TQM is the art of managing all the activities of an organization to achieve excellence. It is a philosophy and a set of guiding principles that represent the foundation of a continuously improving organization, wherein the application of quantitative methods and human recourses are sought to improve all the processes within the organization so as to meet and exceed the customer needs now and continuously with change of time. It is a proven technique to ensure survival in the era of globalization of trade. TQM can be defined as an integrated organizational approach in delighting customers (Both Internal and External) by meeting their expectations on a continuous basis through everyone involved with organization working on continuous improvement in all products, services and processes along with proper problem solving methodology.

Quality definition and its dimensions

The expression Quality has to be understood clearly from the customer point of view for the success of TQM Programme. One usually thinks about Quality in terms of an excellent product or service that fulfills or exceeds the expectations. These expectations are based on the intended use and the selling prize. If a product or service surpasses the expectations one relate it with the quality. Thus it is more or less an intangible thing based on perception. The Quality can be quantified as follows:

Q = (P / E),

Where, Q- Quality, P- Performance and E- Expectations

If Q is greater than 1 then the customer has a good feeling about the product or service. It should be noted that based on perception P is determined by the organization and E determined by the customer.

As per ISO 9000:2000, quality is defined as the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements. Degree means that quality can be used with adjectives such as poor, good and excellent. Inherent is defined as existing in something, especially as a permanent characteristic. Characteristics can be quantitative or qualitative. Requirement is a need or expectation that is stated; generally implied by the organization, its customers and other interested parties; or obligatory. Quality has different dimensions as mentioned below:

Quality Dimension


1. Performance

Primary Product Characteristics

2. Features

Secondary Product Characteristics

3. Conformance

Meeting specification/ Standards/ Workmanship

4. Reliability

Consistency of Performance over the Time

5. Durability

Useful Life

6. Service

Resolution of Problems and Complaints

7. Response

Human-to-human Interface

8. Aesthetics

Sensory Characteristics

9. Reputation

Past Performance

TQM is an approach to management that can be characterized by its principles, practices, and techniques and emphasized on customer focus, continuous improvement, and teamwork.

Basic Principles and Concepts of TQM:

The TQM programme is a continual activity that must be entrenched as culture and requires the following six basics principles and concepts knitted by effective communication:

  • Top management Commitment- Leadership
  • Focus on customer- Customer Satisfaction
  • Effective involvement and utilization of entire employee
  • Continuous improvement
  • Treating suppliers as partners
  • Establishing performance measures for the processes


Top management Commitment:

Top management participation and complete involvement is essential in the total quality programme. The management commitment should be clearly visible through their acts and deeds. A Quality Council must be established to develop a clear vision, set long term goals and direct the quality programme. The short and long term business plan shall include the quality goals. An annual quality improvement programme is to be established on the basis of Collection of inputs from every stakeholders of business. Managers also get involved in quality improvement teams and provide leadership. Leadership is essential during every phase of the implementation process and particularly at the start.


There is no universal definition of leadership. A leader strengthens and inspires the followers to accomplish shared goals. Leaders shape the organizations values and promote, protect and exemplify it.

An organizations seniors leaders should set directions and create a customer focus, clear and visible values, and high expectations. The directions, values and expectations should balance the needs of all the stakeholders. The leaders should ensure the creation of strategies, systems and methods for achieving excellence, stimulating innovation and building knowledge and capabilities. The values and strategies should help in guiding all activities and decisions of the organization. Senior leaders should inspire, motivate and encourage all employees to contribute, to develop and learn, to be innovative and to creative.

Seniors leaders should serve as role models through their ethical behaviour and their personal involvement in planning, in communications, coaching, development of future leaders, review of organizational performance and employee recognition. As role models, they can reinforce values and expectations while building leadership, commitment, and initiative throughout the organization.

Characteristics of quality leaders

Leadership can be difficult to define. However, successful quality leaders tend to have certain characteristics. There are many characteristics that successful quality leaders demonstrate.

  • Priority attention to external and internal customers and their need
  • Empower, rather than control, subordinates.
  • Emphasize improvement rather than maintenance.
  • Importance to prevention.
  • Encourage collaboration rather than competition.
  • Train and coach rather than direct and supervise.
  • Learn from problems.
  • Continually try to improve communications.
  • Continually demonstrate their commitment to quality.
  • Select suppliers on the basis of quality, not price.
  • Establish organizational systems to support the quality effort
  • Encourage and recognize team effort.

Seven Habits of Highly effective People

Stephen R. Covey found the following seven habits of Highly Effective People. A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire. Knowledge is what to do and Why; skill is the how to do; and desire is the motivation or want to do. In order for something to become a habit we have to have all the three.

