should we use improvement teams to improve quality?

  • Has demand-flow manufacturing worked for our company in the past?

In order to implement TQM, you need to understand the 10 steps in the TQM process, they are as follows:
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

As you can see the 10 steps require employees to get involved within the manufacturing process and get to know their customers a little better. TQM must be properly managed and feedback is needed to ensure it is successful. If you have already implemented other steps within the Six Sigma methodology, it will be easy to control TQM. You are in charge of creating goals that help to define your process; you must also measure and review the performance of your goals. A critical step in TQM is analyzing problems and system shortcomings. You must create some clear and effective goals for the company to follow. From here, it is all up the different departments to properly communicate with one another.

Unlike other processes, TQM is focused on customer retention versus finding new customers. The company can reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction by improving the inefficiencies within the company and throughout the entire production process. Other companies fail to do this and they will increase their prices to make up for the lost income they could have if they were to implement TQM. To make sure you are staying on track with the goals of TQM, you need to address some of the common business questions like:

  • What sets my company apart from our competitors?

  • What make our company and products unique?

  • Why do customers choose our products over our competitors?

  • How can we retain customers?

If you have employees that want increased responsibility within the company, TQM may be the perfect solution. TQM provides them with the opportunity to get involved because they are each responsible for a key component of the overall process. Without the involvement of employees, TQM will not be successful. This is a great way to boost employee morale because they each feel a sense of pride in their role. This also helps to build the trust between the company and the employees since you are offering them an increased role and they are being trusted to "make or break" the system.

Implementing TQM is not an easy task. It may take several months before everyone catches onto the new changes and before they completely accept them. The program is designed to improve quality and increase customer satisfaction, both of which take a lot of time and effort on your part to do. Communication is the key to making TQM become successful within your company. If the employees and departments are unable to clearly convey their needs, TQM will not work.

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