Learn about the definition of total quality management, why it is important, principles of total quality management, answers to frequently asked questions, and tools to help implement TQM efficiently.
Updated 31 Jan 2023, Published 25 Jun 2021
Total Quality Management (TQM) is an organizational management approach that focuses on producing quality products and services to fulfill customer needs. As a quality management technique, TQM involves all workers to maintain high standards of work across the entire company. Implementing TQM can help improve employee productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and achieve competitive advantage.
Total Quality Management (TGM) Diagram
Total Quality Management is often referred to as the antecedent of many quality management methodologies such as Six Sigma and Lean. Some concepts of ISO 9001, the world’s most recognized Quality Management System (QMS) standard, can also be traced back to TQM principles. Total Quality Management is important because it provides an agile framework to implement effective quality and productivity initiatives in every aspect of business operations.
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While there has yet to be a single authoritative resource, it is widely accepted that TQM first manifested as early as the mid-1920s, when Walter Shewhart formulated a statistical sampling technique for quality control which was eventually known as Statistical Process Control (SPC).
However, the term “total quality management” only started to be used around the 1980s, where key to its development are the following principles from distinguished figures in the quality world:
In Total Quality Control, Feigenbaum introduced the concept of Company-wide Quality Control (CWQC) which is agreed upon by some experts as the most direct inspiration for TQM. When searching for 3 total quality management principles, his 3-step approach to improving quality might be one of the first ideas that come to mind:
Another trio of Total Quality Management principles might actually refer to the 3 critical processes for quality management which is frequently cited as the Juran Trilogy. To put his Quality Control Handbook into better perspective, here are the 3 key principles of his quality management approach:
With a strong emphasis on organizational change, Deming’s principles for Total Quality Management is more accurately titled “Deming’s 14 Points for the Transformation of Management,” or simply “14 Points for Management.” He first presented these fourteen points in Out of the Crisis:
ISO/TC 176 is the Technical Committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which develops and maintains quality management standards such as ISO 9000. With the fifth and latest edition which is ISO 9001:2015, the 8 Principles of Quality Management in the 2008 version have been updated to the 7 Quality Management Principles (QMPs).
One main difference is the total removal of the principle “System Approach to Management” which is believed to have been integrated with the principle “Process Approach” as defined below:
While Total Quality Management has evolved over time—from basic concepts pioneered by top quality gurus to the standards and methods acknowledged by global organizations—its essence of holistically approaching quality management remains. Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Total Quality Management:
One of the most well-known companies which practiced Total Quality Management is Toyota. The largest automobile manufacturer in the world implemented TQM by looking into how consumers used their products and leveraging on what they learned to improve those products.
Another initiative which made their TQM implementation successful was that top management owned the responsibility for quality, providing support, commitment, and leadership to all human resources and technical processes.
TQM certification is a business course usually offered by educational institutions to equip people with Total Quality Management principles for practical application in the workplace. Since TQM is an approach to quality management, organizations cannot be TQM-certified, nor is it currently administered by any certifying body.
Therefore, Total Quality Management certification is essentially meant for training individuals in companies to carry out TQM principles using TQM tools.
No, Total Quality Management does not necessarily require ISO certification. However, having a quality management system that meets international standards can help reinforce TQM implementation. Arguably, Total Quality Management as an organizational management approach has been standardized through the requirements specified in ISO 9001.
TQM is related to Six Sigma in that both methodologies typically involve every part of the organization to bring out the best results for customers. While Total Quality Management highlights the importance of improving quality by optimizing processes, Six Sigma seeks to maintain quality by reducing variance in manufacturing processes and removing causes of defects.
To a certain extent, Six Sigma can be considered as a more refined, scientific approach to actualize Total Quality Management in companies.
The key difference between Total Quality Management and Lean Manufacturing is that TQM covers general methods to manage quality across the business, while Lean emphasizes on minimizing wastes to streamline quality in production processes. Quality improvement can be achieved as a byproduct of this efficiency in procedures and workflows. Because of this particular similarity, Lean is also commonly associated with Six Sigma, often being mentioned together as “Lean Six Sigma”.
Applying Total Quality Management in the context of your organization can be challenging, especially since its scope seems overwhelmingly vast. With the help of a digital operations management platform or tacking tools such as SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor), businesses can streamline their TQM implementation. With SafetyCulture, staff members in any aspect of company operations can implement Total Quality Management by:
Utilizing Total Quality Management tools on SafetyCulture (iAuditor) can empower you to efficiently act on insights and keep driving your business forward. To help you and your team easily get started with TQM implementation, listed below are the most common Total Quality Management tools which you can download and use for free:
Quality Planning: Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) Documents Checklist
Quality Assurance: Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) Template
Process Variance Reduction: DMAIC Template
Procedure Optimization: 5S Audit Checklist
Quality Control: Check Sheet Template
Continuous Improvement: Kaizen Report Template
Quality Management Systems: ISO 9001 Gap Analysis Checklist
Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.
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