Industry 4.0 Glossary

What Is Total Quality Management?

Total Quality Management (TQM) is the continual process of identifying and minimizing or eliminating errors in a manufacturing process.

It is based on the premise of organizational accountability for quality aimed at delivering maximum value to the customer. TQM provides a suitable platform for manufacturers to ensure optimum results. One of the key aspects of TQM for manufacturers is that it offers a mechanism for continuous improvement. It helps minimize waste and improves first time through (FTT) rates.

8 Principles Of Total Quality Management (TQM)

There are 8 principles of total quality management as prescribed by the International Organization for Standardization. These principles are:

Customer Focus

Customers are the most important drivers of any business. Therefore, understanding the needs of the customer, meeting their requirements and exceeding their expectations is a priority. There needs to be complete alignment to the customer’s definition of quality and value from the shop-floor to the top-floor.


Leaders are critical in organizations as they help provide directions and allocate budget for all strategic initiatives. TQM implementation has been the most successful when business and functional leaders are inspired to deliver quality. Inspired, empowered and aligned leadership can instill the drive for excellence through quality across the manufacturing enterprise.

People Engagement

People across all levels of an organization contribute to quality improvement initiatives to make them work. The culture of quality needs endorsement from every participating individual in the manufacturing organization. The proper utilization of appropriate skill sets, and abilities does not only enhance productivity but also improves employee satisfaction. Keeping employees motivated and committed can go a long way in boosting the overall morale of the organization. There can be several ways in which this can be achieved. Proper communication and smooth change management will instill trust and eliminate unnecessary fear. Role specific responsibility powered by the necessary authority to make a change are critical for sustained quality improvement initiatives.

Process Approach

A process is a series of steps of actions to be performed to arrive at the desired result. A process driven TQM initiative will eliminate uncertainties, minimize risk and enforce accountability at all levels. Consistent and predictable results are achieved more effectively and efficiently when activities are understood and managed as a process. A process approach helps establish transparency and allows holding all relevant stakeholders accountable for the overall quality of the final product or service.

System Approach To Management

A manufacturing enterprise may have different functions with specific responsibilities. But the success of each function depends on its ability to interoperate with and deliver to other functions as one integrated system. Hence the documentation and management of interrelated processes that will improve quality and efficiency is critical for successful implementation of TQM. Continuous reporting, visibility to measures of success and celebration of cross functional contribution to quality can help drive a systemic TQM initiative.

Continuous Improvement

Quality improvement initiatives will result in change. Larger changes involve a longer timeline for completion while consuming more resources leading to a higher risk. Continuous improvement overcomes this by identifying small, scalable, and repeatable areas for sustained improvement. This allows for incremental yet consistent improvements that are less risky to manage and course correct when required. It follows a four-step process called PDCA (plan-do-check-act). Continuous Improvement is based on kaizen – a Japanese quality concept.

Another variant of continuous improvement is continual Improvement. Here between successive course correction steps, time is allowed for maturity of the change implemented and to understand its effectiveness. Each of these processes has its merits and can be applied based on its relevance.

Factual Approach To Decision Making

Successful organizations employ an evidence-based decision-making process. The process gathers inputs from multiple sources. These inputs are scrutinized and analyzed objectively for insights that can aid decision making. Emerging technologies like big data, analytics and data visualization can empower this process. Effective decisions are largely based on the availability of the right level of data, analysis of data and the authority to make decisions.

Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationship

Customer’s realization of the full value of TQM is only possible when the quality philosophy is realized and implemented across the entire value stream. TQM demands suppliers to play the role of critical partners aligned to internal quality policies. Hence vendor development is a critical part of corporate strategy of successful and quality conscious manufacturers.

Benefits Of Total Quality Management

Total quality management principles are widely popular among manufacturers for several reasons. We have listed a few.

Enhanced Competitive Advantage

TQM initiatives make the manufacturing process efficient. It improves quality, reduces waste, and delivers higher cost savings. Initiatives like Lean have a direct impact on profitability. The whole concept of TQM is built around delivering maximum customer value which results in customer satisfaction. With higher efficiency, improved quality, better profitability and growth in revenue, TQM delivers sustainable competitive advantage for manufacturing businesses.

Better Customer Retention and Signup Rates

TQM greatly aids the customer retention and acquisition processes. Studies show that it costs five times more to sign a new customer compared to retaining an existing one. It is also easier to up-sell and cross-sell to an existing customer compared to a new one. TQM is based on delivering customer satisfaction, helping retain lasting relationships with customers.

Total Quality Management Principles In Manufacturing Practice

The benefits of following TQM principles in manufacturing organizations are manifold. Incorporation of these principles into existing systems and processes can be a complex process involving extensive change management. However, emerging technologies like automated QMS, IoT, machine learning and big data are making adoption and practice of TQM more structured and easier than ever before.