8 Total Quality Management (TQM) Principles to Improve Your Manufacturing Process
8 Total Quality Management (TQM) Principles to Improve Your Manufacturing Process
Industry Insights
8 Total Quality Management (TQM) Principles to Improve Your Manufacturing Process
TQM is the management philosophy that integrates all organizational functions – from design to engineering, production, marketing, customer service, and finances.
March 8, 2021

Every business operation cares about customer satisfaction. A defective product can make you lose a customer for life. A manufacturer's job is to be a few steps ahead of the customer in thought. You have to figure out a comprehensive approach to improve quality and performance to meet or exceed customer expectations - This is the purview of Total Quality Management or TQM.


Achieving Total Quality Management is through integrating all functions that have a business with quality across your company. You aim to capture the quality measures your company is implementing, including Quality Control (QC) and maintenance, Quality Design (QD) and development, and Quality Assurance (QA).


Quality management is crucial in manufacturing. Everyone knows and agrees it's futile to keep churning out products and building an army of disappointed and unhappy customers. They might embrace your competition in a way that chokes your business of precious life.


The variables of Total Quality Management include all quality measures existing a tall levels and in which all company employees are participating. For instance, product defects result in a less-desirable customer experience. It's easier to find a needle in a haystack than to find an unhappy consumer with a significant negative experience with your company.


But negative experiences are neither incurable nor avoidable. It goes beyond having good logistics software. The idea of Total Quality Management is to shake up your manufacturing along with other essential elements of your full business model.


Describing Total Quality Management

What then is Total Quality Management? Without sounding too academic, TQM is a management system. A company adopting Total Quality Management achieves organizational advancement from its commitment to customer requirements. The customer is the nucleus of any Total Quality Management model. Your company will meet those requirements by ensuring that each employee – regardless of department – can maintain high standards and the environment permits continuous improvement.


Quality itself measures whether a product or service is acceptable. With Total Quality Management, your company leverages a framework operating on the zeal and need to maintain quality across your operations.


The Total Quality Management method involves employees and management in the continuous improvement of the production of your goods and services.


Is Total Quality Management New?

Total Quality Management is not exactly new. It has its roots in the 1950s and soared in popularity in the early 1980s.

Total Quality describes the attitude, culture, and organization of a company that aims to offer customers with satisfactory products and services. The culture demands quality in every aspect of the company's operations, performing processes the right way the first time and eliminating defects and waste from operations.


Are there companies that have implemented Total Quality Management? The near endless list includes heavyweights such as Toyota Motor Corp, Phillips Semiconductor, Ford Motor Company, and SGL Carbon.


A Concise Definition of TQM

TQM is, therefore, the management philosophy that integrates all organizational functions – from design to engineering, production, marketing, customer service, and finances, with the aim of meeting customer needs and attaining organizational objectives.


8 Total Quality Management Principles to Improve Your Manufacturing


#1 – Full Focus on the Customer

The primary aspect of Total Quality Management principles is to revolve your policies around the buyers of your product or service, aka the customers.


The quality of any product depends primarily on the customers or market for it. If you satisfactorily meet customer expectations or has a far expiration date, customers will happily spend money on it. The reverse is exactly correct too.


Understanding a customer's wants and needs increases the likelihood of figuring out appropriate raw materials, processes, and personnel to attain or exceed these expectations. How can you go about fulfilling this TQM principle?

  1. Begin with research to help you better understand customer needs and expectations.
  2. Bring your company objectives to align with customer needs.
  3. Touch base with customers through meaningful conversations. The communication will help your company measure satisfaction and find ways to improve processes to positively impact products.
  4. Prioritize customer relationships by dedicating whole company units to deal with this.
  5. Now, ensure that satisfying customers do not have a negative impact on other stakeholders. This includes employees, investors, owners, suppliers, and so forth. Everyone needs to be happy to guarantee seamless operations.


