What is Total Quality Management

Guide: Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management is a holistic approach focusing on continuous improvement in all organizational aspects to meet or exceed customer expectations through employee involvement and process optimization.
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Author: Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

Guide: Total Quality Management (TQM)

Implementing Total Quality Management means adopting a philosophy where excellence in operations and customer service is a constant goal, achieved through an organization-wide commitment to continual improvement. It’s a strategy that doesn’t just look at the end product but involves every employee in a collaborative effort to refine processes, enhance efficiency, and elevate the customer experience. This approach doesn’t compartmentalize quality as a departmental responsibility but integrates it into the fabric of the organizational culture, making it everyone’s priority. TQM transforms the traditional management model into a participative and process-oriented culture, ensuring that quality improvement is not a one-time project but an ongoing pursuit of perfection.

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?

Total Quality Management involves a comprehensive management approach centred around the principle of continuous improvement across all facets of an organization. It underscores the importance of quality not just as a metric for products or services but as a fundamental element that influences customer satisfaction and the overall performance of the business. TQM is distinctive in its inclusive nature, requiring active participation from every level within the organization. This means that everyone from the CEO to entry-level employees is involved in the process of identifying areas for improvement, suggesting changes, and implementing solutions that enhance the quality of the organization’s output. By integrating the efforts of all employees, TQM fosters a culture of quality awareness and improvement, aiming to create an environment where excellence in quality becomes a continuous pursuit, deeply embedded in the organizational fabric and mindset.

What are the Principles of Total Quality Management?

Total Quality Management, or TQM, is like a set of important rules that help make everything a company does really good and keep making it better over time. Here’s what these rules are all about:

Customer Focus

The idea of customer focus is like making sure everything a company does is aimed at making customers happy and meeting what they want or need. It’s like when a chef tastes the food to make sure it’s just right for the guests. Companies listen to what customers say, good or bad, and use that feedback to make their products or services better. This way, they keep customers coming back and attract new ones too.

Total Employee Involvement

Total employee involvement means everyone who works at the company, no matter their job, gets to help make things better. It’s like a sports team where every player, not just the stars, has a role in winning the game. When everyone shares their ideas and works together, they feel like they’re part of something big and are more likely to care about their work and do a good job.

Process Approach

Using a process approach is like following a recipe to bake a cake. Instead of just throwing ingredients together and hoping for the best, you follow steps that make sure the cake turns out great every time. In a company, this means organizing work into clear steps and making sure everything is done right at each step to get the best final result.

Integrated System

An integrated system is when all the different parts of a company, like sales, production, and customer service, work together like a well-oiled machine. It’s like a relay race where each runner passes the baton smoothly to the next. This teamwork across departments helps the company work efficiently and reach its quality goals.

Strategic and Systematic Approach

This principle is about making a game plan for quality. It’s like mapping out a route before a road trip to make sure you get to your destination. The company sets clear goals for quality and checks regularly to see how they’re doing. This way, they can stay on track or change course if needed to keep improving.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement, or making things better bit by bit, is like leveling up in a video game. Each level challenges you to get a little better. In a company, this means always looking for ways to make products, services, or how work is done a little better. It’s about not settling for “good enough” and always striving for “even better.”

Fact-Based Decision Making

Making decisions based on facts is like using a map and compass when hiking. It helps you choose the best path based on the actual terrain and direction, not just a guess. Companies collect data and analyze it to make informed decisions. This way, they’re more likely to succeed because their choices are grounded in reality.


Good communication is like having a clear and open conversation. It means making sure everyone in the company knows what’s going on, understands the quality goals, and knows how they can contribute. It’s about making sure messages are clear, so everyone is on the same page and can work together effectively.

What are the Steps that Should be Taken to Implement TQM?

Implementing Total Quality Management is a journey that transforms the way an organization operates, focusing on quality in every aspect of its business. Let’s delve into


 the detailed process of implementing TQM.

Step 1: Commitment from Top Management

Step 1 - commitment from management

Leadership commitment is not just the first step; it’s the foundation of TQM. Imagine the leaders as the captains of a ship who decide the course and inspire the crew. They must wholeheartedly believe in the value of TQM and be willing to lead by example. This means allocating resources—time, money, and people—to support TQM initiatives. They also set the tone for a culture that prioritizes quality, where every employee feels responsible for maintaining high standards.

Step 2: Define Vision, Mission, and Goals

Step 2 - Vision and goalsWith leadership on board, the next step is charting the course. This involves defining the organization’s vision (what we aspire to be), mission (our purpose), and specific quality goals (what we aim to achieve in terms of quality). It’s like setting a destination and waypoints for a journey. This clarity helps everyone in the organization understand why TQM is important and what it looks like in practice. It aligns efforts and provides a clear direction for the TQM initiative.

Step 3: Employee Training

Step 3 - Employee TrainingFor TQM to be successful, everyone in the organization needs to understand what it is and how to contribute to it. This is where employee training comes in. Think of it as equipping your team with the map, compass, and skills they need for the journey. Training covers the principles of TQM, the importance of customer satisfaction, and how to participate in quality improvement efforts. It empowers employees by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to contribute to quality initiatives actively.

