7 Important Principles of Total Quality Management

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    Guest post from Quin Harris

    Total Quality Management (TQM) is an approach that organizations use to improve their internal processes and increase customer satisfaction. When it is properly implemented, this style of management can lead to decreased costs related to corrective or preventative maintenance, better overall performance, and an increased number of happy and loyal customers.

    However, TQM is not something that happens overnight. While there are a number of software solutions that will help organizations quickly start to implement a quality management system, there are some underlying philosophies that the company must integrate throughout every department of the company and at every level of management. Whatever other resources you use, you should adopt these seven important principles of Total Quality Management as a foundation for all your activities.

    1. Quality can and must be managed

    Many companies have wallowed in a repetitive cycle of chaos and customer complaints. They believe that their operations are simply too large to effectively manage the level of quality. The first step in the TQM process, then, is to realize there is a problem and that it can be controlled.

    2. Processes, not people, are the problem

    If your process is causing problems, it won’t matter how many times you hire new employees or how many training sessions you put them through. Correct the process and then train your people on these new procedures.

    3. Don’t treat symptoms, look for the cure

    If you just patch over the underlying problems in the process, you will never be able to fully reach your potential. If, for example, your shipping department is falling behind, you may find that it is because of holdups in manufacturing. Go for the source to correct the problem.

    4. Every employee is responsible for quality

    Everyone in the company, from the workers on the line to the upper management, must realize that they have an important part to play in ensuring high levels of quality in their products and services. Everyone has a customer to delight, and they must all step up and take responsibility for them.

    5. Quality must be measurable

    A quality management system is only effective when you can quantify the results. You need to see how the process is implemented and if it is having the desired effect. This will help you set your goals for the future and ensure that every department is working toward the same result.

    6. Quality improvements must be continuous

    Total Quality Management is not something that can be done once and then forgotten. It’s not a management “phase” that will end after a problem has been corrected. Real improvements must occur frequently and continually in order to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    7. Quality is a long-term investment

    Quality management is not a quick fix. You can purchase QMS software that will help you get things started, but you should understand that real results won’t occur immediately. TQM is a long-term investment, and it is designed to help you find long-term success.

    Before you start looking for any kind of quality management software, it is important to make sure you are capable of implementing these fundamental principles throughout the company. This kind of management style can be a huge culture change in some companies, and sometimes the shift can come with some growing pains, but if you build on a foundation of quality principles, you will be equipped to make this change and start working toward real long-term success.

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Quality Management.
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