Why does it matter for manufacturers to focus on the customer? Here are a few benefits of this principle:

  1. It improves sales, thereby growing revenue, market share, and leadership in the marketplace.
  2. It promotes customer loyalty, ensuring repeat business in the process.
  3. It improves the chances of customer satisfaction, such that they can report to others that your products are as good as they should be or even better.

#2 – Maximum Employee Commitment 

All your employees must be on board if your company aims to grow sales, improve processes, or enhance productivity. They are an intrinsic and integral part of the equation.


Employees need to understand the vision and goals you're communicating. Then they need to assume ownership of the vision in addition to receiving sufficient training and resources to fulfill their respective assignments that contribute to achieving the goal.


How can your company implement this Total Management Quality principle?

  1. Without ambiguity, communicate and acknowledge the significance of every individual contribution to the finished product.
  2. Emphasize the idea of taking ownership by teams and individuals. They'll become more responsible when they get the opportunity to resolve issues as they encounter them on the job.
  3. Make it easy for employees to measure their performance against personal benchmarks and objectives. Enable them with enough freedom to modify things to improve the workflow.
  4. When your employees do well, give them more than a pat on the back. Allowing performance optimization grows employee and stakeholder confidence.
  5. Be clear on responsibilities, and give ample training while ensuring the judicious use of materials and other resources.
  6. Make consistent learning a culture, allowing multiple opportunities for employees to increase knowledge, ability, and experience while exploring new roles.
  7. Allow employees ample room to be open about problems [and challenges] while offering possible solutions.


What are the positives of including engaging maximum employee commitment?

  1. Your people will not seek the proverbial greener pasture elsewhere because you're offering motivation, commitment, growth, and active involvement in contributing to customer satisfaction.
  2. You promote innovation and creativity within teams and individually to solve problems and improve processes.
  3. You'll nurture an army of employees who are accountable for their work and take pride in it.
  4. Your employees will be eager to participate and contribute to continuous improvement. The customer is the biggest beneficiary of such a setup.


#3 – Adherence to Processes

A key element of quality management is a full-on process approach. Processes are essentially systems that promote consistency and speedy production as appropriate steps are taken as and when due.


These are the steps to implement the process TQM principle:

  1. Use process flowcharts or other Total Quality Management tools to clarify and specify roles and responsibilities for everyone at all times.
  2. Present a visual action plan that everyone can relate to and see what needs to happen to attain any result.
  3. Measure all current activities and analyze them to spot parts of your manufacturing process that need improvement or are significant bottlenecks in delivering quality.
  4. Assess your processes on the basis of how they may impact stakeholders, suppliers, and customers.


What would you gain by adopting this?

  1. You'll ship products faster, minimize costs, and grow revenue.
  2. Ensure consistent positive outcomes that are also predictable.
  3. You will create a neat improvement-first culture of success.


#4 – Create a Tightly-Knit Comprehensive System

Your manufacturing company is likely not different from any typical one. You likely have several departments, each with a specific function and purpose. Each department and function should interrelate with horizontal processes that exist solely for TQM. However, these departments may often operate independently.


In an integrated system, policies, standards, processes, and objectives should be at the fingertips of every employee in each department. The reason for this is that the company will always be abundant in continual improvements, helping it to succeed where the competition is failing.


So, how do you build an integrated system?

  1. Make quality the DNA of your workplace.
  2. Use visual aids such as flowcharts to help employees relate their roles to the big picture in your company.
  3. Make as-is process analysis your go-to tool for surfacing areas that need improvement.
  4. Interested employees should be able to access and leverage training to learn modern processes and see new opportunities for advancement.


Why does an integrated system matter in manufacturing? You'll be building a brand where excellence is the default, and customers will appreciate that as you strive to meet or exceed their expectations.


#5 – Forge a Strategic and Systematic Methodology

When you work towards your company's goals, vision, and mission using strategic and systematic means, you automatically influence how you manage quality. This critical process is known as strategic management or strategic planning. It includes building a playbook to infuse quality throughout the fabric of your manufacturing operation.


