Total Quality Management: Principles, Processes, and Practice
Maybe scores of your customers return their products, angrily requesting refunds. Or maybe the output of your team isn’t quite at the level you want it.
The problem may not be your team but your processes and systems.
The quality of your products or services depends on the efficiency of your processes. Inefficient processes will often result in shoddy services and subpar products.
Who then is responsible for the quality of the final product? Top-level managers? Product designers? Or the customer service department?
The answer? Everyone.
The essence of a total quality management (TQM) effort is in its totality. Hence, every employee involved in the process of making a product or providing a service should be involved in implementing quality.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of total quality management, its genesis and evolution, and its benefits and applications, including strategies you can use to improve your processes and the quality of your products or services.
Let’s get right into it.
TQM: The Total Definition
Total quality management is a management strategy focused on the continual improvement of business processes with maximum customer satisfaction as the overarching goal.
Unlike other strategies that are exclusive to top management, the participation of every employee is crucial to the successful deployment of TQM effort.
TQM aims to improve existing quality standards and improve the quality of products and services, while inculcating a culture of collaboration between various departments in an organization.
As Khurram Hashmi succinctly puts it, TQM is:
“…a management philosophy that seeks to integrate all organizational functions (marketing, finance, design, engineering, and production, customer service, etc.) to focus on meeting customer needs and organizational objectives.”
Six Sigma vs. TQM
In the quest for quality, Six Sigma and TQM can be confused because they are both quality management tools. They have numerous similarities and are viable in many similar business scenarios ranging from administration to assembly.
However, the fundamental difference between Six Sigma and TQM is in their approach. Six Sigma is a tool for quality management with a focus on fewer defective products rather than improved processes or systems. It is data-driven and based on data from highly accurate sources.
TQM, as we’ve described, is a management strategy that involves every employee in the quality process with the overarching goal of customer satisfaction.
Although Six Sigma helps many businesses grow, there are critical business aspects it may neglect. For example, it may focus only on improving quality while ignoring things like revenue. TQM, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive approach because it provides solutions aimed at consistent improvement across the board.
Another key difference between both management strategies is how they describe “quality.”
TQM qualifies a “high-quality product” based on how well the product aligns with the customer’s wants and how it meets the customer’s expectations.
Six Sigma, however, qualifies services with zero errors and low product defects as high-quality products (or services).
However, by targeting all the bases of your operations, TQM can help to strengthen your competitive position, enhance your market image and increase customer loyalty and retention.
TQM: Genesis and Evolution
Before the industrial revolution, craftsmen used to be involved in the production process from start to finish. And the incentive for excellence was artisanal pride and reputation.
But as production processes became decentralized, and as the division of labor became widely adopted, workers became less involved with the finished product and had less incentive to maintain quality standards. Artisanal pride had become relatively unimportant.
In the late 1800s, however, Frederick Winslow Taylor (known as the father of scientific management) emphasized product inspection as a way to ensure consumers received better products. Quality then became traditionally understood as the activity of inspection.
But this wasn’t sustainable. It was costly and since quality was only applied to the finished product, future defects could not be prevented.
The first true pioneer of quality management was Walter A. Shewhart, a former Bell Telephone employee often referred to as the grandfather of total quality management because he invented the process control chart in 1924. It was a tool used to monitor processes’ performance over time and examine how it varied between two established variables.
With this chart, he could predict future output and improve process management and control. This approach was the beginning of a modern approach to statistical process control (SPC). He also invented the ‘Shewhart Cycle’ and the PDCA cycle: plan, do, check, act.
In the downloadable resource you can get here, wwe’llcover the control chart in more detail.
Many years later, using Shewart’s work as a springboard, William Denning, holder of multiple degrees including a doctorate in mathematical physics from Yale, furthered the gospel of quality.
In his ten-year stint of writing and lecturing in math and physics, he became interested in Shewart’s statistical quality control principles. His goal was to expand Shewart’s principle so they could be applied to not just manufacturing, but management and administration.
He joined the U.S Census Bureau, and his implementation of Shewhart’s principles resulted in a six-fold increase in productivity while he was there.
After World War II, he became involved with the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers. His contributions led to the rehabilitation of Japan’s post-war economy.
Japan’s aggressive approach to quality ensured that by the 1980s, there was a clear competitive gap between Japanese and American products, with Japanese products acknowledged to be more reliable.
