What is TQM? Definition, Principles, Techniques, and Pros/Cons

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?

Total quality management (TQM) is a strategic commitment of top-level management and implementing continuous improvement in the quality of products or services to meet the requirements of customers. TQM aims to make involved all the organizational members provide quality products consistently.

Generally, quality is subjective in nature. As per people the definition of quality also changes. People’s expectations change continuously. Today’s quality products that satisfy today’s customers might not be satisfied in likely days. And, total quality management perfectly recognizes it.

Thus, TQM states that gradual and continuous improvement in the quality of products should be made. It not only focuses on improving the quality of products but also the quality of employees life who are involved in the process.

TQM is a holistic approach to the long-term success of the organization through continuous improvement in all aspects of an organization as a process and not as a short-term goal. It tries to make an active involvement of production personnel in pursuit of producing quality products.

TQM aims to create an organizational culture committed to continuous improvement of skills, teamwork, process, product, and service quality, and customer satisfaction. The Japanese technique i.e. Keizen i.e. step by step and gradual improvement for achieving higher standards can be an example of process improvement.

Objectives of TQM

The following are the main objectives of TQM.

  • It aims to create continual improvement in product quality.
  • Aims to meet changing customers’ expectations.
  • Ensure the involvement of people in the organization for formulation and implementation of quality improvement plans and policies.
  • Lower the cost of quality improvement and elimination of non-value-adding work.
  • And, at the core TQM aims to increase customers’ satisfaction levels.

Principles of Total Quality Management

At the core, TQM is a customer-focused management philosophy. It strives to establish a sense of common purpose among all personnel to bring their best collective effort to improve quality. The following are the main guiding principles of TQM.

Related: Principles of Quality Management


Customers ultimately determine whether your effort to improve a product is worthwhile or not. The quality improvement should be based on focusing on customers’ requirements and preferences. They greatly influence the success and failure of the business.

Employee Involvement

Employees have a key role in producing products and maintaining quality. Quality is achieved and maintained only when employees have a sense of shared objectives. For this, it is necessary that you should ensure all employees agree on the quality improvement objective.


TQM is a process-centered approach. Every member should know how the input, process, and output systems work. They should be aware of their role in the process so that they take the right steps in the production process and do not waste time and materials.

Integrated System

An organization is made of different units, departments, and systems. The contribution of one department to other departments is essential to make work smooth. All the departments and units should work as a single system considering each other importance in the work completion.

Strategic and Systematic Approach

TQM calls for a framework that focuses on the long-run performance of the firm. TQM’s process and procedures should be linked strategically with the company’s vision, mission, and long-term plans.

All efforts to be made to change the organizational settings to meet the customer’s requirements should be systemically linked to the company’s long-term goal.

Continuous Improvement

At the core, total quality management is all about the continuous improvement of an organization’s performance. As time passes, customers’ requirements change, waves of competition change, business settings change, and so on.

Continual improvement should be implemented in the organization to find new ways to be more competitive, effective, and efficient in the market.

Decision-Making on Facts

Decision making on facts, as the name suggests, this principle of TQM suggests that data and information should be analyzed properly before making any decisions. It states management must rely on facts instead of someone’s stories while making important decisions.


Communication is essential at all levels of the organization for transferring information from day-to-day operations to important information. Effective communication should be maintained at all levels of management.

Techniques of Total Quality Management

There are various tools and techniques for implementing total quality management (TQM), some are explained below:


Benchmarking is the process of regularly comparing an organization’s performance with that of the highest-performing divisions or companies in the market and implementing the best practices to raise the bar on quality as the comparative organization is doing.

Also Read: Dimensions of Quality

Such a comparison may be made in terms of different criteria, including culture, services, corporate procedures, and general practices.

ISO 9000

ISO stands for international standardization for organization which is an international organization for setting quality standards for different products and awarding certificates of quality to those organizations that meet the standards.

There are five standards ranging from 9000 to 9004 set by the ISO namely product testing, employee testing, record keeping, supplier relations, and repair policy and procedure.


Outsourcing is the process of subcontracting some of the subsidiary jobs, services, and operations to other firms that can provide them at a cheaper rate and better quality. This system of outsourcing improves efficiency, reduces cost, enhances productivity, and improves quality.


Speed is the amount of time an organization needs to complete a task. It can be emphasized in any area including developing, producing, promoting, and distributing goods and services.

Only when an organization outperforms its rivals in terms of quality, speed, and intelligence can it gain a competitive advantage? Thus, speed of operations is one of the major aspects of managing the quality of products.

Statistical Quality Control (SQC)

SQC is a set of specific statistical techniques that can be used to monitor quality. This method extremely uses sampling, probability, and other statistical techniques to control the quality. It is one of the major tools used for quality assurance.

Just In Time (JIT)

JIT is a management philosophy that believes in the right product at the right time or just in time of demand. It has two understandings (1) Customers can not wait for a long time so they should get the product at the time of demand.

(2) Over-inventory of the finished goods to serve the customers can increase the material handling and inventory costs. Thus, JIT is the technique that assures the material, man, and machinery at the ready position at the optimal level so that inventory costs remain low and at the same time product delivery becomes effective.

Right First Time

This philosophy aims for zero defects in the production process and products. Employees ensure that they do the right things the first time. They are not supposed to do work with hit and trial basis. It states that better not to produce at all than to produce something defective.

Read Also: Deming Management

Advantages and Disadvantages of TQM

Total quality management has the following pros and cons. They are:


Pros of TQM may include:

  • It strengthens the company’s competitive position.
  • Increases customer satisfaction. In addition, customer loyalty and retention are also achieved.
  • Increases productivity.
  • Reduces the wastage and cost of production.
  • Increases company’s value.
  • TQM also helps to increase profitability.


TQM’s cons may include:

  • May require a huge investment to implement the TQM process.
  • Management may face resistance from employees.
  • TQM requires a company-wide commitment to quality improvement.

Read Next: What is Core Product?

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