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Total Quality Management (TQM)

What is Total Quality Management?

Characteristics of Successful TQM Companies

TQM beliefs

Steps in Implementing TQM

Cultural Element Requirement of TQM


TQM is a management philosophy, a paradigm, a continuous improvement approach to doing business through a new management model. The TQM philosophy evolved from the continuous improvement philosophy with a focus on quality as the main dimension of business. Under TQM, emphasizing the quality of the product or service predominates. TQM expands beyond statistical process control to embrace a wider scope of management activities of how we manage people and organizations by focusing on the entire process, not just simple measurements.

TQM is a comprehensive management system which:

  • Focuses on meeting owners’/customers’ needs by providing quality services at a cost that provides value to the owners/customers
  • Is driven by the quest for continuous improvement in all operations
  • Recognizes that everyone in the organization has owners/customers who are either internal or external
  • Views an organization as an internal system with a common aim rather than as individual departments acting to maximize their own performances
  • Focuses on the way tasks are accomplished rather than simply what tasks are accomplished
  • Emphasizes teamwork and a high level of participation by all employees

TQM beliefs

  • Presented here are universal total quality management beliefs.
  • Owner/customer satisfaction is the measure of quality
  • Everyone has owners/customers; everyone is an owner/customer
  • Quality improvement must be continuous
  • Analyzing the processes used to create products and services is key to quality improvement
  • Measurement, a skilled use of analytical tools, and employee involvement are critical sources of quality improvement ideas and innovations
  • Sustained total quality management is not possible without active, visible, consistent, and enabling leadership by managers at all levels
  • If we do not continuously improve the quality of products and services that we provide our owners/customers, someone else will


Characteristics of Successful TQM Companies

The construction industry has arrived late to TQM, probably due to the tendency to easily brush aside anything in management that is new, or to dismiss TQM as a fad. Continuous improvement is not a fad but a necessary part of management’s obligation to properly run its company. Gone are the boom days when quality did not matter due to the volume of work available and the ease of obtaining work. The attitude of construction managers and contractors was simply to add it to the bill, because the owner will pay for it. In other words, in those boom days Cost plus Profit equaled Price. Now, however, the new attitude is Price minus Cost equals Profit. Owners are now demanding higher quality work, and at a lower cost. In attempting to keep pace with the new attitude, a quality management system that helps keep costs down is well worth implementing.

The characteristics that are common to companies that successfully implement TQM in their daily operations are listed here.

♦ Strive for owner/customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction

♦ Strive for accident-free jobsites

♦ Recognize that the owner/customer provides the revenue while the employees are responsible for the profit

♦ Recognize the need for measurement and fact-based decision making

♦ Arrange for employees to become involved in helping the company improve

♦ Train extensively

♦ Work hard at improving communication inside and outside the company

♦ Use teams of employees to improve processes

♦ Place a strong emphasis on the right kind of leadership, and provide supervisors with a significant amount of leadership training

♦ Involve subcontractors and suppliers, requiring them to adopt TQM

♦ Strive for continuous improvement

Quality principles that successful TQM companies recognize

The quality principles that successful TQM companies recognize and attempt to continually incorporate into their actions are the following:

♦ People will produce quality goods and services when the meaning of quality is expressed daily in their relations with their work, colleagues, and organization.

♦ Inspection of the process is as important as inspection of the product. Quality improvement can be achieved by the workers closest to the process.

♦ Each system with a certain degree of complexity has a probability of variation, which can be understood by scientific methods.

♦ Workers work in the system to improve the system; managers work on the system to improve the system.

♦ Total quality management is a strategic choice made by top management, and must be consistently translated into guidelines provided to the whole organization.

♦ Envision what you desire to be as an organization, but start working from where you actually are.

♦ Studies have indicated that people like working on a quality-managed jobsite especially due to the cleaner site and safer place to work.

♦ Accept the responsibility for quality. Establish datums for measurement.

♦ Use the principle of get it right, the first time, every time.

♦ Understand that quality is a journey, not a destination. It consists of steps that form a process that is continuous.

The goal of management is to create a culture of quality across the entire project site--get the job done right, the first time, every time. As in the airline industry where 99-percent quality is not

Cultural Element Requirement of TQM

1.Quality information must be used for improvement, not to judge or control people.

2 Authority must be equal to responsibility.

3 There must be rewards for results.

4 Cooperation, not competition, must be the basis for working together.

5 Employees must have secure jobs.

6 There must be a climate of fairness.

7 Compensation should be equitable.

8 Employees should have an ownership stake.



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