The Americans sought his expertise as they scrambled to close the cavernous gap.
One of the first companies to do this was Ford. Already with sales losses of $3 billion dollars, they sought Denning’s expertise, and he was able to implement management strategies that transformed the Ford Motor company to America’s most profitable auto company.
The next important element in the evolution of total quality management was Joseph Juran.
Working with Bell Technologies first exposed engineer Joseph Juran to statistical sampling and quality control. Over the space of four decades, he honed and refined his skills and reputation as a quality management expert.
In 1951, he published his acclaimed book The Quality Control Handbook. His reputation spread not just nationally in the U.S. but worldwide.
In 1954, just like Denning, the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers invited him to discuss the theories and strategies he had developed over the years. While there, he discussed his theories, three of which were:
- The Pareto Principle: The 80/20 principle which essentially involved noting the “vital few and the trivial many,” the logic being that only a few root causes in manufacturing or service processes were responsible for the majority of defects.
- Management theory: This shifted the focus from the quality of the end product to the human dimension of quality management. He advocated for training and education for managers in the workplace. This strategy extended the reach of quality management principles beyond factory floors to principles that could be applied to service processes as well.
- Juran Trilogy, which involved three stages:
- Quality planning. This involved setting goals, identifying customers’ needs, and developing products and processes.
- Quality control. Here, performance is evaluated and then compared with the goals set in the previous stage, and finally, necessary adaptations and implementations are made.
- Quality improvement. In this stage, any of the following can be done: inadequate infrastructure is set-up, projects and teams identified, resources and training are provided, and controls are put in place.
After Denning and Juran laid most of the foundation for TQM, Armand Feigenbaum published his book Total Quality Control and outlined the costs of poor quality and non-conformance.
He classified the costs of quality into four: prevention costs, appraisal costs, internal failure costs, and external failure costs. He also pioneered the philosophy of involving everyone in the quality process.
Later we’ll examine these four costs in more detail.
What Are the Benefits of TQM?
Adopting TQM comes with many benefits. But the main one is improved customer satisfaction as a result of fewer defective products and fewer service errors.
The following are some of the benefits of adopting TQM as a management strategy.
Reduction in Production Cost
Whenever a TQM strategy is implemented, it makes processes more efficient and effective. Efficiency shaves off excess cost in the aspect of field warranty, field service, and rework.
Reduction of cost can help companies optimize revenue because these reduced costs flow directly into net profit.
Finally, TQM places a strong emphasis on quality improvement, reducing the need to employ or hire an expensive team of quality assurance personnel to detect errors.
One of the benefits of TQM is increased productivity.
Improved systems are one of the benefits of TQM. Workers don’t have to spend time detecting and correcting errors. They can instead focus on their jobs which improves their overall output.
In addition, one of TQM’s core principles focuses on improving systems, which could include providing conducive working environments. Doing this will boost workers’ morale. Their job performance will go up and turnover rates will drop too.
Improved Customer Satisfaction and Retention
If you offer a good product to your customers and it satisfies their needs, they will come back to buy again and again.
Also, a high level of customer satisfaction can lead to an increased market share, as existing customers do free advertising for the company by doing word-of-mouth marketing.
Customer satisfaction makes it easier to:
- Retain customers
- Increase your customers’ lifetime value, and ultimately
- Boost your company’s bottom line in the long run
Besides, your company’s insistence on creating error-free products leads to fewer customer complaints and refunds. This means you get to save resources that would have been spent on customer service.
High Employee Morale and Higher Employee Engagement
The proven success of TQM, especially the contribution of workers to that success, can motivate them to do more.
And since the focus of TQM is to engage every employee, workers feel more like they belong and that they are a part of something bigger. This can be very satisfying for many employees.
More Benefits: How TQM Contributes to Company-wide Improvement
Total quality management leads to a wide range of improvements in any company that adopts it. Below are some of the many aspects of a business that are positively influenced by adopting TQM strategies.
More efficient information & process management
Monitoring performance metrics such as quality data defect rates, scrap rates, error rates, defects, and rework rates helps a company predict what will be spent on production and how much they’re losing to errors.
Monitoring performance metrics also helps to create error-proof systems that minimize future errors.
