Total Quality Management (TQM): Definition, Principles, & Techniques

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)? Definition, Objectives, Principles, and Techniques

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?

Total quality management (TQM) is a management technique that emphasizes continuous improvement over all the mechanisms of the organization to make quality products and services to maintain long-term customer satisfaction as well as employees.

TQM is designed to bring awareness of quality in all organizational processes. It is generally applied in manufacturing, education, government, and service organizations.

Total quality management gives an umbrella below which everyone in the company can endeavor and build customer happiness. It consists of three qualities, quality of return to satisfy the needs of shareholders, quality of products and services to satisfy some specific needs of customers, and quality of life at work and outside jobs to meet the requirements of the employees in the company.

Some famous definitions of TQM include:

  • International Organization For Standardization (ISO) – TQM is a management approach for an organization, centered on quality, based on the participation of all its members, and aiming at long-term success through customer satisfaction, and benefits to all members of the organization and society.
  • Ricky W. Griffin – A strategy commitment by top management to change its whole approach to business to make quality a guiding factor in everything it does.
  • Robert Kreitner – Total quality management (TQM) is defined as creating an organizational culture committed to the continuous improvement of skills, teamwork, processes, product and service quality, and customer satisfaction.
  • Robbins and Coulter – Total quality management is a philosophy of management that is driven by customers’ needs and expectations and focuses on continual improvement in the work process.

TQM ensures that things are done right the first time and that defects and waste are eliminated from operations. A business that adopts TQM must realize changes in all spheres of administration. It requires reviewing its strategies, plans, policies, and practices as per the necessities of the market.

Objectives of TQM

TQM has mainly four objectives.

  • Better quality of product or service.
  • The quicker response to customer needs.
  • Greater flexibility in adjusting to customers shifting requirements.
  • Lower cost through quality improvement and elimination of non-value-adding work.

Principles of Total Quality Management

The following are the major principles of TQM:

Customer First

Placing customers as the primary focus, TQM emphasizes the importance of satisfying their needs and delivering quality products and services.

Continuous Improvement

It advocates for a culture of ongoing evaluation and enhancement, where all activities are regularly reviewed and improved to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

Participative Management

TQM encourages employee involvement in decision-making and planning processes, recognizing their value and contributions to the organization.

Fact-Based Decision Making

TQM promotes the use of real data and information rather than relying on assumptions or guesswork when making important decisions.

Effective Communication

Total quality management emphasizes the establishment of open and transparent communication channels, facilitating clear and meaningful exchanges of information throughout the organization.

Integrated System

TQM aims to align and integrate all organizational activities towards a common goal, promoting coordination and synergy across different departments and functions.

Strategic Orientation

TQM adopts a strategic mindset by setting a clear vision and goals and systematically planning and executing actions to achieve them.

Process-Based Approach

TQM views activities as interconnected processes, focusing on optimizing these processes to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness.


TQM recognizes the power of collaboration and teamwork, fostering an environment where individuals work together towards shared objectives, leveraging their diverse strengths and skills.


Tools and Techniques To Achieve TQM

Organizations can apply several tools and techniques to improve total quality management. The famous with them are benchmarking outsourcing, speed, ISO 9000, and statistical quality control techniques.

techniques of total quality management


Benchmarking is the process of searching for the most trustworthy practice amongst opponents that drives their greater performance. It is an evaluation and comparison of an organization’s own products and processes against the very best in the market. It is a highly specialized form of environmental scanning.

Benchmarking involves looking at similar firms to examine how they have achieved the best performance levels and to understand the process they use. It helps to examine the essence behind the excellent performance. This allows organizations to develop the best practice which helps to improve performance.

Also Read: What is PESTLE Analysis?

The application of benchmarking involves four steps:

  • Understanding in detail the existing business practice.
  • Analyzing the business process of others.
  • Compare your own business performance with that of others analyzed.
  • Implementing the steps necessary to close the performance gap.


Outsourcing is the process of subcontracting some of the jobs to other organizations to bring quality and get the benefit of specialization. It is an important means of reducing costs and improving quality.

If an organization performs every activity by itself, it may not be able to perform it efficiently and the quality of product and service also be inferior. Thus, the organization needs to identify certain areas that can be outsourced to minimize the cost of operation and to produce higher quality.


Speed is the time required to perform a specific activity for an organization. It is needed in all areas including development, production, and distribution of products or services. Many organizations are using speed for competitive advantage today.

Increasing speed will give organizations a strategic advantage and helps them to complete the task more effectively. Speed has become an important competitive advantage today. It involves not only doing the same things faster but also rethinking, and redesigning the whole business cycle.

ISO 9000

The international organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standard bodies. It was found on 23, February 1947.

There are five sets of standards covering areas such as product testing, employee training, record keeping, supplier relations, and repair policies and procedures starting from 9000 to 9004.

Firms that meet these standards apply for certification and are audited by a firm’s domestic affiliation organization. It develops quality standards over a wide range of quality systems, which add value to business operations.

Statistical Quality Control (SQC)

Statistical quality control is a set of specific statistical techniques which is applied to monitor the quality of goods or services. It measures the degree of conformance of the various factors involved in processing the products based on specifications. It is based on statistical and probability theories. It seeks to control quality through incoming materials, processing, and the output produced.

Acceptance sampling is applied for testing a lot of materials and final output to assure that quality patterns have been satisfied. Process sampling is used to evaluate the product during the course of production to ensure that a defective piece is not produced.

Control charts are constructed to set the acceptable lower and upper limits of an aspect that we want to control in an item. All finished products may not be the same and therefore, some limits or tolerance must be set so that if the finished products fall within these set limits, they can be considered as acceptable quality.

The effective utilization of these techniques helps to achieve total quality management effectively in organizations.

Read Next: What is Effective Control?

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