TQM | Total Quality Management
I know you have heard the term “TQM” or “Total Quality Management” on the TV, radio and read about them in publications but what exactly is “TQM” and can it affect the way you and the way your business works.
Total Quality Management (TQM) is often spoken about and in complex detail by the business guru’s, but in reality it is basically a management strategy and working practice. Its purpose is to encapsulate and enhance awareness of the different elements of quality initiatives that are used within an organisations business.
TQM - It's Broad!!
All of your initiatives to improve your business can come under the TQM banner; however, it should include three vital elements
- It should be a methodology that is taken on board by the entire organisation rather than just in separate divisions or departments.
- One of the keys is the supply chain. If you get this right then your whole process surrounding supply and meeting demand makes life that much simpler for everybody concerned especially the most important element of all your customers!! This applies to whether you are a business service or delivering physical products.
- The product life cycle is a key element. This is from the development of your product (remember listen to what your customers want, not what you think you can produce and sell to the market!) to its demise. If you can get this right you may be able to lengthen the period of time your product or service is in the market place when it hits the “mature” stage of a product life cycle.
Many authors have written about TQM and very nearly all of them conclude that organisations who fully implement this methodology are the ones that sustain / maintain growth and retain their customer base. This method of working (like many other techniques) needs to be fully supported by the very highest of company executives. It is key to lead the business, to organise it in a way that becomes customer centric and business efficient and like all businesses; plan carefully, there may be an element of risk
involved but planned risk is better than going in blind.
Businesses need to keep their costs as low as possible whilst at the same time delivering the highest amount of quality. All TQM associated projects and working practices need to be maintained. It’s a way of life and in today’s economic environment it will be the survival of the fittest.
Starting Out – Try ISO9001
Before you start to yawn about ISO, just read the next few sentences.
In my experience, the ISO standard has come a long way over the past few years. ISO auditors actually look to help you improve your business and are not there to simply ensure you have written hundreds of volumes of procedures. If you want to start down the TQM route and really analyse your business then try going for this standard first. It is pretty low cost and if you have experienced staff you can probably get your organisation up to the standard in a pretty short period of time. You can believe me
when I say that by looking at processes especially ones that are new to you, you find many opportunities for quick and radical improvement.
TQM – Keep Going
So you have gotten the TQM methodology in place, lots of projects, ISO accreditation, staff motivated, so now you can sit back and everything will be ok.....WRONG. TQM is about ongoing continuous improvement, what you think is your market place today could be very different tomorrow. TQM is not a magic formula that works once a lasts forever with no effort, it’s a way of life!
TQM is a term used to encompass all of the quality improvement techniques employed within an organisation. If you are new to this way of running your business try investigating the ISO9001 standard as a starting point. Top management needs to buy into the methodology. There are no easy paths to follow these days, but if you follow the TQM path today you could be in a more positive place tomorrow.