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first thing first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergy
  7. Sharpen the saw ( Renewal)


The seven habits are a highly integrated approach that moves from dependency (you take care of me) to independence (I take care of myself) and to interdependence (we can do something better together). The first three habits deal with independence-the essence of character growth. The habits 4, 5 and 6 are dealing with interdependenceteamwork, cooperation, and communication. Habit 7 is the habit of renewal. The seven habits are in harmony with a natural law that Covey calls the P/PC Balance, where P stands for Production of desired result and PC stand for Production Capacity, the ability or asset.

Focus on customer - Customer Satisfaction:

The key to effective TQM Programme is to focus on Internal/ external customer needs and satisfaction. The organization should listen to the voice of the customer and give greater importance to the customer perception and satisfaction.

Manufacturing and service organization are using customer satisfaction as the measure of quality. The Total quality management implies an organizational obsession with meeting or exceeding customer expectations, so that customer is delighted. Understanding the customers needs and expectations is essential to win new business and retain the existing one. An organization must give its customers a quality product or service that meets their needs at a reasonable price, which include on-time delivery and out standing service. To attain these levels, the organization needs to continually examine their quality system to see if it is responsive to ever-changing customer requirements and expectations.

Customer perception of Quality

The most successful TQM programs begin by defining quality from the customers perspective. An American Society for Quality survey on end user perceptions of important factors that influence purchases showed the following ranking

  1. Performance
  2. Features
  3. Service
  4. Warranty
  5. Price
  6. Reputations

The factors such as Performance, Features, Service and Warranty are part of the product or service quality; therefore it is evident that product quality and service is more important than price.

Using Customer Feedback

Customer feedback must be continually solicited and monitored. It is not a one time effort; it is an ongoing and active probing of the customer mind. Feed back enable the organization to

  • Discover customer dissatisfaction
  • Discover relative priorities of quality
  • Compare performance with the competition
  • Identify Customers need.
  • Determine opportunity for improvement

Using Customer Complaint

Feedback is proactive and the complaints are reactive in nature. Even then they are very vital in gathering data on customer perceptions. A dissatisfied customer can easily become a lost customer. Many organization uses customer dissatisfaction as the primary measures to assess their process improvement effort. A positive approach towards complaint creates opportunity to obtain information and a better service level can be assured.


Service Quality

Customer service is the set of activities an organization uses to win and retain customers satisfaction. It can be provided before, during, or after the sale of product. Following are the dimensions of service quality.

  1. Tangibles- physical evidence of service
  2. Reliability- Consistency in providing the service
  3. Responsiveness - Readiness and Willingness of the employees
  4. Assurance Ability of employee to convey trust and confidence
  5. The ability of the employees to put themselves in the customer shoes

Customer retention

Customer retention is more powerful and effective than customer satisfaction. Customer retention represents the activities that produce the necessary customer satisfaction that creates customer loyalty, which actually improves the bottom line.

Effective involvement and utilization of entire employee

As the TQM is the organization wide challenge, every employees involvement is essential. All personnel must be must be trained in TQM, Statistical Process Control and other appropriate quality improvement skills so that they can effectively participate in the quality teams.


Motivation means a process of stimulating people to accomplish desired goals. Motivation could be explained in terms of hierarchy of need and that there were five levels as explained by Abraham Maslow. These levels are survival, security, social, esteem and self-actualization. Frederick Herzberg found that people were motivated by recognition, responsibility, achievement, advancement and the work itself. While management thinks that good pay is the number one need of the employee. Survey results show that this factor is usually in the middle of the ranking. Employee tends to follow the theories of Maslow and Herzberg. By involving employees through the use of teams in meaningful work and by providing the proper reward and recognition, mangers can reap the advantages of greater quality and productivity along with employee satisfaction.


Empowerment is an environment in which people have the ability, the confidence and the commitment to take the responsibility and ownership to improve the process and initiate the necessary step to satisfy customer requirement within well defined boundaries in order to achieve organizational values and goals. Employee empowerment requires that the individual is held responsible for accomplishing whole task. The employee becomes the process owner- thus the individual is not only responsible but also accountable. In order to create empowered environment three conditions are necessary.

  • Every one must understand the need for change
  • The system needs to change to the new paradigm
  • The organization must enable its employee



Employee involvement is optimized by the use team. In most instances they are effective because many heads are more knowledgeable than one. Each members of the team has special abilities that can be used to solve complex problems. The interactions within the team produce the results that exceed the contributions of each member. There are various types of teams, namely Process improvement team, cross-functional team, natural work team, self-directed team. But people need to be trained to work as a team. There are mainly three types of teams that TQM organizations adopt:

  1. Quality Improvement Teams or Excellence Teams (QITS) - These are temporary teams with the purpose of dealing with specific problems that often re-occur. These teams are set up for period of three to twelve months.