Having a practical knowledge base where employees can learn about quality concepts and techniques can help them implement quality management measures the right way.
It also helps managers to monitor and analyze workers’ progress so that their performance can be improved and their productivity optimized.
More fruitful supplier relationships
Working closely with your company’s suppliers and involving them in product development helps in making sure they deliver high-quality materials.
This is because the principal insists on quality and not cheaper prices when looking to work with suppliers.
More market share
Better services and products will up your company’s sales volumes and net profits. Customer complaints and bad reviews will be reduced.
Conversely, company sales, customer retention, return on assets, and market share especially will increase too.
Improved social responsibility
Another aspect that improves when you implement TQM is the environment. Implementing TQM strategies can result in a significant reduction of gas emissions, pollution, and noise levels from machinery.
Leveraging social responsibility can also lead to increased brand equity since some customer segments may want to identify with socially responsible businesses.
To implement TQM, you can take a few different approaches or you can even combine many approaches together to achieve your goals.
But TQM consists of a few guiding principles. They include the following:
One of the most important goals of TQM is satisfying the needs of your customers. Your product or service must meet their expectations, including the quality, shape, size, and delivery of the product before they can feel like they got value for their money.
Once you figure out exactly what your customers want, it’s easier to find the right employees, raw materials, and the processes that can satisfy and even exceed these expectations.
To implement this TQM principle you have to:
- Study and understand your customers’ needs, desires, fears, and expectations.
- Align your organization’s goals and objectives with their needs.
- Perform surveys on your customers, and then analyze the feedback.
- Finally, use the results to find ways to adjust your production quality.
The benefits of being focused on your customer’s needs include:
- More sales, and increased revenue.
- Repeat business which leads to increased market share.
- Free advertising from your customers in the form of word-of-mouth marketing.
Total employee commitment
It’s impossible to improve your productivity, processes, or revenue without the dedication of your employees.
However, you need to ensure that they understand your company’s vision and goals. They also need proper training and the correct resources to carry out their duties in a timely manner.
To implement this TQM principle:
- Clearly explain the importance of each role in the overall production process.
- Emphasize how each worker should take responsibility to solve problems whenever they arise.
- Acknowledge each person’s contribution to build confidence in employees and stakeholders.
- Create an enabling environment where employees can openly share problems and air their opinions on how to solve them.
The key benefits of this principle include:
- It keeps employees motivated and committed to playing their role in achieving company goals.
- Increased desire to continuously improve their performance.
Sticking to processes is essential in quality management as they help in speeding up the production process.
To implement this TQM principle:
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities so everybody knows exactly what is expected of them.
- Create an action plan so that everybody can easily visualize what needs to be done to achieve the desired result.
- Analyze current activities to find where improvements can be made.
Benefits of this TQM principle include:
- Faster production cycles, lower costs and increased sales.
- You can easily estimate and predict revenue.
Having an integrated system
Many businesses usually have different departments with separate functions. Because they all operate separately, it tends to lower the organization’s output.
However, integrated systems help every employee and stakeholder fully understand the policies, objectives, and processes in an organization which leads to continuous improvement over time. This leads to more competitive advantage.
To implement this TQM principle:
- Keep promoting a work culture that is focused on production quality.
- Employ the use of flowcharts and visual aids to help your employees understand how their roles fit in with the entire company.
- Train employees who need to learn new processes and improve.
The benefit of this TQM principle include:
- It helps your business achieve excellence because the various departments at your company, though separate, work together more efficiently.
Strategic and systematic approach
According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), this principle is essentially “Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.”
To implement this TQM principle:
- Provide your employees with the proper training and resources to play their roles in the process.
- Strive to continuously improve your processes and products.
- Always acknowledge and reward creativity and improvement.
Benefits of this principle include:
- Helping you to easily detect and improve any inefficient processes.
- Improved employee capabilities throughout your organization.
Getting to the point where you consistently exceed your customers’ expectations doesn’t happen in a day.
Your business needs to keep on improving the quality of your products and services, in line with your customers’ desires.
To implement this TQM principle:
- Adopt policies that set product, process, and system improvements as goals for both individuals and teams.
- Encourage innovation in process development and improvement.
Benefits of this TQM principle include:
- Improvement in employee ability to perform better.
- Faster response in terms of recognizing and fixing inefficient redundant processes.
