Total Quality Management (TQM) is an ongoing effort by employees and management to improve customer service and the delivery of quality to customers. By ensuring that customer satisfaction is high, the business benefits with greater customer retention as well as improved word of mouth marketing and a better reputation. It helps avoid the spread of bad publicity that comes from bad reviews, and great customer service sets you apart from the competition and gives you a competitive edge or USP over other companies that offer a similar service.
TQM Can Be Applied to Businesses of Any Size
Although TQM originated in the manufacturing industry, like many quality management systems, it can be applied to businesses of any size and in any industry. It is used by service providing businesses, as well as manufacturers and retailers. The primary focus of a company that is committed to TQM is on quality, rather than quantity, and it enables every member of an organisation to provide the very best service to customers.
There are many different models of TQM, and a customer can choose the one that best suits their organisation and their requirements. All TQM models share similar elements and processes, but are all based around the principle of improving customer experience and ensuring that everything is of the highest possible quality. There are tools that can be used to assist in the quality management process. These are used to identify, organise, and analyse data. They can also be used to identify the primary underlying problems that cause waste and loss.
Quality Management Tools
Below are some of the most basic quality management tools. They are simple and easily used by almost anyone, yet still very effective.
- Check Lists – The check list is usually a list of steps, products, or other information, and is used to monitor progress and completeness. A daily to-do list is a good, albeit simple, example of a check list that might be used in a Total Quality Management system. Its primary goal is to ensure that all stages or steps in a process are completed.
- Check Sheets – A check sheet is sometimes confused with a check list, but the two have different uses and a different format. The check sheet is designed by the individual user, or team, and it can be used to gather qualitative or quantitative data. It is commonly used to measure the frequency that something occurs, and is a useful tool for identifying errors in manufacturing or production processes.
- Pareto Charts – A Pareto chart is a vertical bar graph used to display values in decreasing frequency with the most common occurring entry appearing as the first item in the graph. A superimposed point-to-point graph may be superimposed over the image, and used to identify the 80% line. The Pareto chart is based on the Pareto principle, where 80% of an output is produced by 20% of the input. This type of chart can enjoy many uses in a quality management system. For example, it can be used to easily list reasons for customer complaints, making it simple to determine the most common reasons that customers complain about a product, service, or business.
- Cause and Effect Diagrams – Cause and effect diagrams, also called a Fishbone diagram, is used as a means of identifying the most likely cause of any particular outcome. It is typically used during brainstorming sessions and is called a Fishbone diagram because the finished chart looks like the bones of a fish. Categories of potential causes are written as main branches from the problem, with additional details and potential problems listed by each of these primary categories.
- Histograms – A histogram is a frequency distribution chart. It is used to determine how often a value or piece of data occurs within a set. The data must be numerical for this type of frequency distribution chart and, for an effective histogram chart, you need to collect at least 50 data points. Although this type of chart looks almost identical to a bar chart, there are differences and a histogram can be developed on the fly, which makes it a beneficial tool for gathering data as well as displaying and analysing it.
- Scatter Diagrams – Scatter diagrams are used to measure incidents or occurrences on a graph. There must be two variables, and each incident is recorded at the point where these two incidents coincide. This type of quality management tool is especially useful when looking for patterns or trends, because if any exist they will display as a line, curve, or all at a certain point on the graph.
- Other Graphs – There are many other tools, some of them specific to particular quality management models. Graphs and charts are used frequently because they offer a visual representation of what can be complex figures and data sets. They make pattern identification easier and they can be used to report and analyse data as well as to collect it and collate it.
Reduce Waste and Improve Productivity
Total Quality Management enables and empowers your business to concentrate on quality over quantity. The quest for optimising quality and minimising waste not only continues throughout every stage and every team within the business, but it is also a continuous process. Highlight areas for improvement, determine how to make improvements, and then make those improvements. Monitor results, and then continue to look for new ways in which the organisation can further improve quality output and customer service levels.
Look for Ways to Improve Customer Service
Although the tools above can help when introducing quality management systems and controls, they really are only a tool. Changes will be successful only if you have the full support of the entire business, from management to employees, and if you have the dedication to continue with the ongoing optimisation process. The tools will assist in identifying opportunities for improvement, and can even help to identify what changes will prove most effective.
Implementing Quality Management in Your Business
Look at the types of quality management model available, consider the size of your organisation, and if you have employees or managers with experience in these models, consult with them on which will prove most effective. Alternatively, contact a quality management system consultancy, ensure that employees are well trained in the model that you use, and get management as well as employees on board.