The official ISO definition for this principle captures interrelated systems relative to organizational effectiveness and efficiency in attaining objectives.


Efficiency comes about by consolidating multiple developments or production processes into one coherent unit. Implementing this in Total Quality Management involves:

  1. Providing adequate training and tools to complete discrete parts of the process.
  2. Continually aiming to improve processes and products while making equipment ready for advancement.
  3. Find ways to measure continual improvement for all personnel.
  4. Reward innovation and process improvements.


These are the benefits:

  1. Nimble response to breakdowns and process bottlenecks.
  2. General improvement in your company's capacity and performance.


#6 – Non-stop improvement

Continuous process improvement is essential in Total Quality Management. It drives an organization to be creative and analytical in working out solutions to improve and become more competitive at fulfilling stakeholder expectations.


Total customer satisfaction is a journey rather than a destination. Customer needs and desires are ever-shifting goal posts. Your manufacturing business must adapt by keeping continual improvement as a TQM requirement.


If you were to implement this right away, here are some points to focus on:

  1. Your policies should weave improvements into products, processes, and systems by using goals you can measure for each individual or unit.
  2. Make innovation a mainstay for improving processes and developing.
  3. Make employees look forward to training sessions in order to become more relevant and assume new challenges.


These are a few reasons why continuous improvement matters to TQM:

  1. Employees know more and can improve performance.
  2. Improvement goals fit well into what your company needs and where it's going.
  3. It's easier and quicker to fix issues in the process pipeline.


#7 – Make Decisions Using Facts Instead of Speculative Fiction

Data on performance measures provide insights into the well-being of any organization. Total Quality Management is a hands-on approach that requires active data-gathering and analysis to achieve three things:

  • Make better decisions;
  • Gain consensus with stakeholders; and
  • Make predictions using previous history.


More informed decisions will improve your understanding of your market and your customers. Here are recommendations to implement this principle:

  1. Double-check data, running valid quantitative and qualitative analysis to ensure it is correct and reliable.
  2. Stakeholders should be aware of any data you have access to.
  3. Make decisions using a combination of data, experience, and gut feeling.


How would this benefit your TQM?

  1. It'll improve your ability to make information without speculating.
  2. You have ample factual evidence to rely on when analyzing and defending decisions.
  3. Data reviews make it easier to decide on policy and process changes.


#8 – Communication Enhancements

Effective communication is critical when you're revamping your processes. It keeps motivation high within your teams and inspires employees at every level. Three key elements of communications include: 

  • Methods
  • Strategies; and
  • Timeliness


The plans, methods, and strategies for achieving goals should be common knowledge across the plant and offices in your manufacturing firm. A poor communication plan improves the total surface area for failure.


Here's how to implement communications as a Total Quality Management principle:

  1. Dedicate an official communication channel to update employees and stakeholders on processes and policy changes.
  2. When making decisions, be sure to keep employees firmly within the loop.
  3. Ensure that every person in each department fully understands their roles and how they fit in with the rest of the company.


These are the benefits:

  1. Employees are more likely to participate fully because they better understand how their contributions can make or break the company.
  2. There is improved cooperation and coordination across departments.
  3. Silos are effectively out of the equation.
  4. When employees participate in decision-making, they believe their contributions count, and they have greater morale and motivation.


Rounding Up

These elements are central to the TQM process. Many organizations define them, and for a manufacturing concern such as yours, there should be little to no debate about implementing them. These implementations are the results of the work of authorities on quality such as Armand V. Feigenbaum, Joseph M. Juran, Kaoru Ishikawa, Philip B. Crosby, and W. Edwards Deming.

It is tempting to compare TQM to Six Sigma, but Six Sigma does not adopt a holistic view of the organizational process in the way that TQM does. In implementing TQM, ensure you pick the right process and leadership to steer it accordingly. Deliberately improving your manufacturing operations will improve customer satisfaction, making way for other benefits to follow.

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