Fact-based decision making
The essence of this principle is making decisions based on hard data and not mere assumptions.
To implement this TQM principle:
- You need to verify all available data to ensure that it is reliable and accurate.
- Make all relevant data available to your company stakeholders.
- Use only accurate methods to gather and analyze data.
Benefits of this principle include:
- Helps to avoid making otherwise costly mistakes.
- It helps in giving reliable estimates and making predictions.
You need to ensure that every employee in your organization is aware of all the strategies, plans, and methods you intend to use to achieve company goals.
To implement this TQM principle you need to:
- Create an official means of communication so that workers are updated on any changes in policies or processes.
- Where possible, allow lower-level staff to participate in decision making.
Benefits of this principle include:
- Increased morale and motivation when employees feel their advice and contributions are serving the greater good of the company.
The PDCA model
The PDCA model is a continuous loop of planning, doing, checking (or studying), and acting. It provides a simple and effective approach for solving problems and managing change. It is used to understand why some products or processes are ineffective.
Pioneered by Walter Shewhart, the PDCA approach includes four different stages/phases:
Planning starts with first recognizing an opportunity for change so you can make plans to effect change.
The opportunity could be improving the quality of finished products or making existing marketing strategies more effective.
After you have identified and isolated the problem, the next thing to do is to brainstorm ideas and strategies you can implement to solve the problem.
But while you’re doing this, ensure that you establish measurable criteria that you can use to evaluate your efforts later at the check phase.
Once you’ve found a viable solution, it’s better to first test it on a small scale.
For example, you could organize a test run within the department, in a small area, or with a certain demographic.
As you run the trial, carefully collect data you can use to evaluate the effectiveness of your actions. You’ll need it in the next stage.
To ensure the effectiveness of any plan before you think about implementing it, review the effects of your actions.
Analyze the results and identify what you learned. Doing this will help you refine the cycle to the point where you can successfully execute the plans you made in step 1.
This is where you apply your solution. But remember that PDCA/PDSA is a continuous process.
Even though your improved process or product becomes the new standard, you still have to continue planning, checking, and doing things to improve them.
How to use the process approach in TQM
In the words of Emma Harris:
“The process approach includes establishing the organization’s processes to operate as an integrated and complete system.”
To get the best results from a process standpoint, you need to implement each of these steps into your TQM strategy:
- Define the process to achieve the needed results. The process needs to be illustrated and explained in detail along with the expected results.
- Specify the inputs and outputs of the process. This should include human resources, energy, and the unfinished and finished product or service.
- Define where and how the process relates to other tasks. The components of a process will relate with other aspects and need to be identified as well as quantified for an effective quality management procedure.
- Estimate potential risks. This has to do with how customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders are affected by the process at each step.
- Set key responsibility. For a process to be planned and successfully executed, specific roles and scope will have to be set for each individual with a task.
- Decide key stakeholders of the process. Both the external and internal customers, suppliers and other stakeholders involved in the process and its execution should be specified.
- Process resources. Many elements are involved in creating a process approach. These include tasks, flows, control tactics, training requirements, data, and tools that aid in executing the process. These should all be outlined.
TQM Software and its Benefits
The key benefit of using TQM software is the digital documentation of company processes.
It is time-consuming to manually record every process. However, using TQM software makes it quicker with the added benefit of providing an all-in-one knowledge resource for all departments.
A good TQM software should help in continuous auditing, keeping data organized, including company standards and regulations.
A good example of software that can help you implement TQM is SweetProcess. With SweetProcess, you can create a knowledge base that your employees will find useful. It will not only save you from having to perform hands-on training, but it will also help your new hires to acclimate more quickly to work environments.
The Four Primary Costs of Quality
Cost of quality is a method used to determine where an organization’s resources are being used to prevent product defects and maintain product quality.
These four quality costs are: prevention costs, appraisal costs, internal failure costs, and external failure costs.
Preventive costs are expenses or monies spent to reduce the number of defects in products and services.
There are many easy ways to do this.
For instance, a company might use statistical process control analysis to detect procedures that result in inferior quality goods.
Another firm can spend on certification programs to be sure the raw materials they buy from suppliers meet certain standards.
But one effective way of going about prevention is providing adequate training.
A company that invests in training its team, arming it with the right tools for the job, will get value for its investment and save itself many future headaches.
