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Total quality: getting TQM to work.

This checklist provides guidance for those who have mapped a total quality management strategy and are now seeking to implement it.


TQM is a way of managing which gives everyone in the organisation responsibility for delivering quality to the final customer; quality being described as "fitness for purpose" or as "delighting the customer". TQM views each task in the organisation as fundamentally a process which is in a customer/supplier relationship with the next process. The aim at each stage is to define and meet the customer's requirements maximising the satisfaction of the final consumer at the lowest possible cost.

Action checklist

1. Decide whether to run pilots

While you need to map a TQM strategy for the whole organisation, you will usually introduce it in stages. For the pilots select areas or functions which are significant and where you feel TQM will yield results within a year at most: those will be critical in selling TQM to the sceptics.

2. Monitor and evaluate the results of the pilots

Draw up a framework and appoint a management team to assess and evaluate the results of the pilots. What lessons can be learned, and how can these be applied in introducing TQM elsewhere in the organisation?

3. Decide which tools and techniques to use at each of the four stages in the implementation of TQM

There are four key stages in the implementation of TQM: measurement; process management; problem solving and corrective action. For each, you need to select the tools and techniques appropriate to the scale and environment of your organisation.

4. Decide which measurement techniques to use

Measurement is critical to the success of TQM in quantifying situations and events and providing a benchmark by which to measure progress.

The key is to ensure measurement is a meaningful process which leads to corrective action, rather than an end in itself. The main techniques are: measurement and error logging charts; corrective action systems; work process flow charts; run charts and process control charts.

5. Select process management tools

There are systems and tools to assist in process management. Many may already be used in the organisation, including: Gantt charts, flow charts and histograms. Select those which are right for the culture of your organisation.

6. Set up mechanisms for problem solving

Plan to establish groups throughout the organisation to look at improving quality from different angles.

* Improvement groups are regular sessions led by supervisors of natural work groups.

* Key process groups analyse the operation of important processes.

* Innovation groups cross departments and are drawn from different levels within the organisation to look at totally new ways of working.

The groups have a range of techniques available to help them, including brainstorming, fishbone diagrams and Pareto analysis.

7. Set up corrective action mechanisms

The emphasis in TQM must be on identifying the causes of problems and solving them. Build in at the planning stage feedback loops with corrective action.

8. Draw up a communications plan for announcing the implementation across the organisation

Decide when and how to announce the programme. Assume that staff may initially be cynical or sceptical and work out strategies for overcoming this. Use "converts" from the pilots to explain the benefits. Make clear how TQM relates to other initiatives within the organisation.

9. Implement the education programme

Introduce the education programme mapped in your strategy. Target key groups first. Use these as the agents of change to cascade learning through the organisation.

10. Plan to create the right culture for quality

Successful TQM depends as much on cultural change as on process improvements. Be aware that TQM will probably need to be accompanied by a general programme of information and education targeted at employees, supervisors and managers.

11. Empower supervisors

The team leaders will be pivotal to the success of TQM. You need to give them the resources, time, support and education to become leaders.

12. Consider how to motivate employees to take ownership

Employees will need to take ownership of quality and act on their own initiative. To achieve this, you will need to create an open culture and drive out fears of failure, of taking risks and reprisals. You will also need to be prepared to deal with possible insecurities of managers who discover that all, or most, of their work is unnecessary or can be done by staff at lower levels.

13. Establish a programme of management change

Employees will not be able to make the changes needed without profound changes in management style. A new approach will be needed under TQM based on collaboration, consensus and participation: the largest single change for managers will be from telling to listening, from commanding to empowering.

14. Set short--and long-term goals for the implementation programme

Establish a means for monitoring progress. This will require a mix of short-term goals, to demonstrate progress, and more challenging long-term ones to stretch the organisation. Include a mix of business and cultural indicators.

15. Maintain the impetus

Culture changes will take a long time to show results and staff may be frustrated at what they can achieve through process improvements. Regularly review and report progress and and publicise successes.

Dos and don'ts for the successful implementation of TQM


* Make clear the relationship between TQM and other initiatives within the organisation.

* Work out where the invisible barriers to change are. Be aware of them from the outset and develop a strategy for overcoming them.

* Make clear that TQM is not a quick fix but an ongoing process of continuous improvement: you will never fully achieve total quality as the targets will constantly shift.

* Ensure that systems concentrate on measuring the performance of work processes rather than the individuals engaged in them.


* View TQM as a precisely defined methodology or a series of neatly tabled sequential actions to be completed one by one.

* Try to bring in TQM alongside other major initiatives if these already make heavy demands on management time.

* Neglect the soft side of TQM: changing culture is as important as changing processes.

* Lose sight of the ends by excessive concentration on the means.

Glossary of terms associated with TQM

Brainstorming is a simple approach used to help a group generate as many creative ideas as possible. Everyone is encouraged to speak and every idea is recorded without evaluation or criticism.

Corrective action depends on introducing management systems which require employees to identify the cause of a problem and remove it, so the problem does not recur, rather than just fixing the problem temporarily.

Fishbone charts, or cause-and-effect diagrams, explore in diagrammatic form the root causes of a problem.

Gantt charts are used in planning projects to show the proposed start and finish of each activity graphically against a common timetable.

Histograms are bar charts which show patterns of variation in different processes.

Pareto analysis is used to separate out and prioritise the significant items in a mass of data by applying to them the 80/20 rule: recording and analysis will usually show that 80% of the problems stem from 20% of the potential causes.

Process control or process flow charts are used to plot diagrammatically the sequence of events in a particular process.

Useful reading

Quality beyond six sigma: Ron Basu and Nevan Wright Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann, 2003

The keys to excellence : the Deming philosophy of quality management: Nancy R Mann Chalford, Management Books, 2000

The essence of total quality management 2nd ed: John Bank Harlow, Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2000

Implementing Jurans road map for quality leadership: benchmarks and results: Al Endres New York NY, John Wiley, 2000

Principles of quality costs : principles implementation and use 3rd ed: Jack Campanella Milwaukee Wis, ASQ Quality Press, 1999

Business excellence handbook 5th ed: Chris Hakes Bristol, Bristol Quality Centre, 1999

Useful addresses

The Institute of Quality Assurance, 12 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EE

Tel 0207 245 6722,

British Quality Foundation, 32-34 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2QX

Tel: 020 7654 5000

Thought starters

* Do you need to make changes to the structure of the organisation to make clear that quality is the responsibility of everyone?

* To what extent do current reward mechanisms promote employee involvement in quality?
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Title Annotation:Checklist 030
Publication:Chartered Management Institute: Checklists: Operations and Quality
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Previous Article:Total quality mapping a TQM strategy.
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