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TQM: getting total quality to work.


The successful implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM) can lead to improvements in the quality of products and services, reductions in the waste of resources, and overall increases in efficiency and productivity. Such improvements contribute to good customer relations, growth in market share and sustained competitive advantage. However, TQM needs to be implemented consistently across the organisation and to become an ongoing process of continuous improvement, if it is to be effective. TQM involves everyone in the organisation and needs to become a way of life, if it is to be successful.

National Occupational Standards for Management and Leadership

This checklist has relevance to the following standards:

B: Providing direction, units 1, 5, 6, 9

F: Achieving results, unit 3, 12


TQM is a style 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 in order to maximise the satisfaction of the final consumer at the lowest possible cost.

Action checklist

1. Decide whether to run pilots

While it is important to map a TQM strategy to cover the whole organisation, it is usually best to 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--these 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 stage

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

A range of systems and tools are available to assist in process management. Many may already be used in the organisation, including: Gantt charts, flow charts and histograms. Select those which fit 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.

Techniques to assist these groups include 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 feedback loops with corrective action at the planning stage.

8. Draw up a communications plan

Decide when and how to announce the programme across the organisation. 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 (see Checklist 029 Total Quality: Mapping a TQM Strategy). Target key groups first. Use change agents to cascade what they have learned 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 and reprisal and reluctance to take risks. You may also need to deal with potential insecurities in people who may discover that some 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 the shift from telling to listening, from commanding to empowering.

14. Set short- and long-term goals for the implementation programme Establish a means of 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

Cultural changes take a long time to produce visible results and staff may be frustrated at what can be achieved through process improvements. Regularly review and report on progress and publicise successes.

How not to implement TQM


* see TQM as a precisely defined methodology or a set sequence of steps to be completed

* expect instant results

* forget that TQM is not a quick fix, but an ongoing process of continuous improvement

* try to implement TQM at the same time as other major change initiatives

* 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 the root causes of a problem in diagrammatic form.

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 the 80/20 rule to them: 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 the sequence of events in a particular process diagrammatically.

Additional resources


ISO 9001:2000 in brief, 2nd ed, Ray Tricker and Burce Sherring-Lucas

Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth Heinmann, 2005

Total quality management in a week, 3rd ed, John Macdonald Chartered Management Institute

London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2003

Managing quality, 4th ed, Barry G Dale

Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2003

Quality beyond six sigma, Ron Basu and Nevan Wright

Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann, 2003

This is a selection of books available for loan to members from the Management Information Centre. More information at:

Journal articles

Six sigma the ultimate in continuous business improvement, David Hutchins

QMA Tell Me, Winter 2003, no 29, pp5-8

Quality is king, Keith Ogden

Quality World, August 2002, vo 28 no 8, pp40-43

This is a selection of journal articles available from the Management Information Centre. More information at:

Related checklists

Total Quality: Mapping a Strategy (029)

Six Sigma (195)

Internet resources


Look under Methodologies for Total Quality Management section which includes articles and case studies.


British Quality Foundation:

32-34 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2QX

Tel: 020 7654 5000

European Foundation for Quality Management:

Brussels Representative Office, Avenue des Pleiades, 11 1200 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 775 35 11

Institute of Quality Assurance:

12 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EE

Tel: 020 7245 6788
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Title Annotation:total quality management
Publication:Chartered Management Institute: Checklists: Operations and Quality
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Previous Article:Total Quality: mapping a TQM strategy.
Next Article:Managing projects.

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