A poignant example is Zen Media. By creating a knowledge base resource for its staff, they were able to improve the performance of their team and keep their performance levels consistent.
It is an effective strategy because it is significantly less expensive compared to selling defective products which might lead to:
- High refund requests
- Unsatisfied customers
- Loss of potential revenue because of replacements of defective products, etc.
Preventive costs are grouped into four categories:
- Training and development programs
- Developing and using a quality system
- Establishing standards for product or service and
- Developing a plan for quality and production
One of the biggest benefits of preventive costs is that they are less expensive to the company, compared to spending on correcting or replacing the defective products. Along with saving a lot of effort and time, they also help in building a company’s reputation.
The following are some examples of preventive costs:
- New products review
Some of these include the expense company incurs in doing a full analysis when introducing a new product or design. For instance: FMEA (failure mode and effects analysis), review of product design, etc.
- Process planning
It includes the cost of studying process capabilities and planning inspection. It also includes similar costs for other activities that relate to production stages.
- Process control costs
This is the cost for in-process inspection, or the cost to determine the accuracy of a process. For instance: SPC (statistical process control), Anova Studies, and more.
- Evaluating supplier quality
This includes the cost to evaluate the supplier before finalizing the deal so that the input material does not create any quality issues down the line.
This includes the money spent on organizing the training of employees. It is also the expense of improving, updating, and maintaining the course/training content too.
Other forms of costs that companies are more concerned about are:
- Internal failure costs
- Appraisal costs
- External failure costs
However, spending on prevention costs is a lot better.
This is because preventing product defects helps to minimize all the other costs including appraisal costs along with internal and external failure meets customer expectations costs.
Appraisal costs are the costs incurred during the activity of inspecting products before they get to the customer. Although appraisal costs aren’t cheap, it’s less expensive to incur costs that arise when customers get low-quality goods.
The costs associated with losing a customer include the marketing costs to acquire the customer in the first place as well as the subsequent profits that could have been achieved from a positive relationship with the seller.
It’s desirable for appraisal to happen early in the production process because if it happens at the end, where labor and time have been expended, the resulting losses will be much more, compared to if issues have been found and addressed earlier on.
Keeping appraisal costs down can be achieved by improving production processes and monitoring incoming supplies. This way the system is incapable of producing defective processes in the first place.
Examples of appraisal costs include:
- Inspection of materials delivered by suppliers
- Inspection of work-in-process
- Inspection of finished products
- Inspection of supplies used to conduct inspections
- Supervision of inspection staff
- Maintenance of test equipment
A short but not-so-sweet example:
While Samsung is a leading technological company, it made some serious quality mistakes in 2016. Because of tolerance issues caused by battery suppliers, their S7 Galaxy smartphones began seriously overheating, and in some cases exploding.
As you can imagine, the headlines brandished their mistake in the eyes of millions of readers. The internet became rife with mocking memes.
Although Samsung estimated it would cost them $1 billion to recall all the faulty phones, they ended up losing five times that. Not only that, they faced a humongous disposal cost north of $500 billion.
Luckily, they didn’t go under because of their diverse wide-ranging portfolio.
If only they had been a bit more attentive…
Internal failure costs
This type is costs that are spent to remove errors from the products before taking them to consumers. Examples of internal failure costs include:
- Waste due to poorly designed processes
- Machine breakdown due to improper maintenance
- Costs associated with failure analysis
External failure costs
If customers receive low-quality products or substandard services, the resulting costs of shipping replacements or providing refunds are dubbed external failure costs.
- Decreased sales volumes because of poor reputation
- Refunds, etc.
Kenya Airways as a Case Study for Price of Non-Conformance
Kenya Airways are the quintessential example of the effects of what could happen when a company doesn’t pay enough attention to quality.
Because of low-quality standards in Kenya Airways, the airline has had a hard time coping with other airlines in developed countries.
The following have been the consequences:
- Because of its poor service, low-cost alternatives continue to gain traction, especially from upcoming home-based airlines like Jet Airways, Silverstone Air, and Skyward Express that provide competitive innovative services.
- Kenya Airlines have now reduced seat capacity, and packages (for instance, making customers pay extra for a window or aisle seat, or even more for exit-row legroom), further reducing customers’ loyalty.