  1. Problem Solving Teams (PSTs) - These are temporary teams to solve certain problems and also to identify and overcome causes of problems. They generally last from one week to three months.

  1. Natural Work Teams (NWTs) - These teams consist of small groups of skilled workers who share tasks and responsibilities. These teams use concepts such as employee involvement teams, self-managing teams and quality circles. These teams generally work for one to two hours a week.

Recognition and Reward

Recognition is a form of employee motivation in which the organization acknowledges the positive contributions an individual or team has made to the success of the organization. Reward is something tangible. Recognition and reward go together to form a system for letting people know that they are valuable members of the organization. As people are recognized, there can be huge changes in self-esteem, productivity, quality and the amount of effort exhorted to the task at hand. Recognition comes in its best form when it is immediately following an action that an employee has performed. Recognition comes in different ways, places and time such as,

  • Ways - It can be by way of personal letter from top management. Also by award banquets, plaques, trophies etc.
  • Places - Good performers can be recognized in front of departments, on performance boards and also in front of top management.
  • Time - Recognition can be given at any time like in staff meeting, annual award banquets, etc.

Performance appraisal

The purpose of performance appraisal is to let employees know how they are doing and provide a basis for promotions, salary increase, counseling and other purposes related to an employees future. Performance appraisal may be for the team or individuals. Regardless of the system a key factor in a successful performance appraisal is employee involvement.

Continuous improvements

There must be a continual striving to improve all business and production processes. Quality improvement projects, such as on-time delivery, customer satisfaction, waste reduction, product realization and inventory are good places to begin Tools. Thus, techniques such as Juran Trilogy, PDSA Cycle, 5S, Benchmarking, Quality function deployment, TQC, Kaizen etc. are excellent for problem solving at various activities.

Treating suppliers as partners

As the significant quantity of business activity is the purchased product or service, their performance quality is contributing lot to the companys quality. Therefore partnership relationship with suppliers must be developed. Both parties have as much gain or lose based on the success or failure of the product or service. Focus should be on quality and life cycle costs rather than price.


Establishing performance measures for the processes

For each functional area performance measures should be determined and posted for everyone to see. Quantitative data are necessary to measure the continuous quality improvement activity.

The purpose of TQM is to provide a quality product and/or Service to customers, which will, in turn, increase productivity and lower cost. With a higher quality product and lower price, competitive position in the marketplace will be enhanced. This series of events will allow the organization to achieve the objectives of profit and growth with greater ease. In addition, the work force will have job security, which shall create a satisfying place to work.

The TQM require a cultural change and this change being substantial can not be accomplished in short period of time. The following changes are expected due to TQM implementation.


Before TQM Implementation

After TQM implementation


Product oriented

Customer oriented


Second to Service and cost

First among equals of service and cost


Short term









Quality Control


Problem solving





Life-cycle costs, Partnership

Managers Role

Plan, assign, Control and enforce

Delegate, coach, facilitate and mentors


It is a vital link between all elements of TQM. Communication means a common understanding of ideas between the sender and the receiver. The success of TQM demands communication with and among all the organization members, suppliers and customers. Supervisors must keep open airways where employees can send and receive information about the TQM process. Communication coupled with the sharing of correct information is vital. For communication to be credible the message must be clear and receiver must interpret in the way the sender intended.

Downward communication

This is the dominant form of communication in an organization. Presentations and discussions basically do it. Supervisors are able to make the employees aware about the basic features of total quality management and its importance.

Upward communication

By this the lower level of employees are able to provide suggestions to upper management of the affects of TQM. As employees provide insight and constructive criticism, supervisors must listen effectively to correct the situation that comes about through the use of TQM. This forms a level of trust between supervisors and employees. This is also similar to empowering communication, where supervisors keep open ears and listen to others.


Sideways communication

This type of communication is important because it breaks down barriers between departments. It also allows dealing with customers and suppliers in a more professional manner.


  1. Dale H Besterfield et al, Total Quality Management, Pearson Education.
  2. Stephen R. Covey et al, First Thing First, Simon & Schuster.
  3. V. Jayakumar et al, Total Quality Management, Lakshmi Publications.
  4. Besterfiled, Dale H., Quality control, Prentice Hall.
  5. Bossert, James L., Quality Function Deployment: A Practioners Approach, ASQ Quality Press.
  6. Camp, Robert C., Bench Marking: The Search for Industry Best Practices that Lead to Superior Practice, ASQ Quality Press.
  7. http://www.iSixSigma.com