Step 4: Quality Improvement Teams

Step 4 - Quality Teams Quality improvement is a team sport. By forming cross-functional teams, you bring together diverse perspectives and expertise to tackle quality issues. These teams are like small squads assigned specific missions to find and fix problems. They work on projects that cut across different departments, breaking down silos and fostering collaboration. Their goal is to identify areas for improvement, develop solutions, and implement changes that enhance quality.

Step 5: Develop Quality Measures

Step 5 - Quality Metrics To know if you’re moving in the right direction, you need to measure progress. Developing quality measures involves setting up metrics that reflect the organization’s performance in terms of quality. These metrics act as signposts along the journey, showing how far you’ve come and where you need to focus your efforts. They help in tracking improvements, identifying areas that fall short of standards, and making informed decisions about where to allocate resources.

Step 6: Continuous Assessment and Improvement

Step 6 - Continuous ImprovementThe aim of TQM is continuous improvement—constantly assessing and enhancing the way things are done. It’s an ongoing cycle of evaluating processes, services, and products; implementing improvements; and then measuring the results. Think of it as navigating through a landscape that keeps changing. By regularly assessing quality and making adjustments, the organization can adapt to new challenges, meet evolving customer needs, and maintain a trajectory of improvement.

Implementing TQM is a transformative process that changes how an organization operates. It requires commitment, clarity of purpose, education, teamwork, measurement, and an unwavering focus on continuous improvement. When done correctly, it leads to higher quality, greater customer satisfaction, and improved performance across the board.

Benefits of Total Quality Management

The implementation of Total Quality Management offers a range of benefits that can significantly transform an organization. These benefits touch on various aspects of the business, from the quality of products and services to the overall operational efficiency and employee morale. Let’s explore these benefits in detail.

Improved Quality

The most direct outcome of TQM is the enhanced quality of products and services. By focusing on quality in every step of production and service delivery, organizations can significantly reduce errors, defects, and inconsistencies. This leads to products and services that not only meet but often exceed customer expectations. Higher quality translates into greater customer satisfaction, fostering loyalty and encouraging repeat business, which is vital for long-term success.

Increased Efficiency

TQM encourages organizations to examine their processes closely and continuously seek ways to make them more efficient. This involves streamlining operations, optimizing workflows, and eliminating any activities that do not add value. By doing so, organizations can accomplish more with less effort and resources, reducing turnaround times and increasing the capacity to deliver products and services faster and more reliably.

Reduced Costs

Hand in hand with increased efficiency, TQM helps organizations cut costs. By identifying and eliminating waste in processes—such as excess inventory, unnecessary steps, or rework—organizations can significantly lower their operational expenses. Furthermore, by improving quality, businesses reduce the costs associated with defects, such as rework, refunds, and returns, further contributing to financial health and stability.

Employee Satisfaction

TQM places a strong emphasis on involving employees at all levels in quality improvement efforts. This participatory approach not only leverages the collective knowledge and skills of the workforce but also fosters a sense of ownership and pride in their work. When employees see the impact of their contributions to the organization’s quality goals, it boosts their job satisfaction and motivation. A satisfied and motivated workforce is more productive, innovative, and committed to the organization’s success.

Competitive Advantage

In today’s competitive marketplace, quality can be a significant differentiator. Organizations that successfully implement TQM principles can achieve higher standards of quality and reliability in their products and services. This excellence in quality can set them apart from competitors, attracting more customers and enabling them to command premium prices. Moreover, a reputation for quality can enhance the organization’s brand and market position, contributing to long-term competitiveness and growth.


Total Quality Management is much more than a set of techniques or procedures; it’s a holistic approach that infuses quality into every aspect of an organization’s operations and culture. By adopting TQM, organizations commit to a path of continuous improvement, where the pursuit of excellence is a constant goal. The benefits of TQM—improved quality, increased efficiency, cost reduction, employee satisfaction, and competitive advantage—are substantial. These advantages highlight why TQM is not just a good practice but a strategic necessity for organizations aiming for long-term success and excellence. The journey toward total quality is ongoing, requiring dedication and commitment at all levels of the organization, but the rewards are well worth the effort.


A: Total Quality Management (TQM) is a comprehensive management approach focused on continuous improvement in all aspects of an organization, aiming to ensure that every single process, product, or service meets or exceeds customer expectations. It involves the participation of all employees and encompasses the entire organization.

A: TQM improves customer satisfaction by prioritizing the quality of products and services. It involves understanding customer needs and feedback, and then using this information to make continuous improvements. This ensures that the products or services not only meet but often exceed customer expectations, leading to higher satisfaction levels.

A: Yes, small businesses can implement TQM. While the scale of implementation may differ compared to larger organizations, the principles of continuous improvement, customer focus, and employee involvement are applicable and beneficial for businesses of any size. Implementing TQM can help small businesses improve quality, efficiency, and competitiveness.

A: Employees play a crucial role in TQM as it requires the involvement and collaboration of everyone in the organization, from top management to front-line staff. Employees contribute to continuous improvement efforts, identify areas for improvement, and are involved in problem-solving. Their participation fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the quality goals of the organization.

A: The time it takes to see the benefits of implementing TQM can vary depending on the size of the organization, the current state of its processes, and the commitment level of its employees and management. Generally, some improvements can be seen relatively quickly, within a few months, but achieving a full transformation and realizing the comprehensive benefits of TQM is a long-term endeavor that can take several years. Continuous improvement is an ongoing process, so benefits can continue to grow over time.


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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website www.learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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