- Inadequate staff training has led to poor operational efficiency. Their poor operational efficiency results in poor safety protocols, and reduced flying time and dwindling market potential.
- Because Kenya Airlines don’t have quality standards, they have incurred serious losses. Reports have it that they lost about $26 billion in the fiscal year 2016 and a drop in profit of about $170.7 million. This also includes a loss of about 63.6% market share to other airlines from Europe, the Middle East and lately, North America and Asia.
- Poor regulation of ticket prices forces customers to pay more with the side-effect of disappointing profit margins.
Imagine what would happen if Kenya Airways radically began taking steps to raise and implement quality standards like regulating prices and training their staff?
It’s likely they will begin to provide more consistent services to their customers, which is the main focus of any TQM initiative anyway.
Addressing these problems can potentially unlock the industry’s growth as the air transport sector can boost Kenya’s economic prosperity.
Toyota as a Case Study for the Benefits of TQM
At the other end of the spectrum is Toyota Motors.
Although they started as a small car manufacturer on August 28, 1937, Toyota is one of the earliest pioneers of quality.
Their “customer first” philosophy, kaizen (continuous improvements), as well as careful customer targeting and their multitude of offerings to different categories of customers cemented their place as one of the leading manufacturers of cars—not just in Japan, but in the world.
They introduced statistical quality control (SQC) in 1949 and later the “creative idea suggestion system” to encourage workers to contribute ideas to help solve company problems.
These concepts are at the core of TPS, Toyota’s production system, also called the “Toyota Way,” which has led to some stunning successes:
- With an annual sale of more than $228 billion, Toyota is as profitable as all the other car companies combined.
- It rose to the status of the world’s largest auto manufacturer, beating General Motors in 2007.
- The company groomed a set of creative, multi-skilled and highly motivated employees who became dedicated to improving the company’s performance.
- In its 75-year history, it has received various prestigious awards for quality management. Among them is the Deming Application Prize in 1965, and the Japan Quality Control Award in 1970.
The Transforming Power of TQM: A Tale of Two Companies
Ford didn’t join the TQM party on time.
However, in 1980, Ford went into a partnership with ChemFil to improve their painting design to meet customers’ expectations.
They wanted to make quality products and provide a work-friendly environment for their employees to meet those expectations.
The move to adopt TQM, and the joint venture, led to progress in the following ways:
- A high financial income for Ford, to a press release from their media room, in 2003.
- Adopting TQM led to a 180-degree shift, not just in income, but boosted their rise to becoming one of the most profitable automobile companies in America.
- Their quality control measures also helped them save about $3 billion in losses between 1979–1982.
Samsung is known as a successful smartphone brand today. However, in the past, they were unsuccessful, despite releasing their first smartphone in the 1980s.
With Motorola leading the mobile devices market with about 60% market share, Samsung struggled to grab a measly 10%.
Because of the poor sales volumes and the backlash they received for poor user experience and performance, in 1995 the company decided to change its strategy.
Led by then-chairman Lee Kun-hee to improve the quality of Samsung devices, by adopting TQM, Samsung invested in creating products with a positive user experience.
Years later, the company grew and expanded as a tech brand. Some of its successes include:
- Bypassing its then-rival Sony to become the 20th-largest consumer brand in the entire world, securing its place as the most popular consumer brand and choice in the marketplace.
- Samsung has become a household name and a well-known successful technology company. And they’re not just known for high-end phones either. They also hold humongous market shares in the domestic appliances industry. I doubt anyone has seen a crappy-looking Samsung TV.
Business-Customer Integration Loop
Customer satisfaction is the focus of the TQM philosophy. It is, therefore, important for key business decisions to be made with the customer in mind.
Where possible, the customer should be engaged in the product/service design and development process to give suggestions that may reduce or prevent manufacturing waste and product defects.
American companies did not take the business-customer integration loop seriously until the Japanese brands used it to transform their economy and dominate the global market after the Second World War.
Today, most companies like Toyota, Samsung, and Apple all use the business-customer integration loop to grow their revenue and increase their market share.
Many empirical studies confirm that companies with a quality-oriented strategy have achieved:
- Increased productivity
- Greater customer satisfaction
- Improved employee motivation/morale
- Improved management/worker relationship
Involve your customers as much as you can with your processes and you’re much more likely to meet and even exceed their expectations.
