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What is 'Total Quality Management - TQM'

Total Quality Management (TQM) is the continual process of detecting and reducing or eliminating errors in manufacturing, streamlining supply chain management, improving the customer experience, and ensuring that employees are up to speed with their training. Total quality management aims to hold all parties involved in the production process accountable for the overall quality of the final product or service.

TQM was developed by William Deming, a management consultant whose work had great impact on Japanese manufacturing. While TQM shares much in common with the Six Sigma improvement process, it is not the same as Six Sigma. TQM focuses on ensuring that internal guidelines and process standards reduce errors, while Six Sigma looks to reduce defects.

BREAKING DOWN 'Total Quality Management - TQM'

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a structured approach to overall organizational management. The focus of the process is to improve the quality of an organization's outputs, including goods and services, through continual improvement of internal practices. The standards set as part of the TQM approach can reflect both internal priorities and any industry standards currently in place. Industry standards can be defined at multiple levels, and may include adherence to various laws and regulations governing the operation of the particular business. Industry standards can also include the production of items to an understood norm, even if the norm is not backed by official regulations.

Primary Principles of Total Quality Management

TQM is considered a customer-focused process and aims for continual improvement of business operations. It strives to ensure all associated employees work toward the common goals of improving product or service quality, as well as improving the procedures that are in place for production. Special emphasis is put on fact-based decision making, using performance metrics to monitor progress. High levels of organizational communication are encouraged, for the purpose of maintaining employee involvement and morale.

Industries Using Total Quality Management

While TQM originated in the manufacturing sector, its principles can be applied to a variety of organizations. With focus on long-term change over short-term goals, it is designed to provide a cohesive vision for systemic change. With this in mind, total quality management is used in many industries, including, but not limited to, manufacturing, banking and finance, and medicine.

These techniques can be applied to all departments within an individual organization as well. This helps ensure all employees are working toward the goals set forth for the company, improving function in each area. Involved departments can include administration, marketing, production and employee training.

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