TQM and Small Businesses
Large-scale businesses don’t solely focus on profits. Rather, they find their target audience, satisfy their needs and easily keep market share by improving their products and services.
Total quality management (TQM) is a smart system which small businesses can use to grow their company.
This is because they are often the suppliers to big companies. Low-quality materials from their end will affect the output of large businesses too.
Only small-scale businesses that maintain quality can compete in the marketplace.
TQM can not only be applied to large multi-million dollar companies, but also small companies just starting out.
Two Simple Ways for Small Businesses to Implement TQM
Every business is unique and there are many ways you can implement TQM. Below are two simple ways:
- Extending Your Service Hours. For example, Mercedes-Benz provides technical roadside help after service hours.
- Extending Your Product Warranty Period. Another means of ensuring a commitment to quality “after the sale” is via a product or service guarantee.
For example, Walmart has a no-hassle return policy for their products—with or without a receipt.
Why Does it Work?
Customer satisfaction is at the heart of TQM.
And simple things like extending service hours and warranties can make customers more satisfied with their purchases.
However, for TQM to help in improving quality in a company, there has to be:
- All-around adherence, starting from top-level executives to low-level employees.
- A change in corporate culture about the importance of quality.
- Encouraging internal collaboration among employees.
- Consistent audits to assure quality in products and services.
Preventing and reducing errors is one effective way to improve quality.
However, it’s difficult to achieve this without having a strong leadership and skillful staff or a reliable and continuous process to prevent errors. Some of these processes include Poka-yoke, the 8D method, using digital software.
The 8D Method
The 8D method is a detailed approach to solving critical issues in the production process.
Its steps include the following:
- Define the working group.
- Describe the problem.
- Define the immediate corrective actions.
- Determine the actual causes of the problem.
- Determine the corrective actions.
- Deploy and validate the corrective actions.
- Determine the preventive actions.
- Congratulate the working group (the 8th “D”: say thank you)
A Digital Instruction Software
Manual work instructions might have errors, so you may need to use work instruction software to create, automate and manage your work instructions.
They prevent operators from making errors and help you reduce product defects too.
The Poka-yoke (Poh-kay-yo-kay) is the Japanese equivalent of fail-safing or mistake-proofing. It is a process analysis tool involving the use of an automatic device or method that either makes it impossible for mistakes to occur or makes it immediately obvious whenever an error occurs.
The mistake-proofing procedure is as follows:
- Observe the flowchart of the process and analyse it for any likely areas errors may occur.
- Identify the source of the potential problem
- For each potential problem, consider: eliminating the problematic step, replacing the problematic step, or makeing the correct action more easier than the error.
- In the case that the error cannot be prevented, make sure that you find ways to detect the error and implement failsafes to minimize its effects.
- Finally, choose a mistake-proofing method to counter the effect of the error.
How a Lumber Company Increased its Employees’ Efficiency by Organizing Their Processes
The team at Turkstra Lumber was already good at their job.
But they weren’t coordinated, and wanted to do better. They wanted to improve. They wanted better results.
They had only ever used Excel sheets to outline processes and procedures. But it wasn’t enough, as team members would have to jump through hoops just to solve problems that could have easily been tackled had there been documented procedures they could use as reference.
Luckily, an MBA intern discovered SweetProcess. After using and implementing the software, it was found that team members were more eager and likely to participate.
The team became more efficient as a result.
Instead of spending time jumping through hoops looking for crucial information, they could more fully focus on their roles.
How SweetProcess Can Help You Implement a Company-Wide TQM Effort
Involving employees is an important element of any TQM strategy. It’s important to have well-written, accessible processes that everyone can use without needing the feedback of top-level management all the time.
Empower your team to deliver supercharged results with SweetProcess, a powerful all-in-one platform that allows you to document your processes, policies and procedures in a centralized manner.
By creating a knowledge base with SweetProcess, you can significantly improve the quality of your team’s output and keep new hires out of your hair.
You can document processes and policies, assign and manage tasks, and create rich useful knowledge bases all using SweetProcess.
Get more done with SweetProcess.
Sign up for a 14-day trial today without your credit card for an opportunity to supercharge your business process documentation and improve the quality of your work.
And if you’d like to learn about some powerful yet easy-to-use tools that quality professionals rely on to drive quality, check out the resource below.